Friday, 8 March 2013

Chip from a cart path? I'll take a drop, thanks

Tomorrow, after nearly five weeks without it, I get my 6-iron back. Yes there are major benefits to having custom-fitted shafts for golf clubs but, should an unfortunate accident befall one, it's not that simple to get it repaired, let alone cheap. Watching Phil Mickleson play a (quite remarkable) chip shot last night got me thinking about the perils associated with lauding (and attempting to recreate) this particular type of recovery shot.

Firstly, I should explain what happened to my beloved, trusty 6-iron. Playing the 12th at Colmworth & North Beds GC, a tricky par-5 with water all round the green, in pretty foul weather at the start of February, I found my drive nestled down in some thickish rough, below my feet on a downslope, to the right hand side of the fairway. I decided the right shot was, given the rank lie & the hurricane in my face, a choked-down punch with the 6. I was looking for about 150 yards of progress, leaving me no more than a wedge into the green.

Truth be told, I tried to smack the bejesus out of the ball, more to ensure extraction from the disused mineshaft the ball was sitting in than to maintain any semblance of control. All I really succeeded in doing, as well as chunking the ball way out into the trees on the left, was turn the mineshaft into an open cast pit. I also felt, at the point of impact, something give way. My initial gratitude that it wasn't my wrist swiftly dissipated when I saw there was a wee problem with my bat, the lower portion now swinging from a small thread of steel just below the grip.


Quite aside from the soon-to-arrive realisation that this was going to cost a good chunk of cash to put right, let alone the hassle of sending/leaving it somewhere to be repaired, there was also the horrid prospect of trying to get on the green in regulation from amongst the forest. Finding my ball sitting actually quite favourably, and the wind having dropped to a mild gale, I sized up the situation and reached for exactly the right club in the...ah. 

I needed a six iron

This problem would rear its ugly head on a number of occasions throughout the rest of this round, and during the subsequent rounds I have played without carrying a six iron. It got me thinking about the completely different world the professional golfers live in. A world where golfers can do things like this and not really worry about the consequences (#5 in this countdown, particularly)

Granted, some of the damage and wanton club destruction on show in the above video is pretty hardcore and, frankly, if anyone does what Sergio does then you can't really complain about the cash it'll cost you to replace the stick, right?

However, seeing Phil Mickleson play a fantastic chip shot from the cart path at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral last night (see video below), and seeing the subsequent worship of his skills, I thought more about this. Mickleson is a popular guy (tax moans notwithstanding) and an inspiration to weekend hackers around the world. I am sure that, having seen this shot being played (and the birdie putt that followed), there will be multiple attempts to recreate it.

Watching this video back, his skill to nip the ball of the path and get it to check sweetly up to the hole should not be underestimated. He was totally focused and committed to the shot and the end result, with no thought given for the stick in his hand. I can guarantee that, come the weekend when recreational golfers decide to give this type of shot a try, the success rate will be even lower than the gap in skill & quality would normally demonstrate.

This is because, at the point of no return, the moment requiring total commitment to the execution of the shot to ensure the correct flight and check on the ball, there will be a tiny little voice in the depths of the mind, saying 'Just be careful you don't chunk that club. Expensive, those wedges, y'know'. Net result is one of two: a) leading edge of club connects halfway up the ball, producing an ankle breaker with the velocity of an exocet missile, or b) prized wedge slams into the path three inches behind the ball.

All I am trying to say is that it's all very well the pros being feted for showing us the full range of their abilities to work their magic from weird and wonderful locations but they do it without fear of damage to their equipment. Us mere mortals have to contend with protecting our weaponry, items purchased with our own hard-earned cash and that are not as easy to replace.

Just bear that in mind when you size up that chip shot.

I am the Part-Time Golfer 

No comments:

Post a Comment