Paul Hickey: Fresh new wedges in the bag
One of the things I love about this game is that your relationship with your gear can pay off big time. Of several kinds. Even beyond helping to reduce this handicap, knowing how and why your clubs are doing what they are doing can be a source of immense joy.
On par with other game elements like course architecture, agronomy, and the Rules of Golf, where mastery, or even a little insight, can make you smile more on the course and in the days between your rounds . Some of the best ball strikers, shot makers and jammers of all time have paid close attention to their tools, playing with loft, lie, grind, rebound, not to mention grip size and flex. of the stem.
On a recent trip to the Scottish Highlands, I learned that famed golf course architect Donald Ross, famous for Pinehurst and Seminole, started out as a club maker at Dornoch Golf Club before moving across the Atlantic. With the plethora of options available in something like wedges today, we’ve grown accustomed to just entering numbers into a program and having the Titleist or TaylorMade representative tell you what you need.
But I miss those days of adding lead tape or grinding the sole of your sand wedge to make it behave a little differently, based solely on how the shot feels in your hands and dances across the green .
I recently took delivery of a new set of Titleist Vokey corners. While I appreciate the solid feel and extra bite of my new toys, it makes me crave the sound and feel of the club connecting to the ball of yesteryear. It’s true that we love our new 400cc drivers and what they’ve done for our length and accuracy, but it’s a shame today’s up-and-coming players never got to experience the sound and feel of a good quality bullet meeting the insert of a persimmon wood driver.
The phrase in golf, “you rinsed it” has less meaning today, for the simple fact that most golfers have never experienced that incredible sensation when you feel that rush that goes from the club through your hands, fingers and throughout your body. It’s the golfer’s version of the runner’s high. There is no such thing.
Custom club fitting and DIY should not be considered a luxury, or only for the few. I’ve often said that I could cut five to seven shots per round off some higher handicappers if they let me do two things to their equipment; change grips twice a year so the clubs feel new and comfortable in their hands with every turn, and replace their wedges every year so they have the deepest, cleanest, freshest grooves possible.
About 10 years ago I bought a special tool that restores corner grooves to their original depth and width, but I don’t recommend using it because it does a number on your blunders if you went too far and made your grooves illegal! But I would never give up on the tool as it gives me a lot of fun playing around with older, out of order wedges, watching them give different types of spin on different types of balls.
Can I say with certainty that this DIY makes me a better corner player? Probably not, because I know a lot of great corner players who don’t tinker with tinkering. But it makes me feel good. It makes me appreciate this hard and crazy sport a little more. And it’s something I can still play with when I’m 85 and can’t step out of my shadow. It’s worth something. Boy, do I like this sport.