A Year in Two Seasons



There are two seasons in a year, winter and golf. This past golf season just came to a close as the Wakonda Club and Des Moines Golf and Country Club covered their greens this past Monday. The season opened for me with cold rainy rounds at the Legacy GC where snow banks could still be seen in the rough. It took a miraculous 2 weeks to go from three feet of snow to lush green fairways and greens at Wakonda as the past three years’ investment in turf paid off. Despite the spring rains, the grounds crew somehow managed to groom the course into playable condition day after day. As the weather stabilized, the course blossomed in mid summer and Wakonda became a destination as it hosted multiple outings and events. What impressed me was how the course recovered after heavy usage. I credit this to favorable weather, knowledgeable members, and the grounds crew under Mr. Temme.

The weather mostly favored us in the latter summer and fall, creating a bumper crop of turf. The deep root systems, now several years old, allow for nearly instantaneous recovery if properly repaired. This is where the membership came through. Despite the unrepaired ball marks and unfilled divots after bouts of heavy play, the majority of members took it upon themselves to repair all the defects they came across and not just their own. Personal observation of the #10 green showed after an outing, the green had multiple unrepaired ball marks, which after a few days of play by membership and grooming by the grounds staff was basically tournament quality within several days. This was not possible in the older greens where heavily trafficked areas were susceptible to permanent damage requiring direct returfing.

This did nothing good for my handicap because the greens rolled very fast all season. At the Broadmoor for example, they were in the process of a yearlong grooming for the Ladies’ US Open next year, and this resulted in slower greens that I could hammer at –I shot an 86 there on the high course with no 3 putts, playing with three strangers who became good friends at the end. Wakonda gave no such quarter this year.

My favorite away-course this season? DMGCC –after many years, I am beginning to appreciate some of the lumpy bumps, and more importantly the friends I have to play a round with over there. This year included discovery of a no longer used set of Maruman irons in my dad’s garage. They are very light but launch the ball very high and long. Along with these came vintage Taylormade steel hybrids with the Raylor sole plate in 15 and 19 degrees. I have hit the 15 degree as far as my three wood on occasions but can land it with sore feet on long par threes. There really is no need to buy the latest and greatest but rather stick to what works. That said, my happiest moment came with my new set of Taylormade Burner irons, a birthday gift from my wife. I was 216 yards out on Wakonda #4 after fluffing the drive. After considering my choices, I had a great feeling about my 4 iron –I was on a slight downslope and there was wind at my back. I aimed left and set up for a smidge of fade. The pin was mid green to the left. I landed on the flat on the left of the fairway and the ball rolled on and came to a stop 2 feet from the cup. The shot of the year.

New Putter, New Life

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Got a new putter after perseverating with classic shaped putters. I just couldn’t bring myself to get a 2 or 3 Ball putter, but the pro shop at my club had these in various heights. After testing it out -it felt so good, and visualizing the line is made much simpler. It resists twisting better.

The proof is in the improved putting I had yesterday despite a steady rain. I averaged 2.1putts/hole down from 2.7 last year. If the manner in which you manage the course reflects your intellect, then the way you putt reflects your temperament.

Saw Happy Gilmore for the first time last night -enjoyed the humor but found the stretching of golf rules too much. Far and away, Caddyshack is the golf movie of record.

If you could walk a mile in my shoes…

img_2021Men like shoes. Golf shoes. The first step in liberation is to appropriate the language of the oppressor. Why did I buy the sassy brown shoes when the Callaway blacks were perfectly serviceable? was the question. 

“They were so cute, I had to buy them,” was my response. 

As I prepared for my golfing journey, I spent long hours preparing my sticks -scrubbing last year’s caked on dirt from Hype, Legacy, and Waveland. The grooves that would impart the guiding and lofting spin and brakes, the grip that acts as the intermediary object between this world and the golfing spirit plane, and the shaft that translates torque and kinetic energy into momentum transfer into the ball. 

The balls are the Costco Titleists -they cost somewhere in between Titleists premium brand and their bargain brand, and behave closer the high end of the golf ball bandwidth having a nice soft feel around the greens, excellent stopping power, and good flight. They are the few fun items that I grab while purchasing large quantities of meat and dry goods from the dispensary of modern delights.

The main bag has been replaced with a Callaway branded walking hybrid bag. Not the completely minimalist bag of my teen years which was just a vinyl sack, but rather a light composite bag with enough dark notes to give it the appearance of heft, but very light and heftable for a walk on the course. I purchased a Callaway airline bag which just fits over this bag, and will protect my clubs well.

The clubs have undergone a great deal of modification since last year. I purchased a Taylormade R7 Quad driver that is completely blacked out to instill awe and fear. I ditched my temperamental 3 wood and trusty 5 wood for a Nike Sasquatch Sumo 4 wood. Back in the day, my persimmon 4 wood (a middle spoon) was my go to club for driving under pressure -I once launched it close to 300 yards on a dry downhill hole with the wind, but it had a small head that let it pass through medium rough with ease. The square head on the SS 4 wood lets me hit off center with miminal loss of power. There is some degree of gear effect, and I found that it is the most forgiving of my long clubs. 

My three iron became the household rabbit masher after I purchased a Callaway X-hybrid. This season, my missing 4 iron has been replaced with a X-4H hybrid as well. The remaining irons (5 thru P) are Callaway X-18’s. I carry three lofted wedges, all Cleveland of 52, 56, and 60 degrees. 

My putter which gave me fits last year, has been heavily modified with a thickened grip over taped with leftover squash grip from my college days. I have been hitting a quarter reliably on my putting rug at 6 feet, so here’s to hoping.

I have packed a good supply of ibuprofen for the middle aged man aches, and cough syrup for the crud that has been going around the house, G’s school, and my place of work. I am packing Deepak Chopra’s Golf for Enlightenment (link). 

We’ll be gathering at the physician’s lounge at the hospital for lunch.