The case for shiny new things

Astraeus

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This is largely a stream of consciousness so feel free to skip back into the Lounge without having too much regard to my musing.

I picked up golf two years ago and, in the excitement of a new sport, spent big. I went with a new set of G15s, a TaylorMade R1 and an RBZ Stage 2 3 wood. I skimped on clothing, fitting myself out in whatever Sports Direct was selling for under a tenner. Clothing, I told myself, won't improve my golf game. Save the money for lessons and clubs.

Fast forward to 2014 and I had still only played a maximum of two dozen rounds, engaging with lessons intermittently and without a 'masterplan'. Still golf hadn't clicked with me and whilst I was capable, on my day, of hitting a 300+ yard drive (in real, not forum, distances) and striking my irons as pure as any of my playing partners, I had not put it all together for one round. Ever. And it looked increasingly unlike I ever would. So I told myself 2015 was the year. I either committed myself to improving or gave up the sport and continued to spend my weekends playing competitive tennis.

This year I've done it properly. I joined a club, started semi-regular range sessions and committed to bi-monthly lessons with my friend/pro. My game is coming together. It was observed during a competition in July that my clubs didn't appear to fit me properly - my pro had already warned me that I was squatting too much next to the ball rather than adopting a straight, linear posture. My propensity for tops and toes started to make sense. I was simply too far away from the ball. That, to most golfers, is the only excuse needed to go out and spend big on the new TaylorMade RSIs, at over £600. Superbly forgiving, the reviews tell us, perfect for high-handicappers. I resigned myself to needing to lay out a huge sum to improve my game and have clubs that fit me.

Golf became frustrating again. I shouldn't need to keep spending huge amounts on new clubs, custom-fittings and the like. Persimmon sticks suited players for generations and it is only the past 30 years which have yielded the false year-on-year enhancements that keep us wanting the latest and greatest. How different is a head attached to a stick to what was first hit on Scottish links courses over 200 years ago? Not vastly. So I told myself...

And then a trip to Portugal proved my point. At least to me, it did. I played a round with 1997's Top-Flite Tour Oversize irons. Not custom-fitted, not 3 degrees upright as Ping would insist I need, not 0.5" longer in the shaft. Stock. Well-worn. Scruffy. Old. A set of irons that had missed out on 18 iterations of being "the most forgiving irons ever", 18 years of development, technology, shifting of centres of gravity and whatever else the marketing machine will tell you. Yet, on an unfamiliar course with these unfamiliar sticks, I shot 9 shots lower than my lowest-ever score. I shot 13 over. I am a 25 handicap. Screw marketing, I said, I'm getting clubs which I want to play.

As I stood over the Top-Flites, what occurred to me was how confident I felt looking down over a thin top line, a chrome finish and a minimal offset. They contrasted starkly, and favourably, with my dark, thick, ugly G15s. I felt like I was playing with golf clubs the way golf clubs are meant to look. And in spite of not one aspect of them being tailored to my game, they delivered the most enjoyable round of my life. Off I trundled back to the UK to flog my G15s. Not for me, I told myself.

So I decreed that I would swap out my G15s and replace them with something I liked the look of, not something which was designed for me, a high-handicapper. I told myself the exercise could not cost me anything. This was not a case of throwing money at the problem. So I plumped for JPX825 Pros through 5-PW, a club which is reviewed as being for a far better player than me, and am in the process of swapping out my single 60 degree wedge for a sheath of MP-T11s from 52 through 60. The long end of the spectrum will be taken up by hybrids.

The result of this minimal cost exercise? The most enjoyable ball-striking I have ever had. I played the JPX825s yesterday in drilling rain and loved the striking. They are a better fit for me (I told myself not to go for a brand, model or any review - it was about finding clubs that looked how I wanted them to look and were a close fit to what my pro had static-fitted me at). I feel so much more comfortable over the ball, I love hitting them and I have experienced a sensation I never did with the Pings - 'feel'. These clubs tell me when I've hit well, when I've hit a draw and when I've hit a toe. I know every shot before I see it land. I love it. I love them.

Same again today. A PW which I can shape, spin and fly skywards. A set of irons which, whilst I have lost 10-15 yards on some clubs as against the G15s, I feel capable of 'growing' with.

My lust for shiny new things has gone. This exercise has taught me one thing. Personal preference trumps patents and product launches. If it feels right for you, it is right for you. My love for the sport has been rekindled. I can't wait to get out and hit these things. Time and time again. And now when the inevitable occasional mishit comes, I can feel it. I know that it has happened and most times I know why it has happened.

The case for shiny new things has no merits. I guess now I can equip myself in Oscar Jacobson and Galvin Green. :mmm:

P.S. I should express my gratitude to the forum member on here who sold the JPX825s to me for his part on this sport's redemption. :)
 
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daverollo

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Awesome story Ciaran, glad you are liking them. There is a lot to be said with playing clubs that look good on the eye and give you pleasure when you hit them well, whether the scores follow or not!

The set I have now look great and really happy with them , not as forgiving as the JPX's, but a sweet strike puts a smile on my face.
 

HomerJSimpson

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Is it simply a case of not getting on with the Pings and potentially being fitter badly? Either way if you have a set you now trust then that goes a long way and was the reason I got rid of my G25's for the I version as I hated the thick top line especially on the chip shots.
 

andyp1977

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I've just tried callaway xr's. Much tighter dispersion, extra 15 yards. What's not to love. The graphite shaft gave me a much better flight too which surprised me. Now to find £600. Gulp!
 

PuttPuttSteve

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Like you Ciaran, I fell in love with a set of out-and-out blades (Mizuno MP-14) that cost me £75 second-hand*. I've been playing my (quite expensive) Ping S55's for comps and just using the blades at the range, but I love the Mizzies so much, I'm going to use them full-time for a while.

* Probably fourth or fifth-hand, as they're 15 to 20 years old!
 
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