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Swanson: The Green Jacket would be Spieth’s if he knew anything about iron design

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Warning: Swanson, the author of this story, does not exist… except in his writing. His character is completely imagined, but that doesn’t mean his opinions aren’t real. 

Recently, I shared with the GolfWRX community my golden nuggets for selecting the 14 clubs in your bag, as to abide by the USGA maximum club rule. Some of you were astoundingly unappreciative. I’ve been getting hate mail and negative comments since it’s been published.

Therefore, I’d like to use the first half of this story to address the responses, which are utterly appalling. The second half of this week’s article will be dedicated to an equipment tip for Jordan Spieth to improve his game and avoid any future meltdowns.

Responding to the Hate

1)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.06.51 PM

Swanson: “Duffer,” you sound like quite the stick. But think about this: If I couldn’t hit a 1-iron better than Hogan (he actually hit it too low), would you care what I had to say? Golfers always complain that the best teachers can’t play a lick or hit it out of their shadow. Consider me your saving grace. How’s this: I’ll play each of the top-100 teachers in match play, and we’ll see who knows more about golf.

2)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.06.18 PM

Swanson: Loser? I remember the last time I needed a 2-iron to reach a par 5. It was around when Bush was in office… Bush Sr. If you want to play for big prize money, you can find me at my country club every week with a locker full of cash and a tee time.

3)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.04.30 PM

Swanson: 17 handicap, yes. When I play the entire round with a putter.

4)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.54.36 PM

Swanson: Stab at Ian Poulter? Uh no, he’s a family friend. My father sold Poults his first Ferrari back in ’92 before my father bought Ferrari (the company).

5)

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.54.13 PM

Swanson: Funny story. I’m good buddies with the character on which Spaulding Smails is based. He’s a “good egg,” as they say. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m named after the driver of the boat in Caddyshack, since my father loves boats and yachts.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.39.23 PM

“Move over Swanson, I’m driving!” Just never gets old!

6)

Screen-Shot-2016-03-30-at-1.53.33-PM

Swanson: They’re handmade by the Dalai Lama’s right-hand man, and I have his cell number if you’re serious. Message me and I’ll get you a price estimate.

7) 

Screen-Shot-2016-03-30-at-1.53.20-PM

Swanson: The last part of the last sentence was spot on.

An equipment tip for Jordan Spieth

I actually feel bad for Jordan. He probably thinks he choked The Masters away. I mean he did, but it wasn’t his fault. I went through literally the same exact thing, so I know what happened.

You see, I’ve also hit a tee shot into the water on No. 12 at Augusta National (I also used the drop zone and got up and down for bogey, but that’s not the point). I got fit for new irons the week before I played Augusta for the first time. Admittedly, I wasn’t the stellar ball striker I am now, so the fitter put me into a set of game-improvement style irons. You know, thick top line, cavity back, thin face… the whole works. They were basically garbage cans, but who was I to question the fitter, right?

So I get to Augusta National with a bag full of shovels, and I struggled a bit on the front nine and made the turn in a few under par. The par 5s are basically par 4s, and the par 4s are basically par-3.5’s, so nothing special. I just wasn’t catching the new irons flush, and didn’t have the precision I had with my forged blades.

Nos. 10 and 11 aren’t nearly as difficult as the pros claim, so I cruise through those with easy pars. But then I get to the 12th.

AugustaSwanson

The pin was all the way on the right, similar to where it is on Sunday for the Masters. The hole was playing 154 yards and the wind was swirling. I decided to try and take the wind out of play, and went with a low-slinging draw with my 9 iron. It’s a shot I’d hit a million times with my forged blades, but the ball floated out to the right and never drew back to the pin.

I knew immediately it was the club’s fault. The forgiveness of the irons kept the ball from drawing back to the pin.

I went onto birdie 5 of the last 6 holes (I missed 3-foot eagle putts on Nos. 13 and 15 because I was flustered), and would have had the course record (which is only 63) if it wasn’t for my irons.

But I learned my lesson. That was the last day I ever played an iron with even an ounce of “technology” in it. In fact, after the round I took a NetJets home to get my forged blade irons, and played the course again the next day. I couldn’t get it going with the putter and shot 66… but I made a hole-in-one on No. 12.

They say there’s only been three holes-in-one on that hole, but there’s actually been four. When I told the committee at Augusta National I made a hole-in-one there with a low-squeezer 9 iron, they didn’t believe me, and no one was there to attest. They no longer allow me on the premises because of the dispute, but if you jump into the pond in front of the green, you’ll find a set of game-improvement irons.

And that’s where Jordan Spieth’s irons should be, too. If he wants to win any more majors, he needs to ditch those irons with all that forgiveness and switch to blades. It’s no wonder he hit the worst tee shot I’ve ever seen there, he had zero ball control.

Please email ([email protected]) or tweet me (@longballswan1) with questions you’d like me to answer for a new segment called “Yo, Swanson!” I’ll answer anything you want since I know pretty much everything about everything golf-related, and I can help you avoid you’re own major meltdown.

Longball Swanson, out.

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Swanson doesn't exist, except in his writing. He doesn't play for score any more, as he's too busy working on his spin rates. For tournament purposes, he has a 2 handicap on file from high school golf, registered at his home club, which is only reachable by private watercraft.

59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. Frank McChrystal

    Aug 29, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Tongue in cheek, maybe. If you have hands of stone and think the AP2 is a players club then this article is twisted and has your brain shutting down.

  2. Jeff*

    May 11, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    He shoulda been using the AP2 wedge came with his set, but he wanted to look like a gamer. In front of all the press, and it cost him a Masters. Hard lesson. We could a told him.

  3. The loop

    Apr 28, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Hilarious that so many don’t realize this is satire, tongue-in-cheek! I never knew so many live each day with their underwear so tightly knotted!

  4. cody

    Apr 22, 2016 at 11:10 am

    i think these articles are funny

  5. Andrew

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    please stop doing these stupid articles. he is a terrible fictional character and a waste of space on the site.

    • Tyler

      Apr 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Dude lighten up. It’s an entertaining article that makes us laugh because we see pieces of ourselves in it.

  6. RG

    Apr 18, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I use GI irons….when I play left handed. I’m a natural righty so I often play lefty which gives me a chance to use my putter. The last time I played the ‘Ol Girl (That’s what Arnie, Jack and I call Augusta) I shot 31 going out ( That’s what Arnie, Jack and I call the front 9) playing lefty. I got bored draining putts so I switched righty coming in ( That’s what Arnie, Jack and I call the back 9). I birdied 12( SW to 6’) and as I was walking off the green I decided to take a dip in Rae’s creek.It was really hot that day so I just stripped down and jumped in.You know they have a rule against that?! Ridiculous!! Well whatever, that place is totally overrated anyhow. I mean they don’t even have carts for Christ sake!
    O and Swanson, about that locker full of cash…..

  7. AllBOdoesisgolf

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    sometimes writers should stick to content instead of comedy.

  8. Bogeypro

    Apr 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

    It might have been better if it was actually funny.

  9. Other Paul

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:27 am

    I was out playing today and was having the round of my life. And then things went sideways. All i got from people with me was that i had pulled a spieth. And when anyone 3 putt or worse it was an Els.

  10. Dtrain

    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    The last 3 times I played Augusta I took my SGI irons and just hammered a PW over the back bunker and because if the super high traj the wind brought it back to the green. Went birdie/par/bird. If it wasn’t for the fact my caddie called a penalty on me for accidentally anchoring my eagle putt on 18 I would have shot 61 for the course record.

    You live and you learn I guess but if anyone know Jordan’s email address PM it to me I think I could offer him some good advice.

    • RG

      Apr 19, 2016 at 2:16 am

      Yeah, I go long every time I hit PW there to. I’m telling ya the shot there is 3/4 little half thinny punch cut SW.

  11. Tyler

    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Have we even considered his iron shafts? I mean he’s ONLY playing a PX 6.0. How the heck does he control such a wet noodle of a shaft? I mean if the shaft is the engine of the club then Spieth is running a single overhead cam V6 when every other tour pros (and myself of course; gaming PX 9.0 currently) are running fully blown V8s!

    • Dtrain

      Apr 17, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      Actually it’s just the thingy that connects the head to the grip.

  12. Mark

    Apr 17, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Several northern English words can be used to review this article. Cack. Drivel. Tripe. Shyte.

    • Alex T

      Apr 17, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      You forgot twaddle and bollocks. It’s also those, too.

  13. The Real Swanson

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:39 am

    This isn’t even that funny, so I shanked it 10 times.

  14. DB

    Apr 16, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Swanson for President! Wouldn’t mind he and “The Trump” having a friendly 9 holes against each other. Love the articles, Please keep them coming!!!!

  15. Roger Daltry

    Apr 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Funny. However, totally agree with the cavity/blades argument. I’m way better with blades, period, and yes, been through the whole change/change back process. Too bad many more don’t realize blades force you to be better as you are more connected with your tool.

  16. Alanp

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I read this in bed while the wife was sleeping. I woke her up from laughing.

    • :-ppp

      Apr 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Enjoy talking to yourself and laughing at your inner jokes, do ya, Schizo Smizzle?

  17. Nathan

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Hmm,
    How did you describe the responses to your first article?
    You said utterly appauling, I find them a reflection to the article written, and from this perspective I would have to agree.

  18. michael johnson

    Apr 16, 2016 at 6:09 am

    this is me feeding the troll

  19. NikkoAZ

    Apr 16, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Other than the fact that almost everything you just stated is complete bs????????I do agree all players on Tour should not be gaming in their bag “game improvement” irons. I mean a club is a club it is a certain length, loft and lie and is what it is.But the level that professionals play at you need to have complete control of your shape and trajectory. Jordan Speith did not loose cause he’s playing AP2’s, it was the Indian and not the arrow. Plus if anything his miss would be left due to the offset of a more forgiving iron. But to give you my opinion, play with whatever you are confident with whenever you pull that club out of the bag, for me I do play blades and don’t plan on switching because when I pick what shot and club I’m going to hit I know what it’s going to do. So play with clubs that you know how the ball is going to react and most importantly have fun.

  20. DW

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    You’re growing on me, Swanson. Not like a fungus but rather more pleasantly. Good stuff.

  21. Johny Thunder

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    The guy who wrote this is obviously insane.

    By the way, what the h*** happened to Stephen Colbert? He was my hero, but he almost seems a bit liberal these days…

    • DW

      Apr 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      He’s always been liberal. Never more than when he did the Colbert Report.

    • Bernie Sanders

      Apr 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

      That was the funniest thing I have read in weeks Jonny.
      If for some strange reason you were serious, then you are living proof of what I’ve thought of conservatives guys all along and may I humbly recommend that next time you vote for a someone for president – try to choose one that has an IQ above room temperature.

  22. Philip

    Apr 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Great! Now where is the satire article from someone of the opposite point of view? Shovels or bust!

  23. Marc

    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Loved it , went well with my Bacardi and Coke sitting in my lazy boy watching a little heritage classic.

  24. Joe D

    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Almost peed my shorts. Hilarious stuff. Love it. Its sad that some here actually believe this.

  25. Bob Pegram

    Apr 15, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    This was funny and obviously satire. However, I agree with the comments on extreme game improvement irons though. With blades when you feel you are making a mistake, you can sometimes correct it with a roll of the wrists. Doesn’t work with game improvement irons.
    On par 3s into the wind I purposely hit the ball low on the face with one more club to reduce spin and shot height. Can’t do that with game improvement clubs.

  26. talljohn777

    Apr 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Sorry, but nobody plays Augusta by themselves. They play with a member and a caddie. So, the fictitious hole in one would have been witnessed. Also, the pond in front of the green is a creek.

    • RG

      Apr 19, 2016 at 2:30 am

      Show’s what you know. It’s a pond Mon-Fri. They only turn on the creek sat-sun and during the tournament.

  27. Steve

    Apr 15, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Crap like this is why I don’t visit the site as often as I used to.

    Painfully dumb.

  28. kingfish

    Apr 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I am just stumbling upon this article… is it meant for any bit of seriousness or is this just a big joke? I am being serious in my question also because I have never read this guys stuff before.

    • Jack Nash

      Apr 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Maybe it’s a late April Fools. Spieths rinsing the balls on 12 had everything to do with his swing and not his irons. He’s already got a Green Jacket with those irons.

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        Apr 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        Just to clarify, we added this note to the top of the story:

        “Warning: Swanson, the author of this story, does not exist… except in his writing. His character is completely imagined, but that doesn’t mean his opinions aren’t real.”

  29. Timbleking

    Apr 15, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Swan, you’re my writing hero. We want more!! Keep it up!

  30. Chadio

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Yo, Swanson! I think you were the single playing in front of my group at Augusta when you hit that sweet low draw in to 12 for an Ace. I’ll attest for you if you have any trouble with those old codgers. I’m playing Miura…..what is your favorite blade?

  31. Imanoff

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    So, Spieth will leave Titleist, because their iron materials is not good enough at his level. And PXG has actually designed a special blade for him, including a -iron, made with damascus and carbon shaft. This time, however, his irons will be single length. And it will be hard-stepped three times, so that he will not floated out the ball to the right again. At the end of the day, he will win another green jacket. Not only that, he will win the blue one, the red one, even the black one as well.

    Well played, Swanson. Well played.

  32. Kevin

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    You all need to calm down a little bit. This is a joke to poke fun at your typical Golf WRX member. I am one just as much as the next guy, learn how to have a laugh.

  33. Rev G

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    This article is ridiculous, everyone knows that Jordan Spieth lost the Masters because he’s wearing unproven Under Armour shoes. If he was wearing Foot-Joy or Adidas he’d have won by ten strokes. By five if he was wearing Mark Ecco. Probably could have got into a playoff wearing Sketchers or Nike. But Under Armour, come on, they put him at way too big of a disadvantage. He’s been very lucky to win anything with their proto-type shoes, but now that they’re retail, forget it. I’m going to post to this article again after I figure out how many strokes Spieth lost by playing the new Super Stroke club grips.

    • RG

      Apr 19, 2016 at 2:43 am

      The real problem with UA shoes is the lace tension. They have changed the hole configuration and gone with a new grommet but it is not quite work with the 2mm lace (and as we all know how bad UA’s lace tech lags behind other OEM’s) this in turn can cause slip through the tarsal and meta tarsal and we all know what that can lead to….sod laying. Although UA has been a leader in moisture wicking apparel(and we know how important that is) they are definitely behind in their lace, grommet and grommet patterning.How very insightful of you Rev G. (and no we are not related).

  34. Mike Bond

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    This is stupid. Jordan was blocking himself ALL day. Everything was going right because his swing was off, nothing do with his clubs

  35. Erock

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Was waiting for him to say Spieth needed more upright lies.

  36. Mike Honcho

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:45 am

    GEEZ-US!, they let this bizzaro world, Herbert Warren Wind Mark Twain rip-off write another article after we Cleveland VAS shanked the last article. Just admitting that you’re friends with the real-life Spaulding Smails sums it up. You may be a good stick, but as a writer you couldn’t break 120 if all the holes were down wind and the greens were running at 7. Al Czervik sez, “Does this article come with a bowl of soup?”.

  37. cgasucks

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Please tell me that this is a parody article…this article was meant to joke around..

  38. McLovin

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    hemingway has NOTHING on you…..gave it 2 thumbs up

  39. Jason

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I love the Onion…Greagreat work.

    My blog is better, but I can’t help it…I am a narcissist.

  40. joel

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

    The picture made me laugh. My vote is more of this.

  41. Nucj

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Hilarious. Big fan of these satirical articles and its needed here. Too many people jump at the chance in the comments on this site to make their egos feel big. Too much negativity.

    Keep it up GolfWRX!

  42. BRS

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Best writer on Golfwrx, period.

  43. Scott

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Absolutely. Hilarious.

  44. Ferb

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

    this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

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Podcasts

On Spec: Club fitting isn’t magic! Also, Lydia Ko and Stewart Cink win again

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On this week’s episode, host Ryan Barath covers everything from Lydia Ko’s comeback win on the LPGA tour, to why club fittings aren’t some magical thing that’s going to instantly lower scores.

It also covers Stewart Cink’s win at the RBC Heritage and offers a sneak peek at the GolfWRX Best Iron list of 2021.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) here

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Opinion & Analysis

Fix your golfing back pain, Step 2: Early stage rehab

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others. 

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

This article is No. 2 in a 4 part series.

Step 1 – The Importance of Assessment

Step 2 – Early Stage Rehab

Step 3 – Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns

Step 4 – Building global strength for prevention of future injury

Introduction

Now that we have identified the source of the back issue through assessment, it’s time to start working on the underlying causes, in order to reduce pain and decrease the likelihood of re-injury further down the track. 

In our experience, mechanical back pain in golfers caused by physical issues is most often caused by one or more of the the following 4 issues, with many amateur players displaying the entire collection!

– Lack of Mobility at the Hips and Mid / Upper Back

– Poor Posture

– Misalignment and Muscle Imbalances

– Weak Core Muscles

Because pain is likely still a factor at this stage, we need to proceed with caution and focus on rehab work that is low intensity and has a low risk of causing a pain flare up.

With that in mind, in ‘Step 2: Early Stage Rehab’ we are going to address Mobility, Posture and Misalignment / Muscle Imbalances. These 3 areas can be improved upon, and should have a positive impact on pain reduction, even if back discomfort is still restricting larger, more global movements.

Step 2.1 – Improving Mobility in Hips and Mid / Upper back

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine (lower back) falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected.

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation forces in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercise Circuit – Hip Mobility

1) Self Massage Glutes – 45 secs each side

2) Cross Leg Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side

3) Prone Glute Stretch – 30 secs each side

4) 90 90 Hip Mobility – 5 reps each side

Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

1) Self Massage Mid / Upper back – 60 seconds

2) Upper Back Extension – 30 seconds

3) All Fours Rotation – 5 reps each side

Step 2.2 – Improving Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

The 3 major spinal curves: 1 – Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this has had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures.

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

The muscles responsible for holding your posture are located deep in the body and close to the spine. Strengthening them can be tricky, as we don’t really have a lot of conscious control over their activation. Hence posture being such a difficult thing to remember! The combination of the 4 exercises featured below help provide the stimulus to those deep muscles that, if trained often enough, will automatically hold your posture in a good position.

Suggested Exercises – Strengthening posture muscles

1) Wall Posture Check – 30 secs

2) Posture Cue – 60 secs

3) Posture Cue Knee Lifts – 10 reps each side

4) Arm Press – 15 reps

Step 2.3 – Fixing Alignment Issues and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right, back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and / or below.

For example, if we have short / tight / overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knees to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain, then this would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance.

In the next article; Step 3: Essential Strength and Golf Movement Patterns, we will show you the progression of exercises and key technique principles to build up the strength and movement patterns to return to regular exercise and golf.

If you would like to see how Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

If you would like to access training programs designed for elite and recreational players, then check out the following resources and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App (iOS)
Online Training
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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)

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Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.

As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the third installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here. For February, click here.

Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)

No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.

Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.

No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.

In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.

Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.

Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.

They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.

Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.

How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?

(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)

Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.

(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)

If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?

It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.

Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.

They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.

 

Artwork by JaeB

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