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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: January

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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 first installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf.

January

For most, the year’s first month represented a new beginning. For Flip Hedgebow, of undetermined origin and great anonymity, January represented the beginning of an end. The coolish winter months in Florida would give way to the fierce heat that made summer—eventually.

The dance that would follow was unpredictable, and the club’s membership would be certain to blame Flip for the rains, the cold, the winds, and any other atmospheric influence that deterred them from their appointed rounds as snowbirds. They had long since abandoned the logic of their younger days, accepting and even embracing the jaded, tortured outlook of the committed Floridiot, as Flip was wont to say. Tempted as he was to call a spade mashie a spade mashie, and tell them off once and then some, he valued his position at The Sextant enough to resist. Like Johnny in “Dirty Dancing,” Flip needed the gig.

The Sextant had been established by an assorted lot of wealthy individuals. Some called it a sordid lot, but few paid them much attention. The course never had a chance in golf course architecture circles—few do, in the pancake-flat 27th state in the Union. It would never be a cathedral of golf—like Seminole or Cypress Point or Myopia.

Resigned to its fate as yet another fine club outside the Top 100, The Sextant made Flip Hedgebow an offer he could not refuse. Flip had no immediate family of note. His parents remained in the north, fiercely against any sort of permanent relocation to warmer climes. They made the occasional journey to the low country, or the lake lands, but they resisted dropping any lower than Georgia’s northern border.

Flip had never stepped up to the roulette table of marriage and dropped a ball; the thoughts of constant companionship and dependence frightened him. Better to risk little than lose it all. Another one of those sayings that followed him around like the sun and moon.

As an assistant professional, Flip figured out in season two that his yearly reappointment was guaranteed, as long as…

He taught the lessons that the year-rounders despised. He worked the hours that the other assistants resisted. He brought a sense of northern distinction, tempered by a dash of aloofness, to all that he did. There was more, but who had the time to scratch all the nuance out of his modus operandi? Flip did as he had planned, making it appear that he did as he was told. Who needed to know which was which?

January also meant that he had to think about closing up shop in state 27 in preparation for a return to state 11. His time in the north ran from April 1 to October 30. Seven months above the line, five months below. Although April could be the cruelest month in the northeast, teasing warmth but tempering cold, he liked the challenge. In the same fashion, October could offer crisp delights of Autumn as it should be, with the occasional snowfall that reminded him why he headed south ’round Halloween. Flip was a man divided, with feet in two different lands.

Thus began another day at The Sextant: awaken at five, walk the thousand or so yards from his on-site apartment to the pro shop, roll the dice on the security alarm code, make a pot of coffee to combat the morning paroxysm, and set six pyramids of balls on the adjacent range for the early ball beaters.

On this day, four of the acolytes failed to show, meaning that Flip’s morning convo was reduced by two-thirds. This gave him time to plot a route northward, presuming that his Cutlass would cooperate at each turn.

Over the next ten weeks, Flip would recalculate and reroute his intended drive but, like most golf holes, he never did find a more strategic path home. It would be the same, safe play as in the previous years. No sojourns east nor west in search of new and fertile opportunities. Point the bow north, release the brake, and off we go.

Flip’s contentment was such that he failed to notice the shock of red hair that danced across the sun’s first beams along the walkway beyond the pro shop window. In fact, his contentment would prohibit him from noticing it for another eight weeks—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

This was January, and Flip was in control of things.

Artwork by JaeB

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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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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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!

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Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.

 

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between good amateurs and those who are not-so-good—and between the top professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—lies in the consistency of their pre-shot routine. I read an interesting account on this subject after the final round of the 1990 Masters when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Greg Norman. I know that was 30 years ago, but the lesson is just as relevant today.

This particular analyst timed the pre-shot routines of both players during the first three rounds and found that on the final day that Norman got quicker and quicker through his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

Anytime you watch professional golf—or the better players at your club—you’ll see precision and consistency in the way they approach all of their shots. There is a lesson there for all of us—so, here are my ideas of how the pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land, and roll. It is certainly realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches, and putts, as they are all very different challenges. As you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

On any shot, I believe the best starting point is from behind the ball, seeing in your “mind’s eye” the film clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight path it will take, and on greenside shots, just how it will roll out. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and take as many practice swings as it takes to “feel” the swing that will produce that visualized shot path for you.

Your actual pre-shot routine can start when you see that shot clearly and begin your approach the ball to set up. From that “trigger point,” you should work hard to do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. When you are out there “banging balls,” don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot.

So, guys and ladies, there’s my $.02 on the pre shot routine. What do you have to add?

 

 

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