Among the equipment-obsessed, it’s easy to get fuzzy on the details of golf clubs’ comings and goings in and out of your life. And there was a lot to keep up with.
In Part 2 of this post, we’re still in 2009, when Steve Valandra turned his attention to upgrading his fairway woods.
He paid next to nothing to a private party for a couple Adams woods, six or seven years old, but worlds better than what he had. Never loved ‘em. He had a Cobra 3-wood in his bag, which he liked, but it was 10 years old.
They rest now in a bin in his home, where all his once and former weapons live.
Eventually, his club-lust fixated on a TaylorMade Burner 3-wood.
Maybe, he thought, with store credit from GolfUSA (for trading in a used club) … and the cash from selling the Adams noise-bomb … he could find room in his budget for the Burner.
He glommed the Burner in late 2009. He loves it.
As he got better as a player (lately, he’s clicking with a new teacher, Kris Swanson of Olympia), he brought with him a clearer understanding of his own game, and the best clubs for it, when he haunted the retail stores and online auctions.
But you didn’t for a moment think he was settled on a driver, did you?
He sold the MacGregor last summer, then tried to hit a Srixon for a while, only to realize for himself what had been suggested privately: too much club, not enough player (yet). Last year, he got a guy at Capitol City to buy the noisy Adams.
“He bought me lunch, too,” Valandra said this week.
The current driver of choice is also an Adams, a Speedline Fast 10 model. It might be “the one.”
He never rested easy with the MacGregor NVG irons mentioned in the previous post. After much research (patient, in his new golf maturity), last year he purchased a set of Adams OS irons, which included 3-, 4- and 5-hybrids.
He likes them, a lot. So, finally, the quest, at least to an outside eye, would seem to have lost its urgency.
“The clubs suit me,” said Valandra, whose handicap has dropped from 28 to 20. “With (Swanson’s) instruction, I can see improvement.
“I want to break 90 on a regular basis. It’s not gonna happen this summer.”
Craig Foster, an Olympia golf club technician, has seen worse cases of the golf disease than Valandra’s – much, much worse. And he’s seen plenty of golfers who never come to realize, as Valandra has, that it’s really more the shooter than the gun.
“A lot of it comes from a lack of understanding of golf clubs, the alignment of them and how they work,” Foster said. “They think there’s a magic club. They think that’s the first suspect, the club. It’s really the golfer.”
Oddly, through all of this he never talked about changing putters (though he quietly acquired a Cleveland Bronze putter last winter, which “I kinda like, but something about it bugs me.”) Until this week …
The equipment-geek symptoms, subdued since he bought his irons, resurfaced out of nowhere. He can’t really say why he found himself with a new driving iron in his bag.
He hits his driver all right, most of the time, and on the days he doesn’t, he can take out one of his confidence clubs – a Nickent 2-hybrid – and use that on the teebox.
So the driving iron wasn’t a case of need … maybe simple curiosity. He said it looked cool. What he did know for sure, very quickly, was he couldn’t hit it worth a damn.
So he took the driving iron back where he got it – good advice for any average player – and traded it straight across for a putter.
End of story. For now.
Special guest commentary, by Craig Foster, golf club guru (from a 7-1-11 email):
“Steve started like many people do, with ill-suited equipment. Last time he was in, his bag was filled with decent clubs.Driver is the first club that beginners want to smash, but it is typically the hardest to control. I always tell new golfers to hit 3-wood off the tee because it goes almost as far as driver and is easier to control.
“I could tell from his responses to my questions that Steve was getting better. He knows there is a long way to go but at least he is getting some payback from the game.”