Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Big Stick

When I was twelve, I enjoyed playing the game of golf. I was a short-game wiz. In fact, without being able to hit the driver (3 wood) more than 160 yards, I didn't even attempt to win the Low-Gross trophy in the junior league tournaments. Low-Net was occasionally within reach due to a high handicap. The real feather in my cap was in mastering how to win the tournament's Low-Putts trophy.

I was a realist who golfed to my strengths. Where others in my foursome would attempt to hit the green in two, I'd aim for the fringe in three or four. Yes, even five. That way, I could chip or putt the ball from the frog-hair as close to the cup as possible without having to actually count it as a putt. Then, nearly all of official my puts were "gimmies" (putter to grip length). Now that was strategy.

By the end of the round, you can imagine the carnage of pencil markings on my scorecard. Double, triple and quadruple bogeys were in abundance. Yet despite shooting well over 130, about 20 of those strokes were putts. I didn't care that my friends easily beat me. At the time, what mattered was that while they went home empty-handed, I won another Low-Putts paper-weight.

Ah, golf. So many games within the game itself.

After puberty, my long game improved significantly. That's when I realized that without having any money to actually bet on a round of golf, the saying, "drive for show, putt for dough" didn't make much sense. Hence, the "show" part became of greater importance.

To improve the long-ball, I took lessons and went to the range to work out the slice from the #1 big stick. I learned how to hit the three wood without a fade and spent hours on the two and three irons. To round it off, I even practiced the middle irons and spent some time maintaining in the sand and around the green. Near the end of that summer, the efforts were paying off: drives were straighter and longer; the medium and short games were solid. I had dropped 10 strokes off my handicap. Overall, it was all coming together.

Then Bertha came on the scene. Bertha was big. No, I'm not talking about my third grade school teacher who had enjoyed a few too many pastry strudels. What I'm talking about is Callaway's "Big Bertha".

Until that time, there were few gimmicks that lesser golfers took advantage of. Occasionally, you might catch somebody playing with a "Robinhood" ball with more dimples that'd make it fly farther. Outside of that, golf equipment was relatively equal. Bertha changed all of that.

For those unfamiliar, Big Bertha is golf's equivalent to the German heavy artillery gun bearing its name. Callaway marketing gurus developed this over-sized, extremely forgiving driver for people like me who suffered from #1 wood insecurities. It made tee-box monsters out of the most impotent of drivers.

My friend Jamie had one. He out-drove me by a jaw-dropping 30 yards the first time he was in my group. Even more, his classic hook was gone. In a short order, that club made believers out of skeptics and started appearing in other players' bags. My long game became non-existent once more.

As a result, I grew resentful of Big Bertha. You weren't going to see me with one of those wretched things. For one, I couldn't afford it on a $15/wk neighborhood lawn mowing business. But it was more than that. It was a matter of principle. I felt that if it was my lot in life was to suck at golf, so be it. Bertha wasn't going to sully my bag, baby.

My golf game quickly fell apart after Big Bertha's arrival. I'd shank the ball from the tee-box into the woods every time that chubber-clubber was within sight. Then, when some other kid mastered 18-putting his way to 140 and Low-Putts champ, I hung up the bag for good.

The fat lady had sung and it was over for golf and me.

Anyway, I thought of Big Bertha today after a recent UP Lunch Velo Club (UPLVC) ride. In the post locker room recap, Brant said that he'd be able to hang onto Shim's and my wheel if he replaced his compact crank with a carbon 53 tooth big ring/double.


  1. Interesting how you respond to the complaints about your last post being boring: Talk about golf.

    I think, unfortunately for Brant, compact cranks are the Big Bertha in this story. Maybe Brant needs to go more traditional and get him some persimmon cranks.

  2. He needs some gutta-percha tyres rubbing some ksyrium nibblick deep dish persimmon rims rocking a graphite frame.

    Sounds like Brady has a BB fetish (big bertha, not bottom bracket) like our pal KOC has with wheels.

    It's the bike that makes you fast, right?

  3. Damn that was a painfull read. Fred's right, golf sucks even if your just reading about it.

  4. It's interesting that Fred gives me crap about following up on my last post being boring with golf talk while he blogs about coffee.

    Non è che la caldaia che denomina il nero del caffè?

    Hardy har har

  5. Of course the cube can do no wrong!