Feeling well-equipped is another reason to play more

Every golf course I visit these days, I see lots of people. I have never been so delighted to have difficulty reserving a tee time. If you don’t think a week ahead, you probably won’t be playing until late in the day.

A nice problem to have.

Furthermore, it seems as if I’m coming across more people than ever who want to give our great game a try. Their curiosity has been piqued as they, too, see all those people when they drive past a golf course.

“They look as if they’re having fun!” they say. “Maybe I should see what that’s all about.”

It all started when the pandemic started, of course. This is the good side of contagious. People needed something to do – they couldn’t be cooped up in their houses forever. Golf gets them outside, in fresh air, not overly close to other people. It was the perfect antidote.

But I think I’ve discovered another reason why courses are so crowded:

A lot of people must be trying out new clubs.

I’ve never been the type who changes equipment at the first sign of trouble. I measure my loyalty in decades, not years. In more than a half-century, I’ve bought about four sets of woods, two sets of irons and three putters.

It wasn’t just the expense. I didn’t consider it a priority, that’s all. I don’t feel the need to have the latest, greatest thing. If I hit a bad shot, it’s operator error.

But then I got my new putter last week, and everything changed.

It’s a Ping Fetch, with a wonderful feel and an even more wonderful way of picking up a ball – you just put it on top of the ball, and it sticks in the opening. Brilliant.

“I won’t need that,” I told people, “because I’ll make everything.”

Only kidding, of course, but my new toy already has made a difference in another way: I can’t wait to try it out on a real green.

Sure, it felt great in the golf shop, and I’m putting the ball straight and true on my living room carpet. What will it be like out on the course?

Will I stand over a 20-foot birdie putt and think about making it rather than letting “Don’t three-putt!” seep into my thick skull?

Will I consistently make 5-footers, saving myself at least three or four shots a round?

Will I feel like I know what I’m doing on the green after all these years of saying that’s the weakest part of my game?

I’ll see how it plays out over several rounds, but it would be amazing to save strokes on the green for a change rather than throw them away.

For years, I have been famous for hitting a great approach to the green and not converting the birdie or saving the par. There have been days when I could count at least a half-dozen such instances.

And I have played alongside people who are the exact opposite. They don’t hit the ball especially well tee to green, but, boy, can they chip and putt. Grudgingly, I’ve put a few dollars in their pocket when I thought I hit the ball much better than they did.

So maybe that’s why we see all these people out there. They bought new equipment! Got to try it out! I know the first thing I did after taking my putter home was to not only start plotting my next rounds but also to think about taking it to the course for some extra practice.

To which I say, “Good! Anything to play more golf!” There’s never a problem with that.

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