This operator is determined to find out whether it really is the equipment

Golf tops other sports in one very important (and expensive) way: You’ve got to have the right equipment, and the right equipment is going to cost a lot of money.

It starts with the golf ball. When I was growing up, I started hitting a certain ball because it didn’t cut as easily. Never mind that it was like hitting a rock. Never mind that some shots would go considerably farther than others even though they were hit exactly the same way.

Eventually, I wised up. I started playing with better players. I watched pro tournaments. I saw that most of them played Titleist. I tried it and, ever since then, that’s the ball I use when I’m playing a round I care about.

You’ve got to have a decent bag, of course – especially one that’s comfortable if you’re going to carry it. Range-finders have become important lately. And you want clothes that look halfway decent.

But we all know what the biggest expense is. The cost of golf clubs has gotten to the point where it is almost like buying a small car. No longer can you walk in a pro shop and get something decent for a few hundred dollars. Now it’s well into four digits.

In my view, you need to have several good reasons to invest that kind of cash in our great game.

You’d better love it, first off. You have to look at this as an investment in your future and also something that will bring peace of mind to your routine. You should hit lousy golf clubs no more than you should drive a car that breaks down all the time.

It also has to be clear that your clubs are outdated – that it IS the equipment and not just the operator. Even if you bought clubs as recently as five years ago, the technology probably has overtaken them. But no club, no matter how advanced, is going to fix a swing problem that has gone undetected. Take a lesson first. It’s cheaper.

Finally, you need to have hit the wall with the clubs you have. So much of golf is confidence, and if you lose confidence in your clubs, you’re done. This is especially true of putters and drivers, but it extends to everything in your bag. Look at how often the pros change various clubs. Happens to all of us.

I’ve come to the point where I’m 3-for-3 on those factors.

The first one is easy. I love golf so much, I’m willing to pay whatever it takes to have the right clubs. And if that means paying more, so be it. I’ve got to do this right.

I do believe that the equipment will make a big difference at this point. People who know golf clubs have looked at my sticks and said they’re badly in need of an upgrade. Everything I’ve got is at least 10 years old.

But, for me, the most important reason of all to make the switch is that I just can’t go on like this.

I just can’t take looking over a putt, looking down at my previously trusty putter and feeling as if there’s no chance I can get the ball rolling on the right line.

I just can’t handle hitting anymore wayward drives when I know that part of the reason is the fact that I’m swinging a driver I bought off a rack. It wasn’t fitted. It doesn’t suit me. It doesn’t feel good in my hands.

And I’m done with feeling as if I have to hit driver because my 3-wood feels even worse. I should be hitting 3-wood every time there’s any kind of trouble on the hole. I tend to be pretty straight with the 5-wood, but that’s just not enough club on a hole of any length. A 3-wood, however, would still leave me with a second shot of 150 yards or less on a par-4 that doesn’t stretch to 400 yards.

So it’s time to embark on what I’m going to call my Most Excellent Club-fitting Adventure (MECA). I’ve been talking to a professional club-fitter. I know what it’s going to cost. I have a plan.

I’m first going to get fitted for a new putter, one of those heavier models with the big clubhead. I’ve loved ’em every time I’ve tried ’em.

Then I’m going to get new woods. I don’t know what brand. I’m not tied to TaylorMade or Titleist or Callaway. I just want what feels best and what produces the best ball flight. I’m not willing to spend a fortune, but I’m willing to spend a significant amount of money.

I might even buy the woods one by one just to spread out the cost a little and also to see how it goes with each new weapon.

So here we go. It’s a lot of money, but I love the game too much to keep playing the clubs I have. I have never felt readier for an equipment change.

Will my MECA lead me to the scoring mecca? We’ll see. But one thing’s for certain: It will eliminate any excuses out there. It will be all on the operator. And that’s the way it should be.


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