Bogey Golf My WayBy Dennis MarthIntroduction Bogey Golf, My Way By Dennis Marth Golf… People who don’t understand the game mock it, but those of us who do understand love the game. It is the challenge of the course, the competition with your opponent, and most importantly, the mental challenge of defeating your own personal golf demons that makes golf the ultimate challenge. To play golf well is one of the most difficult of all sports accomplishments. You can be a bad bowler, or a weak link on a sports team and still be competitive within the group. But golf is a truly lonely game for the beginner or the very casual once-in-a-while golfer. There are varying levels of competency in all sports, in all activities in life. To be a truly great golfer, to be able to play at, or below, par is an enormous accomplishment, one achieved by very few people. Being a ‘scratch’ golfer requires excellent eye-hand coordination, mental acuity and dedication to the game. One of the great aspects of golf is that there are several levels of competency that allow the individual to compete, and be successful within the framework of the game. The goal of many golfers is to play at a consistent level where their score each round allows them to compete with other golfers of a similar skill level. The player’s age, height, weight is unimportant. As long as he or she can perform in a consistent way, keeping one’s score within a recognized range per round, then competition and fun can prevail. Golf, like anything else you do for recreation, should be fun! Which brings me, finally, to the reason for this article. For those of us who love golf, but lack the physical skills, or the time and resources to devote to become a scratch golfer, there are things that we can do to become happy, competitive golfers….Bogey Golfers! According to Golfblogger.com, only 55% of adult male golfers in America regularly score below 100. Barely more than half! Average Score Percent of Adult Golfers Under 80 5% 80-89 21% 90-99 29% 100-109 24% 110-119 10% 120+ 11% So, what can we do to improve our average score and maintain a realistic bogey score? That’s what we will address in hopes of keeping our scores lower and our enjoyment factor higher. We’ll look at each component of the game with an eye toward realistic improvements that help us stay Bogey Golfers! Coming soon – Equipment, from Drivers to Putters, from Gloves to Shoes Equipment, from Drivers to Putters, from Hats to Gloves to Shoes Equipment, from Drivers to Putters, from Hats to Gloves to Shoes The holidays are upon us, Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, and golf season is very hit and miss. Which describes my golf game to a tee. But I’m not here to talk about my poor play, I’m here to talk about golf equipment. If you are a veteran golfer who knows exactly what golf products match your game, then you probably don’t need much input. But if you are a new player, or someone looking in a new direction, then please follow on. Let’s start out with the easy things first, apparel. Hats? I recommend them. Seriously, especially in southern climates. Keep the sun from cooking the top of your head and help your eyes as well. No specific style recommendations. Wear what you like. Shirts, shorts and trousers are similar in that it such a personal choice. My only thought is, dress well, look like you belong there. Gloves are interesting. There are many brands and price ranges. My suggestion is, stick with real leather gloves. They feel better on your hands and work the best. Cheap gloves are usually made from manmade materials and do not breathe as leather does. You get what you pay for here. Shoes, golf shoes, are recommended for their better grip on the ground, especially on uneven turf. Again, prices range all over. The smartest move is to try on a variety of shoes in different styles and price ranges. There is the removable spike style as well as shoes with permanent non-removable spikes. Styles vary from athletic shoes to more conventional shoe styles. My only recommendations are be certain they fit well, are comfortable and provide decent support. Remember that you will be on your feet a lot with golf shoes. They’ve got to fit right. Golf balls, the most common holiday gift to the golfer. If you are lucky, the person gifting you knows which ball you prefer. If you don’t have a favorite ball there are certainly plenty of offerings from the golf industry. There are the obvious choices, Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, Srixon and many others, famous and not so famous. The recent addition of the Vice golf ball is quite comparable to the Pro V1 or TP5. A top of the line dozen goes for around $50. If you are looking to prepare for the coming season, better deals can frequently be found on Ebay, especially if you are buying more than a dozen. I usually look for a deal for 3 dozen each winter. If you do not yet have a ball of preference, try playing several different balls over the course of the season. My bet is that you’ll settle on one or two favorites. Finally, we get to the meat and potatoes of equipment, the clubs. As it happens, I have been actively involved is assembling a new set of clubs. My approach to this task has rarely varied. Determine which brands of clubs I prefer and then search for the best value for the least amount of money. This means that I never buy this years’ model or anything and I tend to look for good buys online, mainly Ebay but many other outlets as well. As an example, I found a TaylorMade M1 3-wood, new, for the ridiculously low price of $30 on a Google search at an obscure (too me) website. There are several Ebay sellers featuring 1, 2, 3 and 4 seasons old leftover, brand new set of clubs. If you are more comfortable buying at the pro shop, or Academy Sports, then by all means do so. I’m not here to knock retail outlets. I am offering a strategy to save money. A new set of quality irons, from the major producers, will cost upward of $500, many nearer $1,000. A new, leftover set can be had, frequently, for $200 or less. Also used sets, well taken care of, can provide great deals. As part of my new set, I’ve acquired a 2015 set of TaylorMade CB Tour Preferred irons for $130. My goal of a complete set with NOS and quality used clubs has come in at $250. There are no new sets that I am aware of that can be purchased for under $500 – 1000. My advantage here is that I have played long enough, with many different sets of clubs, to know what clubs I like to play. I also am not in a hurry as I won’t be playing much in the winter. For the novice or infrequent player, swing different clubs….ask a playing partner if you can swing a few of their clubs. Get the feel of different clubs. When you are ready to buy or upgrade, do your homework! The internet is your friend when researching about anything. If, like me, you are an Ebayer, track several instances of the clubs you’re looking for, take the time to know the best sources and the best prices. When you are certain, make your move. There really is no need to pay thousands when hundreds will do. Last, but far from least, is the most important club in your bag….your putter! If you don’t think the putter is the most important club you own, try this simple test. Count each putt (including gimme’s and pickups) and at the end of your round calculate the percentage of shots taken with the putter versus all the rest of your clubs. You will find that 30-50% of all golf shots are with your putter! There are more different style putters on the market than you can count. What is right for me will not likely be your preference. We might play the same clubs and still be miles apart on the choice of a putter. Like all clubs, I suggest trying many different putter styles. When I was a teenager, I fell in love with a putter in the pro shop. I asked the pro if I could try it for 9 holes. He reluctantly agreed, cautioning me to be very careful with the putter. I proceeded to play 9 holes with 12 putts. I also bought the putter at the turn. Fifty plus years later it is still the putter in my bag. Now I realize that this is not a typical story, but the point is you need to try a putter on the greens, not a couple of putts in the clubhouse. The world of golf clubs is so diverse, it is a serious challenge to find the right set of clubs for your own approach to the game. Take your time and don’t be afraid to experiment. And most importantly, make sure to buy what makes you feel most confident when you go to the course.