Friends, several years ago I shared the story below with a few friends. I am publishing it now for the first time on TheBuddyBlog.com so that all my blog followers can enjoy how easy and quick a golfer can be humbled by the the game of golf! So while I continue my search for the perfect driver, enjoy a laugh on me!
Outdriven by a Putter
The male ego is never more on display then when playing golf, especially when hitting a golf ball. Men will spend a fortune in an elusive attempt to find the magic club that delivers power and accuracy off the golf tee. With the PGA Pros routinely knocking drives beyond 300 yards, it has somehow become a test of manhood to see how far one can drive that silly little white dimpled ball.
My own experience has been somewhat inconsistent. I too confess to always being in search of the perfect driver. Over the years brand labels have hinted at the power waiting to be unleashed. TaylorMade has its “Burner,” Nike their “Sasquatch” and “Sumo,” Tour-Edge their “Bazooka” and “Hot Launch,” and Callaway their “Big Bertha” and “Rogue.” I once had a Callaway driver titled FT-i, but don’t ask me what the “FT” or “i” represented. I sometimes think it meant the “Fool Took It.” These impressive rods of thunder look rather like a pineapple on the end of a stick. Apparently, large club heads have greater “forgiveness” when struck off-center…or at least that’s what the ads say.
PING has a women’s driver titled “Rhapsody.” Hey, I do not discriminate. If I could hit a 300-yard drive with it and feel rhapsodic, put that cute tropical green-colored stick in my bag! Reading about such clubs with adjustable hosel technology and their Crown Turbulators reducing aerodynamic drag, while their low center of gravity increases the Moment of Inertia makes me think I am back in a Physics class at Georgia Tech. OOOH, such talk gets my testosterone all stirred up!
It may surprise anyone who has played with me lately, but I have indeed hit a 300-yard drive…ok, it was a few years ago..…..ok, ok maybe a couple of decades ago. However, in full disclosure, it did require a good tailwind, a downhill fairway and the help of a sprinkler head to get an extra kick! But 300 yards is 300 yards, and who am I to quibble over the path taken! But the reality is that now in my 7th decade, I can only hit a driver about 230 yards, and that’s if it is accompanied with a good grunt. Oh well, age is finally outpacing technology!
A few years ago I found myself in a golf tournament at the River Forest Golf Course in Forsyth, Georgia. My friend, Ken Wimberly, was hosting a celebrity golf tournament fundraiser. Several former Atlanta Braves and Hawks were there to play. Ken has been supportive of some of my golf tournaments, so I naturally wanted to return the favor. I rounded up three other AT&T souls and off to Forsyth, Georgia we went. Tom Mitchell, a retired General Manager, has been a friend and colleague for over 30 years. Brandon Hartley was a young manager in my group. Jimmy Mann was a supervisor in Lilburn that Tom knew and suggested we invite. Besides, he was a scratch golfer.
After we arrived, signed in and warmed up on the range, we grabbed lunch and waited for the fun to begin. Ken Wimberly, being the friend that he is, made sure to introduce me to the top celebrity present, Major League Baseball’s former home run king – the Atlanta Braves, Hank Aaron. Shaking his still firm grip of a hand was worth the cost of the trip in and of itself.
We shot an 11 under par 60 for the day, placing us 6th among 34 teams – not bad! But what I remember most is what took place on the par 4 17th hole. As we pulled up to the tee box, I immediately noticed how the fairway descended to a creek some 200 yards below us and then rose gently to an elevated green some 400 yards away. It was imperative our drives clear the creek and set up a close approach shot to the green. My contribution to the team this day usually involved my short-game shots and putting. Since my drives were usually the shortest of the foursome, my role in this tournament was to put a ball in play off the tee thus allowing my partners to swing away in hopes we would have an even better shot to select from in this Scramble format.
Fortunately, I hit one of my better drives from this elevated 17th hole tee box, with it just clearing the creek and landing some 224 yards below us on the fairway. It was at this time that Tom Mitchell decided to pose a question. It was more of a challenge. “Want to see a putter outdrive you?” he asked while the rest of us offered a quizzical “WHAT?” Tom smiled and stated quite confidently that he could out drive me with a putter. Needless to say, with my manhood threatened, my only response was, “Yeah, right.”
Before I go any further, I should explain the cart path on this particular hole followed a serpentine course downward from the right side of the tee box, across the front of the tee boxes and down the left side of the fairway where it met a short 25-foot long bridge crossing the creek below. My ball laid some 20 yards beyond the bridge. An 8-inch concrete curb lined the cart path all the way down to the bridge. Keep in mind the creek was some 40 feet below us making the serpentine cart path a rather steep descent.
Tom took his putter and laid a ball on the cart path beside our tee box. Acting like he was only making a 20-foot putt, he tapped his ball and watched as it proceeded down the cart path bouncing between the concrete curbs much like a pinball machine. It soon went out of view as it careened with ever increasing speed down the path. Seconds later we saw the ball shoot out of the path, bounce across the bridge and onto the fairway on the other side of the creek…….right next to my ball!
As soon as the others had hit their tee shots, we drove down the path to see which ball was the best to choose for our next shot. Jim Mann had out driven all of us by 40 yards, so we knew we had a good ball in play. But my eyes were laser focused on the two balls closest to the bridge. As we crossed over the bridge, it was quickly apparent that Tom’s putter had indeed out driven me by 3 yards. Amazing! The concrete curbs had kept the ball inside the cart path and served to launch it over the bridge as the ball descended the path and reached maximum speed. Technology didn’t beat me, just the laws of physics…..and a putter. So much for drivers with large club heads.
Oh well, at least I got to shake the hand of Hank Aaron.