EquipmentJanuary 8, 2016

Parting is such sweet sorrow: Breaking up with my putter

My dear Excalibur,

An eternal bond exists between golfers and putters who have taken arms in the field of battle, a spirit certainly applicable to us. Adversity reinforced our fidelity: A big-money loss so devastating I had to live off graham crackers for a week; when we were stranded on a course during a tornado; the time I played a round with a girlfriend's father.

However, there was also prosperity. In 15 years together, the sunshine outweighed the rain. I named you "Excalibur" because you were my magical, golden sword. It was a rapport celebrated and cherished. Our relationship, I believed, was in a forever gaze.

Which makes the following so tough: You are being replaced.

Officially, it's a "resignation from active duty," only because you deserve the respected connotation. But if you're wondering what's spurring this split, well, it's simple:

It's you, not me.

Photo by Lucas Zarebiniski

Let's be honest: It wasn't a pretty summer. What was once a feared instrument deteriorated into a three-jack machine. In the past, I would eye 20-footers with conviction. Now, I'm hoping to keep it on the damn dance floor.

For the longest time, I chalked the inaccuracy to the Indian, not the arrow. I devoted more time on the practice green; when that failed, I visited the optometrist, figuring misreads were the problem.

But then I started on the Hot List project. And soon, a pattern manifested.

When I paraded you at meetings with club manufacturers, the response was universal:

  1. "Wow, this is a classic! Look at the craftsmanship on this sucker! It's a beauty!" Immediately trailed by:
  2. "Boy, this is liiiight."

The latter became a point of contention, as I took it as an upshot of the counterbalance revolution in golf.

I thought counterbalance putters were for grandparents and choppers. An academic study concluding 84 percent of golfers played better with a CB putter unmoved me. I was a Doubting Thomas.

Yet, my job required further investigation, rising to a crescendo at the Hot List Summit, where more than 20 putters were at our testing disposal. Many of these flatsticks were gigantic in size and weight, aimed to heighten the club's moment of inertia for forgiveness on misses.

While MOI's influence and magnitude are up for debate, it became increasingly clear there was an air of vitality in this class of clubs.

I began to wonder, "Could this theory improve my game?"

Curiosity got the best of me; I became entangled in an affair.

Worse, you were there when it happened.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

This sums up my putting performance in 2015.

Yes, in Arizona that week, I took you on the course, and we had a swell time. But, when I left you at the Wigwam Resort bag drop, I didn't return to my room. I headed for the practice green for an extracurricular experience.

And the things I experienced.

From five feet to 15 to 30, it didn't matter; the hole resembled the Kimberley Mine. I was making putts like I was in a terrible sports movie montage. The performance I staged earned a solemn nod from the grounds crew; a more fulfilling approval, there is not.

The name of the club in question doesn't matter. All that's important is my confidence in you is gone. What that putter did for me on the practice green, I thought was only fantasy. Knowing what I know now, I can't go back to how we've been.

And it's not solely what I did with that club; it's what you're not doing for me. Mentioned above, we haven't been the same as of late. We use to make putts on a consistent basis. Now, at best, you find a hole once every two weeks, if only to keep me happy. You don't even look excited when it happens.

I don't want to belabor the point. If you don't know your MOI is M.I.A. by now, you're never going to realize it. Instead, let's focus on what we had.

A 15-year run is impressive. Most golfer-putter relationships end after four or five seasons. And, despite what you may have seen on this site, I'm not going to put you out of your misery. I want to frame you, hang your glory from the rafters. You're a legend to me.

Unfortunately, as we are seeing with Kobe Bryant, even Hall of Famers have expiration dates. Sometimes, they're the last ones to know they've kicked the bucket.

Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

Frankly, I don't know how that applies to us, but I've always thought that quote was badass, and hope it softens the fact that we are done.

Godspeed, my friend.

Love,

Joel


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