May 19, 2008

The Angry Golfer: Go Ahead, Spend $500

Go ahead and buy that driver without a professional fitting. You might as well pump that money into a slot machine

May is usually the month when I get calls from my high-handicap friends wondering whether they should spend $500 on the new Nike driver, the new Callaway driver or the latest TaylorMade model. My first urge is to recommend they hit $400 worth of range balls, but since I'm such a nice guy, I let them tell me about the tendencies of their games for a few minutes, then offer the same advice every time.

Get fitted. Find an impartial performance center where the primary business purpose is to identify which equipment works best for you. If that's too much work, visit one of those turbo-charged golf stores that has a launch monitor and someone who knows a spin rate from a pulse rate. Hopefully, the guy won't be working off an incentive from a particular manufacturer, but even if he is, your odds of getting the ball airborne just got better.

Unsatisfied with these options? Walk into your pro shop, grab three drivers and ask if you can demo them, because buying such a club off the rack—or worse, asking the never-in-the-fairway Angry Golfer—is dumber than purchasing a wedding ring out of a catalog. You're not looking for 240 yards out of a diamond. Just a few years of peace and quiet and a Saturday morning pass.

The weekend hack probably needs a set of custom-built clubs more than Tiger Woods, who could shoot 68 with a sack of buffalo wings. What many golfers fail to understand is that nobody makes bad equipment anymore. The big manufacturers spend millions upon millions on RD, and with hundreds of different shafts available to choppers of all shapes and sizes, the fitting process has never been more refined.

So take advantage, then go hit balls. Call me when you break 90. I might even want to hear about it.