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  • Alistair Tait

A Golf Club Love Affair

Like all great love affairs, it was fantastic while it lasted. But the affection we had for one another didn’t last and we slowly drifted apart.

We still see each other, but the affair was so long ago we’ll never to get back together. Relations are cordial if a wee bit strained, yet I still can’t get her completely out of my life.

I’m talking about golfing infidelity, not the real thing.

How many reading this have an old club you just can’t bear to get rid of even though you’ll probably never use it again?

Why can’t I throw away the old 1-iron that’s been sitting in my garage for nearly 20 years?

Many times during a clear out I’ve been tempted to toss that old club. I’ve had no problems getting rid of old putters, drivers, wedges, but that old 1-iron still sits in a corner of the garage where she’s been since we split up all those years ago.

I’m perplexed as to why I fell out of love with that club, a Ping Eye2 1 iron. It was my go-to club for my first years as a Woburn Golf Club member. I used it in every medal, every stableford, confident I was going to get the ball in play most times on the claustrophobic, steer-the-ball fairways of Woburn’s then two courses, the Dukes and the Duchess.

Thing is, I could hit fairways with that club. Not just at Woburn. I once used it on every par 4 and par 5 at Royal St George’s and made 18 straight twos in stableford. Trust me, I was shaking over my four-foot putt on the final hole for that Faldoesque 18th straight two pointer.

I can remember that day almost as clear as crystal. I stood on every tee knowing I was going to hit the fairway. I felt like Moe Norman, confident I was going to hit it straight down the middle, and long considering the ball was running miles that day on the sun-burnt Sandwich links.

I partly blame former European Tour pro Craig Hainline for splitting up me and my 1 iron. I once played with the American in a British Masters pro-am around the Dukes course. I pulled 1 iron on the first tee and found the short grass. I did it again at the next. That’s when Hainline asked me why I wasn’t using the driver I was carrying. I told him I had no confidence in the club because it had been unfaithful to me on too many occasions, unlike my 1 iron.

Hainline chided me, asked me how I was ever going to gain confidence with my driver if I never hit it. Besides, he said, only one score counted that day so why not take advantage and whale away. He also told me to hit driver as much as possible when I went to up the club for a few holes on my own, or just playing bounce games. That way I’d gain confidence in it.

It was sound logic, even though I never hit another fairway that Pro-am.

So ended a beautiful relationship. When I tried to get back together with her she just wasn’t interested. I went from finding the short grass on a regular basis to struggling to get the ball in the air with my 1-iron.

The love affair was over.

Years ago, I interviewed Scotland’s Charlie Green, he of umpteen Walker Cups and a slew of amateur achievements as long as a 1-iron shaft. I can’t remember the purpose of the interview, but I’m reminded of him because he had the same love for an old 1-iron as I have for mine.

Green had just turned 72, and told me he’d just bought a 5-wood as a birthday treat, but was a bit depressed. He said:

“The 2-iron is long gone. So is the 1-iron, which used to be a great club for me. I’ve still got it in the garage, but that’s where it will stay. My days of hitting a 1-iron are long gone. I used to love my 1-iron.”

I still love mine too; she just doesn’t love me. I should never have cheated on her.

I’ve been tempted many times over the years to take her out again, just for old times’ sake. Take her up to the practice ground and see how she’s doing. But I’ve never plucked up the courage. I fear it’s been so long there will be no magic left between us.

Maybe I’ll hang her on the wall of my office. After one more sneaky, practice ground rendezvous of course…

#JustSaying: “If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron."

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