GOLF IS GOOD: ANDREW DADDO
WHAT is it about that grass over there being greener? The other day, I spent some time with Darius Oliver the new Wonderkind of Australian golf course design. He’s got King Island’s Cape Wickham in his credits and is very excited about a new project on Kangaroo Island. He’s spent years writing those Planet Golf books: travelling the world, playing beautiful and obscure courses, taking notes, putting lyrical sentences together with all those envy golf course pictures.
It would be fun, but that wasn’t the green grass bit.
It didn’t even matter that he’s a considerably better golfer. No, the green grass bit was his gear. When I saw him coming toward the putting green at Mornington Golf Club, I knew we’d have a problem. He only had about seven clubs in his scabby old golf bag, including a persimmon 3-wood. His putter, which glowed with love and polish looked like it had been snapped off an old Greek fishing boat’s anchor. His driver must have been five years old. His irons looked old enough to buy alcohol. As for that putter, if it had kids, they’d be old enough to have kids of their own.
I’m not even convinced it was a matching set. The irons were the same, even numbers only, no odd. But the wedges, or was that a wedge, was different. As for that Cleveland Persimmon 3-wood, my grandfather would have shelved that little knuckle of wood long ago. Breathe, I said to myself. Breeeeeathe. I had hardcore club envy, which is utterly absurd because when I looked over at my stuff, it was hard to focus given the shine coming off them. I mean, I’ve got this bag that’s too good for me and the clubs are individual artworks. They’ve all been fitted to me and my swing variants. There’s a laser doo-dad for exact distances, a ball wanger for drawing straight lines on my balls. Was I wearing the watch that confirms what my doo-dad does? Not that day, but I’ve got one. It tells the time, too. And how many steps I take in a day and which way the hole is if I got lost in fog. Darius had none of this stuff.
So that’s what I wanted, too. It struck me as being on the quirky side of nutty. And whilst I feel as if I’ve been treading those boards for a while now, clearly, I’m an amateur.
What’s with these golf course designing visionaries – him and Mike Clayton and the others – walking around with their half full bags of clubs that work for them and no one else? What’s that about?
It’s nuts, and frankly, I want to be a bit nutty, too.
I thought I was, but clearly haven’t committed to it the way they have.
Putters are as far as I’ve gone, so far. Oh, sure. I’ve dabbled in two irons instead of hybrids, buying them off the internet and putting them together in my shed. But it’s the putters that’ve got me most excited. I spent the last year or so using an old Harold Swash (pictured) I’d found, and purchased for $5, in a Cooma Vinnies store.
Every single person I played with had feelings about that putter that were exclusively negative. The more I polished it, singing its’ praises, the more people seemed to hate it. I just loved it even more.
A bit like that old song My Grandfather’s Clock, but not really, the putter went cold. Maybe around the same time Harold Swash died.
Since then, I’ve tried to find another to challenge the ability of other golfers to say nice things when they don’t want to. The result, a relentlessly ugly collection of fairly odd looking flatsticks. Which is completely ridiculous, because whilst trying to find one that works like the Swash, this beautifully weighted Odyssey putter has been in the bag. And it actually works, but only to sink putts. With the Odyssey, no one says anything. No one’s giving me the Darius. The what-the-hell-are-you-using-that-shit-for?
And if I want to get the most out of golf, and I truly do, that’s a big part of it. To commit to the ‘lunacy’ of only playing even numbered irons is still a bridge too far because I’m just not a good enough golfer. You can only really get away with using crap stuff on purpose if you’ve got the skills to overcome their shortfall.
Or maybe the old stuff’s like the new stuff. Maybe the visionaries are looking backward into the future. There might be something in that, which would be kind of cool, because an auction’s about to end on the net for a very dull looking, old hickory putter. You’ll never guess who’s the highest bidder?
HIS IRONS LOOKED OLD ENOUGH TO BUY ALCOHOL. AS FOR THAT PUTTER, IF IT HAD KIDS, THEY’D BE OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE KIDS OF THEIR OWN.