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Secret of golf: It's not all about equipment

A friend of mine couldn’t sleep. To keep from disturbing his wife, he spent the rest of the night in the guest room. At breakfast, he told his wife they needed to buy a new mattress for the guest room.

They went to a store and picked one out. It was delivered while he was away, which is how he got cured of buying golf clubs impulsively. His wife found five sets of clubs he had hidden under that old mattress. When he came home, he saw them lined up against the hallway wall.

His wife went out and bought herself a new wardrobe.

Some people just can’t help themselves. They look at a new set and they see pars and birdies perched on every club. I’m not one of them but I do understand the urge.

We are a world of unfaithful lovers when it comes to golf clubs. We see a new putter and suddenly our old one looks plain. We see a new driver that just throbs with power sitting there on the rack and our old driver becomes attic clutter.

A new set of irons glitters like jewelry and we are convinced those babies have steering abilities built into them.Putters? A person can’t have too many. This one looks like it fell out of an airplane engine but we are assured by its maker that it has the balance of a ballet dancer.

Golf balls sit there looking gorgeous, all glistening white and dimply, silently promising to amaze us with their performance.

So we buy and buy and buy.

The problem is, most of us think we’re better than we are. (Remember that line, "Just once, I’d like to play my usual game?") When we don’t play up to our expectations – which is most of the time – we figure it has to be the clubs’ fault or the balls’ fault.

Look at the pros, we say. Sure, they’re good but they are also always using new stuff. Has to be the equipment.No, it doesn’t. Back when he was winning dozens of tournaments, Billy Casper used the same woods for 13 years, the same irons for ten years. He had them re-gripped, of course, broke three of them and had to have them re-shafted. He won a million bucks with those clubs before he wore them out.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus once played nine holes with hickory-shafted clubs and both broke 40. I looked in Sam Snead’s bag one day and saw a fairway wood that had a big chunk broken out of the face of it. So it’s not all about equipment.

Still, when I look at my set of clubs, a mish-mash that includes two putters and a 4-iron I borrowed from the pro shop, I think maybe if I had a newer set, I might play my usual game.