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Apr 02 2010

Suits, irons and the stubborn male ego

The Deep Stuff logoBy Richard Hricik

Guys never want to appear ignorant. It’s the answer to the why-we-never-want-to-ask-for-directions question. Men who are asking for directions are asking for help and are therefore weak, stupid or both and it is akin to death to appear as such in front of their woman. Thankfully technology, GPS and satellite directional uploads have put an end to this confrontation as any man will tell you using a high-tech tool to solve any problem, including being lost, is always very cool.

So it is equally true with a few other areas of our lives. In a former life, I sold suits. Guys would walk in and think that they knew their sizes (most don’t), think they know how long their sleeves and trousers should be (not a chance), and think they know what ties look nice with what shirt/suit combination (not by a stretch).

The owner of the suit store where I worked inherently understood men and this perception problem. He deftly implemented a Don Rickles-type shtick that smashed these beliefs since guys don’t usually respond to subtlety. He would say, “Let me do you a favor and try something new. I’m going to introduce your cuffs to the tops of your shoes – it appears they have never met before.” or “You can wear that tie with that suit, but do me a favor – don’t tell anyone you bought them here.” Or upon entry, “Looks like you need a suit.”

He disarmed them with sarcasm and then told them what they needed. In the end, they left the store well-dressed, properly fitted and the owner earned a loyal customer.

Buying golf clubs entails these same issues. Most of us think we know what we want, what works and what doesn’t, and we don’t need anyone else to tell us what to buy. This is in spite of the fact that golf club manufacturers and physicists have spent untold resources to figure out the science of what is the optimal arrangement to maximize distance as well as lessen dispersion.

These include complex variables such as ball speed, club head speed, launch angle, spin rate as well as shaft composition, weight, flex, torque, kick-point and equipment setup in length, lie and loft. If you read this and have no idea what all this means, then you are an ideal candidate to go do two things: (1) go to someone who fits clubs and who has a really cool tool like a launch monitor and (2) do as they tell you.

The goal of golf equipment is to improve your game. Let me repeat: improve your game. If I owned Tiger’s equipment it doesn’t mean that it is going to help me score like Tiger (I know what you’re thinking), and all that would do is get me in all kinds of trouble on the golf course and would ruin my relationship with the game. What works for Tiger won’t work for me. I also checked with my wife, who emphatically agreed.

This all comes to mind because a short time ago I found myself on a chilly but sunny afternoon down at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons, Georgia, with club fitter Curtis Leggett. The facility is top-notch and he has all the equipment by Mizuno, Titleist, Callaway, Taylor-Made and Ping with interchangeable shafts and setups. The best part was that in addition to the computerized feedback that only he surveyed, I was hitting live balls on a range and could see the ball flights for myself.

My driver is custom and new and after a few hits he quickly concluded there was no need to change anything. He instantly established credibility as it was clear he didn’t want to sell me anything I didn’t need. Unfortunately, it also confirmed to me that I knew more about my golf swing than he did. We moved to irons and I started telling him about what I didn’t like about my current irons, why they were bad and what would work. He patiently nodded. Then I selected a new iron that I wanted to try that was identical in every respect to my current iron. Oops.

So then I shut up and listened and tried what he put in my hands. He setup an iron for me and the first words out of my mouth were, “I hate how this thing looks.” I then proceeded to crisply stripe a half dozen or so shots in a row. Then Curtiss said, “You’ll get over how it looks when the numbers on your scorecard go down.” Point made. My new irons will be arriving shortly.

Golf puts to use many skills and I need to look at all of them if I want to get better. Too often in life I’m convinced I know what’s best for me and I cease to hear anyone or anything contrary to what I believe. And just like my golf game, when I refuse to listen, it means I will never improve.

Until next time, play well.

Richard is a golf enthusiast, local lawyer and part-time writer seeking publication of a novel about golf. Contact him at ©2010 Richard Hricik.

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