On swinging…

On swinging
… a golf club again.

Part 2

If you read my last post you’ll know that I’ve started playing golf again.

Encouraged by a group of friends in Bristol, and with more leisure time to hand, now I’m an empty nester, I’ve headed back onto the golf course.

Clearly, Mark Twain never went to Trevose, where you get to play golf, get a bracing coastal walk and amazing views of Constantine Bay, all at the same time.

While my last post focused on the politics of golf, in this blog, I focus on the materiality of golf – that is, the relationship between me, and my clubs.

You see, my new golfing chums laughed at me the first time we played.


Well, it certainly wasn’t because I was useless; in fact, I gave them a pretty good game and they were suitably impressed.


It was my clubs they were laughing at; I still had the same set of clubs I’d got for my 16th birthday. “But why,” I asked, “do I need a new set of clubs when I can give you a good game with these?”

Except for one of my chums who’ll always be way better than me, the others’ games started to improve and improve. I was struggling to keep up. The competitive edge had crept in. Something had to be done.

I didn’t have the time to improve my game through practice. Like so many before me, and I’m sure after to me too, I deluded myself into thinking, “It’s not me, it’s my clubs.”

For sure, in the intervening 35 years golfing technology has moved on significantly. I went to see the local golf pro’, a short drive away from my campus office. He was very obliging and helpful, as he pointed all sorts of gizmos at me to ‘capture’ my swing as I whacked balls inside a computer simulated environment of a golf hole. I tried a few different makes of clubs out and settled on a driver and a set of irons that were tailored made for my swing. After all, the computer had said so; I could see it in the statistics.

My new clubs are great. I’ve hit the best shots I’ve ever hit with them, including a drive of over 300 yards that I can still see in my mind’s eye. However, just as my new clubs make great shots even better they also make bad shots even worse; and, I’m afraid, there are still plenty of them.

The thing is my new clubs are lighter than my old ones; they’re made of carbon graphite rather than stainless steel. I thought this means I need to have a slightly slower, more languid, rhythmic swing than I’m used to with my older, heavier, stainless-steel irons. It turns out I was wrong. The local golf pro’ told me to whack it harder.

I may have new clubs but I’m still swinging like they were my old ones.

Before I hit the ball I’ve started talking to myself in my head. It’s like my mind is telling my body, “I’m using new clubs, I’m using new clubs, slow down, take a deep breath.” The problem is my body isn’t listening.

My swing is embodied. I’ll have to rebuild my swing by learning to play again, this time with my new clubs and remembering it in my body.