Ode to the Blades

About six months ago, I made an impulse buy to get the Mizuno MP-20. It was a gorgeous club. Absolutely smatteringly gorgeous. If I could take out a golf club on a dinner date and movie and not be viewed as an absolute mental patient, I would.

Yes, when I played it, yes, I was expecting myself to struggle. And Lord did I struggle. The face of the mp20 is tiny. It’s daring you to improve. So I went to the range, again and again, trying to craft out my skills like a samurai going to training.

But getting better at doing something wrong is still basically a $hit way to go through life, isn’t it. I didn’t have the confidence looking down on it. I loved the thin topline. The face was another matter. When you caught it right, there’s no feeling like it.  I am not sure if its the hype of copper plating or what not, but there is a stark difference in flushing the MP20 vs my MP54. The problem was, I was flushing the MP20 one out of five attempts while the MP54 was, meh, around 3 out of 5. Big difference when faced with a 6 iron into the greens.

So finally, after another round of bad irons 2 weeks back, I decided to finally say a (temporary) goodbye to the MP20s and move back to my 54s. At least on the long irons. I couldn’t bear to remove the shorter irons because the set looks so good. DAMN IT! When we need to break up with a girl, we need to break up with a girl! What’s wrong with you, man?

Anyway, we headed to Sg Long. Sg Long is now infested with what I call “Ang Moh Infestation”. Ang Moh = Westerners. We were nicely waiting for our turn on the first teebox behind 2 flights of Westerners, when another flight zoomed in and passed us and squeezed into the tiny space between our flight and the next. We were like, “Oi, WTF? We were here, you need to queue lah! <Chinese expletives because Malaysians are too nice to curse in something the Westerners understand>”

The AngMoh got out of his cart like John Wayne with his testicles the size of Brazil and sauntered to the tee box and told his ‘organizer’ who looked a little like a shorter Don Corleone and said, “These guys are telling us to queue.” He didn’t even bother looking at us, this western son of a b…ig woman. Our inability to scold these western vermin is the reason why we got colonized in the first place.

Anyway, Don Corleone walked to us and said, they booked it through the app and told us, we should try it. Please note these guys look like octogenarians with one foot in the grave and the other foot in a sandbunker. So it was weird to see a great grandfather explaining to me they have an app to do booking. So I said, well, you are in the club and the marshal says its our turn to tee off. And he shockingly said, no, the marshal doesn’t know shit. The app knows everything and they have already paid and booked for it.

Notwithstanding this moronic explanation, and just the general air of superiority these guys went through everything and the undermining and belittling of the marshal, I asked the marshal and the marshal just muttered these westerners were ‘always like that’. He sounded like a man constantly abused mentally and defeated in his early Marshalling days and now he is just a shell of a man looking to get out an abusive relationship.

He helpfully suggested us to go to the back 9 and tee off behind another group of Westerners. This group of Ang Moh wasn’t part of the Mafia gang gathered on the front 9. When they asked, they spoke in Australian accent. So technically they weren’t Westerners. They were Easterners. So they are fine. And they were way more polite than those yahoos on the first tee.

So off we went on the back 9 of sungai Long. After the usual misses, three putts , a few duffed shots etc, I ended up with a respectable 44 with 3 pars. Could have been better, but could have been worse.

Back 9 came.

Started with a chip in birdie. Then parred the long par 5 with regulation on. Long par 3 bogey, then par 4, just a bad approach but saved bogey. Then I went on a tear of 5 pars in a row including the final hole with an approach of 180, then chip and sank in the 8 footer. It was probably the best display of 9-hole golf I’ve had in maybe the last 5 years or so, to get a +1 , 37. Final score was 9 pars , 1 birdie and a couple of double and the rest bogeys for 81. Again, I missed out the mythical 79, but hopefully I am getting close. If I were to analyse, I would say, the front 9 par 5 12th, with a 135 to the hole for regulation on and just messed up my 8 iron with a big push. Then on the par 3 14th, pulled the devil out of my 8 iron again behind a tree and ended up with a double. Then a very simple 80 meter on the par 5 18th with a sand wedge and I completely went under it and it only went 30m.  Frustrating. Those were the strokes that would have led me to the glorious 79.

My 8 irons were the MP-20. For the 54s, I never hit a bad shot all day. This included a few glorious 6 irons into the green, and 5 irons zipping to the flag.

I gave this analogy to my partner as we walked up the final hole. Going to the MP20 was like having an affair with a younger, more beautiful woman while being married to your wife. This is purely from non-experiential point of view, to give this disclaimer. So you feel awesome going out with a younger girl looking like Scarlett Johansson. However, after a few months, that feeling wanes and you wonder, why Scarlett doesn’t cook like your wife, or enjoy a simple Saturday night out with the kids, without the parties; or stop spending on useless crap in the most expensive places; or just stop dressing like her skirt is disappearing from the Thanos snap; or that annoying high pitch voice that constantly seems to ask for you to be nice to her; or those vacuous conversations about nothing that does not have any brain activity involved etc.

And you go, damn, I wish I was back with my wife.

That’s basically the analogy with my MP-20s going back to my 54s. My 54s is the comfort. It doesn’t look that good as the 20s, but it was like slipping back into your comfort drink, or an old pair of slippers. Once in my hands (except for the worn grip), and looking from it from the topline, you go, “Oh yeah, my old friend, it’s great to see you again.”

This feeling is for this round. Knowing how we play golf, who knows what will happen in the next?

The Power of Mediocrity

It goes without saying that most of us, most of time have no. CLUE. what we are doing right or wrong when it comes to this game of Golf. That’s why it’s so addictive. We are constantly chasing the high – the last memory we had of a good shot – a good drive, a good putt, a chip in, a bunker hole out, an eagle, a birdie, a hole in one, a miraculous shot over an impossible terrain … anything. While 99% of the time we are snap-hooking, duffing, topping, 3-putting our way to infamy; that elusive 1% makes us constantly wandering around the course looking for it. Most of us will likely haunt golf courses in the after-life or hopefully play cosmic golf in the heavens.

KGNS was the site of the second round of 22. And it was not a good site.

My drives were still stuck in the awful back 9 mode I was in Glenmarie; I seemed to have forgotten how well I was smashing the ball in the first 9. But somehow by some stroke of good fortune and pure fortitude, I managed to bogey my first two holes, chipped in a par for the third, and 3 putt bogeyed the fourth. So far it seems rather ok, despite knowing my game was structured like a house of cards.

Par 4 fifth, hit a great drive, my first good drive. Then proceeded to duck hook my six iron into the g*ddamn water. W.T.F. Past 4 holes my drives were awful and I still managed to squeeze a result out of it and the moment I hit a great drive, I proceed to sabotage it with an awful approach. Dropped, and went on to double bogey. Next up , Par 5 6th, great drive, good second shot, left with 120 to the hole and duffed my approach. Then skulled my chip to the back, came back again for 5 on, two putt. Another double.

Par 3 seventh – shanked my hybrid, another double.

Par 4 eight, topped my approach into the bunker, hit a good bunker shot , escaped with a bogey.

Par 4 9th, topped my approach into the water. Ended up triple. WTF is wrong with my approach? It’s not just irons – I was playing my hybrid  like a rabid hyena snorting cocaine as well.

First 9 was a train-wreck score – +13 for 49.

Back 9 was slightly better – started with a par, before screwing up the par 5 for a triple. But then came back with another par on the par 4 12th, bogey-bogey for 13th and 14th.

The par 3 15th was an awful one with a bunkers on right and water left, and around 180 to the green. I managed to get a small landing spot near the fringe , chipped to around 8 feet, and closed with a par.

Par 4 16th , I smashed my drive into the tree, and sitting around 150m in the rough, proceeded to hit possibly my best 6 iron of the day to the green, around 15 feet from the hole, and rolled my putt in for a very improbably birdie.

Par 5 17th, narrowly missed par and settled for bogey, and the final 18th, just lost legs and got stuck in the bunker and ended up double bogey.

Final score – 49-43, so did not break 90 at all, but its not a bad recovery. And my driver was still struggling nevertheless, so all in all, it’s pretty ok in terms of scoring. And at least, its 2 birdies in 2 rounds so far, which is good.

Another sub 80 Slips away

I make no secrets about my lifelong golf ambition. It’s very easy supposedly and its enough for me to slip to my grave if I achieve it.

I just want to shoot a sub-80 round. That’s it. Simple.

I was on course for it in my first game in 2022 in Glenmarie Gardens. As I’m getting used to my new MP20 clubs, I started the round with my driver smoking hot. I was hitting the driver almost perfect for the first 7 holes. First hole, routine regulation and Par. Second hole, par 3, 3-putted from 10 feet. Frustrating. 3rd hole, my second shot on par 5 with a 3 wood took me to just 10 meters from the green. But what a shitty chip and a disappointing par. After a couple of bogeys on the par 4 and 3; my second par 5, again, a perfect drive and perfect 3 wood took me to even nearer to the green, around 5 meters. This time, a good chip and a birdie. After that, the two subsequent holes 2 pars including a pretty good save on 8 from the woods. On the par 4 9th, again, from the woods, landed on the fringe with around 10-15 feet to the hole and guess what – another 3 putt. I could have saved 2 shots from my 39.

But just as the possibility crept into me to break the 80; my entire game unravelled on the back 9. My drives deserted me and left me hooking my drives again. It’s a testament to some pretty ridiculous short game and putting that I still managed a 46, with the shots I was hitting. Nothing demonstrated it more than the 16th par 5.

I was hooking so badly that I aimed my shot way right and my drive went straight into the trees and dropped a feet away from the ladies tee box. A duck hook 3 wood later, I was left with around 230 or so to the green.  I finally hit a good 3 wood leaving me a difficult 40 meters from the green and I stuffed my 4th to around 6 feet. My putt lipped out for a bogey, but it was this sort of fighting golf that left me scrambling like a monkey at the back 9.

I don’t know why I am playing like a pro in one 9 and then collapse like an idiot in the back 9. Its this type of Jekyll and Hyde game that leaves even a respectable 85 a bad taste in my mouth. It could have been a WHOLE LOT BETTER.

Back to the drawing board. On the bright side, starting with 85 bodes well for 2022. That’s 6 pars, 1 birdie, 8 bogeys and 3 double bogeys. Not too bad but could have been better. Now, just to fix my driver again.

Bad Golf, Here We Come!

For those who know me, I am one of those golfers that are incorrigibly bad at golf for the very reason that I rank aesthetics and looks above performance and money. Let me explain. If I had half a brain that works for golf, I would know that as a 12 – 14 handicapper, I have no way in high heaven or seven hells that I can ever play with a club that is designed for pros or at the very least single handicappers. I used to have cavity Taylormade and when I had the chance to grab a Mizuno MP-54, I grabbed it even though my game suffered like a mad cow slowly being split in half by a rusty drill. Then, I saw an MP-57, which makes it even much much more hard to hit seeing that the 57 was a much older tech compared to the 54. I went and buy it and used it and the cycle of pain continues.

For a driver, I went for testing, and even the fitter told me, SIM Max is suitable for you , as your drives are all at least a bit predictable. I said No. The SIM looked like a club that has gone through a pyschedelic makeover after taking too much drugs and seeing talking barstools – meaning – it’s way too colorful and busy for me. I want my clubs to be the absolutely boringest piece of equipment ever. And so, Titliest would be the one. Frustrated, the fitter then said, OK, there is the Tsi2 which has good CG at the back and I was hitting it OK as well. I said, No. The shape looks like me after having one of my durian binge , with the bulging head shape like my stomach. I want the classic pear shape of the Tsi3. Does it fit my swing? Who cares? It looks awesome!

So here we are, a few days before the Mizuno 221,223 and 225 was announced, I sort of knew that the old version MP20 was going to be unavailable by the golf stores. I called up my fitter and asked him about the MP20. He said, the entire Malaysia was sold out already and MST was preparing for the new Mizzies. But he added, that there was a faulty set available in Penang, that was the last of its kind on this God loving country.

I said Faulty? He said, there were aesthetic dings and scratches, but nothing that affected performance. It’s a Mizuno. Dings and club chatter is PART of the Mizuno lore because of its blardy softness. A Mizuno without this is like a car without a wheel. I said, OK, bring it on, with the discounts – but was still very pricey; and I was then looking at an available MP-5 for almost 60% of the price.

But come on – MP20?

I knew I couldn’t play it. If there was a MP 20 HMB set available, maybe that would be a lot more suitable for me. But MP20 MB blade? It’s like dating Scarlett Johansson. You know, you just ain’t good enough and everyone will be looking at you and go, “How the hell did this loser end up with her?” The MP20 is Scarlett. In fact, I will name my set Scarlett.

Come on.

Say it, it’s f-ing gorgeous. Its even reflecting my big, fat, bald forehead.

Can I hit it?

Hell, no. No, no no.

I’ve played a few 9 holes with it. And last week had my first 18 with this set, in Palm Garden. Shot an 88 – which you would think its pretty ok, but I hardly used my MP-20s. I had a few here and there, chunked my 9 iron once, mishit a few times very badly. This MP20 is like a wife – if you did something wrong – she lets you know and she lets the entire world know about it. You hit it fat? Your 9 iron goes into the water. You thinned it or you missed the center by a hairline? Too bad, your 7 iron now looks like a flaccid p-nis that goes 80 meters only. But the moment you pure it – and it happens occasionally, as in very occasionally – that feeling gets you uncomfortably high. Like as in, you go, WTF is this intense feeling of pure orgasm in the middle of the golf course surrounded by 3 other guys?

No, the 88 was down to some great chips, some great 3-wood, hybrid and some wondrous putting using the left-hand low style. If I had my irons working for me, I would have probably shaved 3 – 4 strokes and at least played to my damn handicap. But I wouldn’t have the MP20s.

So there you go – welcome to bad golf but with a set that is completely unsuitable to the game but so damn pleasing to the eye.

Putting Changes

It seems every MCO brings about a change in the golf game.

Possibly due to boredom and the closure of golf courses, I’ve taken the time over the past 6 months plus to revamp the swing and move from the conventional weight shift left-right and left again to a stacked left side. The result? Well, I am not playing worse as before. In fact, my score is more or less the same, hovering between high 80s, low 90s and occasional moving down to mid 80s and low 80s but never breaking 80. That’s pretty much how I play previously.

The problem now seems to be more in the irons and less of the driver/woods. Especially, the shorter irons which I generally pull left and the occasional struggle with the mid irons when I would shank it. I haven’t figured out why, but those blow holes are usually the 7/6-iron shanks. But the drive now is very much more consistent and distance wise, more confident.

Putting seems to be the problem now, so for this MCO, 3 things are being experimented.

a) Left Hand Low

I saw Jordan Spieth putting the lights out and tried his grip. Even though it’s indoors, and on a cheap putting mat – it works. It feels much more ‘intact’. In terms of the takeaway and stroke, it feels more one piece as opposed to my previous conventional overlap. Of course, it’s on a mat, so a lot of discount is needed on the results, but it does feel better, which is important.

b) Forward press

I never thought this would help, but it does. I always had a weight back a bit on my putter stance and sometimes hit up on the ball the same way as how I hit the drive. With the forward press, the putter face is more level and lower when it impacts the ball and it seems a lot more solid as opposed to my previous attempts to hit up – causing very inconsistent hits and often end up just brushing the damn ball – the way I did my eagle putt at the Impiana a few weeks back.

c) Head Up Putting

Now I probably won’t put this in practice just yet but have been experimenting this since a year + even before I knew there was a term for it. My original idea was that – if we threw a ball, we don’t look at the ball we are throwing, we look at the target. So why is putting different? Only recently I found out this is actually a thing that many other people are thinking – and saw Jordan Spieth do it as well. So, head up putting isn’t about staring at the golf hole, it’s about just loosening up without getting too caught up staring at the ball. What I do is to just look probably a few feet ahead of the ball, or to the break-line that I want my putt to go, blur my vision and just stroke the ball.

Blurring my vision is how you do when you disfocus your vision on purpose, same way as you would do when you are looking at a 3D magic eye picture and looking through the picture instead of at it. So far, again, it works but I haven’t done it much on the course except for some simple 9-hole games when we don’t have those previous RM5 hanging on the hole. But now that I know it’s an actual method used by the best putters in the world, why not??!

So those are the changes on the putting – let’s see how it works out as soon as this MCO is over and we are back out on the course!

A Review of Q1 2021

So after around 4 months into 2021, it’s probably a good time to review how the new swing change is shaping up. First of, for a couple of months, the lack of golf was evident, although we are getting back into the groove now (despite our COVID cases increasing!), so we are trying to get as much golf in before any lockdown occurs.

I do a 9-hole walk on Tuesday with a secondary set – a 917F 3 Wood with a putter and 2 wedges + 3 irons (5,7,9 – my old Mizuno MP-57). Honestly I think I play better without my driver as this 3 wood is only around 30-40 meters shorter.  So scoring wise there is good, but better is the morning walk, with just a range bag without trolley.

We’ve crammed in also a couple of rounds of golf in Mines, Glenmarie, Saujana Impiana, Palm Garden and the results were – varied. I think I am back to my scoring as previous before my swing change. Like in Mines, I scored a 90 and 84, Glenmarie – 100 and then an 88. Palm Garden a 92 and an 84 and Saujana Impiana a 92. Good scores? It’s more or less the bloody same as I would score before the changes!!

But.

I do feel the game is coming along fine. For Saujana Impiana, that 92 could have easily been an 87 or 88. I had 4 triple bogeys against a fair number of Pars and a birdie. Of the 4 triple, 3 were really ridiculous. One was caused by a six iron shank from prime position on Fairway. Second was a lost ball after a good drive that just skittered a bit to the left, but for some damn reason, we couldn’t find the ball (most frustrating thing in golf), the third was the final hole, after being on the fringe in 2, and proceeded to duff a chip and 4 putted into infamy.

Only the first quad bogey where I hooked 2 into the woods would I say it was unavoidable.

But the encouraging thing for Impiana was how I played the par 5s. The first par 5 (Hole 3 I think), I proceeded to birdie it after my second 3 wood shot left me only 40 meters from the hole. The next par 5 in the back 9 I thunked my 3 wood so perfect from the fairway from 240 meters that I had to run up and apologise to the group on the green because my shot ended up around 20 meters from the green.

And the final par 5, hole 17. Bombed a drive (or so I thought) to around 160m from the green, and hit my new 5-iron (I reshafted it to a graphite) for my first two-on Par 5 after such a long time. What proceeded after that would forever be part of golfing lore. But before that, the group behind us had a guy who bombed his drive even further, to 100m marker. In fact, it was extremely dangerous as we were around that area as well. So actually, the par 5s are quite short and dangerous in Impian especially if you are a long hitter.

Going for my eagle, my ball was resting at that part where the fringe and green met, so it had that tuft of raised grass. I didn’t think much about it but when I putted, brushing the stupid grass on the backstroke caused a sudden retardation of my brains and I completely lost focus and I literally molested the ball to not even halfway to the god-damn hole. Molested my eagle putt. What. The. Flaming. Fukuoka.

I just stared in disbelief at my partners, before they all started to rail on me for my failure. This is a devastating failure. Because then I proceeded to miss my birdie and was forever labelled the biggest choker of all time. DAMN.

That has nothing to do with new swing. This is to do with a new brain, which I cannot change.

Same thing as Hole 18. Hooked my shot into the woods and from a superbly difficult shot down the hill, through the trees with just a bit of opening, I hit a glorious hybrid to the fringe of the green from 180. I mean, even Mickleson will be proud. Celebrating at least a bogey, I cockily went up and duffed my chip. Ok, no problem, a putt from fringe should be fine. I overputted, and sent the damn putt 15 feet downhill, my uphill putt didn’t have legs and I missed my double bogey putt.

You see, failures are often not due to the swing. My swing (except for the occasional and unknown shank) is coming along nicely and distance is better, consistency is better on the drives. My irons are the ones failing me (short approaches) and my stupid putting is as bad as a Gremlin high on cocaine.

So, overall review of 2021? Good with the long clubs, everything in 100 meters, atrocious as can be seen by up down scores. Am I encouraged with the swing change? For sure yeah. Very encouraged.  Just completely shit around the greens, but that’s not due to the swing change.

The Different Types of People on the Range

Honestly – I’ve never spent so much time on the driving range before (pre- MCO2.0). Because of the implementation of the new swing, to groove it, I was hitting the range, 2 -3 times a week. That’s 2-3 times a week more than I ever did for the past 3 years I think. The reason, as mentioned before, was when I was on my ‘old’ swing, I ended up with a backache hitting diggers on the mat. With a more rounded swing, I am less digging and more hitting, and I don’t have any more backaches after even 200 balls anymore.

But boy. When you are on the range – there is so many, many strange and weird people there. It’s like going into a circus, and seeing all sorts of weird and fantastical creatures. The more public the range, the stranger the creatures, and they are as strange as they come on the Kota Damansara public driving range.

Behold, the fantastical beasts of driving ranges:

a) The Teaching Instructor Uncle or TIU

Let’s start off with this specimen. Every range (except maybe the extremely high class ones that specifically have a ban on them) has this person. He is the uncle that sits and watches other people and makes comments and gives instructions. Very loudly. And often with very flowery language, either cantonese or Hokkien. The TIU guy is often smoking, if not, he is there almost every day, because he is probably retired and prefers not to lounge around his house. He often has a teh tarik or kopi O that can last minimally 8 hours, or until spiders start building their nests there. He is the greatest advisor. Sitting down, he will tell his unfortunate victim golf tropes like: your head move lah, you look up! Keep your elbow together! You are not shifting your weight! Stay still! etc etc. He barks these instructions as if he is running a military camp and he ALWAYS wins. When his victim hits a bad shot, the victim is blamed for not following his (often conflicting and confusing) instructions. When his victim hits a wondrous shot, he would nod his head in satisfaction and confirm that the victim is improving directly due to his supreme advice. The TIU almost never touches the golf club himself otherwise the club would turn to gold at his greatness. Wonderful TIUs are found all over driving ranges across Malaysia.

b) The Talk Cock Uncle  (TCU)

This is the distant cousin on a). Instead of instructing, the free talking uncle is visually identical to the teaching uncle, except – well, he doesn’t teach. He just talks. About everything. And almost as loud as his cousin. His subject can range from golf to drinking to politics to sex to sex to sex and back to golf. His voice range, while usually loud, usually increases exponentially when a girl or aunty with short skirt walks by.

c) The Teaching Boyfriend (TB)

This is a relative to the teaching Uncle. But instead of sitting down and barking orders, the teaching boyfriend can often be found going to and fro from the chair to his girlfriend and adjusting her swing for her, oftentimes regarding her posture, and almost invariably improving her butt protrusion by physically adjusting that abdomen for her, as if it’s a car tyre. The TB is considered a hazard on most ranges because he would be standing in parallel to his girlfriend to observe her swing, not knowing the guy in the next bay is swinging a driver and the back swing would almost chop his head off while his eyes are afixed to his girlfriend’s front assets…i.e her swing.

d) The Family Guy

The family guy treats the golf driving range as his family vacation plan, bringing his entire family (often with a glum faced wife) to the range, ordering copious amount of food and drinks and allowing his cretins kids to roam freely as buffaloes on the prairie. The problem with this guy is that one of his kids invariably runs up and down other people’s bays screaming their little heads off, and in an early age, is then introduced to the wonderful world of cantonese, malay, hokkien, tamil and other language cuss words which will be well remembered and responsibly used as they continue to grow up.

e) The Inspector Gadget

This is quite a guy. Inspector gadgets takes around 15 minutes to set up their tools and another 15 minutes to calibrate the cameras, the swing analyzer, the launch monitor, the alignment sicks etc. Watching him is like watching Thanos getting all the infinity gems together, so intense is this pursuit of absolute greatness. Unfortunately the inspector spends so much time on his gadget, and almost never enough time for his swing and usually plays golf only slightly better than a cat with leprosy.

f) The Millionaire Golfer

This is a relative to Inspector Gadget, but instead of gadgets, he has all the latest clubs. The SIM2? His. The Envroll Putter? His. Honma gold clubs? His. While this beast is rarely seen in public ranges, sometimes they tend to appear and his golf clubs is oftentimes more expensive than the entire property the driving range is built on. They are often serviced by running servants, and have variations to their titles including Dato, Tan Sri, Your Emminence or God.

g) The I-Don’t-Give-A-F*ck Golfer (Or IDGAF)

The IDGAF are often in flocks together. They are the ones who sits in one bay behind the chair, often 5 – 6 of them together, usually in jeans, slippers or inappropriate dressing for golf. They sit together the same way as they would when to do bowling or other social group activities. They often either just have finished karaoke-ing or would be karaoke-ing after the range session, and they would be laughing, talking and ribbing each other. VERY loudly. They can be identified by taking turns in hitting the golf ball and sharing a beat up 7-iron that they found in the trash bin. They are very dangerous species as they generally have no f*cking clue how to hit the golf ball, and often shank, miss, hit backwards or sky it – resulting in dangerous flights of balls whacking into the bay separator with a loud CRASH! and making the other golfers jump and take cover, under their hyena-ic laughter. Generally, we also don’t want to f*ck with them as sometimes they are armed with very impressive tattoos.

h) The Sweet Young Thing (SYT)

This is quite a sight. Golfers are usually male when they are in the public driving range. So when there is an occasion where something in a skirt flashes by, everything becomes hard. As in harder to play because cannot concentrate. What were you thinking? To be a SYT in public ranges, the standard is fairly low. As long as there is a short skirt and slender legs, you will qualify as an SYT. There is no other standards above the waist, except that an SYT should not have a beard. Whoever is next to the SYT, especially the bay directly to her left (if she is right handed) will benefit for viewing her ample…skills in swinging.

i) The Booby Auntie (Boobs)

This is a variation of the SYT except Boobs are usually aunties. Who has large and ample…appetite for golf improvement. The aunties are almost all very serious, usually with lean bodies with tight fitting clothes that announces their assets specifically well. Unlike the SYT, they aren’t as eye pleasing, but to some strange golfers who find the Boobs auntie attractive, these golfers in the next bay usually converts themselves into left handed players to enjoy the…fruits…of their labour.  Whatever rocks their boat. Speaking of lefties:

j) The Phil Mickleson

These are actual golfers interested in improvement but unfortunately they are born left handed, and learnt golf left hand. Because of this, they need to switch around the bay, which isn’t a problem in high class ranges. But in public ranges where the bays are as small as homes in Hong Kong, pairing a left handed golfer swinging a driver, next to a right handed with a driver = disaster. It’s often an excruciatingly experience seeing their driver heads miss each one by milimeters, akin to watching a cable car swinging in a 150mph hurricane.

k) The Entitled Prick Golfer (EPG)

We all know golfing bays are difficult to get during CMCO. The normal SOP is for us to sign in and wait patiently for the attendants to tell us which bay is available. The EPG is the guy that comes in, walking quickly with a large stride as if he has a dongle the size of a horse and brushes everyone aside and demands from the attendants whether there is a bay, ignoring all the disapproving stares from other patient golfers. The EPG is often associated with a large, fast and expensive car that double parks in front of the entrance and has what we term as “Muka Ch*bai”. Everything about the EPG is loud and large, except, invariably the most important thing to be large in life, they usually have a very small variety of.  Hence, they need to compensate.

l) The Neverending Yawning Assh*les (NYA) 

While not as assholic as the EPG, the NYA is just as bad. They are the ones who sits down in a bay, with 100 balls, and hits at the average rate of 1 ball per 15 minutes. After one ball is hit, he stretches, and yawns and sits down again and start looking around, usually for the Booby Auntie or Sweet Young Thing. They never , ever finish their balls and they enter into the twillight zone when they are down to their last 10. It’s like watching Inception where the dream level passes 10x slower than normal. They often can also be found whistling or humming a tune instead of finishing their balls, and this subspecies can be termed as NYA SING due to their singing nature.

In fact, this species can be sometimes amalgamated with the first species (Teaching Instructor Uncle)  and the resulting creature is called TIU NYA SING. Very, very special creature.

m) The Legend

I believe there is only one Legend. This guy is found in the KD range. He is the legend. I was practicing one day when I heard a thunk behind me of the ball hitting the bay separator. Thinking it must be either the IDGAF or a beginner golfer, I didn’t think much of it. Just at my topswing, I heard another thunk! It wasn’t a loud thunk as it would be for a IDGAF doing a full swing with a trash bin 7 iron. It’s not so loud as would make me run for cover. So I stopped and restarted my swing again. Right on my downswing, another Thunk! on the bay separator and made me stop. WHAT THE FOO-CHUK was going on? I looked behind me and glimpsed the first time, The Legend.

He is the legend because he only has ONE range ball. One range ball. But instead of hitting it into the range as all normal species do, he is practicing chipping, and chipping against the bay separator between us. Thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk….he is chipping with ONE range ball, using an entire BAY. Against the separator that’s around 2 feet high, separating him and me. He is so legendary that his chip is unerring, otherwise, it would be hitting me.  Thunk thunk over and over. Chipping with one range ball, oblivious to the distraction he is causing to the golfer trying to swing with this damn sound going on.

WHAT.A.LEGEND.

MCO2.0 What a timing!

What is worse than having a really shitty game on the course?

When you have planned for golf and it gets cancelled by MCO2.0.

Now I get it. I get why we need to enter into a second phase of MCO. We have 3000+ cases every single day so yeah, I don’t think people are too bothered about playing golf. But, DANG! Just when you are getting used to a new swing and grooving in, this lockdown means another month (at best) or two months (expected) or 3 months (at worst) without golf.  I guess, it should sync up with the next time I go for a round, I would have my new wife (The TSi) in the bag.

My stack and tilt adventure has gotten me so far to a somewhat middle ground. I don’t think I can fully implement the stack and tilt yet – so I have sort of gravitated to keeping stacked on the left, and minimizing my head movement. I still feel my body shifting a little, and I can’t keep my elbows too tight to my body throughout the backswing, but it could be a combination of age/flexibility that makes this swing different from the classic S&T I see on youtube. I don’t know, I still feel the same on the backswing in terms of my arms movement, its just that I am stacking on my left this time throughout.

One of the things I observed when I did my fitting was that I was much more confident of my swing path. I demonstrated a consistent inside out swing with my misses to the left. So the fitter set me up to play on a nine hole (with just drives) and with the new swing, I felt I was able to at least manage my swing path much easier. With the limited movement and sway now, when I need to carve an inside-out swing, I make sure I start my path flatter and more circular. At some holes where a fade was needed, I started my swing path more straight to the back and steeper. In my previous swing, because I was moving my body back first along with my hands, my swing path was only one way, inside out. I could never fade to save my life. It feels much better to be able to call the shots when needed now, although this obviously needs a lot more bedding in.

Unfortunately the MCO2.0 is upon us, so practice is going to be difficult to get  in. What I am feeling now (positively) is that I am beginning to forget how my old swing was and this current swing seems to be almost like what I am getting used to.

Here Cometh the TSI

In almost 20 years of golf, I have been an absolute miser when it comes to equipments. My first set was a hand-me down Maruman set from my brother. After hacking around with that, I decided to splurge on an iron set – the Taylormade RAC LT. I honestly don’t remember how I purchased it – I think it was either second hand or it was on a fairly cheap sale. From there on, all my clubs were second hand, purchased from E-Bay or elsewhere.

I really don’t remember any club I purchase brand new. Even my Mizunos I am gaming now – the MP54 was a set sold to me second hand from a friend. My MP-57s were purchased second hand from a shop. All my drivers were second hand or on cheap sale – my first real driver (the first few years I was using those that came with the set) was the R510 I bought in Bangsar cheap sale. Then I got the R5 Dual from E-bay which I gamed for many years, before making the jump to the Hi-Bore Cleveland and Hi-Bore XL. Gamed that for a bit, then moved back to Taylormade – the whitewolf we call it – the R11. Because it’s white. And because we like wolves.

I gamed the R11 for the longest – I think close to 4 years before switching to a second hand Cobra Flyz+ (which I am using right now), for about a year + and went to buy on sale the Titleist 917 D2 which took a while to bed in but after getting used to it, was really smashing it. The Titleist by far, was the one driver that looked best, even if it was gray. But the shape was just perfect.

So I sold it off.

I sold it and a Titleist hybrid, a mizuno wedge, a Titleist 915 5-wood, a golf mat, a golf trolley, a Ping 60 degree wedge and I think a few more things that I can’t remember to prepare to purchase a nice Christmas Present for myself – a new driver. As in a really new driver.

However, in November, I decided to institute this swing change to move to stack and tilt, just as I sold off the Titleist. So, without a proper driver, I just gamed the Cobra for a few more rounds, at least until I groove this new swing in and have a more consistent way to whack the ball.

So, now, all ready to go, I headed to MST Superstore at the Federal highway for a fitting session and to try this:

A year plus ago I went for a session with these guys as well, as described here

Lesson Learnt: Don’t Binge Buy

Back then, my results were around

BallSpeed: 137.9

Total Spin: 2475

Carry: 212m

Total: 230m

Club Head Speed: 96.2mph

That was with my Titleist 917D.

Fitting into this TSi3 10 degrees with a Tensei AV White Stiff Shaft. My results were…meeh…

You would think it’s a lot of difference.

BallSpeed: 138.1

Total Spin: 2663

Carry: 215m

Total: 233m

Club Head Speed: 98.3mph

It’s slightly faster. But the spin is much higher and of course, things vary.  My longest drive was around 248m while my shortest were the hooks into the forest. Am still grooving this swing in so it’s not easy.

And honestly, trying out the TSi2 and the SIM MAX from Taylormade, I was able to hit these two slightly better.

But have you seen how the TSi3 look from the top? Take my money.

So against better judgement, and opting for the better looks instead of better performance, I told the fitter OK, I know I don’t deserve her, but I need to have her, so since the TSi2 is going for the same price as the 3 – why not the 3? It’s like you know that the vegetable burger that cost 20 bucks is good for you but when you see a same priced burger with double stuffing and wagyu beef next to it – why wouldn’t you go for it, even if it gives you a heart attack?

So there you have it. It takes 6 – 8 weeks for them to deliver – as the TSi3 is out of stock and the tensei shaft is also unavailable. But hey, since we are heading into another lockdown, I guess waiting won’t hurt anyone.

Swing Overhaul Part 9: The Plan Comes Together

So. I am writing this on the final day of an eventful 2020. This year has literally FLEW by. It seemed yesterday that on March 18, 2020 the lockdown was announced by our government. What proceeded after that was beyond mine or anyone’s imagination as this COVID pandemic wreaked havoc to our business and personal plans. I witnessed customers shuttering their businesses. I witnessed close friends losing their jobs. Even for the first time in our 10 year history, we had to let people go in our company. It was an unprecedented, global disaster that seem to be continuing well into 2021.

To all affected in some ways, whether its a job loss, business loss, personal and health loss, I can only provide the scarce comfort that we have the largest brains in the world all working together to get us out of this and we pray that humanity will show its merit for survival by surviving this.

Back to golf though – I had the chance to cram in a few games since the previous 9 hole.

a) Another 9 hole round following it (my 4th round with new swing) – continuous improvement was evident and finally began to get my winnings back again.

b) Another 18 hole at Palm Garden – and shot an impressive 90 on the back of 6 pars . This is my 5th round – I gave myself 10 rounds to shoot under 90, which I hope I will be able to do soon, with this new swing.  My dropped shots in this game was more of my irons – short changing myself on numerous occasions and landing into hazards. My drive was working out reasonably well except for one hole where I OB’ed.

c) Another 9 hole – and once more ingraining the swing more and more.

The plus I am getting on this new swing was that there is less (much less) movement and swaying. I feel more ‘on top’ of the ball and more confident in hitting the ball consistently at the same spot. The other plus is that when I feel I should crank it up on strength, I can do it with just ‘stepping down’ on my left side. And likewise, if I want to control, I can not ‘step down’ so much. Stepping down here is described as literally, pushing down on my left leg, as if I am hitting a throttle. To boom the drive, I step it down, but I tend to pull this if I hit it too quick. Otherwise, I don’t and the shot seems to be ok but I tend to fall back a bit as if I just reverse-pivoted. I don’t really know how to reconcile these movements properly but the results are OK. I also find myself able to conjure up a baby fade as well if required, by ensuring my takeway is not so ’rounded’ but rather straight back, and my finish has that Patrick Reed-ish kind of twirl. I have never been able to do something like that before with the old swing, but with this stacked swing, since my body isn’t swaying so much anymore, I feel that I can get more control over the swing.

Overall, I think I made the correct decision to change my swing. It feels less stressful and I am not over swinging or over-bashing the ball but with the stacked feeling, I feel I can pummel the ball equally long with less moving parts. This hopefully ensure my swing can last me for the next 30-40 years. I love this game too much to give it up when I hit 60 due to a bad swing mechanics.

So – have a happy new year and here is looking at a better 2021 – not just in golf, but in everything else happening on our beautiful planet Earth!