I faced an interesting dilemma last Sunday evening as I prepared my golf bag for a three-day tournament at a nearby club that I have played many times. As I checked for golf balls, rain gear, ball markers, and cash for the bar following each round, it occurred to me that I should count my clubs. Lo and behold, I had 15 clubs in my bag, which is one over the legal limit of 14 for tournament play. My father had given me a new set of irons that he made and it included four wedges instead of my previous three wedges (the extra is a lob wedge that I love to play with in the back yard, but I am petrified to hit in an actual match!).
So now I found myself with an extra club that had to be left home, or at least in the trunk of my car. I pondered this decision as I went through each hole in my mind. The ones that would stay were obvious — putter, driver, 5-wood, 7-wood, and all irons higher than a 6, including the lob wedge. All of a sudden it was like American Idol: I had three clubs in my hand, knowing that only two would make it to the big show. The 5-iron, the 5-hybrid, and the 3-wood were all squeezing my hand tightly, hoping to be chosen.
Out of sheer gumption, I chose to keep the hybrid. I have never, and probably will never, hit that club well (hope springs eternal). That left the 5-iron and the 3-wood. The 5-iron could come in handy if I found myself up against trees and needed to punch out; or it would be particularly useful if and when the ball rested on the fringes of the green and the clubface of putter just can’t get it cleanly. Other than that, I can’t hit that club either!
The 3-wood, on the other hand, might come in particularly useful off the tee. A 3-wood typically has a 13 to 15 degree loft, which means I hit it higher and shorter than my driver. I also hit it straighter. This is where course management comes into play. On at least four holes, I could hit my driver; and if I hit it perfectly, that’s great. If I don’t hit it perfectly, I am in serious trouble. If I hit my 3-wood, I might be 40 yards shorter, but the chances are I am on the fairway and not in the creek or fescue. I rarely hit my 3-wood off the fairway, but I am pretty sure I could if I had to.
So the decision was made. I kept the 3-wood and actually parred two tough holes on which I used it. And we won our flight! Sorry, 5-iron.