Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
The 20-yard Factor
Marcus Yearout


Mr. Mudd tees off on the 10th hole at Shuksan near Bellingham.

Being winter with temperatures in recent days hovering in the high teens and courses wisely closed, playing golf in Bellingham was not an option for us last weekend. So, Mr. Mudd and I engaged in a philosophical debate about whether or not he should buy some new golf clubs. His set of Ping irons were bought second-hand around 15 years ago so an upgrade may be in order—and spending other people’s money is one of my favorite pastimes so we discussed his options.

My initial thought was basically go big or go home; let’s buy a whole new set to take advantage of the technological changes to clubs over the past 15 or 20 years. On the other hand, Mr. Mudd (bear in mind it was his money we were talking about) had a different and compelling argument and it went something like this.

“How far do you hit your 7-iron?” to which I responded, “I don’t know, used to be my 150-yard club but now I think maybe 140-145.”

“So,” he continued, “you can make an adjustment in the club you play to compensate for the distance, right?”

“Yep,” I replied not knowing where this was headed.

Then, seemingly unrelated in a manner that would have made Socrates proud, he asked, “Would you rather hit an approach shot from 170 or 150?”

“I’d feel more comfortable and confident from 150,” I said without hesitation.

“But regardless of whether you were at 170 or 150, you’d just choose the club that you felt could carry the distance—and you’ve got a club in your bag that should do the trick don’t you?”

Again, I had to agree and added, “But at longer distances, even though I know better, I tend to swing harder so that becomes the problem, not the club I choose.”

To which Mr. Mudd replied, “So I’m thinking the reality is that there is really only one club that can make the difference between having to hit a 170- and 150-yard approach and that’s the driver. Let’s go shopping. Taking advantage of the new driver technology may be all the change in my bag I need.”

Mr. Mudd is a complex guy and whether his argument was just rationalization to save a few hundred bucks or not, I had to acknowledge the logic that the driver is the only club in your bag that you cannot and should not adjust for distance; when you pull out the big dog, you just want it to go far… really far.

Pick up an extra 20-yards off the tee and your choices and confidence grow exponentially. I’m not sure of the moral of this story, except that if new clubs are in your future, unless you’re spending someone else’s money, look for the one option that will give you what Mr. Mudd describes as the “20-yard factor.”

Now stop reading this and go play golf.




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About the Author:

In some kind of evil plot waiting to unfold, I've been assigned by Bellingham Tourism staff the dubious task of playing golf in Whatcom County and letting you know how it goes; crazy, huh? I am a slightly better than bogie golfer, though I often fall short of that potential. Pursuant to my assigned task, I'll be playing and posting regular blogs and Facebook feeds from the courses I play throughout the year so please comment on my stories, become a fan or friend or whatever it takes to stay in touch so I'll feel wanted. As I play golf this year, I'll be checking in to let anyone who cares know how the day went. There are over a dozen truly great courses in Whatcom County so I'll try to hit them all and give you my post-round thoughts.

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