Reader’s Trip Report: 2016 Connecticut Golf Show

Mark Beebe, in "visor wig."

Mark Beebe, in “visor wig.”

The forecast for two Sundays ago included “up to” a foot of snow. We got about three quarters of an inch, so I guess the forecast was accurate. The day before the big storm, Mark Beebe, an out-of-town member of the Sunday Morning Group, visited the Connecticut Golf Show, at the convention center in Hartford, with his golf buddy Tom. Mark’s report:

“Tom’s wife is recovering from a serious illness, and he’s also been helping another old golf buddy, ‘Lefty’ Bob, who’s in failing health. So it was good to see him and get him out doing something we both like: wasting time doing golf stuff.”

ctgolfshow16

“Pretty much all the major equipment guys were there. I didn’t try any of the clubs, because my March swing is not of club-fitting quality and if I wait until my July swing shows up the same equipment will be available at a higher price—the same strategy I use for investing in stocks.”

ctgolfshowbags

“Nevertheless, I did buy a few things. I broke my No. 1 rule, as always, by buying a club without swinging it, a TaylorMade M1 3-wood. I also bought a ball marker with the insignia of Michigan State, my alma mater—which was nice because the Spartans had just gotten bounced from the NCAA tournament, in the first round, the day before. There were no Middle Tennessee State ball markers, but I did pick up a dozen of last year’s Titleist NXT Tours. I went through racks and tables of remnants and leftovers, and noticed that they had great prices for small and medium golf shirts, but hardly anything in XL. There was also a guy selling coffee tables:”

table legs

“Does anyone actually keep score with these things?”

bead counter

“I picked up lots of brochures from golf resorts, and one from the John Casablanca modeling and talent agency, which had a booth. I asked the Casablanca people why they had come to a golf expo, and they said, ‘Because that’s where the people are.’ I took their brochure to give to my daughter, who is studying theater in college.”

casablanca brochure

“Tom and I stopped for lunch on our way home and got caught up. That was the best part. We’re hoping to tee it up in the next couple weeks, weather and health issues permitting. And when I got home I found a good place to put my NCAA bracket:”

beebe ncaa bracket

What’s In My Bag, Part Five: Awesome New Putter

Daddy LLTony bought a new putter and told me he couldn’t miss anything with it. I tried it and couldn’t miss anything with it, either. Then Tony went on a golf-free trip with his wife. I asked him if I could use his putter while he was gone (and keep it if anything happened to him on the trip). He said I could, and told me where to find the key to his garage—unnecessarily, it turned out:

Tony's wife, Teresa, tied pink yarn to the key, to make it easier for burglars to find.

Tony’s wife, Teresa, tied pink yarn to the key, to make it easier for burglars to see. Like them, I spotted it immediately.

New putters always work for a day or two, but Tony’s putter worked for the entire time he was gone, and just before he got back I bought one for myself. Meanwhile, Chic—entirely independently—went to Golfers’ Warehouse, as an alternative to throwing himself off Bad Putters’ Leap, and, after trying every putter in the store, he came home with one, too. That made three of us, and I just learned that Dan now has one as well.

DLL

The putter is the Daddy Long Legs, by TaylorMade. The company has scientific-sounding explanations for why it works so well, but, for all I know, they make that stuff up. Whatever the real reasons are, it’s by far the best putter I’ve ever owned. It comes in two sizes—one with a thirty-five-inch shaft, and one with a thirty-eight-inch shaft—and I now own both.

Tony and his Daddy Long Legs, on the way to winning the senior division of a local amateur tournament back in July.

Tony and his Daddy Long Legs, on the way to winning the senior division of the Danbury Amateur, back in July.

There’s an old guy at our club who putts with an Acushnet Bullseye, which he recently re-gripped with electrical tape and what looks like tennis-racket tape. That’s ridiculous! It’s a piece of crap! It’s been obsolete for decades!

bullseye

Back in the early nineteen-nineties, I spent some time with the late Karsten Solheim, the founder of Ping and the inventor of perimeter-weighted putters and irons. Solheim took up golf in the nineteen-fifties, while he was working at General Electric. He putted poorly, but he decided, eventually, that his difficulties were primarily the fault of his equipment. Most putters of that era, including the Bullseye, had heads that were uniform in thickness, so that the weight was evenly distributed from one end to the other. “Hitting a golf ball with one of those putters is like hitting a tennis ball with a Ping-Pong paddle,” he told me. “The weight isn’t in the right places, and it twists in your hands.” In his garage, he took a small rectangular aluminum bar and attached a lead weight to either end. He then attached a shaft near the center of the aluminum bar. With this crude club, he went to the practice green, and found he didn’t have to hit a ball in exactly the right place in order to make it go straight.

Patent drawing for Karsten Solheim's original heel-and-toe-weighted putter,

Patent drawing for Karsten Solheim’s original heel-and-toe-weighted putter, 1962.

Solheim made various refinements, and hawked his putters at tour events. His big break came in 1967, when Julius Boros won the Phoenix Open with a model called the Anser.  (The name had been suggested by Karsten’s wife, Louise, with the idea that the putter would provide an “answer” to Arnold Palmer, who had been unmoved by one of her husband’s demonstrations. Solheim had to leave out the w to fit the name on the back of the putter head.) All modern putters embody his ideas about weighting, in one form or another. And the Daddy Long Legs takes those ideas to a new level.

Karsten and Louise Solheim.

Karsten and Louise Solheim and their wares, early nineteen-sixties.

Or so I assume. At any rate, I love my new putter and, no, you can’t borrow it. You can’t steal it, either, because unlike Tony I don’t keep it in my garage.

(Read Part OnePart Two, Part Three, and Part Four.)

What's In My Bag?

What’s In My Bag?