Many of us love to talk about our golf equipment because our sticks are so personal. The Rules of Golf allow us to carry 14 golf clubs during a round without incurring a penalty. While all 14 clubs have a reason for being in our golf bag, it’s fair to say some are more important than others. Let the debate begin.
What are your three most important golf clubs? And in what order?
Harvey Penick and Ben Hogan
One of golf’s legendary teachers and one of golf’s legendary players had the same answer to the first question and were close on the second.
In Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf, Harvey Penick said the three most important clubs, in order, are putter, driver and wedge. Penick also noted that Ben Hogan was in agreement, except on order. Hogan said driver, putter, wedge.
Penick had sound logic for the order of his three most important clubs. The driver is used about 14 times during a full round of golf. On the other hand, there are approximately 24 putts within makeable distance (that aren’t gimmes) in a round. A four-foot putt counts as one stroke. So does a 250-yard drive. Penick said, “[B]ut the putt may be much more significant to your score.”
Penick admitted that hitting the driver is “very important” psychologically. However, he also said “nothing is more important psychologically than knocking putts into the hole.” And, he added, “it devastates your opponent.”
In a way, it’s not surprising that Hogan, the ultimate ball-striker, put the driver first. Getting off the tee is of critical importance. It gives you confidence and sets up the hole. There’s also this: Hogan had a troublesome relationship with the putter. In fact, he thought putting was too big a factor in golf. He seemed to detest it, especially late in his career when he suffered from the yips. But what’s often overlooked is that Hogan was a good putter earlier in his career and an excellent lag putter during his many seasons on the PGA circuit. You don’t win nine major championships after the age of 34 unless you can putt.
Do you agree with Penick and Hogan?
Wherever you stand, it’s hard to argue against the putter, a club used on every hole (unless you hole out from off the green). It’s a scoring club, probably the scoring club.
So, if you want to work on something this winter that will help you next spring, reach for the shortest club in the bag. It would make Harvey Penick happy. And wouldn’t it be nice to devastate your opponent?
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