My Year with Single Length Irons- Part 5: Continuing Positive Experiences

I was going to wait for a while before I published another post on my new Cobra F7 One length irons, but reader John asked me a couple of days ago if I had any updates.  So here is an update.

After returning from Kiawah Island, I have played 5 rounds here at the Pete Dye River Course outside of my home in Radford, Virginia.  Scores were 76-76-76-81-85 and my index has gone from 7.2 to 6.7.  Nothing to complain about there.  The 85 was a round where I decided to chip with the Cobra sand wedge (7 iron length- though I choked up for less than full shots).  I think that cost me a few up and downs.  On the other hand, I used the sand wedge out of a little pot punker on the 18th hole to a back pin and put it within a foot of the hole for a happy ending par.

The irons remain a little more consistent than my old set and continue to please with the intangibles- meaning I feel good hitting them and like how they feel and how they fly.  I don’t regret buying them and I hope I continue to get my index down to around 3 or 4 by late Autumn.  I switch back the the regular tees in April and that usually helps my index as the course rating is harder by 2.6 strokes.

At some point I need to give some more empirical observations on distances for each club.  So far, I will just repeat what I have suggested in other posts.  I expect summer yardages to be 100 yards for the sand wedge and 150 yards for the 8 iron.  That is just slightly longer (5 yards) than my Adams XTDs that I gamed before the Cobras. My anecdotal observations so far suggest gaps are OK between these clubs, but I really don’t know that for sure. I just know that I usually feel comfortable choosing a club and knowing the distance.  In fact, I have grown comfortable with these clubs faster than I usually do when I switch irons- which is fairly frequently as my friends will attest to enthusiastically.

I guess my advice to other golfers at the moment would be that if these single length clubs appeal to you, don’t be afraid to try them.  They are nice clubs that look and feel good. in my experience, they are not miracle workers- they don’t play the game for you.  But you already know that. But neither are they a disappointment. Quite the contrary.  They are lots of fun to play and talk about. I would love to hear from other single length irons users about their experiences.

A Love/Hate Relationship with The Masters

Like millions of golfers around the world, I look forward to the rite of spring in Augusta, Georgia.  It is probably the only golf tournament that many non-golfers tune in to watch, the blinding green carpets leading to the perfectly placed Azaleas provide an order that is sorely missed in most of our everyday lives.  Surely when we tee it up in heaven, it will be indistinguishable from Augusta National- though perhaps God will have renamed the holes to demonstrate ultimate authority over the fathers of this terrestrial church.  Well, maybe not Amen Corner…

For me, the Masters takes 3rd place among the majors. I’m not sure that has always been the case, but The Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2010 was the first major that my wife and I decided to see in person. I don’t regret that choice, even if a then relatively unknown South African took the title of Champion Golfer that year. The US Open follows close behind, our national championship played on some of our finest courses.  The PGA Championship is great or not so great on a year by years basis, depending on the course chosen and the quality of the play.  So, not that you asked, here are my feelings about the first major of the year.

First, the positives. The Masters is played on the same course every year. This is a great advantage as it gives the tournament a history and continuity that no other major can match. It is played on a beautiful and difficult golf course with many memorable holes.  The players love to come to Augusta, they embrace its traditions, and they cherish the green jacket. All of these things make for terrific television.  The marketing of the Masters is superb, from its pimento cheese sandwiches to the Butler Cabin interviews to the CBS theme music. Turning on The Masters is like coming home after a long and arduous trip- you just feel good watching it.  Despite what I will say in the next paragraph, I would LOVE to play Augusta National- I have been a golfer since I was 12 years old and no real golfer I know would not say the same thing.

OK, so what’s my problem with Augusta? First, my idea of golfing heaven is a breezy seaside course on a cool summer afternoon.  The Masters has to be played in April because it would be brutally hot in Augusta if it was played later in the year.  Of course, that doesn’t matter since the course is closed all summer anyway! Augusta National is a gorgeous venue. Like the airbrushed beauties of Playboy magazine in the 1960s, just seeing it awakens a deep lust that arises from someplace in the primitive golfing brain stem. Yet Augusta is really a terrible role model unless you like to completely dominate nature with unlimited money and technology.  It is a standard that no real golf course can live up- nor should they want to. Augusta National is sort of a golfing Disney World for a handful of carefully selected CEOs. We average golfers have been brainwashed into thinking that somehow The Masters is “our” tournament because we are allowed in the tent once a year in order to generate the profits that allow the “real” members of the club to ignore us the rest of the year.  OK, so maybe I do have a little class anger….

Augusta National is a course that exists primarily for one week in April. Without that tournament, it would just be a particularly nice elitist country club with a dark past of racism and misogyny.  I read somewhere that Bobby Jones wanted it to be a “national” course.  It’s limited membership certainly comes from all over the country, but is that really what constitutes a national golf course? Why not take a month in the hot summer and distribute tee times by lottery like St. Andrews does to golfers from around the world who would love to play this iconic course? Wouldn’t that bring Augusta National closer to being a true national treasure?

Post Masters 2017:  OK, maybe because I got it out of my system or maybe because I’m just an idiot, but I was glued to the television for this year’s tournament.  Congratulations, Sergio!

The Cobras Go South

Usually, there is nothing better than escaping February here in southwest Virginia and heading south.  This year, maybe it wasn’t such a contrast as we have been playing golf here all winter, but it was still nice to pack the clubs and head to Hilton Head, Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island and play new courses with old and new friends.  My new single length F7 irons missed Hilton Head, but they got a good workout at the two courses at Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms and Turtle Point and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

We were at Isle of Palms thanks to our friends Colin and Jan who rent a house there for the month of February.   We eat well, drink wine, talk politics and play golf.  Have I mentioned how nice retirement is?  Colin and I played the Harbor Course first. It’s a nice resort course- lots of riding in carts to get between holes and fairly generous fairways, but it’s no pushover. I’ve played it enough times now that it feels familiar.  The Links course lost the beautiful par 5 18th hole to beach erosion a couple of years back.  It has been replaced by a nice par 3, but it just isn’t quite the same.  I had forgotten what a nice layout the Links course even though there are only a couple of holes that let you see the ocean.

My scores were 81 on the Harbor Course and 74 on the Links Course.  The day on the links course was one of those “in the zone” rounds with several birdies and no major errors. The Cobras held up well.  Short iron trajectories are very high but I am starting to like that.  My Wilson Staff Duo orange balls were sticking on the greens like Pro V1s.  I just wish the Links course wasn’t such a premium over the Harbor Course or I would choose to play it more often.

If you read my post from last year about the Golf or Gourmet package at Kiawah, you will understand why I was very excited that Linda and I were able to book two nights in at Kiawah after Isle of Palms. Even better, this year we paid the extra $100 for one of the nights that is the premium for the Ocean Course. That’s just $50 each extra- a great deal.  If you get a chance to play this world ranked Pete Dye layout, don’t miss the opportunity.  The Ocean Course hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship. This year, in late February, it was in perfect condition with fairways that had lots of run and beautiful, quick greens. Walking is mandatory in the morning which made for a quiet and beautiful round of seaside golf.  They didn’t make us take caddies which made the package deal even more of a steal. Linda and I paid $500 plus resort taxes and fees for two nights at a condo near the Sanctuary Hotel and two rounds of golf, one on the Ocean Course. (Linda gave her Ocean Course round to Colin who drove down from isle of Palms for the 9:20 tee time.)

Linda and I played Turtle Point the following morning. I had played the course many years ago and didn’t remember very much.  It’s a nice and challenging layout with quite a bit of water, alligators and many beautiful marsh birds.  And of course a few turtles..

The Cobras worked pretty well at Kiawah- an 83 on the Ocean Course and an 81 on Turtle Point.  My favorite shot was a classic links 5 iron that ran out over 200 yards and left me with an eagle putt on #7 at the Ocean Course.  Needless to say, I three putted. Linda took lots of nice pictures (mostly birds and alligators). Here is one of them.