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Friday, 12 August 2011

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I am in the same boat, err cart. I play twice a year with my son because HE wants to, not because I feel the dire need. But I would like to have a set of clubs that at least matches my subpar (this could get worse) playing ability:) But when push comes to shove I don't have the drive to put out the $ (It did get worse).

The lens I use most is a late 70's era Nikon 18mm f/4. I shot with vintage SLRs for years, blissfully unaware this lens even existed. When I saw a photo of it online, I knew I had to have one, rationalizing that I still didn’t have an ultra-wide to “round off” my lens arsenal. After I found an 18mm f/4 and bought it even though I had no money, of course I had to try and track down the gigantic hood. The lens is amazing. It has an 82mm filter thread even though the front element looks to be about half that size. It came with a beautiful metal screw-in lens cap, which means you can't have both the cap and the hood on at the same time. Focusing is hard because of the slow aperture and wide field of view. I have no filters that will fit it.

If someone were to criticize me for taking five minutes to change lenses (I use a pre-AI camera which requires one to manually couple the prong on the lens with the prong on the camera), or just trying to shoot everything with an 18mm because it's too hard to switch, my first response would be to bristle with indignation, then become overly defensive until I realize that they are right and that I am crazy.

Mike -

I just received back some 35mm film from Dwayne's Photo and was very impressed with their professionalism, cost, and quality. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Dan

So you have what I think of as "esthetic disease" -- you're very strongly influenced by the esthetics of the tools you use. Even when this conflicts so clearly with functionality that even you notice it. (That's when it becomes "disease".)

Well, there's probably not much to be done about it now. And I suspect it's such a core part of your self-definition (not just in regard to golf clubs, of course!) that you couldn't really want to change it.

I am not completely immune myself; though I suffer more from "theoretical disease" myself. Mind you, the two are very closely related especially for somebody who trained as a theoretical mathematician, i.e. "elegance" is a very evident quality of theorems and proofs. I know I'm a "person who sometimes has to work around my strong attraction to theory" rather than "a person who wishes to get rid of his strong attraction for theory."

David,
I would have a terrible problem with that. If I were mathematician, I would have an attraction to elegant equations and proofs first, interesting ones second, and true ones third.

Mike

Interesting interrelated topics, Mike.

My father was golf addicted all his life, even after disc problems meant that after about 30, he could never play. It puzzled me endlessly how he could sit and watch hours of other folks playing it on TV.

I gave it a brief fling when in college. Based on the class I took there, a handful of 9 hole rounds I tried, and athletic abilities in other pursuits (including sailing) it appears I had the physical attributes to become a decent player.

But I discovered I got a great deal more enjoyment from simply walking the equivalent or a greater distance in beautiful, significantly more natural settings without the equipment, competition with self or others and all the equipment, artificial movements, etc.

Later, I found myself carrying another kind of equipment and practicing another kind of activity ancillary to taking walks - photography.

Tuesday, we took Carol's sister and brother in law on a three mile walk to Abbot's Lagoon in Pt. Reyes National Seashore (about the length of 54 holes). Like a golf course, I've walked that route many times before, and "played" it many times with various cameras over the years.

Do I need more images of it? 70 of them? Depends on how you define "need". When I do a book of images of Abbot's Lagoon, this visit will have contributed at least a handful of new to me images.

The marginal cost of 70 digital images is almost nothing, so it's way less expensive than golf. And I'm pretty sure the physical activity, with a variety of terrain and surface detail and natural motions traversing it are better for my body than golf.

But there are two much more important reasons to prefer it. First, even if I never show the images taken to anyone else, I get so much more pleasure from going through them afterwards, both immediately and later, than I ever would from the scorecard of a round of golf.

Second, even if I never looked at them after taking them, I find that carrying a camera, seeing, framing and shooting subjects helps me "see" more that I otherwise would really notice. I find it fun when people who have been along on the same walk with me are amazed at the things in my pictures that they walked by but never noticed.

I also like walking with Carol, her binoculars and her different way of seeing. Although the set of things she tends to see overlaps a great deal with mine, she also broadens mine. She's also a pretty good photographer: "Look, Moosie!", and I become her camera.

I'm in some ways a serious gear head. I'm interested in equipment, read about gear, like to play with it, and so on. But when it comes to actually choosing and using it, I'm surprisingly pragmatic.

Leicas and some other rangefinders are gorgeous pieces of design, engineering and building, a delight to fondle and play with. But I truly dislike the rangefinder model of photography, and have never owned and used any but an Olympus XA, for its practical advantages in getting images I would otherwise miss with SLRs.

Over 5 years and 13,000 images ago, I chose a Canon 5D for a number of practical reasons related almost wholly to getting the kind of images I like. I've greatly enjoyed using it and the results of using it. I've created many, many images I just love with it and a book I and those who've seen it think is excellent.

You might think that the next camera would be a 5DII, or another brand and type entirely. Nope, I've traded "down" to a 60D. Why? Because it addresses shortcomings - for my use - in the 5D, while making only modest, acceptable compromises in other qualities. It's about what the tool allows me to do.

But I'm human; when people ask which model I'm using, I say "My other camera is a 5D." For now, I usually carry both cameras, for 17-35 mm full frame WA. So I can point to the 5D in the bag, but the ratio of images is over 10 to one 60D, and when I get the right WA zoom for the 60D, the 5D may become ready to move on.

Moose

Finally, something I feel I can comment on! I've played regularly and given up golf repeatedly over the years. I'm a big believer that the major golf companies are charging way too much for clubs and tweaking them every year to convince people to buy new ones (sound familiar).

If you really want to try blades try the Henry Hatton Forged blades at Diamond Tour Golf. Under $300 for a set of irons and you get that buttery smooth feeling; unless you hit it thin and then it feels like your hands are going to break into a million pieces.

Bill,
It's a good thing I don't actually need to buy forged clubs...because almost nobody makes them in LH.

Mike the Lefty

Why does this article resonate so well with me....can't be because I love photography and golf..aargh

Mike,

I inherited my grandfather's clubs, which may have been made in the 60s (he died in '74). Grandpa was a very good golfer, and not short of money, so the clubs are sure to be pretty good. Anyway, they are like the club in your top photo. They are not too difficult to play, but I don't feel I'll ever outplay them. Sometimes people I play alongside laugh at the 3 woods, which are literally wooden with varnish and twine and small-headed, but they seem to work for me.

I can totally identify with this post. I recently re-took up golf after about 7 years away from the game and had to buy all new clubs. When searching for drivers and fairway woods I just couldn't bring myself to consider any clubs with ugly headcovers, regardless of the reputation of the manufacturer. Naturaly, I settled on all Wilson gear... I tell my stepson they are personalized for me. :) Plus it seems that their aesthetic aligns with my own.

I don't like color film

There's nothing adverse with colour negative film that Photoshop's Black & White adjustment won't rectify.

Mike,
Just got back two rolls of 120 TMax from my Mamiya 6 and I continue to love the camera. It imposes intentional photography, whether street, portrait, landscape, or...wait, it doesn't do wildlife with those slow lenses.

Periodically I do catch myself looking at the back of the Mamiya and briefly wondering why the screen is dark.....

I've only golfed a few times. Having zero depth perception makes the game an exercise in futility for people like me with monocular vision. However, I'd be thrilled to own a Chamonix Whole Plate, even though I'd never use it. My film days are in the past. But gosh it's a beautiful object and it would be fun to use it for viewing the world from a reversed and upside down point-of-view.

First of all, forget blades. As is the case with a Leica M3 and a Noctilux, some people can use them, just not you. Or me.

The clubs you need are Mizuno MX-200s. Don't argue with me. Probably get a used set fairly cheap on the Bay.

I once read that the best predictor of success in golf is not athletic ability, but poker-playing ability. I believe it. It doesn't take a lot of athletic ability to play good golf, but it does take absolute fidelity to the laws of statistics. I will shoot two rounds in the 70s most years (meaning 79.) Most of my rounds will be in the 80s, a few in the 90s. I'm not bragging -- for as much as I've played, a player with actual skills would be shooting in the 70s all the time.

I've twice played in the Goat Hills golf tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, sponsored by the Golf Digest columnist Dan Jenkins. The last time (and the final tournament, for that matter) Jenkins partnered me with a doctor who was the best golfer I ever played with. He could do everything, and I made putts...and we won. I got a large crystal bowl, which now sits on the chest-of-drawers in my bedroom, and my girlfriend said, "What's that big ugly bowl?" And I said, "Touch it and you die." Golf is undoubtedly the best game ever invented. Ask any President. Obama apparently plays at least twice a week. Clinton cheated. Bush only played with his father.

Deep-water sailing is like driving across Kansas in an RV at eight miles an hour, without no exits or gas station stops. The key skill in sailing is a deep interest in, and a great ability for, good housekeeping. If nothing pleases you more than keeping the old house shipshape, and those linoleum floors gleaming like marble, and nothing makes your num-num thrum like well-dusted venetian blinds, you might have potential as a sailor.

IMHO, the best camera is the one you are no longer aware of -- you see the photo and at some point you take it, with little awareness of the machine. I suspect the more aware you are of the machine, the more problematic are your images.

JC

If I were mathematician, I would have an attraction to elegant equations and proofs first, interesting ones second, and true ones third.

Then you would be exactly like every other mathematician.

Golfing Clubs, you play at a golf club (unless you are playing minature golf);
photographic gear, also addictive and often more expensive, model railways, boats aeroplanes,...
the list is endless.

Bottom line, it is your money, your time your doing.

You can't blame any of us for these actions Mike, you did it yourself. Congratulations!

Mike, don't you just hit the nail on the head time after time, with your posts. I can see myself in a lot of them! Makes me laugh at myself. Great stuff. David.

As a long time employee (but now retired) of Ping Golf, I know first hand about the hype put out by some golf equipment manufacturers. If you didn't know better, they would have you believing that you could take several strokes off your game every time you bought their newest clubs and balls. This is analagous to photographic equipment where people think that more pixels must mean better pictures.

Darrell,
I have to admit that I bought an expensive Ping putter and I actually do putt better with it.

No kidding.

It's the only expensive club I own.

Mike

Get the forged clubs. You can likely find a suitable set on E-Bay for a song.

They are much less forgiving. It might take a whole season, but when you hit even one shot true and sweet, and you feel that ball compress and then fly off the club face with no vibration but complete intent... you will appreciate the purchase.

I think you will like Dwayne's. They do a good job at a reasonable price. I send all my film to them for processing.

The Hickory clubs Chad mentioned should come with a copy of this "The Clicking of Cuthbert" ( http://www.manybooks.net/titles/wodehousetext04click10.html ), a collection of humor tales from the age of the niblik and massie.

I have good friends who are into golf, wind surfing, cycling, model trains, flying, sailing, skiing, motorcycles, sorts cars, computers, fishing and hi fi.

Their annual "hobby budget" ranges from £1,000 to £20,000. That's guys for you. I cannot believe how much a decent pedal bike costs these days (you could buy a really nice second hand motorcycle for the same price!)

I am eternally grateful that my only addiction is cameras. I can just about afford to keep up with that, but I could never afford more than one hobby! Everything else I own is procured on functional merit and value, which means I have some cash burning a hole in my pocket right now and nothing to spend it on!

Seriously, nothing has been released in the last 12 months that really tickles my obsession.

If they made a camera that would give the direct feedback a set of stiff shafted and leather gripped tour blades does after executing a poor shot, I think the world's photography would be markably better.

"god forbid you criticize their equipment, because, if you do, then you shall be met with fierce arguments and strenuous counterattacks"

That's funny, I seem to hang out with people who can get into "my equipment sucks more than yours does" until the bars close.

As for golf, I was astounded to find that golf Ts had a use other than un-jamming Nikon F and F2 meter arms. On the other hand, anything that allows grown men to socialize whilst wearing plaid pants can't be all bad.

Having just spent the last half hour or so reading Thom Hogan's analysis of the relative benefits of Nikon 400, 500 and 600 mm lenses, I can totally relate.

The golf club analogy was a great way to 'drive' this point home.

I can definitely relate. I'm a Sony A700 user looking to upgrade to a quieter camera. I've known for a long time that I enjoy composing *some* subject matter via LCD. If the upcoming A77 addresses certain weaknesses of the previous "SLT" models, it could very well be the perfect camera for me.

But geez, I don't really want an SLT. I want a big 100% pentaprism viewfinder (even if I can't see a magnified view and my eyesight isn't good enough to let me manually focus or honestly preview depth of field) and a mirror that gets out of the way to put every last bit of light onto the sensor.

It's tough when the gear you want doesn't coincide with the gear that serves you best.

Hmmm ... just thinking more, oddly enough, this preference for aesthetically appealing (I don't mean just "pretty" but elegant, as someone else said) gear is probably limited to photography for me. I try to avoid gaudy stuff no matter what (ok, I have to admit, those golf clubs are tacky). But while I often agonize unnecessarily over a decision about something, it's usually down to a problem where there are too many similar choices. Overall, I'm really happy to buy "good enough" especially where good enough coincides with a good bargain. And I don't get upgrade fever. I buy practical cars (generally used) and drive them into the ground. I bought midrange home theater equipment with no plans to upgrade (though I did pick up a Blu Ray player). Everywhere I look I see examples of modest, practical decisions, where my appreciation for finer alternatives is nothing more than a bit of background noise. But there's something about cameras. I just want the "good stuff".

So I said I can relate, but only when it comes to cameras. If I ever took up golf again (I played for one summer right after college) I'd pick up a cheap set of used clubs that were the right length. I can clearly see the line between good enough and "pixel peeping" when it comes to other gear. My wife and I started skiing 3 years ago when my daughter joined her school ski club. So we went out half a dozen times each winter and tried not to embarrass ourselves. Last year, we both felt comfortable with our rental gear and decided to buy it used for less than 2 years rental costs. I don't know a parabolic from a hyperbolic; I'm a crummy skier out for fun and this stuff is cheap & good enough.

But there's something about certain cameras ...

Not the least of the things that makes your site so good is that you sure can write. As usual I really enjoyed this.

Ditto what Richard G says!

Dear Mike the Lefty,

Please do not go to Mizuno's site and be tempted by the best blades and semi-blades, available in left handed. I use MP53s and when you actually play with them they look exactly like blades - small offset, thin topline, brilliant feel - just easier to hit.

As I said, do NOT visit the site!

Andrew from Addis

I can relate to the golf analogy. I remember a hypothesis about Tiger Woods that was proposed by a commentator that he was so good because in order to master the new, he mastered the old first (i.e. he used traditional equipment and he researched out how it was traditionally played -- making the game harder for himself).

And since this game is played out so much in your head, you really do need equipment that you trust -- so that ever bad shot you play only has one excuse for being bad: you.

I had a similar problem about 7 years ago and ended up buying forged muscle cavity irons with traditional steel shafts (Dynamic Gold S300s), used on the tour by the pros; and resemble the blades which have been around since forever when. When I started golf, my dad bought me a half set of blades second-hand, so I'll preface this by saying I have a soft-spot for blades in the first place, and I used to shoot off about 15-18.

However, having said this, in my research before I bought these, there were two things I found:

1. Sweet-spot size: With modern forged muscle cavities, the striking zone is smaller, but not THAT much smaller -- I recall analysis done on this, and the size of the sweet-spot between a cavity back and a game-improvement modern iron are measured in millimeters, no in centimeters.

2. Other factors that may matter more: Shafts, sole grind (e.g. bounce angle), and fit (grip size, length of shaft, and lie angle) made more of a difference than others.

Bounce angle on the sole in particular -- I don't dig, so I like a very small bounce angle. This rules out most modern looking game-improvement irons straight away. After fitting and video analysis, they found I was consistently about 1.5-2 degrees upright at impact. This meant that I needed to bend the iron heads - so this was easier on forged irons than cast. I did ask if the lack of forgiveness was a problem, but they all reassured me that the particular model I was selecting was forgiving enough and I was swinging it consistently well enough.

The result was a set of clubs which I still think are the easiest clubs that I've ever hit. I can thoroughly recommend lessons and a fitting session; it makes more of a difference than you may think.

Pak

Mike I done that sort of thing with my guitars. I was a cluts at guitar playing so I decided I needed a Gibson Les Paul Heritage Standard 80 and about 5 or six other mighty axes in order to be any good. Of course a guitar like that helps your playing but not to the point were "it" could go in the hands of a real guitar player. Luckily crisis's work catharsic and I sold all my guitars to even better players. Now I'm happy and they are happy. And in the mean time I discovered I'm a better photographer then I'll ever be as guitarist.......so be it. But I don't need an expensive Phase One back or Leica to prove that. Just an second hand consumer camera and an old vintage analog 6x8 will do just fine. I don't even need a car or the big outdoors to convey what I want to convey.....just a bike and my hometown in backwater Holland (on the border to Germany) will do just fine. It's not the tools that make the carpenter......

Greetings, Ed

Alas, I agree with Mark Twain: Golf is a good walk in the country, ruined! Chad: Loved the Hickory Site, my Dad and his brothers who were 'loopers' in Evanston, Illinois back in the dark ages (for those not in the know, that's caddies to you), always referred to some clubs as mashies and niblicks, mostly humorously when referring to old duffers that could barely make it around the course...

I'm a lefty but play golf right-handed. The first time I was handed a golf club was from one of my right-handed mates.

I'm sure most golf instructors are right-handed, so getting lessons from one would be a lot easier as a righty.

Tungsten-Raptor-Afterburner, words to create lust in any red blooded males heart!

Like you I'm left handed so never got into golf even though an uncle played a lot and had putting holes on his lawn, I and a friend used to go along Tiverton canal retrieving golf balls in a rowing boat and selling them back to golfers. I'll happily watch it on the telly though, as I appreciate the skill involved. A good walk ruined, as the saying goes ;-)

I've been sailing 3 times in a mirror dinghy with a work colleague and find it a bit dull really; if the wind is right to get somewhere quickly it takes forever to get back, otherwise it's round and round in circles for a couple of hours, so give me power or a canoe anytime.

Being a bit of a speed freak my sporting hobby of choice nowadays is arrive-and-drive indoor karting. Took a friend and her daughter there on Thursday as a 14th birthday present. I'll be 50 this year but my reflexes are still good enough to be 3rd overall on the day, (but that's not even in the top 20 for the week).
My fastest lap each time is about 27.5 sec, the staff can do it in 25.5, and the quickest public in 26 sec, so I've probably hit my natural limit, luckily I can't spend money to get better, only maybe lose some weight, but I'm 6ft and 10 1/2 stone, so that ain't gonna happen!
The ego boost is when I go with friends who think they will beat me because I don't drive a car but don't realise that having grown up riding relatively underpowered bikes I've learnt to maximise lines and grip. It's just a great buzz, now that the roads are too crowded and full of speed cameras and radar guns. Yeah, I just love the technicality of perfectly balancing throttle, brakes and steering to just shave the barriers and get it spot on - so diametrically opposed to sitting for a few hours on a riverbank waiting to photograph a kingfisher, or lying in a field watching meteors (Perseid shower was clouded out last night and likely again tonight - worth a watch tonight though if you have clear skies- full moon not withstanding).

all the best still-buzzing-phil

"I'm not talking about you"

Yes you are. Even if you didn't mean to, I'll cop to it. And I'll continue to hack away with my lovely leather-gripped Wilson blades (Billy Casper autograph edition!) even if the Mizunos would take 10 strokes off my handicap. Why? Because of the feedback Steve mentioned, and because, as you point out, the club heads don't look like something stripped off the dashboard of a 1980s Japanese sports car.

Clearly, I don't take golf seriously enough to stop being distracted by petty matters.

Photography is different. If a light-tight box has a good lens and is reliable, I'll use it regardless of brand or aesthetics.

Unless it's a Canon. In that case, I'd rather play golf. I have my limits. ;)

There is nothing better than a beautiful item which is exceptionally functional too :)

It's your mechanics and then your golf club selection. Game improvement clubs are nuts and basically you can play any blade from 70's with new shafts (e.g: project-x, nspro) as good as anything new.

I recommend Fundamentals of Golf Swing from Nick Bradley if you want to check your mechanics.

Happy Golf and Happy Photography!

The way the club looks at address is more important than the way it looks in your bag.

Darrell,
I have to admit that I bought an expensive Ping putter and I actually do putt better with it.

No kidding.

It's the only expensive club I own.

Mike

If you are going put money into an expensive golf club, it should probably be a putter (as you have done) since about 1/3 to 1/2 of your shots in a round of golf will be with the putter.

"If you are going put money into an expensive golf club, it should probably be a putter (as you have done) since about 1/3 to 1/2 of your shots in a round of golf will be with the putter."

Darrell,
No, actually 1/3 to 1/2 of the shots a GOOD golfer makes are with the putter...it takes ME considerably more hacking than average to get to the green. [g]

Mike

I'm currently going through a similar thing with cricket bats. Strangely enough, my craving for a new bat has increased considerably since rupturing my calf (playing very low level cricket) two months ago, and consequently being unable to play, or even walk properly. Still, that hasn't stopped me researching a completely unnecessary new bat purchase - oh how those Salix and Newbery bats look nice (and oh how stupid I'd look being out for a duck carrying one of them!)

In Britian if you own equipment that's patently superior to your skill then you'll be subject to quiet ridicule. Indeed the ideal is to win Wimbledon with an old wooden racket.

Maybe that's why we haven't won Wimbledon since 1936?

You might want to look into a set of Adams A7OS clubs (the set I use). They aren't nearly as tacky as some others and they are easier to hit than traditional irons. You might also want to consider looking at a set of TourEdge clubs. There's some of the tackiness there but you won't be paying as much for it. As a fellow lefty I feel your pain about finding clubs. Most of the local shops either don't carry left handed clubs or only have a very limited selection.

My policy on clubs is to never buy this year's clubs. You can often find last year's model or even better yet the model that's two years old for a fraction of the currently marketed clubs.

The advice you got about a fitting is appropriate. The golf pro I went to gave me a fitting as part of my first lesson.

I still remember, not long after moving to the US and joining a hockey team in a local men's league, listening to my team mates talk about their skates and how much they had paid for them. I was the best skater on that team, and I was wearing a beat up, ten year old pair of skates that cost about 20-25% of what they had paid.

Sticks are even worse. The carbon fiber sticks the pros use give very little feedback, making stick handling, passing, and taking a pass very difficult. A pro may get a 100 mph slap shot with a carbon fiber stick, but for most amateurs it just makes it more difficult to play the game.

I do think about those things when I hear people talk about camera gear, and I think it makes an interesting analogy.

I started running recently and also participated in a couple of running 10k events. What I discovered, is that most amateur runners have better (more expensive) gear than guys that crossed the line first :)

Do NOT buy another set of golf clubs, new or used. The advantage of using the same clubs (possibly forever, if you don't play much) is that they remain constant while your swing, grip, and eye change, hopefully for the better. Change your clubs and you'll never know which aspect of your game is letting you down.

I have only ever owned one set of clubs, bought secondhand for $300, with telescoped steel shafts, leather grips, plain heads, and I play a mean game of golf. I bought a replacement putter at one point because the original one was genuinely rubbish, but that's all.

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