A typical golf bag will contain anywhere from 4 to 47 golf clubs (the one extreme demonstrating that perhaps you’re forgetful or very cheap and the other leading to the diagnosis that you may be a kleptomaniac). The “official” rules of golf state that a player “cannot have more than 14 clubs in his or her bag” which leads me to conclude that if you want to play with more clubs than simply bring an extra bag or two. Maybe the rule is in place to protect against rampant back injuries.
Regardless of the actual number, it’s not what you have, it’s how you use it, as a former girlfriend once told. Great advice although oddly, she didn’t play golf.
In your collection of clubs you will likely have three or four drivers, a number of wedges and irons and a putter that resembles something a surveyor might use. Despite what you may have heard, there are no advantages or bonus points given to golfers who carry additional clubs other than impressing your opponents with how strong you appear to be.
Not all clubs are in your bag however. Three of the most valuable clubs you can use are actually with you all the time. The trick though is to not tell the others you have them. Chances are they may be using their own versions of these already, but like passwords and handkerchiefs it’s best not to share.
So what are these clubs?
First off is the Hand Wedge.
You’ll find you have both a left-handed and a right-handed hand wedge but will likely grow fonder of one or the other. Both are perfectly legal to use (keeping in mind that “legal” is a very ambiguous word).
The Hand Wedge is the most versatile club out there. It can get you out from behind a boulder or from under a large tree trunk. One good smooth scoop can save a hole or a complete round. Unlike your standard clubs, the hand wedge has the ability to produce a long, low trajectory shot or a high lofty shot to clear a large tree that was obviously planted in a very bad spot.
The key in using this club is proximity. It is not advisable to use this anywhere within 50 feet of your opponent.
Next is the Foot Putter.
It’s similar to the hand wedge although it doesn’t have the same loft or distance. Unlike the hand wedge the foot putter doesn’t require you to even bend over to take the shot. In fact you don’t have to look at the ball at all when using the foot putter. Just swing away in what foot putter specialists describe as a “kicking motion”.
The foot putter is best used to tweak your position or lie on the course and is great for removing your ball from unfortunate subterranean situations. The foot putter has a greater proximity range than the hand wedge and can be used within a shorter proximity than 50 feet although it’s advisable to combine your shot with an impromptu cough or sneeze when actually using the club.
Last up is the Sole Driver.
This is very similar to the Foot Putter other than the fact this club is not used to improve your ball’s position but rather to degrade the lie of your opponent. Another difference is the position of the ball when struck by the club. Whereas the foot wedge is hit using the inside or outside edge of the club, the sole driver is hit using the bottom or underside edge of the club. A perfectly placed shot with the sole driver will put your opponent’s ball 3 inches deep into the terrain making for a very unplayable follow up shot.
The sole driver is the most difficult of these three clubs to hit because it requires a much greater proximity than even the hand wedge. DO NOT use this club within 100 feet of your opponent. Also speed here is of the essence. Make your shot and get the hell away from that ball.
Mastering these three specialty clubs is a matter of skill, adaptability and stealth. Who needs another graphite contraption to congest your golf bag when the best clubs are right at hand (or foot)?