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Loaner Clubs & the Old Course at St. Andrews


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To this day, I can’t swing a weighted whip training stick without having this story pop into my head:

I was an Assistant Pro at a local country club back in 1980 … just a 20 yr old kid. On Mondays, the area Pros got together for a round of golf & poker. I loved those times, especially listening to the stories the older pros told. My favorite story was from the Pro I was apprenticed under, Bernie, and his best friend and fellow PGA professional, Irvin. Irv owned a course across the river, and the two of them flew to Scotland every winter to play the historic courses. That year they had flown to St. Andrews, but unfortunately, the airline had lost Irv’s clubs. The clubs had not surfaced by their first tee time two days later, so Irv walked into the pro shop and said, “I’m a PGA professional, the airlines have lost my clubs, can I get a loaner set?” The attendant said sure and that the caddie would bring them to the first tee. When the caddie and clubs arrived, Irv pulled out the driver to take a few swings before teeing off. Bernie said that as Irv swung the club, the shaft bowed like a rubber hose … I imagine it was like an training whip. Back then, the forerunner to the whip trainer was a weighted driver that Maltby sold … one that you might actually hit, tho they described it as a timing trainer, and not for hitting … being a kid, that’s exactly what I tried to do, and it was near impossible. 

Irv had waited all year to play a round at the Old Course. How could he possibly enjoy his dream round with crap clubs? Irv turned to the caddie and asked, “How am I supposed to play with these  … are these the best you have?”

The caddie’s response was quick and matter of fact … even tho I wasn’t there I hear it in my head with a thick Scottish brogue. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought you were a professional from America. A pro should be able to play with anything.” Irv didn’t say a word, teed up a ball, and played a quiet, uncomplaining round of the worst golf of his adult life. Bernie said he didn’t hear Irv utter a single curse word at any of his bad shots. Which to us was an impossibility because Irv seemingly couldn’t speak a single sentence without swearing.

Bernie was grinning ear to ear as everyone pounded the poker table in laughter. Irv finally interjected, “The next time they lose my clubs, I’m not waiting for the airline to find them … I’m buying a brand new set … on the spot … no matter what it costs.”

— FYI: Irv’s clubs were finally delivered to his hotel in time for the second day of golf.

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