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Birthday Revisited

Last month when I celebrated my birthday, I had to defer one bit of celebration until this last week. That was my birthday gift of a putter fitting at Hot Sticks Golf. This is a high-tech facility up in Scottsdale that custom fits its customers for golf clubs. Previously, they were only open to professionals but are now open to the general public. I called for an appointment back in April but this week was the earliest date I could get in. Obviously, they are doing something right.

Back in late 2003, I visited them for the first time and was fitted for a new driver. I was so happy with the results, I have been back for a fairway wood, a loft wedge and for new shafts for my irons. Now I was ready for a new putter. It's not that my old putter was bad, mind you — but you golfers will understand — I just felt that I could do better.

The picture at the left shows their putter fitting centers — but admittedly, the photo doesn't do it justice. They have some half dozen video cameras trained on you and your putter and the ball as you try to hit a few six-foot putts. They then analyze your putting stroke, looking for flaws in your swing or your putter. I was told my form was pretty good but my putter was lifting the ball off the ground — when, in fact, it is preferred that the ball stay grounded and start skidding then rolling as soon as possible.

After trying a half dozen different putters we finally narrowed it down to two putters that seemed to work well — then I had to make the final choice. So I am now the proud owner of a new Jules putter from David Whitlam Golf.

The very next day, I had a tee time at Club West — no practice with the new putter — just put it in play and see what happens. Well, not too bad for the first time out. I still need to practice to get used to the distance but it feels like the ball is going where I'm aiming. At the same time, my golf lessons seem to be kicking in — as I was hitting the ball much better with all my clubs.

However, the real treat was meeting a REAL golfer. My playing partner is a member at Club West and plays there frequently — like more than 300 times a year! It turns out that he works in the collections department of a mortgage company and works a split shift — five hours early in the morning then three or four hours in the evening. In between, he plays golf.

Now that is the second-best working arrangement I've encountered for any of the golfers I've played with. The best deal was for a guy (and his wife) with whom I was paired on Maui during my retirement celebration vacation six months ago. His profession is managing a hedge fund investment portfolio. The people he works with are all in Europe. So he works evenings on Maui (during the European day) and plays golf every day — ON MAUI!!! Not a bad deal — if you have to work.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com