As you would no doubt expect, the life of a Fairways golf columnist is one of glamour, celebrities, obscene remuneration, groupies, and freebies. Tons and tons of freebies.
Well, okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Maybe, in fact, I’m exaggerating 100%. Actually, make that 99%… as I approach my sixth anniversary of writing for Fairways, I have just taken delivery of my very first freebie.
In fact, technically it’s not a freebie. The very nice and discriminating folks at TaylorMade have given me a prize for winning the highly-coveted Second Best Blog of the Year category in the annual Golf Journalists Association of Canada Awards.
Normally the GJAC Awards are handed from Bill to Bob to Barry, then back again the next year from Barry to Bob to Bill. So to somehow invade this territory is an honour indeed, and I will wear the Second Best tiara with pride and humility. I can’t remember who penned the Best Blog of the Year, but no doubt it was light years better than mine.
My prize from TaylorMade is a brand-freakin’-new M1 driver… the one that (says the TV commercial) prompted a bunch of players to switch drivers right in the middle of the PGA Tour playoffs. In the ad, Justin Rose says he carried the ball 320 yards with the M1. On my first shot with it, to a simulator screen, I carried the ball nearly as far as Justin, if you’re willing to agree that 180 yards qualifies as “nearly”. But it was a cool day, the air in the room was heavy, I had a cold, and I was late for picking up my granddaughter at daycare.
Sarcasm aside, I love my new driver and I’m very appreciative to TaylorMade for their generosity. I’m quite confident that the company doesn’t provide these prizes in the expectation that a journalist will write about it, and provide them with free publicity about their outstanding new product. And surely a journalist wouldn’t write nice things about the wonderful new product in the hope that maybe they’ll give him a free set of SpeedBlade irons or a gross of Tour Preferred Balls in the very near future.
I sure wouldn’t do that.
In fact, to make sure that my column is not seen as a pandering paean to TaylorMade, to whom I’m so grateful and whose M1 driver I’m really enjoying, I’m going to ensure transparency here by naming TaylorMade’s main competitors:
Callaway, Nike, Titleist, Ping, Bridgestone, Mizuno, Adams, Cleveland, Cobra, Srixon, Wilson, Snake Eyes, MacGregor, Spalding, Penfold, Slazenger, Dunlop, Campbell, Power-Bilt, Fly-Rite, Tamblyn, Tuf-Flex, Sponge Bob, Laurie Auchterlonie and Old Tom Morris, among others.
As I’m enjoying this transparency thing so much, I’ll let you know, dear reader(s), that this new TaylorMade M1 driver (that I’m enjoying so much) is, in fact, the fifth Taylor Made driver that I’ve owned, going back to the original Taylor metal wood that came out – or at least, got into my bag – in about 1981. I will admit that I cheated on Taylor Made in the 1990’s, with another brand of driver that bore a very similar name to “Large Lertha”. But my two sons put me back on the straight and narrow when they jointly chipped in and bought me a TaylorMade R5 for Christmas over a decade ago. I believe Taylor had already come out with the R7 and the R9 by then, but my kids long ago learned the value and location of the “remainder barrel” at GolfTown. I have since upgraded, most recently, to the TaylorMade RBZ driver, and have been very happy with that weapon… even though advancing age and deteriorating flexibility have caused me to lose about 20% in the distance category, compared to 1981.
So I’ll confess that I was somewhat ambivalent when I arrived last week for my appointment at TaylorMade’s very impressive Performance Lab in Vaughan. Master Fitter Jared Diehl wired me up like the Frankenstein Monster, but even for a techno-peasant like me, the computer graphics and measurements were incredibly instructive. And I walked out of the lab with an M1 that was, er, tailor made for me right before my eyes.
I then took the M1 out for its first test drive in “real” conditions the next day, in a golf day thingy with a bunch of other golf writers, coincidentally from GJAC.
I proceeded to top the ball off the first tee.
But it was a longer topped ball than usual, I’m happy to say. Progress – even with a made-to-measure implement – may take a little time.