Bye, Bye Whippy Shafts

Dan Wright was a pretty good athlete in his youth – good enough, in fact, to do some dabbling on the Georgia Tech basketball team in the mid 1980s under their renowned coach Bobby Cremins.

Wright adapted less readily to the grand ole game of golf, however, when he took it up many years after those college days. He now blames his early struggles on his first set of clubs, which apparently had graphite shafts that were far too whippy for a man of his strength.

I broke a couple of clubs making a normal swing,” Wright told me recently.

It’s a fanciful boast, the authenticity of which many who have seen his swing might question. But what is not in doubt is that Wright chose a most inappropriate way to do away with those ultra-flexible rubber bands that masked themselves as golf clubs.

It happened late in a round at Orangebrook Golf & Country Club in Hollywood, Fla., when Wright suddenly instructed his playing partner to back their golf cart up to the top of the bridge they had just driven over. Without a word, Wright got out of the cart, unstrapped his bag, walked to the bridge’s edge, and dumped the entire set – driver through putter – into the canal. Game over.

Wright says he can’t remember much about that round and that even before he commenced to hacking the ball around that day he had decided to upgrade to a better club set, including steel-shafted irons. “I only remember that I got rid of the clubs in an unusual way,” he says.

Of course, the blind fury that golf sometimes provokes, much like a good night on the town, has been known to result in blackouts. Wright surely would have done better if he had traded-in those clubs, whippy shafts and all, instead of making them an exhibit for whatever marine life could survive the algae-ridden, oxygen-deprived water that characterizes most of South Florida’s manmade waterways.

Unlike many who have appeared on the pages of Golf Tantrum, however, Wright has apparently actually learned a lot from golf through the years.

One of the things I’ve learned is how to manage my temper,” he explained. “Could have been events like that helped me to come to the place where I’ve come today.”

Bobby Cremins should be proud.

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