A Putter Saved with Pennies Earned

At the thrift store, it’s not how – it’s how much

A wee confession for starters: This pennywise scribe is known to amble into a thrift shop once in a great while, the better to scrimp and save for the important things in life like green fees and Guinness at the turn. Retail is for suckers; leastwise that’s what my grandpappy told me while cutting my hair with a sharpened seashell and styling it with cold chicken fat.

Okay, that probably never happened, but I did in fact find myself in a local Salvation Army a few weeks ago on the fabled “half-off everything” day, during which the already ridiculously cheap becomes literally impossible to resist purchasing. A nice Nike golf shirt that will set you back seventy bucks in a pro shop was priced at $2, and some of them stylish Polo chinos just another $4. My swing may be decidedly bargain-basement, but who cares? I’m styling like Ricky Fowler at a fraction of MSRP.

And then came a true life-changer: At the bottom of a barrel of used golf clubs – a depressing collection of rusted Northwestern irons and microscopic fairway metals circa 1991 – I spotted a humble plank of pewter with the logo AP10 etched into the sole, a fifty-something year old Arnold Palmer-designed putter with a fraying rubber handle and a mottled face. At 50% off the sticker price of $1.99, I rescued the forgotten relic for the price of a Whopper Jr.

Of course, I quickly checked eBay to see if my prized purchase was actually worth three grand or more, only to find plenty of AP-series putters priced at ten to seventy bucks. Undaunted, I invested another twenty and put a new grip on it – if nothing else, it would make a nice conversation piece on a backed-up tee. “Look what I got for a dollar at a thrift shop,” I proudly crowed to my foursome a week later. “You overpaid,” a wag replied to mocking laughter.

Harrumph! Little does that doubting Tom Morris realize that putting with a humble AP-10 takes one back to a hardy era long before fancy-pants titanium or polymer inserts, adjustable weight, length or lie angles … and it certainly predates the time when a decent flat-stick would set you back $300 or more! Give me that modest wad and an hour on Craigslist and I’ll find a passable car to drive.

But seriously, folks, once I started putting with this low-tech butter-knife, I realized that golfers in the “classic” era didn’t have the lazy option of letting the club do all the work, they actually had to have sufficient technique to initiate a proper roll on the ball, or to make it pop off the face by angling the shaft forward like guys named Arnold and Jack once did.

So, yes, this is a Luddite Manifesto of sorts for all of you gear junkies who think that newer always means better. My trusty AP-10 may have a sweet spot smaller than Dick Cheney’s heart, but when I’m locked, loaded and canning the odd birdie putt, I feel like I’ve done something the American Way, by my soft-spike bootstraps and my calloused claws, not with the help of an iPhone app or some 21st-century moon-rock alloy.

Does that make me old-school? Heck no, I’m pre-school – and proud of it. That, my fellow turf gangstas, is how an O.G. (Original Golfer) rolls. You gotta problem with that, we can take it outside to the putting green.

P.S. If you happen to see me over at Roger Dunn trying out the latest and greatest putters, please, no photographs. For the record, I own and covet three Scotty Camerons and may switch back at a moment’s notice. Sorry, Arnie!

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