The Physics Behind Not Getting What You Want

I’d been laying the groundwork for weeks. A compliment here, a gentle brush of the shoulder, there. Volunteering to help with the dusting and vacuuming was a strategic maneuver. Insisting we must spend more time with her mother, borderline brilliant. Agreeing to watch a Hallmark Channel movie instead of Friday night wrasslin’ and the trap was set. All I had to do now was wait for the perfect opportunity and that new $600 driver I’d been ogling would be as good as in the bag. For some people it’s booze. For others it is sex, drugs and rock ’n roll. For me, it’s a graphite shaft with the newest and best nano-tech, titanium head attached to it. And the lure — plus the 100% money-back guarantee promised by web pop-ups and glossy magazine advertisements — of new-found youth off the tee. Yes, I admit it. I have a fetish for 1-woods. It’s not that my “old” driver had become obsolete… I had just purchased it less than a year ago. Or that I didn’t have other options. Heck, I’ve got a barrel full of the “latest and greatest” clubs in the garage, all touted to hit the ball longer and straighter. Certainly a self-driving driver — I’m looking at you Titleist, Calloway and Ping — must already be in the developmental stages. But for now, I’d happily settle for the one I’d been eyeing… forged from the hammer of Thor and laboratory-engineered to deliver faster ball speeds, crazy distance, unbelievable forgiveness and the most bang for the buck. This wasn’t some impulse want or desire. It was a basic necessity for any self-respecting hacker like myself hoping to keep up with the Dustin Johnsons and Bryson DeChambeaus of the world.

“Poetry. Sheer poetry. I delivered those exact words, just like I had rehearsed, the next morning. My wife didn’t bite.”
-Bud Key

From the White Tees - Branding Block

I was determined not to make the same mistake I did in 1970. That was the year Hasbro introduced the first G.I. Joe with lifelike hair, an outdoorsman-style beard, and a Kung fu grip. I overplayed my hand in the toy department at Sears & Roebuck, telling my parents all the cool kids in my 4th-grade class already had one. When they balked, I threw a temper tantrum in the middle of the aisle. I left the store with a package of tube socks and a veiled threat that, If I was lucky, I might get a Big Jim or Action Jackson when my birthday rolled around. This time would be different. I practiced my lines. “Honey, have I told you lately how much better your meatloaf is than my mom’s. And how those 14 pair of identical black slacks you own make your butt look so much smaller.” And finally the clincher. “Whaddya say we swing by the mall this weekend and check out the sales rack at that fancy boutique you like so much. And since we’ll already be in the neighborhood, maybe pop into the golf store just around the corner.” Poetry. Sheer poetry. I delivered those exact words, just like  I had rehearsed, the next morning. My wife didn’t bite. “What is it you want this time?” she scoffed. Thirty-plus years of marriage has taught me that honesty is the best policy. That, and the fact, that I’m a terrible liar. But I still thought it was worth a try. “All the fellas in my foursome are outdriving me,” I wheedled. “I think George is ‘juicing.’ And Bill and Steve are popping Viagra pills like Tic Tacs. I just don’t want you to be embarrassed by me, so I was thinking about picking up this new driver I keep reading about.” Distance off the tee is an elusive quality. Certainly Crystal would understand that. And she did. If you’re familiar with “From the White Tees,” you already know my wife has been a high school science teacher for 34 years. “So your problem is distance?” she asked, rhetorically. “That’s simple junior high physics. Force equals mass of the clubhead and the square of the velocity at impact, divided by two. By doubling the velocity of the clubhead at impact, the force applied will increase four-fold.” Um, come again? Seeing the blank look in my eyes, and feeling pity that I had been a liberal arts major, she continued. “Simply put, Bud, if you’re currently swinging your driver 70 miles per hour, an increase of only 10 miles per hour will produce 27 percent more force and close to 40 yards in additional distance.” Her explanation would’ve made perfect sense… if I was Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking. “Could you break that down for me one more time?” I feebly asked. “Like if you were teaching a Physics for Jocks class.” She wasn’t amused. “If you want more distance make your clubhead go through the hitting zone faster.”   There it was, the chink in the armor I had been praying for. “That’s exactly what this new driver was designed to do,” I cried, perhaps a little too excitedly. “So can I buy it?” “No,” she retorted. “All current variables being the same, this ‘wonder’ club you think you need wouldn’t make an appreciable difference in how far you hit the ball.” I could feel the same despair washing over me as I had experienced some 50-plus years prior — leaving the department store empty-handed while the greatest action figure (it wasn’t a doll) known to mankind remained on the shelf, waiting for some kid luckier, and cagier, than me to take him home.   “But since I do love you, I’ll share an even simpler equation that will solve your problem,” she continued. “P equals G.” Another math problem to solve. For the next 15 minutes I racked my brain trying to remember what I had learned in Mrs. White’s high school physics class. P equals G… promiscuity equals gonorrhea? No, that was health and physical education. Pass equals graduation? Naw, that was the warning from the senior guidance counselor about my D- in biology. Party equals grounded. Nope, that was my punishment for staggering home three hours after curfew. I finally gave up knowing I had failed another one of my wife’s arduous tests. “Pain equals gain,” she answered for me. “Get off your ass, drop 20 pounds, do some stretching exercises and start using that gym membership you insisted on getting last year. Do that and you’ll be outdriving your little friends in no time.” Damn, I really am a dumbbell to think I could outsmart her.