My 5 iron left me.

It was a brutal, sudden departure. Literally.

I had sailed a drive into the woods on a par four. After a drop, I reached for the normally faithful 5 iron. Retaining a bit of anger because of the wayward drive, I swung the club with DeChambeau-like force (well, kinda). As it met the ball, the clubhead separated from the shaft and sailed down the fairway, eventually landing past the ball. 

Turns out I didn’t know my own strength. I was momentarily impressed then suddenly depressed. Few things are sadder than a golf club missing its business end (although, to be sure, it is much lighter).

So off the fiver went to the golf hospital for a new infusion of epoxy.

Parting was difficult. What was I to do when I landed under a tree and needed the 5 iron for a crisp, low-flying shot off the back of my stance? The 5 also was my club of choice for knocking mud off my shoes.

Go with the 4 iron, you say? Hah, I use that club so rarely that I swear I sometimes can hear it pouting in the bag.

Immediately, I demanded two courtesy strokes per side because of the lonely spot in my golf bag – an obvious handicap. You can imagine how my playing buddies reacted to that. No sympathy from that evil, selfish bunch.

In my long (very) amateur golf career, this marked the first time I had damaged a club. My fond hope was that this would happen in much more dramatic, memorable fashion, as in wrapping a driver around a tree trunk after a topped tee shot, or as in brutalizing the blade of a putter after a missed two-footer. Maybe even drowning an uncooperative wedge in a lake.

Alas, it happened on what should have been a normal, relatively easy shot. 

My first golf instructor told me years ago that the game is not about the equipment. It’s about the person using it, he said as I swatted at golf balls and pretended to listen. He encouraged me to avoid expensive, fresh-from-the-factory clubs and go with the basics, at least until I learned more about the game. “I’ll let you know when you’re ready for top-of-the-line stuff,” he said.

I’m still waiting on that phone call.

Anyway, the 5 iron was sidelined for several days. I received notice that it was out of quarantine, picked it up and returned it to its permanent spot in the bag, which now seems happy again.

Next I’ll break my rescue club. On concrete. Because I can’t hit it.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.