Whatever you do, don’t refurbish that old, worn-out golf club

2012-12-14 00:00

WAY back in 1961, a student, Brian Stokoe, bought an old putter at Fletcher’s Mart in Gardener Street in Durban. The putter looked the worse for wear and he paid only £2 for it. A friend, who lived in the same digs and also played golf, took a liking to the old putter and used it whenever he played.

The friend kept the putter for many years, but he never forgot who owned it. He knew that Brian had continued to play the game and was a very good golfer. So he thought he would have the putter professionally refurbished and, as a surprise, return it to Brian.

The putter had a hickory shaft and the head was also made of wood. It was handmade in St Andrews, Scotland, by Laurie Auchterlonie, a professional golfer and club maker. He won the U.S. Open in 1902. His brother Willie was more famous — he won the (British) Open Championship at Prestwick in 1893. His win marked the first time that 80 was broken in all four rounds in the Open Championship.

So the beautifully refurbished putter was presented to Brian and he was delighted to receive it. It looked wonderful and one could say it looked like a new one.

A few years after receiving the putter, Brian was at St Andrews in Scotland and made inquiries about the putter. He discovered that it was indeed a collector’s piece and would be worth a great deal of money if it hadn’t been refurbished. Therefore, the favour that Brian’s old digs mate had done for him had rendered the putter worthless.

Brian became president of the KZN Senior Golfers’ Society and presented the putter, now mounted on a wooden plaque, to the society in 2006 as a trophy to be played for annually. It is proudly displayed at the Seniors’ headquarters at the Royal Durban Golf Club.

There is an underlying lesson to be learnt from this story. If you acquire or own a very old golf club, don’t change its appearance, because, in doing so, you will destroy its value.

From the 19th hole

The buffalo theory

A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. So when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In a similar way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. An excessive intake of alcohol kills the brain cells. But, naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. Thus, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

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