SO, MY son’s got a mate over and he’s brought a dinged surfboard into my R&D workshop to be fixed.
Here I am, nose to the grindstone, and this punk kid barely looks at me. I mean, there are sparks coming from the grinder, the wheel screams like a siren and a fine coating of black dust covers my hands. Aussie Crawl is on the record player and the future of golf is about to change. Forever.
Bill doesn’t even pretend to be interested.
My son, Felix, is kind of up for it but this Bill kid and his busted-up board took priority. Felix has seen this sort of thing before, of course. He was thereabouts for the birth of the MacDaddo wedge, and not far away when inspiration struck for “The Waffle”.
So I tirelessly press on regardless, together alone. Not quite the mad scientist but pretty certain that’s how I might look to the lads.
Stuff ‘em, I thought, buoyed by the excitement of The Waffle. After the euphoria of the utterly revolutionary MacDaddo wedge, where the grooves were extended off the end of the clubface, and the outrageously popular The Andrewlet, I’d been left feeling strangely flat. These should have been a defining moments. Some recognition would have been nice, not necessarily a monument or a bronze sculpture at the MCG, but certainly something. Alas, the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that innovation is not about notoriety. Mine is more of a calling than a crass grab for fame and fortune.
Those extended grooves were a thing of beauty, no question. But on the research range, which doubles nicely as our backyard, the limitations of the MacDaddo struck me like a 4-iron to the groin. When I open the clubface to pitch the ball over the barbecue but land it before the steps to the deck, the grooves were at a funky angle to the ball. This would obviously impact the way ball spins.
What if? I thought, and the lunacy of it made me giggle. What if the grooves were square to the ball when the clubface was open? Then I forgot about it, because the washing had to be hung out or someone needed a lift somewhere.
But later, maybe days, maybe weeks, I sat down for breakfast and my daughter had made waffles. Usually, I’d rather sew my face to the carpet than eat waffles, but on this day, for some fantastic reason, I ate them. But only after letting them go soggy in the pool of maple syrup and melted ice cream. I ate the edge first, then pushed the pattern around and created two sets of lines in the surface of the waffle.
I didn’t have my glasses on, so it was simply shapes and lines, not a waffle. For a moment of brilliance, it was a golf club. It was a wedge – the MacDaddo, but new and improved.
That’s when I went back to the laboratory, grabbed a wedge and looked at it properly. It was so simple. I laid it flat – the way it’d be hitting out of a bunker or over a bunker (or barbecue) – and the angle was the same. So that’s the angle of the lines I marked onto the pristine wedge I got out of my wife’s golf bag. The pattern was staggeringly close to the mushed up waffle. It was beautiful.
And instead of having four holes in the back, it’s now got five, because five is better than four. More is better than less, right? And the colours represent two things: red for stop and green for go. The Waffle makes the ball stop after it goes. Like, it can really go and it can really stop!
The boys worked away at the surfboard while I re-imagined the wedge. We must have finished at the same time, for the garage – sorry, the lab – resonated with the triumphant sighs of jobs well done. I talked them through the history that had been created in their presence, how the two sets of grooves meant anything was possible. “Everything, actually,” I said. “Everything is possible with The Waffle.”
“Hmmmm…” they nodded together. “It should work,” said Felix. “The theory could be right.”
“It’s pretty mangled,” says Bill. “Does it matter that it’s not perfect? That the grooves are slightly different widths to the originals? That the new grooves aren’t all uniform in their direction? Does that stuff matter?”
“Yeah. Are there rules about this stuff?” added Felix.
“Probably,” I said. “But it’s a prototype. R&D starts in the lab, you know. The future is now, and ahead of us.”
Wisdom fell out of me in ways it never had before – this must be what it feels like to be Buddha.
I took The Waffle wedge to the practice range and flopped three balls over the barbecue. It was amazing. The spin rate was way up and exactly perpendicular to the club. Phenomenal. I got Bill to try it. He hit it skinny and the ball ricocheted off the steps of the deck and into the glass of the back door.
“That’s epic,” he said. “It even shatters glass with a waffle pattern!”