tiger-driverIt’s the oldest cliché in golf; You drive for show and putt for dough. Everyone loves the long ball. People ooh and aah over 300-yard drives, 400-foot home runs, 70-yard passes in football, 35-foot jump shots in basketball. Folks went nuts to watch Evel Knievel attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon on his motorcycle in 1973. Length is sexy and exciting, especially in golf. Go to any driving range and the odds heavily favor seeing the majority of those hitting a bucket of balls doing so with………………………………THE DRIVER!.

That commercial that shows Tom Watson picking up golf balls in a cart does not show a single person swinging the second most important club in the bag……………………….THE WEDGE. The most important club? It’s the putter stupid. If you can’t put the ball into the hole then you can’t score. The putter is number one. Both Gorman and I agree on this point which is why it’s not part of our debate. But we disagree strongly on the second most important club in the bag. Tom thinks bombing the ball off the tee is the key to golf while I, the more cerebral player, understand that the club that gives you the best chances of holing putts, is the wedge.

I love hitting my driver. I love it when it actually goes some distance and lands in a fairway, especially the one I’m playing. I’ll admit that the driver is more fun to hit, both on the course and at the range. The wedge is boring. The wedge is like driving a Volvo instead of a Miata. You look really good in the Miata, on the road in July, but when the weather is foul and the roads are treacherous, you want a vehicle that stays on the road. The wedge is that club. Now while it is a huge advantage to be able to hit the ball a long way off the tee, something that neither Gorman or I know anything about, you still need a club that can hit the ball close enough to the hole to get those birdies and pars that make you a winner.

That club is not the driver. Did you know that 64 percent of all golf shots take place from 100 yards and in? So just what club would you use for the final 100 yards and in, or at least until you reached the putting surface? Sure ain’t gonna be the big dawg. Of course the wedge is not a singular club. Most people carry at least two wedges in their bags and some have three. The gap wedge has become very popular in the game. Phil Mickleson has four wedges, including the Harrier Jump Jet of golf clubs, the 64 degree wedge. If you get in high grass you reach for your wedge to get you back into play. If you find yourself in a bunker you normally use a wedge to blast out. If you are up against the collar of the green a very good play is to blade a wedge (please practice this first). The wedge gets used many more times in a round of golf than even the putter, unless you putt like Gorman.

Just for the sake of argument consider this scenario. Two golfers of even ability play a nice little nine-hole match. Player A uses nothing but a driver and a putter while player B has a pitching wedge and a putter. Player A is going to be well ahead of player B off the tee on every hole, but then what? Yeah, right. That’s exactly my point.

Tim Geary is a R.I. based freelance writer. He once shot even par for nine holes using a driver.