Two things happened today!
Firstly, I got my first outdoor range session in today and secondly I got the results from our level two referee training exam. I scored 90/100 in the exam coming second in the class of 16. I was actually slightly disappointed with the score but at least I passed (72 points required for that). I earned the title of "Club Referee" last year, now I'm a "Regional Referee". The next step would be to apply to become a "Union Referee Candidate" (Union referring to our national Golf Union). Actual Union Referees have a chance to go to St. Andrews for further training.
As for the range session, it was awesome! It was +3 Celsius but the sun was out and there was very little wind so I had a good three-hour session.
You need to collect your own range balls though as the range is still mostly mud but at least it's free.
I had a half set of even-numbered MP-32s and the odd-numbered Ping i20s with me and I was hitting them both exceptionally well for the first range session of the season. Hitting off the mat I didn't notice much of a difference between the two sets except for the fact that the i20s tended to go slightly more to the left. It could be down to the head design or the shafts (CFS stiff vs S300).
After 2+ hours and 200+ balls I started to notice a slight difference between the two sets with the Pings being easier when getting tired. I doubt that difference is enough to hold on to them but I will give them a round or two on the course as the sole should help in wet conditions. Anyway I'll go back to the 4s once we're playing off actual grass rather than mud and sand. Until then it's the 32s or i20s.
The 22* 650 hybrid seemed to work quite well, I might need to hold on to it for a while (I sold the 19* version last year as it wasn't for me). My swing wasn't quite there yet for the fairway woods even though I didn't have any trouble elevating them.
The 650 driver on the other hand. It was pure gold! The drives were fantastic, it was a pure joy to hit - straight and long. If I could lock in this driver swing for the rest of the season, I'd definitely take it. The funny thing was the sound it was making. Anyone who has tried it knows how it feels and sounds. Maybe it was the very cold range balls or my visits to the gym paying off, the sound off the face was huge and violent (no, it's not broken). Maybe not Nike SQ or Cleveland caliber but still distinctively different. I'm putting it down to my time at the gym!
The wedges were the opposite. As always, I really struggled with them for quite a while hitting mostly hosel rockets. I did get them working by the end of the session though after quite a bit of frustration and work. The touch shots with wedges really show my lack of coordination and athletic ability early on in the season.
I can't wait for the season to start! Quite often I feel like asking for a refund on my annual fees after the first or second range session and finding another hobby but now I'm truly excited!