What's in a Color
Think about it logically.
The visual spectrum forms a circle - a color wheel. There are only three spokes: red, yellow and blue. These are the primary colors. Between any two primary colors are the secondary colors, orange, green and purple. Those are the only six colors in the entire universe. These colors correlate to the physical wavelengths of the visible electromagnetic spectrum. Your eyeballs sense them, and your brain interprets them. Blue is the shortest wavelength, and red is the longest. Remarkably, blue and red somehow magically splice together on the wheel. Above red is infrared, and below blue is ultraviolet. (Shouldn’t it be infraviolet and ultrared? Asking for a friend.)
Everybody knows that blue is the best color.
Colors are very interesting things. Sir Isaac Newton taught us that sunlight is a combination of all colors. How cool is that. When I was a kid I used to try to imagine a new color. As I got older, I discovered that it is not really that strange of an idea. That which we think of as color is not real. In other words, color only exists in your brain. How cool is that.
God created color in the mind of man. He created different colors – unimaginable colors - in the mind of a bee. More difficult: what color do you think a bat sees? Well, what colors can you hear? In other words, the only way to see a new color is to be a different thing.
Not all men see the same colors, or colors in the same way. For instance, Jack Nicklaus is color blind… which might explain a few things from the seventies. Jeff Riggs is another excellent golfer who was also color blind… and wanted to be an electrician. Scary thought. I came to imagine that color blindness is probably an advantage for a golfer because they don’t get fooled by colors when reading greens or estimating distances; however, it’s a decided disadvantage for an electrician who needs to read color-coded wires.
I hired a press operator one time who couldn’t see magenta, and nobody knew it, including him. He just kept pumping up the magenta, and customer service kept coming to me with complaints. The poor guy swore there must be something wrong with the press. Nope, it’s a Heidelberg, and you’re magenta blind, pal.
Man systematically makes colors all the time. Man is very clever. There are two distinct systems for making colors: additive, and subtractive. Subtractive colors start with white light and subtract wavelengths out via reflection. This is how a printing press works. Four ink colors – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or CMYK – can produce a photographic image. This is known as four color process printing. Additive colors start with three wavelengths – red, green, and blue, or RGB - and add them together to produce a photographic image. This is how your TV or cell phone work.
So that, finally, brings me to my point, and I do have one.
My goal is to offer as many grips in as many colors as I possibly can. I also want people to have fun, because after all, that’s the whole point of golf. It’s a game, folks. It’s only a game. Unfortunately, this is a terribly expensive process – designing and making grips - and I am not a terribly wealthy man. Life is full of tradeoffs. For my first order of grips I decided to make one design, three sizes, and twelve colors. That’s thirty-six different grips… not counting tubes, labels and skirts. That’s a pretty good start for a man of modest means, I think.
Which twelve colors, and how do you name them? After all, one man’s blue is another man’s green.
Everybody knows that my favorite color is airport runway light blue… because that has been scientifically proven to be the best color in the entire universe. So that obviously is the first color on my list for putter grips. Everybody also knows that airport runway light blue is an additive color and can never be emulated with a subtractive process, like putter grips. Life is full of tradeoffs, so we do the best we can. Nowhere in the Pantone color book will you ever find a swatch of airport runway light blue… so just go with Reflex Blue.
And you gotta have at least one each of the five other colors, so there’s six… and six to go.
Then you must have black, white and gray. But my grips are silicone, and natural silicone has its own color, so we gotta do that. Too cool. To me it looks like ice, and there’s nothing cooler than ice. That brings us up to ten.
Only two more. Gotta be some form of blue – turquoise, cool in an art deco way.
Well, it’s a putter grip, and for hundreds of years putter grips were only made out of leather… so as odd as it may seem, we spend our last bullet on brown. Really? Yep, it’s gotta be brown… but it might actually be the best one (Not counting airport runway light blue.) This is a two-part process, picking and naming. The naming might be the most important part. Who knows.
Now the game is simple: put a word to a color. What’s a word? What’s a color? Are they the same thing? We’ve already answered the color question. What about words?
A word is something you hear, and like a color, something you see. Also, like a color, it exists only in the mind of man. It is a physical phenomenon that evokes a human response. How cool is that. Unlike a color it is possible to not only imagine but to actually invent new words. We do it all the time. Let’s do that now. Let’s invent a new word for a putter grip color just to piss people off.
Obviously, that’s yellow. It sounds like some retro high-techie kind of thing. Perhaps we can just abbreviate it as SG 8802. Only the cool kids know what it really means. Beats the hell out of daffodil. Yellow sucks hind tit anyway, so we’re doing it a favor.
Three down, nine to go.
Obviously not all words are the same; there are different kinds of words. We are looking for naming words, and when I was in grade school they called those nouns. Now that we have Common Core, I don’t know what we call them. So let’s take a look at nouns:
The part of speech that is used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action and can function as the subject or object of a verb, the object of a preposition, or an appositive.
Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as neighbor, window, happiness, or negotiation.
In grammar, a name; a word that denotes a thing, material or immaterial; a part of speech that admits of being used as subject or object of a verb, or of being governed by a preposition.
More at Wordnik from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
Hmmm. Looks like we’ve got a pretty broad latitude. Doesn’t look like we’ll run out of nouns anytime soon. Happiness? What color is that? I like that one, but we’ve already got airport runway light blue. Same thing.
A word is a thing that evokes a thought or emotion, and at the same time a thing might evoke a word. One way to go about this might be to look at the grip, and then just blurt out some thoughts, emotions, or words.
Two potential problems arise with this approach. First, each grip can go on different tubes of different colors, and each tube can have a different label, and each shaft can have different skirts, so various combinations can evoke vastly different responses. Second, not everybody shares the same experiences, so any result of a quixotic process like this will be highly idiosyncratic and doomed to fail.
These are not bugs, my friend, they are features. The more idiosyncratic the better. Failure? What’s that?
Start with white. What do you see?
It looks like white to me.
Well, that’s not too terribly creative, now is it. What things are white?
Snow is white.
You want to call this putter grip snow white? What the hell is wrong with you.
Okay, how about bone? Bones are white.
But they’re not really really white, and these grips are really really white.
How about just leaving it blank. The grip is white, it says White on it. It would be like the artist formerly known as Prince. It could be the grip formerly known as white, but yet it still says White, and it is white… It’s like ironic, or cynical, or what’s the word?
The word is failure, as in epic fail.
Well, when bones lay out in the sun, they get bleached to really really white.
Okay, fine. Next. What is the blackest thing you can imagine?
What is the grayest thing you can imagine?
Yeah, you know, putty. Haven’t you ever seen gray putty?
Yes, but I’ve seen blue putty too, and all kinds of putty.
Well, you never said what’s the only thing you’ve ever seen that was always gray. Plus, I bought a putter grip one time that I really liked, and they called it putty, and I liked that too.
So you want me to steal somebody else’s name for a putter grip?
Steal? WTF. It’s not like they own the damn word putty. It’s not like their name is William Putty and they trademarked the damn color. Your name is Mark White. Can somebody else sell a putter grip and call it a white putter grip?
Calm down. Point taken. Putty it is. Drink a beer.
What does this remind you of?
How about this?
How about this?
Little Rickie, the human traffic cone?
Think we’ll have to pay him?
He’ll have to prove it’s him first. It’s a big planet. There are a lot of Rickies in this world. Could be anybody.
It won’t be too hard to prove once he reads this.
Oh, he ain’t gonna read this. Trust me, pal, nobody’s gonna read this.
What do we have left?
Well, we’ve got turquoise.
What do you want to call that?
How about turquoise?
Not very creative.
Well, it’s a cool word anyway, and to be honest I’m getting a little bit bored with this crap.
How about robin’s egg.
Oh, now that’s creative, and a pretty dark robin’s egg, don’t you think.
It’s a pretty dark robin… But what if it was a guy? What if this guy was named Richard Egg? It’s like Rickie, or Barney, except his name is R. Egg. It’s like a puzzle, a mystery. Who is R. Egg? It’s like an escape room. We could leave all manner of cryptic clues on our web…
You know a Richard Egg?
It’s a very big planet. There’s bound to be a Richard Egg out there somewhere, and odds are this is his favorite color, since it’s such a cool color. And that’s the whole point of th…
That is the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever heard.
I thought that was the whole point of this exercise.
Point taken. Next?
We’ve got red…
And can’t we just call it red?
Stay with me, big guy. Let’s try something utterly off the wall.
More off the…
Let’s use an adverb.
Yeah, you know, like “quickly.” Have you ever seen a color named with an adverb?
No, and do you know why?
We’ll start a trend!
Fine. Give me an adverb.
That’s a hard no.
I can’t think of any adverbs.
Well, let me kn…
How about hot.
That’s not an adverb.
I’m going to ask you this again: Do you know why adverbs are not used to name colors?
Because it’s stupid. That’s why.
Search for lists of cool adverbs.
… okay, yep… this helps quite a bit.
What have you got?
Angrily, foolishly, hopelessly, irritably, wearily…
Scroll down. Get to the good ones.
Those are the good ones.
Quickly, rapidly, speedily, accidentally, defiantly, crazily… more Lees than a Korean phone book… dramatically, madly, mortally, mysteriously, seriously…
Whoa, whoa… go back.
No… mortally. That’s it!
Why not Mort Ally? We could call it M. Ally. Who wouldn’t get that? It’s a big planet and sur…
It’s not blood red, it’s mortally red. It’s killer red. It’s…
Fine. Congratulations, chief, you just needlessly invented a new word for red. You used an adverb. Pure genius. I’m in awe. Let’s just get this over with.
Okay, what’s left?
What does that look like to you?
A turd on a stick.
Okay, TOS brown.
Drawing the line. Can’t do that. Not even funny.
How about now?
Same turd, different stick.
Ooh… now that does pop. A deep brown leathery grip on a gold tube with a metallic blue label. Way too cool. I might even put that bad boy in my bag.
What do we call it?
I’m calling it JFK.
Because that’s what JFK would use, and he is the king of retro cool.
Now how would you possibly know that?
Because the spirit of JFK just entered my body… and he just told me he wanted that grip. Plus, I’ve seen pictures of JFK’s golf clubs, and he had leather everything. If he were alive today, he would still be so cool that he would still have leather everything. He would have that grip. I promise. He sure as hell wouldn’t have synthetic neon pussy colors with…
Fine. Fine. Fine. JFK.
Are we done yet?
Yes. We are done.