Gear Geeks; The Open Edition

Due to the incredibly firm conditions at the Old Course, St. Andrews, many of the game’s best made some equipment tweaks and changes before teeing it up in the 150th Open Championship. Tour pros have the clubs dialed in to specific specifications to fit them and their styles of play. But the old course plays nothing like what they see in the states, especially this year where the fairways were running faster than the greens.

Webb Simpson One way to ensure that you’ll need to make some club changes is when your clubs don’t show up at all. Webb arrived across the pond safely but his golf bag did not. This tends to happen when the boys travel overseas. No, Webb didn’t snag a rental set from the pro shop. He had the Titleist tour van build him a set to his exact specs on-site. He did however have a special request for his wedges. Simpson typically plays high bounce wedges; 52°-12, 56°-14, and 60°-6. But that setup wouldn’t be ideal for the hard and firm turf conditions at St. Andrews. That high of a bounce is more suitable for lush and softer lies like he sees in the states. This was a popular move among Titleist staff players last week. By Monday at 4:00pm, the tour van had ran out of Vokey T-grind heads, which feature the lowest bounce of all loft offerings. Titleist estimates they built around 30 T-grind wedges for their players at the Open.

Rory McIlroy Rors also made the switch to a lower bounce in his 60° lob wedge. He had the Taylormade van set him up with a MG3 Raw LB with 7° of bounce. He usually plays MG2 HB with 12° of bounce. Why you are seeing a consistent theme among the world’s best players is 2 reasons: they typically use their lob wedge out of greenside bunkers and high bounce is better for sand shots. The bounce of the sole is what is actually striking the sand at impact. Pros also usually have a steep attack angle and need the higher bounce to offset that and ensure less “digging.” Whereas a sweeper or a player that picks the ball clean could benefit from a lower bounce, especially in the wedge they use to chip with most often.

Another popular move that Rory implemented was the switch to a driving iron, or 2-iron, in lieu of a 5-wood. He put Taylormade’s new Stealth UDI in the bag with a Project X HZRDUS 105 6.5 shaft. The driving iron made its way into a lot of bags at the open due to how much roll the players were getting by hitting a lower, more penetrating, stinger-type tee shot. They can be flighted down into the wind and roll out some 80-100 yards once they land.

Stewart Cink The 2009 Open champ played the 150th installment with unreleased prototype Ping irons and a putter. He gamed i230 irons which are rumored to be the replacement of the 4-year old i210 model. The i230 are a compact cavity-back with a slimmed down topline and slightly less offset than the 210. There’s also a tungsten screw visible in the toe section. The putter was a PLD prototype mallet with a white finish and dark black alignment line.

David Carey Who? Shame on you. Carey hails from Dublin and is known as Mr. 57. He even wears “DC57” on his Hogan style hat because he once shot 57 at the Cervino Open on the Alps Tour in 2019. Ok, I’ve never heard of him either but that’s a helluva feat. 57 is the lowest 18-hole round in any world-ranking event. While most players were trying to sort out a low-launching driving iron option at St. Andrews, Carey was going a different route. He took a page out of Phil Mickelson’s book and rocked 2 drivers. He played the new Titleist TSR3 (expected at retail in September) at 9° and a Titleist TSi3 at 10°. Both were equipped with LA Golf shafts. Apparently this is a common move as he has done it before because he doesn’t carry a 3-wood. The 10° spins more (high 2000’s) so he hits a draw with that one. The 9° spins less (low 2000’s), so if he wants to push the envelope and swing faster, he can do that and hit a little fade. Carey was tied for 18th after 2 rounds but ended up finishing T-62 after a rough weekend.

Tiger Woods The goat made 4 changes to his setup for the Open. He actually switched driver shafts the week prior at the JP McManus Pro-am but he stuck with it at St. Andrews. He is playing a Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X in his 9° Stealth Plus. The black version will promote a lower, lesser spinning trajectory that should fight through the wind and run out when it lands.

Tiger also changed the shaft in his 3-iron. He was using a True Temper Dynamic Gold Mid Tour Issue X100 shaft in his P770 head. He switched to the normal Tour Issue X100 shaft for again, a lower spinning and lower launching ball flight. The theme here is that St. Andrews was stinger heaven, and he’s the godfather afterall.

He played with two MG3 Raw wedges in 56° and 60° at the PGA. He kept the 60 in his bag for the Open but switched back to the MG2 TW Grind in the 56°. I assume because of a bounce/leading edge situation.

A common move he always makes when playing in the Open is adding lead tape to his Scotty Cameron Newport putter. He says the added weight helps his feel on the slower greens.

Enjoy the game and each other,

Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional

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