The Masters Lesson In Equipment Selection
It’s Masters week, and for countless golfers this is their favorite week of the year when it comes to being a golf fan, which is easy to understand.
After all, there’s not much that can match the splendor of Augusta National in full bloom, not to mention that for many the arrival of the Masters also signifies the start of their golf season.
Additionally, even with Tiger Woods not playing this week, the 2017 Masters has a number of tremendous storylines worth keeping an eye on.
Can Dustin Johnson continue his run of exceptional play and claim his first green jacket? Will Rory McIlroy complete the career Grand Slam this week with a Masters victory? Can Jordan Spieth exorcise the demons of his shocking back-9 collapse a year ago?
And that’s just the start of the list when it comes to what to watch for this week beneath the soaring pines and amid the spectacular azaleas at Augusta National.
For recreational golfers, there’s also more that they should be paying attention to this week at the Masters in addition to the leaderboard, aspects of playing golf that they’ve maybe disregarded but that can help them get better.
Most notable on that list would be club selection and bag setup.
Given the number of holes at Augusta National that bend from right to left, you’re going to see interesting club choices on several tee shots.
Two perfect examples are the par-4 10th, one of the longest, toughest holes on the golf course, and the iconic par-5 13th, where players are expecting to make birdies but where double-bogeys are lurking as well.
While conventional wisdom would suggest that these are holes where players would opt for the driver almost exclusively, you can expect to see many of the right-handers in the field this week choose 3-wood from each of those tee boxes instead.
Why? Because the additional loft that the fairway wood has makes it an easier club to draw the ball with, which is the shot shape that right-handers must execute on those two critical tee shots.
As it relates to your game, keep that in mind when it comes to your 3-wood and driver. If you tend to draw the ball more easily with a fairway wood, don’t be afraid to utilize that club from the tee when the golf course calls for that shot shape.
On the other hand, if your natural ball flight with a driver is a draw, creating a fade bias with an adjustable 3-wood can give you more options when you play and minimize uncertainty and/or costly mistakes on tee shots where a hole maybe doesn’t quite suit your eye.
Remember, your equipment can help you hit every shot you’ll need on the course and not taking advantage of that from a technology standpoint is a mistake.
Also of note this week at the Masters, you’re likely to see players utilize different clubs as part of their bag setups than they might at other tournaments this year.
Most common on that list would be the insertion of a more lofted fairway wood as opposed to a long iron or utility club. The reason for that choice this week would be the ability to hit the ball much higher and land it more softly on the firm, undulating Augusta National greens on an approach shot into a par-5.
For example, it has already been reported that McIlroy will have a 5-wood in the bag this week. In other weeks, however, especially for example at the British Open, that same 5-wood would almost certainly be benched in favor of a 2-iron given the windy conditions that often come with links golf.
And this week, given the forecast of Wednesday rain, high winds on Thursday and Friday, and dryer, faster conditions on the weekend, you could see players making equipment changes on a daily basis.
While you probably don’t have the space in your bag to carry a 5-wood and a 2- or 3-iron or lower-lofted utility club, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own both of those options and practice with each until you have complete trust in what they’re capable of from a performance standpoint.
This would be especially true for someone who plays tournament golf, plays at a lot of different golf courses on a regular basis, or plays regularly in windy conditions.
In summary, in addition to watching the scores this week, watch how the players navigate their way around the golf course and how they set their bag up in terms of equipment to fare best at this particular golf course.
There are valuable lessons to be gleaned that you can incorporate in your game to shoot lower scores.
Chris Wallace, TGW Staff Writer