There have already been plenty of US Open equipment changes this week, as Chambers Bay is all set to play firm and fast
I’ll be honest with you. Of the four majors, the US Open always comes in a rather disappointing third in my book, with a Tiger Woods in his pomp type gap between it and my favourites, The Open and The Masters.
But this year’s edition at Chambers Bay is different.
The course has captured my imagination, along with droves of the golfing public it seems, so much so that the 11:30 Sunday tee time for the leaders suddenly doesn’t seem that off-putting.
Huge undulating greens, massive terrain changes, large run-off areas and the endless tee possibilities will have the caddies working overtime, and are all factors that make this arguably the most unpredictable major in decades.
With all 156 qualifiers now trying to unlock the secrets of Chambers Bay, it’s no surprise that some of them have turned to equipment tweaks to try and manufacture an advantage here and there.
The most consistent change has been the addition of a driving iron, 2-iron or 3-iron in replacement of a fairway wood or hybrid.
Just like Muirfield in 2013, with the possibility of wind to tackle and fairways that offer more run that usual, a more penetrating ball flight has become highly desirable.
Already experimenting in their practice rounds with this type of bag set-up is hotly tipped American Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade UDI 2-iron), Grand Slam chasing Phil Mickelson (Callaway Apex UT 18°) and 2010 winner Graeme McDowell (Srixon Z U45 18° and 23°).
Jordan Spieth has also apparently been contemplating a switch to a Titleist 712U 3-iron, which is his usual hybrid replacement.
Another player highly fancied to be in the hunt on Sunday is Justin Rose. The Englishman practiced with both a TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB 2-iron and an Adams Pro DHy low-spin hybrid, which offers him a more penetrating and controllable ball flight than his usual TaylorMade R15 19° 5-wood.
Other equipment tweaks are harder to spot, like players opting for less bounce in their wedges to tackle the firm ground and tight links style lies they’ll face around the Chambers Bay greens.
Less bounce will help ensure their wedges don’t dig in under the ball, but there are some other options as well.
Because the bunker sand is very soft, some might add more bounce and pair it with a narrower sole to aid the digging in problem.
Some PING players have also been spotted with a new wedge that has a higher toe and thinner sole, making it a good option from tight and firm lies, while still being plenty useful when the face is opened up for bunker and flop shots.
As always, there’s also some commemorative additions, like the major championship staff bags (Callaway’s marks the 50th anniversary of Gary Player winning his career Grand Slam at the US Open), while the 2015 US Open Scotty Cameron putter covers (right) feature an orca whale.