Professional golfers are not known for adjusting their golf bag based upon the venue they are playing next– the same as many amateurs do. There is a certain level of continuity.
Next week the first major of the season – The Masters – will be played at the famed Augusta National and the importance of having the right club in your bag moves up to another level.
Players will routinely work on the different clubs they will carry in their bag for weeks and sometimes months in advance of this major. The Masters is the one major that is played each year at the same venue, which means players get to know the nuances of the golf course and can plan upon those accordingly.
One golfer who is keenly aware of the importance of having the right club for that important shot is Phil Mickelson. Last year, he considered leaving a pair of his wedges at home because he said in the past six to seven years that he has not had a shot from 90 to 130 yards, meaning he considered taking his gap wedge and sand wedge out of the bag.
He eventually kept a 52-degree gap wedge and added a 64-degree as well. In 2006, he won a green jacket with two drivers in his bag.
Bernard Langer–a Masters champion twice–brings a number of wedges and a few extra hybrids. He says the conditions of the course dictate what he carries in his bag.
Remember when Rory McIlroy airmailed the green on Friday at the Masters, with his five-wood on the par-3 fourth? He had considered changing the loft on his 4-iron to make it stronger, but opted not to and was between clubs. The result was a double-bogey and he never recovered.
Adam Scott spent Tuesday at Augusta National. He is trying to decide whether he will use a long putter or not. He said it might be the smartest thing to do after shooting a disappointing round to finish 35th at Bay Hill two weeks ago. Lag putting is so important on the greens at Augusta and his long putter allows him to have more control over his ball’s roll–particularly when speaking to distance control.
In 2013, Scott won his green jacket at the Masters using an anchored putter. However, he put the long putter away preparing for the ban on anchoring that will start January 1, 2016.
Unlike any other of the four majors, the Masters gives players the opportunity to best prepare. They are acutely aware of how each hole, each fairway and each green is different. The players want to make sure the 14 clubs in their bag will give them the best shot at receiving the green jacket Sunday evening in Butler Cabin.
Then, their legacy remains forever.