From the ingenious to the ridiculous, we recall the the most dramatic changes players have made to the gear in their bags to try and earn the coveted green jacket
Players will go to great lengths to get their hands on the green jacket. Last-minute lessons and inspirational phone calls are the norm and as we’ve discovered here, so is making unusual changes to the clubs in the bag. We pick our favourites, starting with the most famous Masters tinkerer of all…
1. The Mickelson Phrankenwood
Prior to the 2013 Masters, Phil Mickelson promised he would be using a ‘special’ club and sure enough, the Callaway ‘Phrankenwood’ (above) was unveiled early in Masters week. It was a Tour only club (Mickelson only, in fact) that came to be after Lefty was impressed with the low-spin nature of his X-Hot fairway wood. So he asked Callaway engineers to put that low-spin technology into a larger head.
At 250cc, the Phrankenwood was larger than a 3-wood but much smaller than a driver yet had a loft of 8.5° for a penetrating flight and to help Mickelson curve the ball. Whilst the three-time Masters champion finished T-9 in the driving accuracy stats, he had his worst Masters performance ever overall, finishing T-54.
2. Jim Furyk’s odd shoes
At the 2011 Masters, the unorthadox Jim Furyk became so fed up of his right foot slipping on the lush Augusta turf that he replaced the plastic cleats on his right shoe with metal spikes, but kept the plastic cleats on his left shoe.
“I’ve done it before. Royal Liverpool (in the 2006 British Open) was one place where it got really dry and slippery,” Furyk said. “What can I say? I’m a little goofy, I guess.”
You said it Jim, who slipped to a T-24 finish.
3. Larry Mize’s winning wedge
Larry Mize’s miraculous 100-foot chip at the 11th hole to beat Greg Norman in 1987 in a playoff was done so using a MacGregor Jack Nicklaus Muirfield 56° wedge that Mize had put in the bag just before the tournament. Suffice to say, that decision was one of the best he’s ever made.
4. Faldo’s timely putter switch
At the 1989 Masters Nick Faldo fired a disappointing third-round of 77 to leave himself five behind leader Ben Crenshaw. On Sunday morning he grabbed a different putter, a TaylorMade TPA VIII model, and liked the feel of it on the practice putting green prior to teeing off.
He swiftly carded eight birdies during a final-round 65 before sinking a 25-footer on the second playoff hole for the win over Scott Hoch, who probably wishes he’d changed his putter for the playoff having missed a two-footer to win the hole before.
5. Mickelson’s two drivers
Yep, him again. Phil Mickelson is known for preferring to play the week before a major and at the 2006 BellSouth Classic, he used the tournament to try out a potential strategy for the following week at Augusta – a pair of 9.5° Callaway Big Bertha Fusion FT-3 drivers.
Mickelson did this in the hope of shaping the ball both ways without altering his swing. The second driver was one inch longer with a lower center of gravity and more heel weighting to make it more draw-friendly. It paid off, as he won his second green jacket with a two-stroke victory.
6. Bubba’s mish-mash driver
At the par-5 13th on Sunday of the 2014 Masters, Bubba Watson unleashed one of the most memorable shots in recent Masters history – a 360-yard monster drive that sailed over the trees and beyond the creek, leaving him a sand wedge to the green from 140 yards.
The driver Watson used was unique. In fact, it was two drivers in one. The pink-headed Ping G25 (8.5°) featured the racing stripe on the crown found on Ping’s i25, making Watson’s one of a kind. Plus, it was pink and the shaft is a True Temper Grafalloy BiMatrx, a model he has used since 2004 made of graphite with the bottom section made from steel.
7. Choi bags four hybrids
Also at the 2011 Masters, Both YE Yang and KJ Choi decided to put not two…not three… but four hybrids in their bags in an attempt to conquer Augusta National. In fact, Choi’s lowest lofted iron was a 7-iron.
“In order to contend at major tournaments, I felt the need to get the ball up in the air better, higher, and to be able to stop the ball on the greens better,” said Choi, who finished T-8th. Yang finished T-20. There’s a lesson for us all here!
Other gear tweaks players are likely to make prior to the Masters…
Less wedge bounce
Augusta National’s incredibly tight turf and firm greens typically force players to make some adjustments to their wedges. The ball doesn’t sit up on the grass, so players typically go with less bounce to ensure the leading edge gets under the ball.
More loft from the tee
To help them shape the ball from right-to-left, a lot of right-handed players will opt for a slightly higher lofted driver or an extra fairway wood to help them shape the ball with a draw more easily. The extra fairway wood or hybrid will also help with the tee shot on the fourth or the second shots into the par fives.
Less putter loft
In 2014, Louis Oosthuizen noticed the ball was bouncing a bit on long putts during practice rounds, so he reduced the loft on his PING Ketsch putter to 2 degrees due to the speed of the greens. A lot of players will do the same this year.
Most players also put new wedges with fresh grooves in the bag for Augusta as they offer a little extra zip on the firm and fast greens.
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