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A scratch golfer is likely to miss a three-foot putt at least once a round. In 2012 Luke Donald missed one three-footer all season.


shaft and a regular shaft in their driver. A few might be able to notice the difference between 9 degrees of loft and 11. Jeff Maggert, the longtime Tour player, uses a driver with 9.25 degrees of loft. No more, no less. Can you feel the difference between a 33" and 34" put- ter? Well, Brad Faxon once asked Scotty Cameron to chisel out a tiny line along the bottom of his putter; Faxon felt the wand was too heavy. Cameron scored the sole with the most slen- der of lines, removing the equivalent weight of about two dimes. Just right, said Faxon. Tiger Woods is re- nowned for his extreme sen- sitivity to the most minute differences in equipment. Searching for a backup driver, he once rejected a possible replacement because it was too heavy. The Nike guys insisted it was the exact same specs as his gamer. Too heavy, Tiger said. The would-be backup was weighed and found to be exactly one gram heavier. That’s about the weight of a single dollar bill. On another occasion, Woods rejected a potential backup 5-wood because he said the width of the head was too small. Engineering calipers showed that he was right… by less than .005 of an inch. The most fanatical of amateurs might get a new driver once a year, or new irons every other year. Many Tour players change out their irons three or four times a season, to keep the grooves sharp.


38 / NCGA.ORG / SPRING 2013


When buying new gear the everyday golfer is often content to waggle it a few times in the aisle of a vast, impersonal superstore. Pro golfers often spend months testing and retesting gear, under the watchful eye of expert clubmakers armed with cutting-edge launch monitors. And don’t be fooled just because you and Joe Pro have the same driver headcover; they’re playing a prototype clubhead that has been specially weighted to their specifications, with a one-of-a-kind composite shaft that won’t reach the marketplace for 18 months. And just because the pros have worked so hard to dial in their equipment doesn’t mean they’re afraid to swap out clubs. Many travel with 16 or 17 sticks in their set— depending on the course conditions or barometric pressure or their changing biorhythms they may opt for a fourth wedge, a second hybrid, a 2-iron instead of a 5-wood, a mallet putter over a blade. Or they may keep the exact same set but have their wedges bent to add or subtract a little loft, or maybe have the soles grinded a bit so the club interacts with the turf in a slightly different way. This precision translates


to the golf course. Ask your club champion how far he hits his 8-iron and he’s likely to say, “About 155.” Tour players can hit their 8-iron 154, or 156. They can vary the spin rate and


Putter-maker Scotty Cameron


trajectory in any number of ways. From 155 yards they can do the same thing with a 9-iron, or a 7-iron, too. When Fred Couples was in his prime his caddie Joe LaCava used to occa- sionally give him half yard- ages, like 154.5 yards. And Freddy could pull it off. Last year on approach shots from 75-100 yards Steve Stricker’s average proxim- ity to the hole was 12'1".


Keep in mind these are the firmest, fastest greens in creation and very difficult hole locations. Move out to 150 yards and Kyle Stanley’s average was 17'4". A good amateur might hit it that close two or three times in a round. Statistically, Stanley did it every single time. What makes Tour


players such savants is that they marry these delicate fine-motor skills


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