3 gear changes players make for the Masters | Wall-to-Wall Equipment
Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday morning gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
As the only major championship played on the same course each year, prepping the equipment for Augusta National isn’t nearly as daunting as facing a downhill 10-footer for par. Outside of changes to the 13th hole, Masters veterans, in particular, should have a good handle on their gear for the week after logging a couple practice rounds.
The only thing that could complicate bag setups this year is the weather — but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Below are 3 potential equipment changes players could make as they prepare to battle the course (and competition) in the coming days.
1. High-lofted fairway woods
It’s best to tackle Augusta National through the air, which is why many players who fill out the top of their set with traditional long irons or utility irons opt for a high-lofted fairway wood instead. A towering launch angle is essential when you’re trying to land the ball softly on the putting surface, especially when the course is firming up.
As the quintessential second-shot course, it’s important to have several weapons in the bag to attack the risk/reward par 5s that have defined plenty of Masters tournaments over the years. The most common addition is a 5-wood, but don’t be surprised to see a few of the longer hitters go with a 7-wood.
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Another benefit is the forgiveness a fairway wood provides during nervy moments. The larger head is designed to retain ball speed on heel or toe misses. That could come in handy if a would-be contender wants to, say, take a shot at hitting the par-5 15th in two on Sunday afternoon. It’s always good to have a little bit of wiggle room.
2. Fresh grooves
To be clear, fresh grooves aren’t a Masters-only gear change. A large majority of the names in the field will have at least one or two new wedges in the bag this week that provide extra spin around the green. They’ll likely make a similar change in the weeks leading up to the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
Justin Thomas, for example, has learned over the years that spin is an important alley on the course with certain wedges. He’s more prone to change out his 57- and 60.5-degree Vokey wedges before a major, but the 46- and 52-degree will sometimes stay in the bag for upwards of two years before he contemplates making a change. Spin remains a vital piece of the equation, but having fresh grooves isn’t nearly as important.
Instead of adding fresh wedges the week of the Masters, many break in the grooves several weeks ahead of time to dial in the zip. Using the wedges ahead of time also offers the opportunity to ensure the sole is entering the turf properly at impact.
3. Less bounce
This potential equipment change has the potential to be the most interesting. In years past, pros have reduced the bounce on their lob wedge to deal with the shaved areas around the greens. Low bounce options offer an abundance of shotmaking versatility, but it comes with a razor-thin margin for error if you don’t have elite wedge action.
Tour players tend to favor low-bounce wedges on firm courses to hit a variety of shots, including high, open-faced lob shots from practically anywhere around the green. When played with a square leading edge, a low-bounce wedge also tends to produce cleaner contact with less debris between the clubface and ball.
Low bounce could be the play on Thursday, but with a high percentage chance of precipitation over the final 54 holes, it’s very possible pros could have two different lob wedges at their disposal if Augusta National’s world-class SubAir system can’t keep up with the rainfall.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.