Toy Box: Snedeker on streak with Tour Stage

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker is now the hottest golfer on the PGA Tour, but back at the Masters he was just another player feeling good about his game.

Over the years, one thing I’ve learned is to listen carefully to the way golfers evaluate their play. Attitude can be everything.

“I’m getting close,” Snedeker said. “I feel really good about my game.”

His golf bag was right there, filled with a brand one doesn’t see much here in the United States: Tour Stage irons. These irons, sold in Japan by Bridgestone but not available in the U.S., were about to take center stage in Snedeker’s hot streak. Immediately after the Masters, where he tied for 15th, Snedeker would finish solo fourth in the Valero Texas Open and then win The Heritage.

“I’ve had the irons about two years,” Snedeker said. “I love these things, and I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t change clubs very often. So they could be in the bag for a long time.”

The forged blades are full of nicks and dings caused by the irons banging together. They obviously are made of soft carbon steel.

Snedeker plays the Tour Stage GR C-1 irons (3-PW), and he carries a J38 wedge (54 degree). Plus, he uses Bridgestone Tour B330-S ball. His other clubs: TaylorMade’s Burner SuperFast driver (10.5 degree) and 3-wood (15 degree), Adams Idea a12 Pro hybrid (20 degree), Cleveland 588 wedge (60 degree) and Odyssey White Hot XG Rossie putter.

• • •

Long putters in spotlight: Where are we headed with longer putters? Adam Scott tied for second in the Masters with a long putter. World No. 1 Lee Westwood is going back-and-forth between long and conventional putting. Ernie Els, who once said belly putting should be banned, played The Heritage with a belly putter (an Odyssey White Hot XG No. 1 prototype).

We’re headed nowhere. Golfers will continue to experiment with long and belly putters, and golfers will continue to switch back to conventional-length models.

There is a good reason no major championship has been won by a golfer using a long or belly putter. In general, on extraordinarily fast greens, longer putters probably don’t provide the delicate touch and finesse that is required.

A few years ago, the U.S. Golf Association asked the Darrell Survey to chart the use of longer putters on the various professional tours. There may have been a sense of urgency at that time, but any such urgency appears to have disappeared. The Darrell Survey no longer keeps track of longer putters – belly, long or otherwise.

• • •

Lee’s long and short changes: The colorful Billy Foster, Westwood’s caddie and an advocate of conventional length putters, lobbied for his man to forsake the long putter and return to his shorter Ping Redwood Anser. Westwood used the conventional Redwood Anser during most of the 2010 season, when he overtook Tiger Woods as the No. 1 player in the world.

Sure enough, Westwood decided to play the Masters with a conventional length Ping putter (Scottsdale Wolverine H). However, after three rounds (72-67-74), Westwood switched to a long version of the Wolverine H for the final day (70).

At the Indonesian Masters, Westwood did exactly the opposite -- long putter in the first round (68), short putter in the final three rounds (66-66-69).

• • • 

Overseas victories for Pro V1x: Lee Westwood used the Titleist Pro V1x ball to win the Indonesian Masters, and Nicolas Colsaerts played the same model in rolling to a four-shot victory in the Volvo China Open. Colsaerts led the field in driving distance with a 316.3-yard average.

Meanwhile at The Heritage, Robert Garrigus was No. 1 in driving distance with a 310.3-yard average. He, too, used the Pro V1x.

• • • 

High 5 for Odyssey: Odyssey achieved a notable putter feat at The Heritage: The top-five finishers all used Odyssey putters: Brandt Snedeker (1st, White Hot XG Rossie), Luke Donald (2nd, White Hot XG No. 7 Heavy), Tommy Gainey (3rd, Backstryke Blade), Tim Herron (T-4, White Hot 2-Ball) and Ricky Barnes (T-4, White Ice No. 9). Titleist led The Heritage putter count, with 48.

• • • 

Kaneda goes with three fairway woods: Most unusual achievement of the week: Kumiko Kaneda used a Nike Vapor Speed golf ball to win the Fujisankei Ladies Classic on the Japan LPGA. The ball, designed for golfers with slower swing speeds (85 mph and up), commonly sells for $25 per dozen in the United States. Kaneda carried three fairway woods (Nike SQ MachSpeed, 15, 19 and 21 degree) and no hybrids.

Once again, this case underscores that golfers absolutely have to be comfortable with their equipment. So what if it’s different?

• • • 

Shaft news: Westwood used Aldila’s NV VooDoo (XNV6) in his Ping G10 driver (9 degree). He also had Aldila’s NV 75 in his Ping Rapture V2 5-wood (19 degree).

At The Heritage, Aldila won total wood shafts and hybrids shafts counts.

Robert Garrigus, playing a new TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0 3-wood (15 degree), installed an Aldila RIP 80 in the club. As an example of how touring pros go progressively heavier in their shafts as the clubs get shorter, Garrigus used a RIP 90 in his 7-wood.

At the Valero Texas Open, Brendan Steele used an Oban Devotion 75-gram X-flex shaft in his Titleist 909D2 driver (9.5 degree) and an Oban Devotion Hybrid 85 in his Titleist 909H hybrid (21 degree).

• • •

Short shots: Sean O’Hair switched irons for the third time this season. At The Heritage, he played TaylorMade Tour Preferred CB forged irons. . . . The Heritage, playing short and tight, always produces some unusual bag configurations. Robert Garrigus is one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, but that didn’t stop him from using a TaylorMade R11 7-wood (22 degree). Why a fairway wood rather than a hybrid? He can hit the fairway wood high and achieve a softer landing. . . . Carl Pettersson played without a 3-wood or 4-wood. He carried a Nike VR Pro driver (11.5 degree) and a Nike SQ MachSpeed 5-wood (19 degree). . . . FootJoy had two worldwide shoe victories last week: Lee Westwood won in Indonesia while wearing FootJoy SYNR-G shoes, and Nicolas Colsaerts took the Volvo China Open with FootJoy Icon shoes.

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