WHEATON, Ill. – JoAnne Carner got the shock of her life when she got to player registration at the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open. At the end of the table was a gentleman from the USGA who manages equipment conformance who asked Carner a few questions. It wasn’t long before Carner realized that her trusty Wilson R-90 wedge wouldn’t make it to the first tee. Carner estimates she’s had the club in her bag for three decades, roughly the same amount of time she has waited for a Senior Women’s Open.
“Oh, it was awful,” said Carner of parting with a club that’s been critical to her game around the greens and from 75 yards out for so many years. It felt like parting with an old friend.
When head pro John Guyton got wind of Carner’s predicament, he pulled out the wedges that had been cleared away from the pro shop to make room for championship merchandise and presented them to Carner. The 79-year-old legend whittled it down to two wedges, and Guyton adjusted both to match the loft and lie of old faithful. Guyton had the clubs out to Carner before she’d even reached the first green of her practice round. She wound up choosing a Titleist Vokey 54-degree wedge that was bent to 55.
It’s not often that the USGA places someone from its conforming department at registration, but with so many players in the field who are competing in a USGA event for the first time in a long time, it seemed like a good idea. This week, USGA officials tested more than 20 clubs onsite. Seven didn’t make the cut.
Carner, who is hitting the first tee shot on Thursday at 7 a.m., also switched drivers in the run-up to this event. On Tuesday, she went through a couple pairs of shoes.
“I played three practice rounds walking,” said Carner, “and as near as I can remember, the last time I walked was 2004. It’s going to be an interesting week.”