PGA Championship 2022: What happens when a club is broken after the equipment vans leave during a major event? | Golf equipment: clubs, balls, bags


Although kit changes on major league week have become less frequent as players request, receive and test the clubs they might use for a specific venue well in advance, kit reps at business stay busy. This week at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, for example, many will see the demands of the club’s 20 professionals on the field. But what is forgotten (or unknown) by many golf fans is that Wednesday afternoon the equipment trucks have already left for the next site (in accordance with PGA Tour regulations), leaving the pros potentially in a difficult situation if something goes wrong with their clubs. once the tournament has started.

Recent history includes several tales of clubs breaking up at inopportune times, including during majors. And how players and their respective companies handle this often requires quick thinking, precise timing, and nimble problem-solving skills.

The case of Rory McIlroy and his 7 iron at the 2011 PGA Championship is a prime example. McIlroy not only injured his right arm and wrist when he hit a root on the third hole of the first round at Atlanta Athletic Club, he also damaged his Titleist MB 7 iron. A call was made to Titleist and the company had a replacement made at its factory in Oceanside, California. An employee then took a red eye and flew with the new stick overnight to Atlanta. The club was placed in McIlroy’s locker at 7.25am on Friday just before he went out to warm up for his second round.

It is important to note that at the time of McIlroy’s bad luck, the Rules of Golf allowed him to replace his club during his game if he had one available. At the time, the rule stated, in essence, that if a club was damaged in the normal course of play, a player could have it repaired or replaced with any club, provided it did not come from no other person playing the course and does not unduly delay play.

For those wondering if he could have asked one of his playing partners to use his 7 iron, the answer is no. The only time you can use a club from another player’s bag is in a team competition when the total number of clubs in both bags does not exceed 14. However, the rules would have allowed McIlroy to use an iron 7 of another player in the field, provided that they are not on the course at the same time as him.

Today the rules are different, thanks to changes made in 2019. If a player starts with 14 clubs or additional clubs up to the limit of 14 and then loses or damages a club during the round (or while play is stopped), the player cannot replace it with another club. But if “outside influence” or “natural forces” or anyone other than the player and his caddy cause the damage, the player may replace the club and immediately remove the damaged club from play (which would have been the case for McIlroy).

While McIlroy’s club replacement came with geographic challenges, his replacement 7-iron was a pretty standard issue. A much more complex equipment save involved Phil Mickelson ahead of the 2010 Masters.

Noticing damage while playing the Shell Houston Open, Mickelson’s Callaway FT Tour TA driver needed the golf equipment equivalent to a transplant. Callaway Senior Vice President of R&D Dr. Alan Hocknell performed the operation. Hocknell received the club on Sunday night before Masters week with a text the next morning from Mickelson, who was in Augusta, asking, “How bad is this, Doc? Will she make it out?

Hocknell and his team performed, in their own words, “an unprecedented repair”, removing the carbon composite body from the clubface without ever removing the Mitsubishi Fubuki shaft to ensure loft and bind remain intact (the driver had no pipe adjustment).

“We had never done this before, so everyone was a little nervous,” Hocknell said.

The same weights were inserted in the same place in the new shell before it was glued to the face of the titanium cup and the same skid plate added to the sole. The driver was on a plane headed for Augusta at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon and delivered to Mickelson on the eighth tee during his Tuesday practice session at Augusta National. Lefty then ranked second in the field in distance with an average driving distance of 297.1 yards while winning by three strokes over Lee Westwood.

Even the GOAT has not been immune to equipment malfunctions in the majors. On the Wednesday of US Open week in 2002, Tiger Woods was on the practice field when the head of his Titleist 970 Series 3-wood was left hanging from a broken tree after a shot.

Luckily for Woods, or so it seemed, the vans were still there and the club was brought to True Temper’s van for what appeared to be a normal re-tree job and the club was returned to Woods in no time. ‘one o’clock.

“I got a call from Tiger a little later,” said Steve Mata, Titleist’s tour operations manager at the time. “He had tapped the club on the ground a few times and said he heard loose epoxy moving around in there. I went to his house and got the club back. We checked it and heard nothing, but we put it back.

Mata left the club in Woods’ locker and on Thursday Woods’ caddy Steve Williams picked up the club and spent several minutes using sandpaper on the grip to bring it to Woods’ preferred level of grip. Woods and the club went in for the sack. On the seventh hole (Woods’ 16th of the day), however, the rattle returned, forcing Woods to hit a “soft cocked” driver instead of the club. Later, it was discovered that a piece of loose foam, not epoxy, was the culprit. After leaving Bethpage, Mata had two backups built and delivered them to Woods on Friday morning.

The Players Championship isn’t quite major, but it’s close enough for this discussion, and Harold Varner’s 2019 tournament shows that replacing a broken club must be done carefully so as not to break the rules .

Before his first lap at TPC Sawgrass, Varner cracked his rider on the practice tee. As such, he started his tour with 13 clubs and intended to bring in another driver – allowed by the rules. But Varner wanted to use the same tree that was in his gamer. This was also allowed by the rules as long as the assembly took place off the course. This is where things went wrong. After leaving the handle at the start, hoping that his agent would have it assembled out of the course and then brought back to Varner, a scorer on foot took the handle out onto the course. When the driver’s head was also knocked out, the club was collected on the course and broke the rule, resulting in a two-stroke penalty.

As players come to Tulsa this week, expect many to be prepared with, at a minimum, a backup driver on hand. It was a strategy that served Chris DiMarco well at the 2005 Masters when, on the eighth hole of the final round, the epoxy holding the clubhead and shaft together came loose, twisting the head. By the rules, DiMarco could replace the club and luckily he had backups for his 10-degree Ping G2 circuit with him.

“I had just put the driver I was using this week and had four or five more in my locker,” said DiMarco, who noted that he normally travels with one driver. “Eight is a par 5 so there was time, and I had the replacement driver on the ninth tee, so I didn’t miss a drive.”

Bringing in the backups could be a useful plan for anyone in the PGA Championship field this week because, on Wednesday afternoon, replacement sticks will become much harder to come by.


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