When It Comes To Equipment, Garcia Tends To Go His Own Way
Counterbalancing is common with putters, but for Wyndham champ Sergio Garcia the practice is continued throughout the set -- part of his search for reduced swingweight
Sergio Garcia has always been a little different than his tour brethren when it comes to his equipment. His driver is shorter than most (about 43 inches instead of the tour average of 45); he likes to grind his own wedges; he uses heavier shafts in his woods than most; and, perhaps most notably, he is one of the last players on tour to believe in counterbalancing his clubs throughout the set.
The simplest definition of counterbalancing is one weight that balances (or offsets) another. As clubheads and shafts have become lighter, the most common practice has been to counterbalance that with weight in the butt end of the club.
For years Garcia put lead tape underneath his grips to counterbalance the weight of the head. This practice (which Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els also used) allowed Garcia to get the stability he preferred while making the club's swingweight lighter.
Using lead tape, however, was inexact. At the 2010 Valero Texas Open, TaylorMade's tour technicians started Googling "golf counterbalance." One of the results was a company offering "Tour Lock" weight plugs that insert into the butt end of the shaft. Realizing it would be easier and -- more importantly -- provide more consistency than lead tape, the product was ordered and placed in Garcia's clubs. It is a practice Garcia continues with all his clubs.
Although Garcia is perhaps the only player who continues to counterbalance his clubs throughout the set (others tend to shun adding weight, feeling that although it might enhance stability, it also might modestly reduce swing speed), many have done so with their putters. Some manufacturers actually build the counterbalance into their putter designs.
One of the reasons is the role shaft length plays. For example, a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Kombi mallet has a headweight of 340 grams at 35 inches, 350 grams at 34 inches and 360 grams at 33 inches. Boccieri Golf's Heavy Putter is another example, using extreme weight on both the head and grip end of the club to get the right balance.
For others, counterbalancing the putter is more feel than science. Take John Daly. For years Daly was one of the few tour players to use a graphite shaft in his putter. But in order to achieve the desired feel, 40 grams of weight were added to the head to counterbalance the lightness of the shaft. Then there's Padraig Harrington, who at the 2007 Wachovia Championship had a new Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball Blade putter with two lead weights just underneath the grip for counterbalance. "It changed the dynamics of the putter substantially," said Harrington at the time. "[It's] so good it should be banned."
The way Garcia has been playing lately with his full set of counterbalanced clubs, some other players might agree.
ERNIE ELS // Let's go to the videotape
While reviewing his play at the PGA Championship, where CBS' coverage included multiple "down the line" shots of him putting, Ernie Els noticed he was missing putts to the right even though his alignment appeared good, his stroke consistent and his mechanics solid. Eventually, Els figured out that a recent change to a more upright posture effectively altered the club's lie angle, making it too flat. This caused the heel to rise up, thus opening the face. During Els' off week prior to the Barclays, Odyssey reps sent the four-time major champion a new version of his British Open winning Odyssey XG #1 Proto Belly but with a significant adjustment. Els' previous gamer had a 70.5-degree lie angle, and the new version is three degrees more upright (73.5). The change helps Els set the putter flush to the ground and allows him to return the face back to square more easily.
Patterned after lightweight running shoes, the Crossflex features a waterproof mesh upper with a spikeless geometric outsole that uses "pods" as opposed to traditional cleats for traction. Sergio Garcia wore the shoes during his victory at the Wyndham Championship.
Hybrids and Fairway Woods
Titleist debuted its 913 line of fairway woods and hybrids at the Barclays. The 913 fairway woods feature two looks: the traditional 913F and the larger-headed 913Fd, which boasts a center of gravity closer to the face, appealing to those who like to hit a 3-wood off the tee. Both the fairway woods and the hybrid feature the new SureFit hosel (which is slightly lighter and more tapered for a better look at address). It is a hosel that allows for loft and lie-angle adjustments. Titleist had 36 913 fairways and 20 hybrids in play at Bethpage, including Rory McIlroy in the 913Fd 3-wood and 913F 5-wood.
When Brandt Snedeker cracked his TaylorMade Burner SuperFast driver at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, it set off a search for a replacement, with Snedeker eventually settling on the company's new R11S driver. At the PGA Championship, however, Snedeker was back with a SuperFast, and he used the club at the Barclays as well, finishing second while ranking T-28 in driving accuracy. ... Luke Donald is not quick to change clubs, but at the Barclays he put a set of Mizuno's new forged MP-64 irons in play. The irons feature a cavity design with varying depths to promote more control in the short irons while boosting ball speed in the long irons. Donald's putter, meanwhile, required some work when the shaft of his Odyssey White Hot XG #7H was bent during travel to the event. The re-shaft obviously met with Donald's approval as he finished T-10 while ranking fifth in strokes gained/putting.