AUGUSTA, Ga. -- You would think the year's first major is not the best time to change equipment, but many in the field at Augusta National have new sticks in the bag this week as they try to match clubs to course. In fact, perhaps no where else does set makeup play as pivotal a role as it does at the site of the Masters.
Perhaps one of the most notable is Phil Mickleson's use of Callaway's interchangeable-shaft I-Mix driver system. So far, the change for Lefty has not been dramatic in that the I-Mix clubhead (a 8.5-degree FT-5 model) and prototype Mitsubishi Fuboki shaft (designed for low spin and high launch) were similar to what he had been playing with all year. However, with higher winds predicted for the weekend, it will be interesting to see if the two-time Masters champ will take advantage of the adjustability and go with a new shaft. Stay tuned on that.
Some other notable comings and goings in players' bags include Tiger Woods putting his 2-iron back in and Bubba Watson carrying just a single wood -- his driver. Also noteworthy are the nine players carrying wedges with more than 60 degrees of loft to aid in the finesse shots necessary around Augusta National's greens. Among the high-lofted group are Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and J.B. Holmes, all with 64-degree wedges, and Stewart Cink, who added a 62-degree model.
On the ball front, K.J. Choi changed to Nike's lower-spinning One Black sphere, while Ernie Els tried Callaway's Tour i, which boasts a softer cover than the Tour ix he had been using.
Even the pair at the top of the leaderboard made some changes, with Trevor Immelman putting a 21-degree Nike Sumo hybrid in the bag, while Brandt Snedeker came armed with a new big stick: a 9.5-degree TaylorMade Burner that Sneds is using for the first time in competition. Steve Flesch -- a notorious putter-changer -- has a Never Compromise putter, while Ian Poulter changed to Odyssey's Black Series model. In all, eight of the top 10 players on the leader board after 36 holes made some type of an equipment change this week.
Which may make the year's first major the best time to make a switch.
-- E. Michael Johnson