U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

Secret Weapon?

U.S. Open 2023: Could this training aid be Rory McIlroy's new secret weapon?


Chris Condon

LOS ANGELES — For all the strengths in Rory McIlroy's game, he's got one relative weakness: His wedge game. He currently ranks 136th this season on the PGA Tour between 75 and 100 yards and 169th from 125 to 150 yards.

But on Monday at the U.S. Open, McIlroy got to work. After a busy week trying to three-peat in Canada, McIlroy arrived on the Los Angeles Country Club range a little after 3 p.m. local time and spent the better part of an hour hitting wedge shots.

For most of the time McIlroy was using a training aid called the Tour Striker Smart Ball. It's designed to be worn like a necklace and to keep the ball between your arms as you swing.

/content/dam/images/golfdigest/fullset/2022/Screen Shot 2023-06-13 at 9.24.00 AM.png

It helps compliment some things McIlroy has been working on recently, which mainly have to do with his arm structure on the backswing. McIlroy says his tendency recently is to roll the clubface too far open on the backswing, which causes a series of compensations that has him relying on his hands too much.

McIlroy says the Smart Ball helps him turn his arms into the position he wants them on his backswing, which keeps the clubface under control and prevents him imparting too much spin on his wedges. That allows him to rotate aggressively through, and hit the golf ball with more control.

• • •