Sunny, hot and humid, but who would expect anything different during June in North Carolina. The Truck is parked less than 100 yards from the practice tee (with the A/C cranked early and often), so access to the players is quick and easy.
Much is being made of the revisions made to the course that starting in the late 2000s and finished in 2011 by one of the game’s most talented architectural teams. Rightly so. Removing nearly 40 acres of grass, most of it rough, and replacing it with the irregular surface of the natural occurring sand and wild, local vegetation that grows sporadically where it will, has restored the course to much of its original ragged glory. It’s a much different place than we last saw at the 2005 U.S. Open. The variety of lies players will draw if they stray from the fairways should be extremely challenging to execute and highly entertaining to watch.
As Jason Day noted today, the middle of each fairway is well-watered, so accurate tee shots should stay in play. However, as you move from the center to the edge, the turf is dry, firm and fast, so shots away from the middle will tend to run quickly into the netherworld of sand, fescue and wild flowers. Because of that, several players have requested new long-irons for control off the tee so we built new Tour Preferred 2-irons for Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer, a Tour Preferred MC 3-iron for Darren Clarke, and a new SLDR 3-iron for DA Point that’s bent a little more upright than his gamer to make it easy to turn the ball over. Also, Ken Duke requested a new 17° JetSpeed Rescue for longer approaches that land soft on the green.
To make room in the bag for an extra long iron or Rescue, most players are taking out a wedge, since chipping to the turtle-backed greens often requires a less lofted club that you can hit low and hard, or a putter. Day pointed out that the way the water runs off the sloped side of each green pushes the grass down, so that the grain is against you when chipping. If you use a wedge, you’re likely to hit the shot a little flat. “So what do you hit?” asked Jason this afternoon. “Should I bump and run a 4-iron? Should I bump and run a 7-iron? Am I going to use a 3 wood or 4 wood? Am I going to use a putter?”
In addition to the long-iron builds, we’ve also built new 54° and 58° Tour Preferred wedges for Clarke and Martin Kaymer, and a new 52° Tour Preferred wedge for Dustin Johnson for shots from 128 to 134 yards that he thinks will be important this week.
We’ve also performed numerous loft-and-lie checks and re-grips (the best being for 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, who requests an additional seven wraps under his grips). Plus, Henry worked with Y.E. Yang to tweak the swingweight of the four new SLDR Rescues that Y.E. put in his bag a few weeks ago, making them a little heavier.
Our guys have been getting in plenty of practice. Jason arrived early – last Friday – and played 18, then nine on Saturday, Sunday, yesterday and today. He says that he’s 100 percent healthy and that the thumb injury that has for much of the year is completely healed. Justin performed the traditional defending champion’s press conference this morning (“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being U.S. Open champion; it’s been an honor,” he said), then got down to business on the range working with Tour rep Paul Loegering on his new 2-iron and Tour rep Shawn Mullin on tweaks to his prototype Spider Blade. Dustin has been alternating regularly between the range, course, practice green and short-game area, and spending a lot of time with a new counterbalanced Spider Blade prototype that he put in play last week in Memphis on Sunday. Odds are good it will be in his bag this week too.
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