One of the shorter layouts on the PGA TOUR at 7,101 yards, Harbour Town Golf Links forced some players to alter their bag setup for the tight, tree-lined fairways and swirling winds that put a premium on accuracy.
Patrick Reed was one of the marquee names to add a course-dependent club in Callaway's X2 Hot 2Deep (12.5 degrees) fairway wood. According Callaway Tour Rep Mike Sposa, Reed took the club on the course during Monday's practice round and quickly realized it was a good fit for Harbour Town's layout.
“After walking four or five holes with (Reed) on Monday, it really had the super penetrating, flat ball flight that was way underneath the top of the tree line and really had the perfect trajectory to avoid a lot of these swirling gusts (at Hilton Head),” Sposa said. “It’s such a perfect club for a course like Hilton Head.”
Reed replaced his Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver with a 2Deep that featured a True Temper Bi-Matrix shaft (cut to 42 inches with 2 inches of total tipping) — the same shaft Bubba Watson currently plays in his PING G25 driver. The top half of the shaft is graphite, while the bottom is steel. Reed particularly liked how the shaft helped reduce spin during testing.
Along with Reed, Matt Every put Callaway's X Utility Prototype 3-iron in play, while two players added TaylorMade's 10.5-degree TOUR-only Mini Driver.
Some went the more conventional route and added fairway woods, hybrids and long irons to the bag. John Huh, who finished T3, and Shawn Stefani opted to go with a 14-degree TaylorMade JetSpeed 3-wood.
Ken Duke and Tim Herron each had TaylorMade Tour Preferred CB 3- and 4-irons built. And there's Martin Laird, who went the less conventional route and added a Tour Preferred MC 2-iron for the tight driving holes.
McDowell tests new irons: Even though he kept his Srixon Z-TX II irons in the bag at the RBC Heritage, Graeme McDowell spent time testing a new set of Srixon Z 745 prototypes on the practice range early in the week.
According to Srixon, the cavity-back irons are one of three sets currently being tested on TOUR. The Z 745 model McDowell was working with features a small cavity-back and thicker sole — more material is positioned low and back in the club head — that likely could lead to more forgiveness and a higher launch angle.
The other two prototype models are a traditional muscle back called Z 945, and Z 545, another cavity-back iron that has an undercut cavity and wider sole width with a similar blade length as Z 745.
Appleby adds Callaway fairway wood: Following several weeks of testing, Stuart Appleby added a 17-degree Callaway X2 Hot Pro fairway wood with an Aldila RIP Green Eyes 70X shaft at the RBC Heritage. The club was cut to 42 7/8 inches and tipped 1 1/2 inches.
“We just made him a fresh X2 Hot Pro. … It does spin it slightly more with a higher launch, which is attractive to a lot of guys," Sposa said. "And he picked up probably 150, (or) 200 RPMs which was right in his wheelhouse.”
With the new fairway wood play, Appleby finished T12 and hit 73 percent of fairways (T7) for the week.
Divots: K.J. Choi switched from Srixon's Z-Star Pure White ball to Srixon's Tour Yellow Z-Star. The Tour Yellow has a highly visible yellow cover that allows the ball to be seen very easily even at long distances. ... Trevor Immelman put three TaylorMade Tour Preferred wedges (50, 56, 60 degrees) in play for the first time. ... Martin Kaymer, Briny Baird and Martin Laird also added Tour Preferred wedges.