Hybrids vs. utility irons at Open Championship
Because it's always played on links courses, the Open Championship prompts the players to make more club changes than any other event on the calendar.
Here's a quick overview of some of the club selections at Muirfield from Sports Marketing Surveys, the company that tallies the clubs in each player's bag at the start of every European Tour event. These stats are from the full field that teed off Thursday:
--Two players didn't even have a driver in their bag.
--Among the 156 players, there were 66 hybrids, 66 utility irons and 39 2-irons.
--53 players didn't have a 3-iron.
--There were 506 wedges – that figures out to 3.24 wedges per player.
--15 players were using a long or belly putter.
This week is an anomaly because of the course conditions, but I wouldn't have expected to see the same number of utility irons as hybrid clubs, even though Ernie Els won the 2012 Open with three Callaway utility irons in his bag.
The popularity of these is utility irons shows that companies like Callaway, Titleist and, most recently, Ping were definitely onto something when they decided to create a new generation of utility irons. On the flip side, it's also interesting to see so many players going without a 3-iron on a course that requires so many low, penetrating shots.