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.
The great Ian Poulter putter audition is over – and the winner is an Odyssey White Damascus #1 blade.
''My putter is selected for the week,'' Poulter said on Twitter Tuesday from Scotland, where he is playing the British Open. ''It is an Odyssey White Damascus. Rolling it very nice. Testing over for now.''
Never heard of it? That's because it's not available in the United States, or many other places, at least not yet.
Odyssey is showing it off in Japan this summer, and it apparently will be available at retail in Japan this fall. It's an Anser-style blade with an unsual face insert containing an inner urethane layer and an outer layer of Damascus steel for soft yet solid feel upon impact.
Damascus steel is popular in Asia, and is created by melting materials such as iron and charcoal with steel pieces to create a metal that is hard yet also flexible. It has been used for 1,000 years or so from India to the Middle East to Japan to create long-bladed weapons with rare strength and eye-catching design patterns. As you can see, the sole of Poulter's putter has a cool-looking white sword.
The White Damascus blade is listed on www.rakuten.co.jp, a big Japanese online retailer, which says the putter comes in 33-, 34- and 35-inch models with a silver PVD finish. The price before tax is listed at 17,800 yen, which works out to about $180.
Poulter, of course announced last week that he was retiring his Odyssey White Hot XG #7 putter, the one with which he putted so well at the 2012 Ryder Cup. He solicited new putters to try out via social media, and received quite a few.
Poulter also used Twitter to announce some other changes to his bag this week. He's carrying a Cobra AMP Cell 2-hybrid that he says carries 240 yards, along with a 3-iron and 4-iron instead of higher-lofted hybrids. He's also got new 56- and 62-degree Titleist Vokey wedges ''for extra spin.'' These newbies join his incumbent Cobra ZL Encore driver and Amp Cell 3-wood.
''A lot of you are thinking I've changed too many clubs. Every club in the bag I have used before. Even putter shape I've used before,'' he tweeted, adding the hashtag #Relax.
With the world's best players convening at Muirfield this week, a lot of us have the British Open – and British Open weather – on our minds.
That also includes Nike Golf, which is rolling out its new Hyperadapt Storm-FIT Jacket. This brand-new jacket features an impenetrable outer layer for protection, the company says, combined with the stretch capabilities of a sweater for increased range of motion.
Nike's designers worked closely with some of the company's staff players, including Paul Casey, who wore the jacket last month at the Irish Open, which he won during a week of sunshine, heavy downpours and winds gusting up to 35 mph. Casey and other Nike players are outfitted with the new jackets at Muirfield this week.
''Inspired by our athletes who demand the best in performance, our team set to work to create a jacket built to change the way golfers feel in unfavorable weather conditions,'' said Vice President of Global Golf Apparel Merritt Richardson. ''We are always working to minimize distractions. From reducing sound to enhancing stretch, the Hyperadapt Storm-FIT jacket is the ultimate in protection and performance.''
With no-sew technology throughout the garment's inner layer, designers minimized the potential for chafing. They also added a four-way stretch system to the shoulders and arms that maximizes mobility and eliminates restrictions during the swing. This woven, stretch knit laminate combination reduces noise during the swing and, the company says, provides a sweater-like feel for comfort and protection.
''Often, athletes will add a size to their rain jackets because they don't want to feel restricted by the fabric,'' said Richardson. ''This leads to a distracting, oversized jacket that is not optimal for competitive play. The Hyperadapt jacket eliminates this issue by providing athletes the protection they need without sacrificing the performance benefits of a stretch pullover.''
Outiffted with adjustable cuffs, the new Hyperadapt jacket is breathable and, Nike says, seam-sealed for 100 percent waterproof protection.
It is available at retail now. Half Zip versions retail for $240, and come in Black, Cool Grey and Game Royal. The Full Zip models retail for $280 and come in Black, Cool Grey, Game Royal and Armory Slate.
Jammed in my usual stack of junk mail today was a catalog from gadgeteer extraordinaire Hammacher Schlemmer. And on the cover – a golf cart hovercraft.
''This is the golf cart that glides over sand traps and water hazards on a cushion of air as easily as it does over fairways and the rough,'' the Hammacher Schlemmer website says. ''Powered by a 65-hp twin-cylinder Hirth engine, its nine-blade axial-flow ducted fan propels the craft up to 45 mph and 9" off the ground without harming grass, allowing immediate crossing of a pond or stream to follow-up a cross-water shot.
''The fan's streamlined design minimizes noise, speeds up an 18-hole outing, and conveys four passengers beneath a lift-up roof and two golf bags in an open rear compartment,'' it adds, though I'm not sure why they'd make one that could hold four people but only two bags.
Anyway, the site says the hovercraft's ''low-profile, aerodynamic design minimizes air drag to maximize stability in crosswinds while its innovative skirt system employs individually handmade segments to provide optimal anti-plow and -scoop performance. The craft's fiberglass composite and urethane foam composite hull meets United States Coast Guard standards for reliable hovering over water.''
The hovercraft weighs 600 pounds when sitting unloaded on the ground. And it retails for a mere $58,000 – pretty expensive for a golf cart, but a bargain for anyone in search of a head-turning way to levitate around the links, or anywhere else for that matter.
If you're interested, check it out here. But remember, I call shotgun.