10 Things Only Tour Pros Use
There are many differences between a tour pro and the average amateur. Most obviously, there is their skill, how high they launch their drives and how much spin they can get on their wedge shots. However, it’s not just their great games that separate the world’s best golfers from the rest of us. They also have different attitudes to equipment and, yes, access to gadgets that the average player doesn’t. While the benefit these have on their games is probably small, it is surprising how many things your average tour pro uses that we hackers have barely even heard of. Here are just a few of the most interesting ones.
Despite being available for amateur events, laser rangefinders and GPS systems are banned for professional golfers, which means they need to rely on more traditional ways to work out their yardages. Step forward yardage books, though not the ones we buy in the pro shop. Firstly, pro yardage books are often uncoloured, in fact they’re not even realistically drawn. Instead, the emphasis is on yardages. Each page is littered with distances from almost all points on the hole, far more detailed and with more yardages given than in the average pro shop course guide. They also have intricate maps of greens, with lines indicating the placement and steepness of slopes. Every time you see a tour pro looking down at what looks like a notebook when they’re playing, chances are that they’re consulting a yardage chart.
Plastic Circle ‘Cups’
Ever been to a pro golf tournament practice day? If you haven’t, I recommend you go. Aside from being a great opportunity to get under the ropes and see the pros in more focus than you would during a regular tournament day, it allows you to see how they practice, particularly around the greens. Here, you might spot a pro using these thin little hole-sized disks, which they place around the greens to simulate holes. What looks like putting to a random disk is actually practicing for a possible pin position.
Amateurs roll up onto the first tee having wolfed down a fat bacon butty and a sugar-filled energy bar. Pro golfers don’t make that mistake. Instead of guzzling fast food, pros are spending their precious pre-round minutes exercising and making sure they’re in the best possible condition for beginning their round. One common tool for achieving this is a stretch pole, a heavy stick about the length of a driver. From squats to ab twists, a good stretch pole is one of the most versatile conditioning aids in the tour pros’ lockers – Miguel Angel Jimenez swears by them.
For most of us, a 60-degree wedge is enough to make us nervous when we’ve got it in hand. Imagine then, how it would feel trying to negotiate 64 degrees, ala everyone’s favourite maverick professional, Lefty. Mickelson, who pioneered the wedge during the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot, is a wizard with the super-lofted club, hitting flop shots from the tightest of lies. Most amateurs, however, are better off playing safe with a bump and run 7 iron.
Aside from the jet-setting lifestyle, one of the best things about being a pro golfer is: prototypes. Top players get to try out the latest gear before it comes to market, including limited edition specs that will never be mass produced. This is especially the case with putters. Recent models include TaylorMade’s triangle-necked ‘Truss’ putter, debuted by Tiger Woods before the 2019 Japan Skins event, and Ping’s new ‘Bruzer’ weapon, a super-high MOI short stick first spotted at last year’s Valspar Championship.
Extra Stiff Shafts
Okay, so these are technically available to amateurs too, but should we be using them? Bluntly, no. To get the most out of an extra stiff shaft, you need to have a swing speed of over 110mph. Dustin Johnson’s swing speed is 122mph. For comparison, the average amateur’s swing speed is 93mph, a very long way short of the 110 mark. Leave your ego in your golf bag and the triple X stiff iron rod golf shafts to the pros. Your scorecard will thank you for it.
Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways. While us amateurs buy new clubs every season, your average tour pro can be surprisingly reluctant to switch up his sticks. Wedges need to be swapped because of damage to grooves, likewise irons and, because of technology leaps, drivers. But when it comes to three woods and putters, tour pros tend to stick to their guns. Until October, Henrik Stenson was gaming a Callaway Diablo Octane three wood, which he’d had in the bag since 2003, while Lee Westwood was still flushing Ping Zing 2s in 2007, over 12 years after he first starting using them.
With significant rain falling @TigerWoods starts his warm up for round 2 once again wearing the supportive KT tape on his upper back and neck. According to Woods it’s due to sleeping in a bad position. He’s in solid position after Rd 1 of @TheOpen at Even. #TheOpen pic.twitter.com/Dtp3OxqTXq— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) July 20, 2018
What was that strange tape Tiger Woods had on his neck during the 2018 Open? You know, the stuff that looked like two strips of Velcro poking up above his collar? Those in the know will have identified it as KT tape, adhesive cotton strips designed to support muscles and ease pain. Apparently, this works by alternatively compressing and decompressing the muscles, which is supposed to scramble pain signals on their way to the brain. Whether this is actually what they do is a bit of a grey area, but that didn’t stop Woods donning the strips.
Hitting thousands of range balls a day is a recipe for blisters. Finger tape is an easy fix. Again, Tiger Woods is the standout figure here, as he can often be spotted sporting a band of white rubber around his knuckles. The technology here is less high-tech than KT tape but keeps blisters from breaking and stops rubbing between the chaffed area and grips.
Bracelets have been growing in popularity on the PGA and European Tours in the last few years and are now worn by many top golfers. Trion: Z is one of the most popular, using magnets which supposedly improve blood flow around your body and reduce pain. Tour pros also favour other brands such as Sabona and Power Balance. But be warned, the scientific view of these brands is sketchy at best. In fact, Power Balance went bankrupt in 2011 after being sued for $57m for false advertising, but it was later relaunched under the company Power Balance Technologies.
Can you think of any other tour only products, or do you break the stereotypes and use any of the above? Let us know!
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