It’s that time again, the Open Championship is on the horizon, and this year not only marks the 150th game, it takes place at the home of golf: the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland.
Firm, fast ground with a golden brown tint may not be the norm for golf in North America, but links golf is the true original format of the game and requires playing in some unique conditions. Whether you’re a professional golfer or just an amateur looking to make the pilgrimage to Mecca’s version of golf, links golf demands creativity not usually needed in a park setting, and having a few different clubs in your bag can make navigating the terrain just a little bit easier
Low Loft Hybrid/Driving Iron
As they say, no wind, no rain, no golf, so unsurprisingly, playing golf along the coast will bring in some elements of mother nature. Being able to keep the ball low and run along the ground helps you reduce one more variable you have to worry about when making a shot, and it can come in handy inside 100 yards.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to use a low-loft hybrid both off the tee and onto the greens, look no further than the textbook examples Todd Hamilton used to win the 2004 Open Championship at Troon in a playoff against Ernie. Els. He self-sailed a 17° Sonartec MD hybrid bent up to 14°, allowing it to serve as his makeshift, 3-wood chipper.
The wide sole and low loft make it difficult to nail when around the greens and, when hit with a putt, it makes the ball roll quickly.
Low Bounce Wedge Lob
Link golf doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your short game, but the firm, fast turf makes it more difficult to not only take a divot but also chip and drive around the green if you’re used to playing in softer conditions.
The only club you’ll see many pros switch to during the Open Championship is their lob wedge to a lower bounce option that helps bring the leading edge of the club closer to the ground. A lower leading edge in firm conditions allows for an aggressive approach to the ball without the fear of hitting the dreaded skull wedge that goes well past the intended target. Hey, we’ve all done it.
Some great examples of low bounce wedges you can find on the market are the Titleist Vokey Low Bounce K-Grind, which offers a low bounce angle with a wider sole, and the Vokey T-Grind, which offers a low bounce and a thinner sole for those who want a little more versatility in shot selection. The Callaway Jaws Raw Z-Grind and the TaylorMade MG3 LB are also great options.
Beyond a wedge lob, your standard gap and sand wedge will work just fine for their intended purpose, but it’s always a good idea to spend a little more time on that practice green before heading out to play.
Adjustable Driver / Fairway Woods
This one is easy, and more than likely you already have it in your bag.
Adjustable drivers and fairway woods give you the opportunity to fine tune the ball flight for your swing and the conditions you may find yourself in, even at height. In the case of playing in windy conditions on firm turf such as those found playing golf, a lower launch angle with less spin will be more ideal than simply trying to optimize carry distance. A few clicks with a wrench is much easier than trying to make a swing change on the fly.
(Not a club) but a golf ball change
An honorable mention goes to swapping out his golf ball for one that is designed to spin less and have a lower apex during its flight. As is the recurring theme for all of the club options mentioned above, being able to fly the ball lower can help increase accuracy and get you closer to the hole more often.