If golf fans had a chance, they would snoop in a player's bag at the U.S. Senior Open to find out exactly which tools the pros use in their craft. So we asked all-time Champions Tour money leader Hale Irwin to share what's in his.
“What's in my bag?” the 68-year-old asked, rhetorically. “I'm not sure it matters because it might change in five minutes.”
Some golfers tinker with grips, shafts and swing weights. Some change out certain clubs depending on the course. Some dance with the same sticks no matter what.
“There's always a lot of new equipment,” Irwin said, “but I seem to keep going back to the tried and true.”
The heads on his TaylorMade irons are 4 to 5 years old, which can be an eternity in the equipment world. Irwin has earned a reputation throughout his career as a precision iron striker.
“The shaft on my irons that I'm using now is different because they don't make the original anymore,” he said. “It's a different manufacturer — and they all have their own feel — but it's still graphite.”
Like all golfers, Irwin sometimes threatens to make “lineup changes” in his bag.
“I still like these clubs,” he said with a wry smile. “But I'm wondering if we don't have a platonic relationship instead of a love relationship. Right now, it might be love-hate. These irons have spent the last week in the dungeon, so we'll see.”
Off the tee, Irwin uses a TaylorMade R1 Tour adjustable driver. On the range this week, he used two drivers. But they are identical.
“You always carry a backup, and you practice with it,” he said. “You never know what might happen.”
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Irwin also carries a 14-degree TaylorMade fairway metal and a TaylorMade 2-hybrid “that I hit very much like a 5-wood. I don't hit it quite as far as a 5-wood, but there is more use for it this way.”
His three TaylorMade wedges are 48, 54 and 58 degrees and from 3 to 4 years old.
“All of these are loaded up with a little (lead) tape just because of the shaft and head differences,” he said. “I bring them all up to a D3 or D4 swing weight.”
Then Irwin reached for his putter, shaking his head.
“Here's the creature from the black lagoon,” he said. “It's a TaylorMade Rossa, and they made it specifically for me the way I wanted it. It's a very, very good putter.”
Lately, Irwin said, he has been “messing around” with the putter's length.
“This used to be a little shorter,” he said. “Then I made it longer like when I won the Open in 1990, thinking standing more upright was what I wanted to do. Now, I find myself choking down on the putter.
“So I don't know what I'm doing. Maybe I should start with a belly putter and don't let it hit my belly unless my belly grows into the putter.”
Irwin no longer carries any good-luck charms or sentimental items in his bag, though he once did. While in New York for the 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he went shopping. In the change he received was a buffalo-head nickel.
“I used that nickel that week,” he said, “as a ball marker.” He won, the first of three U.S. Open titles.
So Irwin kept using that nickel.
“I figured if it worked for the Open, I'll try it for a few more weeks,” he said. “Then, inadvertently, I spent it. So that was the end of that.”