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‘Unusual’ backstory about 7-iron Jordan Spieth used for hole-in-one

Golf has a funny way of rewarding proper preparation and attention to detail.

During the first round of the Valero Texas Open, Jordan Spieth made a hole-in-one at the 199-yard 16th hole.

A perfect line, with perfect distance. A perfect shot. But it almost didn’t happen at all.

In his press conference following the round, Spieth revealed that the Titleist T100 7-iron he used to hit the shot was the only new club in his bag.

“I like hitting my 7-iron, and so I’ve got it to where, when I’m testing my gaps, it like goes five yards too far in the gap,” Spieth said. “I didn’t know why. On Wednesday after the pro-am I was hitting on the back of the range, I had them just bring a brand new 7-iron for new grooves and it was up in the right spin window, so it knocked 4-5 yards off of it. If I didn’t change 7-irons yesterday, then I wouldn’t have made it. It’s funny.”

Wait, why did he change just the 7-iron, and not the rest of his irons?

For a more in-depth answer, caught up with Spieth on Tuesday at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson 2024 event at TPC Craig Ranch.

According to Spieth, he and his coach Cameron McCormick often use even-numbered irons during their practice sessions together, but when Spieth practices alone, he opts for odd numbers.

And the odd-numbered iron he practices with most is the 7-iron; it isn’t completely uncommon to have a favorite practice club – Tiger Woods famously prefers to practice with his 8-iron – but for Spieth, it’s the 7.

“I hit my 7-iron a lot, especially on my own,” Spieth told on Tuesday.

Spieth is no stranger to long practice sessions, so, over time, he had worn the grooves down.

“The spin rates, relative to my 6-iron and my 8-iron, were lower, so it was going too far,” Spieth explained. “I was trying to figure out why, if it was something in the makeup of the iron. I got the lies and the lofts checked, and everything was fine. So finally I was like, ‘Can I just get a new one and see if it fixes it?’”

So, on Wednesday, the day before the start of the first round at the 2024 Valero Texas Open, Spieth received a new Titleist T100 7-iron, set to his usual specifications.

Then, on Thursday, he made a hole-in-one with it from 199 yards.

“Maybe there was one other time throughout my career where I changed just one iron, so it’s very unusual,” Spieth continued. “I think it’s just because the grooves were worn down from hitting it too much.”

For amateurs reading this story, there is a valuable takeaway here: While you most likely don’t practice as much as Spieth does – especially with the 7-iron – it’s still important to make sure to get your irons and wedges checked on a regular basis.

When the grooves wear down significantly on the face of a golf club, it reduces friction between the face and the ball at impact, which makes spin rates decrease and distance jump.

The first club to check is the wedge that you use most out of the bunker and around the greens, since that’ll be the first club in the bag to wear significantly. For reference, PGA TOUR players change out their lob or sand wedges about every 1-2 months.

The next club to check is the iron in your set that you use most at the driving range. Whether it’s a pitching wedge, an 8-iron like Woods, or a 7-iron like Spieth, you could actually be practicing with one club so much that it effects performance and needs a replacement.

If your golf ball isn’t hitting and spinning like it used to on the green, or you notice an oddity in flight/distance using your favorite club, it might be time for a change.

An even simpler trick to identify if the grooves are too worn is to run your fingernail down the face of the club in question: Does it feel like there are no grooves left, and the face is flat? If so, then your club has failed the fingernail test, and it’s time for a new club.

Just like Spieth, maybe it’s time to replace just one worn club, rather than the whole set.

And, just like Spieth, maybe golf will reward your preparation and attention to detail.