Believe it or not, there's a debate at this week's Open Championship over the amount of bunkers that guard Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club: Are there 205 or 206?

Whichever the correct number doesn't really matter. Lytham's sand traps are deep and dangerous, and they're also everywhere you look.

To help stay out of the sand and in the short grass, some players have opted to add another long iron to their set up.

According to Titleist Tour Representative Mattias Jelver, at least eight players will be carrying a new Titleist 2 or 3-iron to try and navigate their way off the tee.

Titleist Brand Ambassadors Adam Scott (AP2 2-iron), Jason Dufner (AP1 3-iron) and Greg Chalmers (CB 2-iron), among others, have the new stick in for this event. Rory McIlroy will also be playing his prototype Titleist utility iron (19*) that he switches in and out of his set composition depending upon the course and conditions.

"One of the keys to having success on this course is staying out of the bunkers and the hay," said Jelver. "It will most likely cost you at least one shot if you are in either, so the players coming to us want to have another option off the tee. Some of the players that didn't previously carry a 2 or a 3-iron are considering using it off the the tee to hit that low, boring shot or 'stinger' that will run out in the fairway and avoid the trouble."

"This is a course where you have to keep it in the fairway and play for position," said Scott. "If the proper decision means hitting 2-iron instead of driver or a fairway metal, I will. You can't lose focus on this course. If you do you'll get in trouble."

When Titleist Brand Ambassador Steve Stricker steps to the first tee Thursday morning at The Open Championship, he'll have a new prototype Titleist 913D3 driver in the bag for the first time.

After hitting some inconsistent drives during his Tuesday practice round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Steve suspected he had cracked the face of his Titleist 909D3 driver, a fact confirmed by Titleist Director of Tour Promotions Chris Tuten.

The Titleist Leadership Team quickly went to work, providing Stricker immediate options in the new prototype 913 for testing Tuesday afternoon.

"I could tell that something was wrong with the driver yesterday during practice and sure enough there was a fracture along the sweet spot," said Stricker. "I'm disappointed to see the 909 go, but I worked with Chris (Tuten) the last day and a half and I am excited about putting the new 913 in play.

"The new technology is great. The 913 goes straighter, is more forgiving, has a bigger sweet spot and when I do mishit it it still goes the distance."

During an extensive fitting session, Stricker and the Titleist Tour staff dialed in his driver settings and arrived at the following optimal configuration:

  Titleist 913D3
Loft:  8.5º
SureFit Hosel Setting:  A1
Shaft:  Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2x, tipped 1" at 45"
Swingweight:  D5
Grip:  Tour Velvet Cord 58 with 1 wrap

Titleist's tour seeding and validation process for the prototype 913 drivers began just under a month ago at the PGA Tour's AT&T National event at Congressional Country Club.

Last week, 21 players had prototype 913 drivers in the bag at the John Deere Classic, while 20 players gamed the new drivers at the Scottish Open. 

This week the Open Championship returns to Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire, England. The oldest championship in golf is being contested for the 141st time and this week marks the 11th time that Royal Lytham has served as host.

The course features more than 200 bunkers and is unique among rota courses in that its first hole is a par-3 (measuring 205 yards). The home stretch of nine holes plays predominantly into the seaside wind and is sure to separate those players who are up for the challenge of links golf in a major setting and those who are not.

At last week's John Deere Classic, Team Titleist caught up with two Titleist Brand Ambassadors, who both have the short games and shot-making skills to contend for the claret jug in Lancashire. Steve Stricker, a 3-time Deere Champion and Zach Johnson, who is riding the momentum from his victory at this year's Deere, took some time to share their thoughts on preparing for the British Open.

Hear what they have to say in the above video.

The 2012 Ontario Junior Boys Amateur Championship is underway at The Mandarin G&CC in Markham, Ontario.  Ontario's finest Junior Amateur golfers are competing for the championship with record high temperatures and a tight and firm course where water comes into play on multiple holes. 

Titleist is the brand of choice in the field this week as the most played brand across all major product categories which includes #1 Ball, Driver, Fairway, Hybrid, Iron, Putter and Wedge.  129 (83%) Players chose the Titleist golf ball compared to just 19 choosing the nearest competitor. 

Check out the slide show of the competitors as they prepare to compete for the championship.

Alex Riggs - Range Time!

Have you ever showed up to the range before a round, hit a few balls, then gone to the first tee feeling less confident than when you grabbed your clubs from your car? I sense that most of you can agree you have experienced that before. I know I have! We have all been instructed to hit the range before you head to the first tee. It is your time to warm up, to gain your feel, and hopefully eliminate the need for that breakfast ball.

We talk a lot about having a plan and being prepared. This goes for the range as well. When driving to the course, most of you have high expectations for upcoming round. If we simply go to the range to hit a few wedges, then rip a few drives, we are doing very little to keep our goals and actions on the same path. As most of you can attest, being able to hit a few balls before a round is a luxury, therefore the time must be utilized to the fullest.

Here is an example of a structured 45 minute warm-up:

  • Dynamic Warm-Up (stretch)
    • 5 Minutes
  • Pitch Shots with Sand Wedge (40 yards or less)
    • Alternate between hitting it high and hitting it low
    • 5 Minutes
  • Tempo Shots with PW & 7Iron
    • First shot 25% speed, Second shot 50%, Third shot 75%, Fourth shot 100%
    • Perform with both clubs
    • 5 Minutes
  • Length Shots with 9Iron & 6Iron
    • First shot 1/4 swing, Second shot 1/2 swing, Third shot 3/4 swing, Fourth shot full swing
    • Perform with both clubs
    • 5 Minutes

  • Random Practice
    • Play 3 holes imaginary holes
    • Make sure to hit a wood off the tee, a couple different irons, and wedges
    • 5 Minutes
  • Up and Downs
    • Using one ball, work your way around the practice green attempting to make an up and down at every hole location
    • Be sure to drop the ball rather than place it and vary the distances of the shots
    • Go through a full routine on each attempt
    • 10 Minutes

The time before the round is extremely valuable to how your experience will go on the golf course. Adding structure to your pre-round practice session is a simple tactic to knocking unnecessary strokes off your scorecard. Give this routine a try next time you head to the course and let us know how it worked!

Happy Practicing,

Alex Riggs
Canadian PGA Professionals
TPI Golf Instructor Level III & Junior Coach Level III
Twitter - @RiggsGolf

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