PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Most of the clubs in Russell Henley’s bag haven’t logged many miles on a golf course.
The Georgia junior goes through irons quickly, getting a new set every year or two. He’s using new wedges with different grooves for the U.S. Open this week. The driver is relatively new. His fairway wood and hybrid are the veterans of the bag, staying with the 21-year-old now for about two years.
One club, however, has outlived them all.
Henley’s putter, an Odyssey White Hot, is his favorite club, or at least it’s the one he’s most familiar with.
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He got the club as a present from brother his brother Adam as an 11-year-old, just as he started developing a love for the game. That putter has left his bag only a few times, and it could be his most important tool today when the U.S. Open begins.
“I’ve tried a couple of other putters over the years, but I just don’t feel right without this one,” Russell Henley said. “It just feels right.”
Henley started out using a Scotty Cameron putter, but he had to send it off for repairs. During the three months it was gone, he realized he was putting better with the Odyssey.
“I don’t think I’ll make a switch any time soon,” Henley said. “I’m just too comfortable with it.”
The greens at Pebble Beach Golf Links firmed up quite a bit on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, putting a premium on par putts and the few birdie opportunities that were there.
The rough and firm greens will provide enough of a problem for many of the players that a hot putter could make a significant difference this week. With the hazards Pebble Beach has in store, getting up-and-down from the rough and bunkers will require some accurate putting.
“I think he’ll be able to look down at that club and take some calmness from it,” Adam Henley said. “It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. Both of those will come in handy this week.”
Russell Henley showed just how deadly that putter can get during his U.S. Open sectional qualifier June 7 in Roswell. He rolled in eight birdies that day during his second 18 holes to win medalist honors. A few days prior to the sectional, Henley birdied four of his first six holes in the final round of the NCAA Golf Championships at The Honors Course outside of Chattanooga, Tenn.
“He can just get into a rhythm with that putter and just feel good about every putt,” Adam Henley said.
Russell Henley said the greens aren’t the fastest he has played, but they are fast. He anticipates them getting even faster as the week goes on and the USGA makes some tweaks.
“It will be tough, that’s for sure,” he said.