Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimpleheads (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall, and GOLF’s senior editor for equipment, Andrew Tursky) field your hard-hitting gear questions.
What’s the difference between how pros deal with their equipment versus how amateurs do?
As equipment insiders who follow gear changes on the PGA Tour every week, we get access to information and knowledge that most average amateurs don’t. That means that on literally a daily basis, we get asked this same question in one form or another.
Let’s get two of the major answers out of the way, and then I’ll break down nine nuggets of more detailed information.
First and foremost, PGA Tour players get fit for their equipment. And that means everything in their bag. From driver down to their putter and golf ball, Tour players conduct extensive testing on launch monitors to figure out the best club heads, shafts, grips, weight, lofts, lie angles and golf balls that are right for them. There isn’t much guessing; they want the best performing product and they work closely with professional fitters and instructors to find the best fit for them.
Secondly, and most obviously, they get paid to play certain equipment and they get basically anything they want for free. As amateurs, there’s not much knowledge to gain from this tidbit. It’s just the nature of the business end of professional golf. As an amateur, you’ll likely have to pay for your equipment, but there are plenty of things to learn from the pros and how they handle equipment.
Below are nine things that pros do differently than amateurs when it comes to their equipment choices.
1) Adjust for weight
Weight is an extremely important aspect of club fitting, as it influences both performance of the club itself and how it feels to the player. As such, you want to make sure the weighting of your clubs is right throughout the set.
The absolute best way to check for improperly weighted clubs is to bring them to a fitter or builder and have them check overall weight and swing weight. If there are any outliers, you may want to either take weight out of the club or put weight back in.
With interchangeable weights these days, this could be accomplished simply by screwing in a different piece. Also, custom tricks such as lead tape and hot melt can help you get dialed into the right fit.
I promise, if a club head is just a couple grams off in either direction, the pros will have the club adjusted. Depending on exactly where you add weight can also influence ball flight, so be cognizant of that when making adjustments.
2) Make hosel adjustments to their driver
The adjustable loft/lie sleeves on driver heads isn’t just there for show. With a simple turn of the wrench, you can turn a driver that has an upright lie angle with a shut face at 9 degrees into one that has a flat lie angle with an open face at 10 degrees.
These hosel adjustments can make significant impacts on how the driver feels, looks and performs. Do research on your particular driver loft sleeve to see what changes you may want to try, and experiment with the different settings.
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Srixon ZX5 Driver
OUR TAKE: The ZX Drivers (ZX5 and ZX7) both pack a punch when it comes to added distance and forgiveness. One tester chimed in by saying, “The traditional shaping and the red line on the back look great. The ball feels really fast off the face. It’s best one I’ve hit of the day.” Speaking of hits, the two models offer golfer a choice between a higher trajectory or a more penetrating one.
THE DETAILS: A carbon crown and Rebound Frame combine to increase distance and forgiveness on off-center hits. Additionally, and adjustable hosel and two rear and low weight ports enable golfers to fine tune the CG placement and face angle for a draw or fade shotshape. The more triangular ZX5 has a higher MOI and produces a higher ballflight, whereas the rounder ZX7 yields affords more shotmaking playability and produces a more penetrating launch.
Check out 150+ reviews from our gear experts in the ClubTest 2021 collection
3) Check lofts and lie
Believe it or not, your irons and wedges can actually change lie angle and loft over time, making them play slightly differently. It’s common practice for tour players to bring their set to a builder every few months to have them check for lofts and lies, then make proper bending adjustments to get them to match the original specifications.
If you have a certain iron or wedge that’s started behaving differently than it used to, it may be time to get it checked for loft and lie angle.
4) Continue honing their gear
Getting fit for your equipment is great, and highly recommended. But as you play rounds of golf, make slight swing adjustments, and new products hit the market, make sure to keep an eye on how your equipment is performing.
Look on the range at any PGA Tour event and the players are constantly testing new equipment and making tweaks to club heads and shafts. Unfortunately, your job isn’t always done when you get an initial club fitting. The chase for improvement never stops, and that includes your equipment.
5) Try different putter configurations
OK, so this isn’t completely unique to pros, because nearly every golfer starts tinkering with putters when things start going south on the greens. Pros, though, get a little more precise with their putter experimentations. They try things such as different grips, grip sizes, alignment lines/dots on the top of the putter, and even different shafts. Then they’ll get onto a launch monitor system to see the true benefits in terms of spin, launch and roll.
The easiest way to try a bunch of different options is to go through a full putter fitting. You’ll be able to try putter heads with different looks and feels, different shafts and grips, and get real feedback on performance.
6) Get the grinds right
Wedge fitting can be a complicated process that absolutely requires you to know your course conditions and try out the different loft/bounce configurations. While many pros get completely custom grinds on the sole of their wedges, most club manufacturers offer multiple options when it comes to their wedges.
Before just buying a wedge off the rack, try out different bounce angles and grinds. Some will work significantly better for than others in terms of feel at impact and turf interaction. Getting the right wedge could mean the difference between chunking your wedge shot in the bunker and hitting a crisp spinner onto the green.
Cleveland Golf CBX Full-Face Wedge
OUR TAKE: The CBX Wedge sports a design that makes it easy to play a variety of open-faced shots, sure to impress your playing buddies when you pop the ball high and tight from anywhere. According to a seasoned tester, “I like the way the ball feels coming off the face and the milling marks on the toe give it a high-end look.” We can’t help but dig the way the face looks like it’s built for added spin.
THE DETAILS: Cleveland’s Rotex face milling and Zip Grooves can be found across the entire face of the CBX Wedge for bigtime RPMs. Additionally, the Half-Cavity design places the CG in an optimal position and the Low C-Shaped sole grind make these easy to hit when laid open like a pancake. Contrasting the CBX is the traditionally shaped CBX2. But don’t be fooled by its clean looks—beneath it hides a healthy dose of forgiveness in a hollow-body design.
Check out 150+ reviews from our gear experts in the ClubTest 2021 collection.
7) Change club setup based on the course
The fun thing about golf is that the conditions are ever changing. To make sure your tools are ready to tackle different conditions, make sure to have a few different options at the top end of the bag.
Many pros, for example, alternate between a driving iron, hybrid and a high-lofted fairway wood depending on course conditions. If you’re playing in windy conditions, for example, you may want to use a driving iron that can penetrate the wind. If you’re playing a long and soft course on a calm day, on the other hand, maybe you want to put in an extra fairway wood to hit the ball long and high.
Preparing properly each day can help you save multiple strokes during a round of golf.
8) Keep the wedges fresh
You’ll rarely see a pro using a wedge for more than a year at a time. Of course, this is easier when the clubs are free, but the point remains that having fresh wedge grooves will provide maximum spin and control. If you don’t have it in the budget to get fresh wedges every month, make sure to at least keep your grooves clean from dirt using a wet towel. As we found out recently, it seriously helps.
9) Shafts make a huge difference
Almost all pros pay significant attention to the shafts they use, whereas amateurs tend to use stock shafts and never think twice about them. With the shaft being the engine of the club, characteristics such as weight, flex, tipping, bend point and length can have a huge impact on where your golf ball flies and how it gets there. A simple shaft change could alter your ball flight from a high slice into a low draw.
Since shafts are often different for everyone, though, it’s best to try as many as possible in a particular club head before making a final decision. This is how the pros do it, and they do it for every single club in the bag.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2021? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below!