Driver: TaylorMade R9 (9.5-degree, 45″); Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 63 shaft, S-flex
I’ve never been exceptionally long off the tee, so hitting fairways has always been a priority. Dialing in the adjustable settings has allowed me to find a very consistent shot pattern that gives me the best chance to score from the fairway. My typical miss is a wild draw (translation: hook), so I’ve configured the hosel setting to promote a slight fade and set the adjustable weights neutral. I was able to fine tune the exact weight configuration with the help of our Vector Launch Monitor here at GolfTEC; I decreased my spin rates by placing more weight closer to the clubface, optimizing my launch characteristics for my ball speed.
You may note that despite drivers getting longer and longer (the latest TaylorMade offering is 46.5″), I’ve kept my driver a more manageable 45″ for better control. This is something I encourage my clients to do, as the slight increase in clubhead speed from the extra length is often negated by the inability to consistently hit the center of the face.
Fairway wood: TaylorMade R9 (15-degree, 42.75″); Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 73 shaft, S-flex
I always stay consistent with the settings from driver to fairway wood. It’s just one of those things that I have to know is consistent—if the settings varied, I think it would drive me crazy.
Hybrid: TaylorMade Rescue TP (19-degree, 40″); Aldila VooDoo SVS8 shaft
My launch characteristics change as I jump down to the hybrid, so I’ve adjusted the hosel settings to promote a slightly higher ball flight as well as changing the shaft for a tighter shot pattern. The need for accuracy rather than distance increases considerably as you approach your wedges.
Irons: 4-iron: TaylorMade R7 CGB Max; 90g SuperFast Black Steel shaft, S-flex. 5-iron-PW: TaylorMade Tour Preferred; KBS Tour shaft, S-flex
Having that 4-iron in my bag is almost not even fair—in fact, sometimes it feels like I’m cheating. It’s slightly stronger loft and super low center of gravity, coupled with the light steel shaft makes it play like another hybrid. Having a 5-iron as my first “real” iron makes sense with my lower ball flight and launch characteristics. Most amateurs would benefit from ditching their long irons entirely and replacing them with something that helps them “cheat” a little.
Wedges: TaylorMade RAC TP Z (52-, 56-, 60-degree); Project X 5.5 shaft
To get the most consistent distances between wedges, I changed the shafts and bent the 52-degree to a 51-degree. The extra degree closes the gap (pun intended) between that and the PW.
Since I’m more of a digger (as opposed to a sweeper/slider), I’ve had my wedges built with the most bounce available. It’s especially helpful in the softer turf conditions on the California Central Coast and that pesky kikuyu grass that’s so ubiquitous around here.
I recommend having your GolfTEC Coach look at the gaps between your wedges and check to see if you have an optimal amount of bounce for your swing and the conditions you play in.
Putter: TaylorMade Rossa Maranello by Kia Ma (33″)
I’m six feet tall and have a putter that’s two inches shorter than what you’ll typically find at a retail store. This is not an accident. Most players have a putter that is too long for them, forcing them to get on their heels, move their eyes inside the ball and bunch up their arms. This makes that true pendulum stroke we’re always talking about a near impossibility. Get fit for your putter and give yourself a chance to make a better, more consistent putting stroke.
This putter is very toe heavy, which helps me feel the discreet opening and closing of the face on the way back and the way through.
Ball: TaylorMade Penta TP
I’ve been playing the Penta 5-layer ball since last year. This ball gives me the best of both worlds. With most other balls out there, you have to sacrifice one thing (feel, spin) in order to gain another (driver ball speed). The engineers at TaylorMade figured out how to piece it all together. What I like most about the Penta ball is the amount of spin I can get from just off the green.
Accessories: Laser Range Finder; Sharpies
One item that is an absolute must is my laser range finder. Not only is it helpful with course management decisions, but it’s great for practice at the range to really dial in your distances. That’s the primary reason I don’t have a GPS unit; ranges are usually poorly marked. And what’s the point of outdoor practice without yardages?
Finally, I always have silver and purple Sharpies in my bag so I can mark my balls with three dots below the number—in Los Angeles Kings colors. I know, a hockey fan in Southern California… go figure.
If you’re considering upgrading your bag, getting a club fitting or just want to try out some new golf equipment, call or stop by a GolfTEC Improvement Center near you.