What I get to see week in and week out is fascinating, and being the gearhead that I am, I want to give you some insight into how the best players on the planet gear up, so to speak, for the big ones.
Before I got myself into the golf biz, one of the topics that piqued my curiosity more than others was what it was like to get the best players in the world prepared for the Majors. Are there big things happening? When does it happen? How does it happen? Seeing it all from the inside, the answer is actually quite interesting, and NO, it’s not a mad rush of desperation with clubs being built in bulk. I’ll put that to rest now. It’s actually quite peaceful, which is exactly as it should be.
We now sit roughly 24 hours from the kick-off of Major #1, The LPGA’s Chevron Championship at the Dinah Course in Ranch Mirage, California. Last week I was onsite at the JTBC Classic in Carlsbad and saw what work was being done to prep for a course that is starkly different from any course they play all year.
The main people responsible for our LPGA program are Bjoern Kreutzer (SR Manager Sports Marketing) and LPGA Rep Barry Lyda.
Tournament Specific Trends:
According to Kreutzer:
“A ton of work on fairways and hybrids. Greens will be pretty firm, and players are looking for as much height as possible coming into the green on longer shots.
Hitting fairways will be important with fairly high rough. The Rogue ST LS, Rogue TD, and Apex UW really provide great options. Also, some touch up on drivers here and there.
After doing a lot of work with our staffers last week in Carlsbad, almost everyone came ready to play.”
What I saw:
To piggyback on what Bjoern had to say, the hot topic of discussion amongst the players like Emma Talley, Madelene Saegstrom, Yuka Saso, and Jeeno Thitikul was finding anything that would get the ball UP and come down SOFT. The Dinah Course is known to have hard fast greens, and with the rough being as thick as it is, the pressure does fall on playing the Par 5’s well and getting as much mileage out of them as possible.
For many of our staff, most of the par 5’s are reachable in two, which puts a premium on finding options in that 225-200 yard section of the bag.
I truly believe that there is more to be learned from an equipment (and playing) perspective from the LPGA than on the PGA Tour. The yardages are similar to most golfers, and the bags are designed to plot AROUND a golf course, not to rip it apart. Players on the LPGA go deep with elite short iron play and their putters, not bombing it 365.
Another interesting nugget I discovered from our LPGA staff was the importance of the bag’s 4 and 5 iron sections. I saw more 21 to 25-degree hybrids in Carlsbad than I could count, and Emma Talley’s reasoning hit home. The strategy with that section is to HIT THE GREEN. Period. It’s not a scoring club. It’s a stability club designed to keep the scoring waters calm on longer holes and ensure that 1) You hit the green and 2) it comes down with a reasonable chance to hold the green.
Versatility is king, and it seemed to stay true with all of her clubs in that section. During Emma’s test session at ECPC, finding a 185 club that launched high with a bit of spin and came down steep was the goal. AND something that had a 195 shot in it AND a 175 shot if needed.,
I see the new ROGUE ST Fairways in a new light: .
I’m learning new things about our Rogue ST fairways every day and what I saw in my time with our LPGA staff really opened my eyes. YES, they are long, but like the driver, I see a level of downrange stability and spin optimization that I haven’t seen…maybe ever. While walking with Madelene Saegstrom, who just put the new Rogue ST 💎💎💎 fairway in the bag, I noticed that she was getting a lot more out of her toe strikes, especially when she was trying to step on one. The new construction of the head with more weight being pulled out towards the heel and toe has turned a shot that would usually end up in the left rough and is now starting right with spin and leaving the player in the fairway. I’ve seen it with drivers but not at this rate with the fairways. This will come in handy at the Chevron as, for most players, the 3-wood will be a consistent performer off the tee on many par 4’s.
So what did we learn?
It’s simple, actually. It will be tough sledding if you search for anything other than a small tweak in the week before OR the week of a Major Championship. The best players in the world prioritize the bag setups to travel pretty much anywhere, with the only tweaks being made to accommodate a specific golf course like The Dinah. That’s a testament to the elite talent level but also to the work and countless hours our Tour Team does. This year’s process started early last winter with the goal to have everyone near the top of the mountain when it really counts, Majors Season.
I can’t wait to see how #teamcallaway performs this week and if the JTBC was any indication, I imagine Jeeno Thitikul AND Yaku Saso will have a perfect shot at bringing this one home.