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The secret sauce that helped Rahmbo win the U.S Open

Although this video may look like a simple shot out from the 2021 U.S Open Champion to #teamcallaway, it isn’t, it’s so much more. If you dig in a little deeper you will find that what he gave us was the secret ingredient that made this monumental switch into a full bag of Callaway sticks a successful one. The ingredient? SPIN.

When he referenced the 8-iron he hit into #1 on the final day, I knew exactly what he was talking about. The ability to make an aggressive swing into a crosswind, pierce the wind and have the ball stop is actually quite the achievement. Typically balls that are good into the wind, don’t spin like balls that arent. When I spoke with JR at the Players Championship it was the low 40-yard spinner and off-speed short irons that caught his eye but as the year went on it’s been full iron shots to tight flags that really have his attention. Rahm likes to play with spin and chooses to knock spin down when he wants as opposed to the ball doing it for him. He wants that responsibility and doesn’t want the ball to carry the burden. Sounds a lot like a 15-time Major winner whose name rhymes with Wiger Toods. Rahm simply has more shots in the bag than he did a year ago and it’s showing. The best example was at Memorial, that iron performance was simply amazing and one of the reasons was his ability to attack pins with shorter irons and know they would not only keep their integrity into the wind but also stop on the number. Did you see how many times he was pin high?

There are players (a lot of them) that would prefer adding spin when they want and not having to worry about knocking it down. Leishman, Bhatia, and now Xander come to mind.

At the Tour level, spin kind of dominates everything. The stock shots have to spin properly, the fades can’t spin too much and the draws need to hold on to as much spin as possible. It’s a puzzle that can be tough to solve but in the hands of a player like Rahm it can be the ultimate weapon. The shots into #1, #8, #14, and #16 come to mind when thinking of specifics. All aggressive iron shots to flags when even just a little less spin would have bounced and skipped into unsavory spots.

COOL STORY BRO BUT HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO ME?

So what does that mean for you and me? Simply put, it means everything. Spin is control and the market tells us that distance is king but it’s not. Spin and its management hold the key to making your bag and any real distance you find actually help your score. So when you are working with your fitter or PGA Professional pay attention to that column just a few ticks away from ball speed and total distance. The RPMs of that ball will tell you whether or not that club is course-worthy. I’m a huge advocate that the bag needs to fit the ball, not the other way around. People will argue that, but from experience, I know it to be true.

Use Rahmbo and Xander and examples of just how important that piece is. Xander switched into LS looking to knock spin down and has seen a big improvement in overall control. Rahm went straight into CSX because of his affections for spin and the guy is World #1.

If you want the recipe here is a look at the PGA Tour Average over the past few years, I’m sure these numbers will rise overall if they sent the data out today but it still tells the right story. What tour players do VS what the normal weekend player does is starkly different. Pay close attention to the spin numbers. I would guess most of us play with far too little spin and if I could put a number on it I’d say with the irons most of us fall 500-1000 RPMs short. That’s a lot. The best practice, try to keep the RPMs (in 1000’s) close to the number on the club. + or – 200 is fine. I think you’d be surprised at how little spin we play with. “The iron lofts are too strong” I get that one all the time. The iron lofts are fine if you add some spin with the golf ball. Trust me, I’m doing it now and my iron game hasn’t been this good in 15 years. I put the CSX in play with my new set of Apex ’21 and I’m right in the spin pocket with every club.

Boom

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Rudy Mauritz

    June 22, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Are the CS, CSX and CS LS the pros play the same as the retail version we can purchase?

    • Johnny Wunder

      Johnny Wunder

      June 22, 2021 at 3:23 pm

      Yes

      • Avatar

        Daniel

        June 23, 2021 at 2:46 pm

        Those 3 are but they also have many other versions that aren’t released to retail.

  2. Avatar

    Chubbs Olson

    June 22, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    The chart showing PGA Tour averages for launch conditions is a helpful reference, but when fitting it’s rare to encounter a player who has enough speed to approach those launch conditions. Point being that it’s counterproductive to chase those spin numbers with a player who has a carry distance average and CHS that’s 80-90% or less of those on the chart. The whole “spin should be number on the iron’s sole times 1000” trope is a fine baseline for players who squish it, but it would be counterproductive for players with less speed even if they could somehow produce it.

    Example: I have a player fit for a 7 iron that they love the look and feel of, they’re peppering target with it and repeatedly carrying it ~155, CHS of ~81 and ball speed of ~108. However, they’re concerned that “they need 800 RPM more spin” because it’s sitting at 6200. I will point out to such a player that 6200 is perfectly balanced because it’s 90% of the PGA Tour average; just like their CHS, ball speed, and carry number.

    • Johnny Wunder

      Johnny Wunder

      June 22, 2021 at 3:22 pm

      100% but the idea here is to incorporate more as much as possible before diminishing returns. A ball at 135 with no spin can be just as stubborn as a ball at 180 with no spin. My hope is it’s some thing we pay more attention to going forward.

      • Avatar

        Chubbs Olson

        June 22, 2021 at 4:15 pm

        Quite agree, the “Low Spin Olympics” that the equipment industry indulged in over the last decade didn’t do much to help club players play their best golf.

        One of the biggest challenges in fitting club players is to get them to look deeper into the data for the things that will actually help them score better. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a player walk away from a perfectly fit iron set that tightened their directional and distance dispersion significantly just because it didn’t produce a peak distance number greater than the unplayable nuclear flyers produced by the irons they already have. “iF iT dOeSn’T gO 17 yArDs fUrThEr, It’S nOt AnY bEtTeR…”

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