I absolutely love stories like this, and to have a front-row seat to watch it go down was a gear head’s dream.
Let’s start at the beginning; it was early this June that Xander Schauffele made the switch into the Chrome Soft X LS golf ball; it was a switch that more or less took his whole bag to a new level.
Read the full story here:
However, leading up to the Tour Championship, something was just a bit off. You see when Xander is in full flight he hits a REALLY tight draw with every club. I’ve seen it go down and it’s glorious. But since the switch into LS he noticed that although the performance was ridiculously good, he knew that for the draw (with the driver) in particular, he was definitely leaving some meat on the bone. What it looked like on TrackMan/Foresight is 1900-2000RPMs of spin. At 175+ miles an hour, that’s a hard ball to control. What he was looking for was some RPMs and a bit of launch, sounds easy enough…
So now the math comes in and the expertise of our Tour Fitter Kellen Watson.
As mentioned it was right before the Tour Championship that the matter really became clear, since time was limited Watson switched Xander into a different Graphite Design shaft (IZ 7X) with the same spec of driver as before (💎💎💎9, 45.5, Tipped 1, D3, Flat Cog). The IZ is a bit softer in the tip section than his trusty BB which will encourage a bit more launch and a bit more spin.
The ultimate long term goal was to change as few variables as possible and try to stay in Xanders trusted Graphite Design BB 7X at all costs. He has been in that part for a long time but sometimes you gotta make small tweaks in the interim until you have the time to get it really dialed.
What this did was give Xander a few RPMs of spin and some extra launch but ultimately it was just a quick fix until Xander had the time window to REALLY dig into everything.
In an ideal world this is what Xander’s driver numbers look like, keep in mind that it was only the driver that was a touch-off, the rest of the bag is DIALED so any other switches were off the table.
The Unicorn Numbers:
DRAW (Starting 5 yards right, drawing 5 yards to center): 2200-2400RPM
FAIRWAY FINDER: 2600-2700RPM
With the old setup, he was checking off 3 of the 4 boxes, which to a mere mortal seems good enough, but this is Xander, so you gotta get it right.
After a testing session at ECPC, last week with Xander, Watson, Tour Head Tim Reed, and Xanders father Stefan, the team found a driver combo that gave Xander EXACTLY what he was looking for. Going to a 10.5💎💎💎LS and opening it up to 9 accomplished a few things.
1) It allowed Xander to keep his beloved Graphite Design BB shaft
2) He was able to stay in a slightly open face angle which he likes
3) He checked off every single one of his spin profiles (the unicorn list above)
4) He picked up 1.5 degrees of launch on the right to left shots, which, coupled with a bit more spin, meant more carry distance. Who doesn’t love that?
So what can the average golfer take away from this?
Actually, quite a bit. Once again, the importance of picking the right ball is so vital to the harmony of your bag. Yes, this is a driver switch story, but the core is the ball. At a bare minimum, the ball must be optimized with your irons/wedges/fairways. Once that’s done, it’s good practice to tweak the driver to match the ball, not the other way around.
When I saw Xander last week, he said, “this ball is just so good; I’m not willing to give it up to make my driver work; I know we can find a head shaft combo to make it great..” It looks like they did. It’ll be under the gun this week in Wisconsin; nothing like getting right into the fire.