WHEN TO RING THE CHANGES

I am al­ways open to new equip­ment ideas and tech­nolo­gies, but I will only make a change in my bag if it can be proved to im­prove my game

Golf Monthly - - Your View -

’m no equip­ment geek – the only thing that re­ally mat­ters to me is that any­thing new has to be an im­prove­ment. I’ve used Call­away my en­tire ca­reer, so I’ve got a lot of con­fi­dence in its prod­ucts, but I’m rarely go­ing to change un­less a club can be proved to im­prove me – so if it goes fur­ther, dis­per­sion is bet­ter or I’ve got more feel or con­trol.

The new gear is al­ways tech­ni­cally bet­ter, but it’s more about cus­tom fit­ting to make the big­ger gains. The sweetspot is get­ting big­ger and that be­comes a lit­tle harder to test, but it is way more im­por­tant and ben­e­fi­cial to scores. Op­ti­mi­sa­tion of spin, launch and shaft char­ac­ter­is­tics go above my head, so I don’t re­ally get into the tech. In fact, I spend most time work­ing on my putting with Paul Hur­rion. We’ve worked out what my stroke ten­den­cies are over the years, and I’ve gone to a coun­ter­bal­anced put­ter to help that. It also helps me get a lit­tle more for­ward lean in my set-up so I can lock my left wrist. I’ve al­ways putted with mal­let-style models based around the 2-Ball and had a lot of suc­cess with them. Learn what works and stick with it.

How many bad rounds can a put­ter sur­vive? Well, for me, I would say it’s earned its place in the bag, so it’s also earned some lee­way. But if I had a month of bad putting and couldn’t un­der­stand why and couldn’t get to the bot­tom of it tech­ni­cally, maybe I would look to change. In fact, the 2-Ball Fang put­ter was one club that did go in straight away when it came out be­cause it felt dif­fer­ent, I liked the look of it and I had the data to con­firm it was an im­prove­ment.

With my wedges, I’ve been work­ing with the guys on the van to get the grind right so I’m re­ally happy with the bounce. My lob wedge is al­ways ground a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to the stan­dard one, so on links cour­ses, for ex­am­ple, I can still open it up and get the lead­ing edge sat low enough for me to feel I can get the club un­der the ball, yet still in­ter­act with the turf how I like it to on a full shot.

I’m not one to change my wedge line-up for dif­fer­ent cour­ses. It’s amaz­ing how in tune with a club we can be. I spend so much time us­ing them, I’d no­tice even min­i­mal changes, cer­tainly with my put­ter or lob wedge, be­cause they are the most ‘feel’ clubs in the bag. The slight­est change and it just won’t feel right. If your club’s got bent in travel, you put it down and it just doesn’t look right. It

Imight only be half a de­gree out, but half a de­gree with a lob wedge – and cer­tainly a put­ter – makes a big dif­fer­ence. Call­away irons have been great for a long time so I’m never too wor­ried about chang­ing them when the time comes, but woods can be trick­ier. I’ve still got an orig­i­nal 21˚ Heav­en­wood in my ro­ta­tion – ev­ery­one has that old favourite go-to club, right? It doesn’t al­ways make it in, but it’s al­ways there be­cause it’s one of the best util­ity clubs that’s ever been made and I just love it. It re­places my 3-iron, so if the rough is thick I like it be­cause it’s a 3-iron that I can dig out of any­where. I also have a newer, stronger-lofted Apex 20˚ util­ity which goes five yards fur­ther, so I have three clubs that go sim­i­lar dis­tances but have dif­fer­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Then I have a 5-wood, 3-wood and driver that I ro­tate depend­ing on the course.

The 3-wood is def­i­nitely a tough one for most guys, prob­a­bly be­cause peo­ple use them in dif­fer­ent ways. Guys who maybe don’t hit it off the tee that much are more in­ter­ested in some­thing that of­fers a higher, softer flight into par 5s. Guys who do use it more off the tee want some­thing they can get out there a long way. I’ve had my cur­rent XR 3-wood for 18 months and I’m re­ally happy with it as I can hit all the shots I want to. How­ever, I am in the process of putting a strong 3-wood in the bag as a back up for when my driv­ing isn’t feel­ing good, as this is my area of weak­ness. Let the equip­ment do the work for you in­stead of hav­ing to man­u­fac­ture a shot – that’s the mod­ern game.

As for the driver, you can never re­ally tell ex­actly how good it is un­til you put it into com­pe­ti­tion play. You can test them all you want, nar­row it down to a cou­ple of op­tions on Track­Man, take them onto the course to pin­point the best one… but you’ve then got to try it in a tour­na­ment to see if it per­forms the same as in prac­tice. Even if it’s longer and straighter on the range, the tempo and tim­ing of your swing changes a lit­tle in com­pe­ti­tion and even more when you’re un­der the gun. That’s when you need to be able to trust your driver 100 per cent and know that a bad shot is not go­ing to be that bad. It’s all about how good your bad shot is. If you know what your bad swing does, you can play great golf.

“Even if it’s longer and straighter on the range, the tempo and tim­ing of your swing changes in com­pe­ti­tion and even more when you’re un­der the gun”

2008 Ry­der Cup­per, Oliver Wil­son, is now into his 12th year on the Euro­pean Tour, dur­ing which time he has en­joyed the sup­port of long-term spon­sors, Call­away Golf, Hugo Boss and Orion Group

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