The long-awaited return of professional golf is over. From the strength of the field at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, you can tell the players have been as eager to get back as we have been to watch them.
It will be the first time that World No. 1 Rory McIlroy tees it up in this event. Joining him are fellow Team TaylorMaders Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff. For the first two rounds, Rahm (World No. 2) will be paired with Rory alongside the No. 3 ranked player.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had the chance to see Rory thanks to TaylorMade Driving Relief – which raised nearly $6 million for charity. His game looked sharp as he teamed with Dustin Johnson to take down the duo of Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler at Seminole Golf Club.
This will be our first live look at Rahm since this all began. But last month in an under-the-radar event at The Fairmont Grand Del Mar (San Diego) that raised money for COVID-19 relief, Rahm reportedly carded 24 birdies in 54 holes.
This should be good.
Our Tour Team is thrilled to be back on the road and back to work, even if the conditions are a little different due to COVID. The PGA Tour has taken every precaution to ensure the health and safety of the athletes as well as those working the event. Furthermore, TaylorMade has developed an extensive operations plan to further protect everyone on site.
Our team uses special drop zones to handoff equipment to the players and have designated areas they can be in while conducting fittings. Every club is sanitized following each interaction and face coverings are worn at all times. A bit a different world.
In alliance with other events that have swept the globe, the PGA Tour conducted a moment of silence on Thursday in honor of George Floyd in addition to leaving the 8:46 tee time empty as further acknowledgement – Floyd was 46.
Through it all, the PGA Tour is back and we’re as excited as anyone. It’s been more than 90 days since we saw live competitive golf on television. As we get ready, let’s walk through some equipment updates from our top players.
According to our boots on the ground, Rory showed in top form both physically and with his swing. On the launch monitor, his spin numbers were down across the board – which is a good thing. However, his driver spin rates were in the1,900 to 2 000 range – a little lower than he prefers.
To get him dialed, we first took his SIM head and added a touch of loft to increase the spin. Then we tested that against a 9° SIM Max with the sleeve set to standard and loft adjusted one click lower. With that, we saw spin numbers in the 2 300-2 400 range – which is where Rory lives when he’s playing his best golf.
We’re confident that he’ll be making the switch into the SIM Max.
One thing everyone wanted was a fresh set of wedges with brand new grooves. Rahm included. Before social distancing mandates, Rahm would like to come in the truck to directly compare his old wedges with the new ones. He’d measure loft, lie and swing weight. Then do the same thing with the new wedges to ensure they were identical. We were able to perform that same process for him.
“Rahm looked so ready. He looks like a World No. 1. It’s going to be fun to watch him and Rory paired for the first two days. They’re at the top of their games.”
As you would expect from a player of his caliber, he’s meticulous about his loft and lies throughout the bag. So we did a full assessment of each club to make sure nothing got knocked out of place during the time away. We also did regripped every club in the bag. For him, it was really just making sure everything was fine-tuned in terms of golf club maintenance.
NOTE: Rahm plays P•750 irons that are no longer available for retail.
Dustin is one of the more interesting equipment cases as golf returns to the main stage. While he’s no stranger to putter changes, this week Dustin will game a Truss TM1 for the first time in competition. The original putter concept was designed to meet the needs of players like Dustin – who love the performance of high-MOI mallets but still appreciate the look of classically shaped putters.
DJ’s Truss is a traditional mallet shape with the dynamic hosel design to improve stability. While the green complexes at Colonial are in fantastic shape, the restrictions of COVID-19 made it virtually impossible to have them as fast as standard Tour conditions – which generally takes months of preparation. With that in mind, DJ felt like Truss helped him start and keep the ball online better with the slower conditions.
His final specs were 3° of loft, 72° lie angle, D8 swing weight and a length of 35 ½ inches – which is slightly shorter than the other putters in his rotation.
Many tee shots at Colonial demand placement vs. power, with landing areas falling in the 260-270 yard range. With this in mind, we altered DJ’s SIM Max Rescue to a loft of 20,5° to allow him to consistently hit that yardage. We also dialed Rory’s Rescue to hit the similar 260-265 number off the tee. Expect to see a lot of those shots from each player throughout the week.
Grab your popcorn and enjoy the return of live sports.
When the Tour came to a halt in March, Collin Morikawa was at striking the ball as well as anyone in the world. He stood at No. 4 in strokes gained on approach and top 30 in GIR percentage. As he got back to work this week, our team conducted a full loft and lie check throughout is bag to ensure he was dialed in. All results were positive and he’s a full go for this week at Colonial. There were no changes to his bag.
As one of the longest hitters on Tour and rising star in the golfing world, Matthew Wolff comes into this week ready to follow-up on his strong rookie campaign, Even though he’s only been on Tour a short time, he’s earned the respect of his peers and was a key player in TaylorMade Driving Relief. Headed into Colonial, our team conducted a routine checkup of his equipment and determined everything was in perfect order. There were no changes to his bag.
Grab your popcorn and enjoy the return of live sports.
NOTE: Matthew Wolff plays P•750 irons that are no longer available for retail.