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Equipment changes come full circle for Choi

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By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Managing Editor

There’s a simple rule most golfers follow when making equipment changes – don’t mess with success.

And golfers certainly shouldn’t switch from a set of clubs that helped them win the biggest tournament of their lives – at least not for a while. But that’s exactly what K.J. Choi, winner of The Players Championship last year, has done in 2012.

In early March, Choi put away the set of Miura CB-501 irons that he used in his victory at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course for a set of Cleveland 588 CB Forged irons. Just a few weeks later he sampled another manufacturer’s clubs, Ping i20 irons. But as the one-year anniversary of Choi’s win approaches, he again finds himself using the same set of irons that he used last year at The Players.

Many people will jump to point out that Choi’s tinkering was unnecessary – he should have been working on his game instead of trying to catch lightning in a bottle with an equipment change, they might say. But there’s another way of thinking about equipment changes. Bill Choung of CompuGolf Center in Dallas has been working with Choi on his equipment since March 2010. Since Choung opened CompuGolf nine years ago, he has been seeking to answer a simple question,

“How does an equipment change impact the golf swing?”

He’s found that changing equipment has a very real impact on a player’s swing, especially with tempo and rhythm.

The goal of Choung’s work with Choi has been to give Choi a higher trajectory and more spin on his iron shots. Choi felt that he wasn’t hitting the ball high enough or with enough spin to control his distances at major championships – setups that generally have firm greens and tight pin positions.

There are several different ways of achieving that goal, and Choi and Choung have tried just about all of them. Choi played the 2011 Masters with a 6-iron hybrid, which gave him a higher trajectory, more forgiveness and more spin. But Choi felt that he was sacrificing workability and feel, which led to more experimenting.

Choung hit paydirt when he built Choi a set of Miura CB-501 irons just days before the 2011 Zurich Classic. To create Choi’s desired ball flight, Choung used KBS Tour parallel tip shafts, which are different than the taper tip shafts used by nearly every other PGA Tour player. Whereas taper tip shafts are precut to a specific length for a certain club (6 iron shafts are generally used in 6 iron heads), parallel tip shafts are uncut, which means that they can be trimmed to fit any iron head. This allows the club builder to trim the shafts to the exact stiffness that a player desires.

Shaft stiffness, which is measured by the frequency of a shaft, is important because according to Choung it changes the way a player loads and unloads the club during the swing. When trimming Choi’s parallel tip shafts, Choung cut more off the butt end of the shaft and less off the tip, creating a “softer” tip that allowed for a higher trajectory and more spin. Choi liked the combination of the parallel tip shafts and the Miura CB-501 head, and the results proved it. That week he put the clubs in play to finish in the top 5 at the 2011 Zurich Classic, and of course, to win The Players two weeks later.

There are at least two reasons why Choi decided to change from the iron set that brought him a $1.7 million payday and a new level of fame in the golf world. First, he received information that parallel tip shafts were not generally played on the PGA Tour, which made him interested in trying taper tip shafts. Second, he changed because he was in the process of trying out different iron heads and shaft combinations that he thought might improve on the results of the Miura set he used to win The Players.

When Choi changed to a taper tip shaft, he was forced to use a softer flex to give him the trajectory he wanted. While this resulted in the desired higher flight, he lost consistency and control.

Science or art?

Talking about Choi’s golf clubs in terms of shaft frequency, spin rate and launch angle creates the assumption that his swing is always the same. While Choi does have one of the most consistent golf swings on Tour, even he falls in and out of bad habits. That’s why it’s Choung’s belief that no matter how technically sound a golfer’s fundamentals are, the golf swing is still an organic movement.

“When [golfers] change clubs, what they are really doing is changing their swing,” Choung said. “More than anything, they are inducing a change in tempo and rhythm.”

So it’s no surprise to Choung that Choi has returned to his Miura CB-501 irons with parallel tip shafts. He was struggling during the time he was playing Cleveland and Ping irons, shooting only two rounds in the 60s during that period. Last week, when he returned to the Miuras, he shot two rounds in the 60s and finished tied for 39th. It wasn’t a huge improvement, but it was his best finish in relation to par since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January.

Choung said that Choi’s performance since switching back to parallel tip shafts might have improved because of the increased tip diameter of parallel tip shafts — .370 inches instead of the .355 inch tip that taper tip shafts offer. So why don’t more Tour pros opt for parallel tip shafts if they offer more stability? According to Choung, it’s because parallel tip shafts are much more labor intensive to build. Choung and his staff at CompuGolf can build a set of taper tip shafts in about 30 minutes, while it takes them about three hours to build a set of parallel tip shafts.

A lot of independent club builders and even Tour vans can’t justify spending extra time to create frequency-matched sets either, but Choung’s research has shown the value in it. Because of the chaotic nature of the shaft industry, where one industry’s stiff flex is another’s x-flex, Choung places huge value in frequency matching, which streamlines the frequency throughout the set. For example, Choi’s driver shaft frequency, the base measurement Choung uses to find the frequencies for the rest of his clubs, is 271. As shaft length decrease, however, frequency must increase to match. Choung and his team did testing of exactly how many cycles frequency should increase as the shaft shortens .5 inches, and their researched concluded that four cycles is best. That’s why Choi’s 4 iron, which measures 38.5 inches, has a frequency of 314, while his 60 degree wedge, which measures 34.5 inches, has a frequency of 334.

So what does all this mean for the average golfer? Even if you don’t swing like Choi, Choung said that there is still good reason to go through a verifiable fitting process, especially processes like his that have an improvement guarantee.

“A lot of golfers come to me and they say I’m hitting my driver well, but can’t hit my irons,” Choung said. “Or they say that they’re hitting their irons well and can’t hit their driver. Often there’s a total mismatch between the driver and the irons. They’ve adapted their swings to either the driver or the irons.”

If you still can’t be swayed to go through a custom-fitting process, Choung has this advice for you. The club that you liked demoing so much – buy it. But don’t order it. Buy that exact club. Because chances are, the one you order will be slightly different.

Click here for more discussion in the “Clubmaking” forum.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. John

    Sep 19, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Jon, oftentimes players prefer softer wedges as they are not making full/all-out swings with those clubs. They are looking for more feel and control in the short, scoring shots. For this reason, we often build the wedges a little softer than the rest of the set.

  2. Jon

    Jul 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I don’t understand the math. If 4 cycles per 0.5 inches is the rate, how do we go from a 38.5″ 4 iron at 314 cpm to a 34.5″ wedge at 334 cpm? Four inches is eight one-half inches, times 4 cycles, is 32 cycles. 314+32=346, not 334. The article makes no sense.

  3. Michael

    Jun 8, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Old news from the building stand point. I try to avoid using taper tip shafts, since you can’t make a set with a correct frequency slope. You would have to have to many sets in your workshop, to do it right and you would have to through away to many shafts, that just don’t fit into a matched set. This is why I always try to work with parallel tips.

  4. Tim

    May 17, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Mike, Really? That my friend, is how you frequency match a set of clubs.

  5. Ian

    May 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Bill Choung does great work. He did several clubs for me in Dallas years ago as well as clubs for many of my friends….the work was always first class

  6. Mike Krzewsky

    May 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I heard this guy is not all that great and he had originally messed up KJ’s clubs by cutting the tip end instead of the butt end.

  7. Brian Cass

    May 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

    This is why Villegas and McDowell have struggled after seemingly nonsensical equipment changes (McDowell wins at Pebble then takes a signing bonus to Srixon…where’s he been of late?) Villegas wins Honda then switches to TMade (where’s he been of late???).

  8. Sam

    May 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Had that exact same thing done several years ago to a set (frequency matched parallel tip shafts installed). Initially felt soft but played some marvelous rounds with them. Went back to tapered tips and regretted selling the set ever since.

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Equipment

How far do you really hit your driving iron? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing driving irons. WRXer ‘ Dufner’s Waggle’ kicks off the thread, saying:

“I have been through SIM UDI, U510, HMB, U85, CB ProH…I just don’t hit driving irons very straight or very far. I’ll have a day where I stripe it, but on the whole it’s not really giving me accuracy or a ton of distance. Maybe 225-230 at MOST.”

And our members have been revealing the driving iron they use and what distance they get out of it consistently.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Gsea: “My driving iron is a Mizuno True 2 iron. Hit it 200-210. Strictly for tight short par 4s. Love the trajectory.”
  • MtlJeff: “I have a G400 crossover at 20 degrees, I hit it about 225 or so.”
  • COL_B: “I’ve been playing a Srixon U65 18* that I hit 220-235. I can hit it further, but high spin kills it. The Miyazaki Stiff shaft has too much flex, and when I try to really turn on one, it is a hook machine. I recently got a TM TP UDI 2 iron with a C-Taper Lite 110 S that matches my irons. It is 2 in shorter than the Srixon and goes about the same distance, but with a lower spin, and lower trajectory. Carry is 220-225, but it will roll out further than the Srixon if the fairways are dry. The thing is that I really don’t want it to go any further, as I use it on dogleg Par 4s and par 5s where a 250-yard shot gets you in trouble. Straight is the priority with the DI, which is my the Srixon is out of the bag until I get around to reshafting it.”
  • SUPERG: “19 P790 3 iron bent strong 1 degree. C taper 130X same as my irons. It’s going 250 after roll, my fave club. I hit my driver maybe 3 times a round; I hit my 3 iron everywhere else. Just way more reliable!”

Entire Thread: “How far do you really hit your driving iron?”

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Equipment

The most popular golf balls on Amazon right now

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Editor’s note: Items accurate as of author’s search of Amazon Best Sellers “Standard Golf Balls,” September 17 at 9 a.m. ET. Search conducted from Ireland of Amazon.com. Per Amazon, the results are updated hourly. 


What are the most popular golf balls on Amazon right now? From time to time, we like to get out of our little bubble of OEM releases and what’s being played on tour to look at what golf consumers are buying on one of the largest online retail marketplaces: Amazon.

Here are some of the best-selling golf balls on Amazon as of September 2020. (Prices per dozen unless noted)

1. Callaway Golf Supersoft Golf Balls

Callaway’s Supersoft golf balls are currently the most popular option amongst Amazon consumers this summer

From the listing:The Callaway Superset is a long, straight distance ball that’s incredibly soft. An ultra low compression core promotes fast ball speed and increased accuracy. New Low Drag HEX Aerodynamics are optimized to reduce drag and enhance lift for longer carry and longer distance. A new softer Trigonometry cover formulation has a low compression for enhanced feel and increased greenside control.”

Price: $22.99

Buy here.

2. TaylorMade Distance Plus Golf Balls

TaylorMade’s Distance Plus balls designed to provide maximum speed and low spin are second on the list

From the listing: “React core – low spin – high speed. Has 342 aero dimple pattern. Low drag aerodynamic design”

Price: $11.97

Buy here.

3. GoSports Foam Golf Practice Balls

Foam practice golf balls so you can practice without worrying about breaking much!

From the listing: Set of 16 sturdy foam golf balls so you can safely practice at home, indoors or outdoors. Golf balls feature a realistic dimple texture showing the true trajectory of shots with limited flight.”

Price: $9.99

Buy here.

4. Bridgestone Golf e12 Soft Golf Balls

Bridgestone’s e12 soft golf balls feature the brand’s Delta Wing Dimple pattern designed for less drag and smoother airflow

From the listing: “12 SOFT features the Active Acceleration Mantle which is comprised of a new High Performance Polymer material with added surfactant that creates increased thrust and higher initial ball velocity at impact. The e12 SOFT utilizes Bridgestone’s patented Delta Wing Dimple pattern for less drag and smoother airflow when the ball is in flight. The enhanced aerodynamics increase the straight distance properties of e12 SOFT.”

Price: $29.97

Buy here.

5. TaylorMade Rocketballz Golf Balls (Three Dozen)

TaylorMade’s ultra-soft Rocketballz are a popular product amongst golfers who shop on Amazon

From the listing:The package height of the product is 2 inches. The package length of the product is 10.5 inches. The package width of the product is 3.5 inches”

Price: $34.99

Buy here.

6. TaylorMade Noodle Long & Soft Golf Balls (24)

Another TaylorMade addition to the list with the brand’s Noodle ‘Long and Soft’ balls claiming sixth spot

From the listing:Durable and soft iothane cover. Impact propulsion core for longer carry. Great feel and increased spin around the greens. Patented dimple design for straighter flight.”

Price: $21.99

Buy here.

7. Callaway Golf ERC Soft Triple Track

Callaway’s ERC Soft Triple Track golf balls designed for optimal alignment continue to be a popular seller amongst golfers

From the listing:ERC soft is our longest callaway golf ball with soft feel. A graphene infused dual soft fast core maximizes compression energy while minimizing driver spin and promoting high launch for long distance. New triple track technology helps to improve alignment compared to a regular side stamp alignment aid.”

Price: $34.97

Buy here.

8. Bridgestone 2019 e6 Golf Balls

Just like the brand’s e12 balls, the e6 balls promising excellent distance from all shots take their spot on the hot list

From the listing:Engineered for Consistency. Improved Aerodynamics for Added Distance. Soft Feel, Long Distance. Soft Golf Ball that also Provides Long Distance.”

Price: $21.97

Buy here.

9. Polara Self Correcting 2-Piece Golf Balls

Self correcting golf balls? These balls aim to help prevent you slicing or hooking the golf ball!

From the listing:Polara Ultimate Straight Self Correcting Golf Balls are for the golfer whose problem is significant and persistent hooking or slicing off the tee. The unique 2-piece construction consists of a central core and an outer cover. HOW IT WORKS: From the tee, point the arrow on the ball directly at your target, or line it up with the center of the fairway. From the fairway, play the ball “as it lies” or re-adjust the ball orientation so the arrow again points at your target.”

Price: $44.95

Buy here.

10. TaylorMade TP5x Golf Balls

TaylorMade’s TP5x golf balls complete the Amazon hot list for some of the best-selling balls this summer

Price: $43.99

Buy here.

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: KristianJ

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Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on the GolfWRX front page. Since then, our members have been responding in numbers!

Now it’s time to take a look at the bag of KristianJ.

*Full details on the submission process can be found here, and you can submit your WITB in this forum thread.*

Member: KristianJ

KristianJ WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M5 Tour (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Whiteboard 73 X (44.75″)

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM Titanium (14 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 70 TX (43.25″)

Irons: Mizuno MP18 MMC Fli Hi (3, 4), Mizuno MMC (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 (hardstepped x 1)

Wedges: Cleveland RTX-3 Raw (50-10, 56-11, 60-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Lite 110 S

Putter: TaylorMade Ardmore 3 Black Copper, 35″

Putter Grip: Super Stroke Pistol

Bag: Titleist 14 way hybrid stand bag

Golf Ball: Taylormade TP5

Get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing more and more of them on our front page over the coming days and weeks.

Feel free to make it your own too by including some thoughts on your setup, your age, handicap, etc. Anything you feel is relevant!

Share your WITBs here.

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