Update: Jimmy Walker’s driver and 3-wood specs added.
Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver Limited Edition 80X (42 inches, tipped 1.5 inches), D1 Swing Weight
3 Wood: Titleist 917F2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver Limited Edition 80X (41.5 inches)
Jimmy Walker had Titleist make him the 42-inch driver that’s in his bag this week at the SBS Tournament of Champions. But before there was that one, there was, well, the “fun” one, as Walker explained at his post-round press conference on Thursday.
“I took it over to my buddy’s house and he wrapped duct tape around it and he hand-sawed it off with a hacksaw,” Walker told the press. “And then we stripped all the tape off it. We didn’t have a shaft cutter. So you’ve got to — with the grip still on — we did it with the grip on, so it doesn’t splinter the shaft. I mean, it was a process. It was actually pretty fun, we just started sawing away on it.
“He goes, ‘How long do you want it?’”
“I said, ‘I want you to cut right here.’ I didn’t know how long it was. I just said, ‘Let’s try this,’ and we went from there. And it was hard to get the weight up. I had to put a lot of lead tape on it to get the weight back up.
“And I built up the grip just a little bit, because you’re a little further down on the shaft. And I have a swing weight machine at home. I lead taped it up and went out and started hitting it.”
Crunching Numbers and Feeling “On”
Walker — who’s leading the tournament after a first-round, bogey-free 65 — shed some interesting light on the way good old-fashioned “feel” and new-fangled number-crunching can shape a pro golfer’s performance these days.
Walker began by talking about his switch to a cut-down, 42-inch driver.
“More fairways is what I’m looking for,” he explained. “And I just feel like I’ve got more control. I feel like the golf swing is better at that length for me, and that’s where I’ve always struggled, the longer the club got.”
Walker’s quest for “more fairways” grew out of a productive consultation he had with Tour stats-guru Mark Broadie.
“You don’t know anything is happening until you get a set of data to look at,” Walker said. “Broadie broke down the year and what he thought, where the anomalies were in the year compared to the first two, three years.”
Walker hadn’t previously worked with Broadie, and his takeway from the “good hour talk” was two-fold: be more aggressive with the flat stick, and get it in the fairway just a little more often.
“If you can hit one more fairway every other round, it’s going to help you out immensely through the course of the year on the strokes gained deal.”
Then Walker turned from hard-headed stat analysis to the crucial intangible of “being on.”
“When you play good, golf feels real easy. I mean, it just does. ‘God, why can’t I do that all the time?’ But you don’t and you can’t. It’s hard.
“But when you’re on and you’re playing well, and your body feels good, you’re in a good frame of mind; you’re there for a reason. It’s because you’re on, and I think you really need to relish that when you’re in that situation and enjoy it. It doesn’t happen a whole lot. I’ve always tried to embrace that and enjoy it. That’s what you’re out here trying to do, is have those chances, and you’ve really got to enjoy it.
“It’s rare you go out and hack it and win a golf tournament. Everybody is too good. You have to be on. I don’t care what anybody says. When you win out here, you’re on.”