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Charles Howell III on his switch to Titleist equipment, the ups and downs of the game, and more

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With his win at the RSM Classic, all golf fans by now well know that Charles Howell III ended an 11-year victory drought.

What may be equally as interesting for GolfWRX Members, however, is that the Georgia native did so just a month after totally overhauling his golf bag, switching to 13 Titleist clubs and a prototype 2019 Pro V1 ball.

The presumptive 2019 Titleist signee talked to our Johnny Wunder about the switch and what it was like to go winless for so long.

JW: Charlie, welcome back to the winner’s circle, my friend.

CH III: I appreciate it…I made it as hard as I could, but fortunately, I found a way there.

JW: There was a transition that happened before this — we’ll call it a month ago — into a whole new bag of Titleist equipment. So, the first quest I have is, “What prompted the change, and how difficult was that process for you?”

CH III: When I look at my career, and where I’m at in my career, I thought that, the most important thing for me going forward is my driver and 3-wood. Where, the way that the game is changing, I’ve got to find something that I can hit as far as possible, but also straight…I know that I’m not going to drive the bar as far as Cameron Champ, but I need to maximize whatever I can do. So going through the process of testing a lot of things, it was very clear that the TS drivers really did that for me. My ball speed went up. My overall dispersion pattern became closer together. Really, it was a home run.

Now, we spent a bit of time testing. I know that I wore J.J. [VanWezenbeeck, Titleist Tour Rep] out. But, by the end of the process, I had a TS2 and a TS3 that I could have played in a golf tournament, and it was a flip of a coin really on which one to use. Not a lot of guys can say that about companies, where you can play either model, but for sure, that was the case there.

JW: Well, let’s talk a little bit about the TS2 and the TS3. You had both drivers ready to cook for the tournament, but what was the deciding factor?

CH III: The TS2 is a driver where you can just tee it up and hammer it. It’s going to go very straight, and the ball isn’t going to curve a whole lot. It’s very easy to launch. The TS3 was a driver where, if I get a hole where I need to work it a little bit left to right, or a little right to left to go with the slope of the fairway, or a crosswind, for me, it was a little bit easier to do that with the TS3, and that’s why I ultimately ended up there.

If I’m playing everyday golf at home with my buddies, and I want a driver with which I can just swing as hard as I can and hammer it, then I’m going to go to that TS2 all day.

JW: I noticed in the driver you have the [Mitsubishi] Tensei AV Blue [65]. Is that personal preference, or is that what tested out?

CH III: That’s just what tested out. We were having this conversation earlier about driver shafts; there’s so many of them out there, and there’s so many companies, and it’s really difficult to know what’s what. What we wanted to do is start with something that’s familiar, and it ended up actually testing out fantastic — we were getting the launch and the spin numbers that we were after, so there was no reason to…go down a rabbit hole.

JW: You have a very interesting set makeup now. You have a T-MB 4-iron, but then you go AP2 in 5, 6, 7, and then the CB in your shorter irons…talk to me about the strategy.

CH III: I grew up playing cavity back clubs my whole life. I’ve always been a proponent of some forgiveness down there and some help down there. The big reason for the [718] CB in the short irons had to do with offset, and that’s strictly a personal preference. I wanted some help down there…but I didn’t want a lot of offset, so the CB…fit that perfectly.

The T-MB 4-iron, that thing is so easy to get up in the air, it’s incredible. That, for me, and for every golfer out there, they need a T-MB 3, 4, and 5-iron, because they are so easy to get up in the air. It really is awesome, the technology of that club.

JW: Let’s talk about the golf ball. You go from a 2017 Pro V1x and you transition into the new Pro V1 proto…

CH III: I loved everything about the Pro V1x ball off the driver and the 3-wood. Now, when the [2019 Pro V1] came out, what I found out was that I gave up no ball speed whatsoever, but I picked up a little bit of a softer feel and a little more spin around the greens. So for me, right away that was a home run.

Now, I say that knowing that touch and feel around the green is highly player dependent. For me, I prefer a bit of a softer feel…I could find you 10 guys who prefer a firmer Pro V1x feel around the greens…but the cool thing was that I didn’t give up any ball speed with the driver whatsoever.

JW: Let’s talk a little bit about the last 11 years. We talked a little bit on the podcast with you about expectations and what you went through to get back to the winner’s circle. Just kind of man to man, how difficult was it at times. — knowing how good you are and being such an amazing player and then going on a drought like that — how difficult was that?

CH III: You know, there were a lot of times where I questioned everything I did from how I practiced, to how I prepared, to who I worked with…just everything. And eventually, I got to a point where I sat down with Grant Waite and Dana Dahlquist who I work with, and John Graham on short game, and I said, “OK, guys, do we really think that I’m doing this the right way?” And through some discussions…the answer was, “yes.” And [I said] let’s just stay the course. Let’s just keep doing this.

Golf’s a funny game. In Mexico, I missed the cut there, and I thought I played close to every bit as good as I did at Sea Island. I just didn’t quite score as well. That shows you how razor thin-edged this game is. You miss a cut, then you win a golf tournament.

I think the most challenging part of the game is staying the course with stuff that you truly believe in and giving it time to work out, because it’s such a results driven game, and you want results yesterday. Between social media and the way golf is covered now, it’s “results, results, results.” I think the challenge is to stay patient amongst all that.

JW: For you, as I mentioned a while back, getting that first one, it’s almost like winning for the first time again in a weird way. Once that first one inspires the confidence, you’re off to the races. Now that you’ve got that behind you…are you looking at your schedule in a different way or is it just week to week?

CH III: A little bit of both. I’ve got the tournaments that I like. I’ll still play a bunch on the West Coast because I like the West Coast…I’ll tell you the one thing I hope comes out of this is that if I get in position to win a tournament on Sunday, I’ll be that much more comfortable, and I’ll be that much more trusting in what I do. I’ll just play normal golf, and I won’t try to do more of anything, and hopefully that continues to evolve, etc.

But that to me is what I’m most curious to find out: When and if I get into that position again, will I feel a little bit more, let’s say, comfortable or different?

JW: Cool. Last question: You’re with Titleist. Big company. Historic company. But now you kind of have access to Vokey, Aaron Dill, Scotty Cameron, what’s it like walking into that scenario where you have access to those clubmakers and designers? Was that an attraction? Was that part of the decision to go to Titleist?

CH III: Well it is, right? I have a leading expert in every field. I can lean on their experience. I can aggravate the daylights out of them. I’m at a point in my career where I want to play good golf, and if these guys are able to help me find a half-of-a-percent advantage, well then…over the course of a year, it matters.

[For example] Aaron Dill’s expertise and changing bounce on wedges in different situations and conditions. Those things I’m really looking forward to…and I’m going to learn a lot in this process too. These guys have been around a long time, and they’ve helped a lot of world-class players, so I’m going to learn a bit.

JW: I’ve got to ask this question or the GolfWRX Members will kill me. When’s that 14th Titleist club going to pop in there…a Scotty Cameron?

CH III: Now this off season, I’ll have more time work with different things…we’ll continue to work on that, and we’ll get that part handled.

JW: Well, Charlie, on behalf of GolfWRX and everybody else, that was a really, really, ridiculously popular win. You’re good for the game, I’m so happy that you won. Go kick some butt and have a great holiday, and we’ll look forward to watching you in 2019.

CH III: You guys, as well, have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I do appreciate it. I know that all the GolfWRX Members understand the difficulty of the game and the challenges of it it. I hope I carry myself in a way where people understand that I know the difficulty of the game, and I can appreciate the ups and downs. I thank everyone and hope everybody has a great holiday.

RELATED: See the clubs Charles Howell III used to win the RSM Classic

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. stephenf

    Dec 4, 2018 at 2:09 am

    Hard finding anybody who doesn’t root for Howell.

  2. Dennis

    Nov 21, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Really glad to see CH3 win again. He’s always been a class act. I live on St. Simons and I could kick myself for not going out again on Sunday.

  3. hrfdez

    Nov 21, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Nice interview and nice to see Mr. Wunder didn’t go on a low road journey trashing Bob Parsons and PXG.

    • benseattle

      Nov 21, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Perhaps he didn’t “trash” Parsons and PXG, but in fact we didn’t even get a CLUE as to why he left. Seems just more than a month ago, Charles Howell was on the “Gear Dive” singing the praises of PXG stuff and now a sudden, unexpected switch. A switch that Johnny Wunder didn’t come CLOSE to exploring. Sad.

  4. Jim

    Nov 21, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Congratulations Chucky! Great to see you in the winner’s circle again.

  5. golfraven

    Nov 21, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    For my part can say that the T-MB is a great club as 4 or 3 iron. I am loving it and the TS3. So happens I have same shaft and loft. CH3 suits Titleist ans vice versa. My type of guy.

  6. Jack Nash

    Nov 21, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Great that Charles finally got that win. Question: they say he’s slowly getting away from the mechanical swing mechanism he worked at for years. Does anyone here think that being a Leadbetter student actuall held him back? I do.

  7. Curt

    Nov 21, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Way to go CH3!!! Love seeing a humble hard working guy get his due.

  8. Connor Jones

    Nov 21, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Love CH3’s game and super happy to see him back in the winner’s circle! Will be interesting to see what Scotty will be gamed next year if one at all

  9. Thomas A

    Nov 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Class man. So happy for him.

  10. Tom

    Nov 21, 2018 at 12:26 am

    He moved away from the big “screwy” windbag brand…..smart!

  11. Patrick P

    Nov 21, 2018 at 12:02 am

    Chucky 3 sticks is the man. Very humble. Glad he won again.

  12. Tim Scott

    Nov 20, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Chucky 3 sticks is the man……swing is so smooth, and he has a heart for the game. Like his thought process in his clubs is second to none. He’s one of us, hopefully his newfound comfort level leads to a few more wins before he hangs it up.

  13. Pete Douglas

    Nov 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Nice Ad!

    • Frederick

      Nov 21, 2018 at 9:05 am

      This guy hasn’t won in 11 years and wins a month after switching equipment companies and putting in, with the exception of the putter, all new clubs. That’s extremely interesting and something most here would love to know more about. Not to mention that CH3 has long been an fan of this site. Not everything is a conspiracy…..

      • Benny

        Nov 21, 2018 at 7:32 pm

        Well said Frederick and Pete. Great ad, loved the interview. It does show how much equipment and balls have to do with that level. Didn’t Charl Schwartzel win when he switched? Look at the balls, only really see Prov, TP5 and BStone winning. Its crazy!

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Rating the Zurich Classic walk-up songs

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On Saturday at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, for the second year, teammates are choosing walk-up songs for their first tee ball.

There is some good, some bad, and some painfully predictable. The teams are dynamic enough, but seeing their song selection really brings a new level of personal insight. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the hits.

The Good

Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly: As Good as I Once Was – Toby Keith

This is, perfect. All I see is an Italian chef kissing their hands to this selection, sheer perfection. Self deprecation, confidence and an overall great song. I have to imagine Jerry Kelly came up with this and Stricker tried to argue he’s still in his prime.

Tommy Fleetwood/Sergio Garcia: Radio Gaga – Queen

Queen, so hot right now. Winner of nearly every Oscar, these Ryder Cup teammates kept it current with Queen while selecting a deeper cut. Somewhere, Francesco Molinari is looking at Instagram posts of this pairing and wondering what went wrong.

The Local:

Stephen Jaeger/J.T. Poston: Callin’ Baton Bouge – Garth Brooks

Roberto Castro/Cameron Tringale – Born on the Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival

As long as nobody googled, “songs about New Orleans” prior to selection, these are fair game and a sure fan favorite on number one.  What are the real chances any of these guys have ever heard these songs prior to Saturday? 10%? I have to assume smooth, hotel elevator jazz not available?

Bubba Watson/JB Holes – When the Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong

Now we’re talking. This is my favorite of the locals group. Perfectly awkward yet funny Bubba. Can’t you just picture Bubba dancing like the WB frog with a top hat on while teeing up? “You’re welcome.”

The On-Brand

Henrik Stenson/Graeme McDowell: Wake Me Up – Avicii

Swedish, check. Banger, check. Sentimental value, check (Avicii passed tragically just over a year ago). Potential to turn the bleachers into a full rave, check. My money is on the rhythmic three-wood of Henrik Stenson all weekend and my personal favorite song of the lot.

Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka: Bad Boys for Life – P. Diddy

This is somehow hilarious and terrifying at the exact same time. Something about brotherhood makes this song hit even more. If Brooks and Chase are not wearing black sunglasses strutting to the tee in Nike schmediums, just call the whole thing off. (Would have liked to see Brooks choose “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, because you know, he really likes baseball better).

Adam Scott/Jason Day: Suicide Blonde – INXS

The Aussies stick together, and stick with their bands. That is truly all I know about this song so I’ll move on.

Padraig Harrington/Shane Lowry: I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphy’s

Not sure if this leads to good golf or a good round of irish car bomb’s, or just one followed by the other. Either way, a near certainty that this is the first time this song was selected by a sober person, for a sober group.

The Bizzare

Carlos Ortiz/Sebastian Munoz: Ground Theme – Super Mario Bros.

While this should be funny, I can’t help but assume they couldn’t think of any good songs, or have vastly different tastes in music. Great in theory but imagine following Bad Boys for Life with Mario sound effects., and then being outdriven by 30 yards.

The Hazards to Spectators

John Rahm/Ryan Palmer: Enter Sandman – Metallica

Exactly what John Rahm needs on the first tee. Metallica.

The Biased

Kenny Perry/Josh Teater – Renegade – Styx

As a die-hard Steelers fan, I’m unfit to judge this. (The Steelers play Renegade as a pump-up in the fourth quarter and it works against players not named Tom Brady). With that being said, if Kenny Perry is able to time up contact with the hard-hitting drums in this song, he might blast it a country mile.

The Off the Grid

Pat Perez/Jason Dufner: Bazanji – 2019

I had very high expectations for these two. Personality for days. I could see Perez with an entire room for his music collection, and Jordan’s. To be transparent, I had to google the song. It is however, as expected, a jam. Only these two could be cooler than the entire song selection process.

The Just Why

Baby Shark – Pinkfong
Joel Dahmen/Brandon Harkins
Michael Kim/C.T. Pan

I’m not going to even research it, but there’s simply no way any of these four have children. If they did, the last thing they want reminded of on the first tee is their one-year-old crying at 5:00 a.m. for Baby Shark (do doo do do do do). However, LET’S GO HUNT, is a great mindset for golf. So there’s that.

The Eye on the Prize

Andrew Putnam/Max Homa – Trophies – Drake

Speaking of a good mentality… This crew chose an underrated Drake song with a perfect vibe and first note. Homa might be the funniest and best golf follow on Twitter, and even he went for swagger over humor. When your song is literally called trophies, your odds have to improve slightly.

The Basic

Old Town Road – Lil Nas X
Troy Merrit/Robert Streb
Harold Varner III/Tom Lovelady
Colt Knost/Boo Weekly
Adam Schenk/Tyler Duncan

Hate to see it. Each one of these teams even thought for a moment, this will be great, it’s viral and ironic. Just hate to see it.

For the record, if I was any good at golf and had a partner who obliged, I’d select Mac Miller’s The Spins, because Mac is the best and the first verse is as good as Hip Hop gets.

You can take a look at the full list for yourself here 

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Wednesday’s photos from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational

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GolfWRX is live from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club, which will be contested April 26-28. Past winners of the amateur event include Justin Thomas and Emiliano Grillo.

Denny Glass, chairman of the Terra Cotta Invitational, was kind enough to give us a little more information about the tournament.

For GolfWRX members who aren’t familiar, tell me a little bit about the tournament and its history

Glass: The Terra Cotta Invitational began in 1996 and was originally a combination stroke play/match play event. 20 players were invited and they played 36 holes of stroke play then the top four finishers went on to match play with the others playing an 18 hole consolation match.

I changed it to a 54-hole stroke play event with 50 players in 2006 when I took over as Tournament Chair. This was done to be eligible for Titleist/Golfweek Amateur Ranking Points. The field increased over the years and now has 75-81 players. The tournament is now ranked as a “B” level event in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) run by the USGA and R&A. This ranking is one level below the top-ranked events in the world. The WAGR rankings are based on the strength of the field so we are proud to be ranked so highly.

As it’s an invitational tournament, can you tell me a bit about who gets invited in general and who’s in the field this year, specifically? Tournament format?

Glass: It is an invitational so we invite as many of the top-ranked amateur players as are available. The field consists of many juniors (up to age 18), mid-amateurs (19-25) and some seniors (50+), along with collegiate players. While it is an invitational, we still receive more than 150 applications to play.

Can you talk about the host course and the relationship with Naples National?

The tournament is played at Naples National Golf Club. The tournament was started by the membership back in 1996. The club opened in 1993. The club hosted the World Championship of Golf, which was an LPGA event in its second year.

I know the charitable impact is important. Can you tell us about that?

The net proceeds are donated to Naples based children’s focused charities. The tournament has donated over $517,000 since it began.

Wednesday’s photos

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Winner of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge to receive a 1973 Dodge Challenger Restomod

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Under new sponsorship, the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge which takes place at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, will have a special prize on offer for its champion – a fully restored and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger.

The vehicle pays homage to the year which Schwab Corporation was founded and is equipped with tartan fabric seats and custom glacier blue paint. The car will serve as a complement to the Leonard Trophy and tartan jacket awarded each year at the tournament.

Charles Schwab worked in collaboration with Steve Strope of Pure Vision on the restoration process, and the car will be on display at Colonial throughout the tournament until it is presented to the winner on May 26.

The tournament runs from May 23-26. In 2018, Justin Rose won the event by three strokes.

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