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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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News

Paul Casey IS testing Honma irons (but he IS NOT a Honma staffer)

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paul-casey-honma-iron-pc

It turns out, Paul Casey is not the second PGA Tour staffer (after Justin Rose) to sign with Honma.

Two weeks ago, the Englishman sent the golf equipment world was sent into a frenzy when a photo of him with an apparent Honma iron in play at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Casey took to Instagram to confirm that he did in fact have a Honma 3-iron in play. However, well, here it is from the horse’s mouth…

“Still testing these beauties. Contrary to reports I started the season with almost the exact same setup that I used during the latter half of last year. Including the Ryder Cup. The only change being a new @honmagolf 3 iron that was photographed in play at Kapalua”

“These beauties” would seem to include a full set of Rose Proto-esque irons (with “PC” stamping instead of “Rose Proto”). It seems the 3-iron was Honma’s TW-U Forged utility iron.

With respect to his setup from last season, Casey played a combo set of Mizuno MP-25 irons (3) and MP-5 irons (4-PW). TaylorMade woods, Vokey Wedges, and a Scotty Cameron putter rounded out his set, which you can see here.

Casey has been without a full bag deal since his 2016 Nike deal (although he was under contract to play TaylorMade woods in 2017).

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Morning 9: Kuchar’s “Not a story” still a story | LPGA commish pushing for pay parity | Grassy shoe

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 15, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Further thoughts on Kuchar, caddie payola
Whether Kuchar stiffed El Toucan or not, the story is far from dead…especially in light of at least one additional pro suggesting Kuch has a reputation for…thriftiness.
  • Here’s a bit from Geoff Shackelford, who quotes a Joel Beall piece and offers his own perspective.
  • “Does this constitute a story? That’s the question GolfDigest.com’s Joel Beall asks and does a nice job answering after a fellow golf pro called out what he saw as Matt Kuchar’s substandard pay to a caddie last fall.
  • “(Beall writes…) Kuchar’s case, however, felt different, for it wasn’t a tip as it was wages owed. The optics alone-a veteran with $46 million in career earnings low-balling a man who makes less than $46,000 a year-were damning. That Gillis’ previous blast of Ben Crane over an unpaid bet to Daniel Berger proved accurate wasn’t helping, nor was Australian pro Cameron Percy’s reply of, “It’s not out of character if true.”
  • “The irony in this escapade like other recent episodes cited by Beall: this was started and fueled by one of Kuchar’s peers, not a media outlet. …As players have increasingly shunned media for social media to break news or tell their story, it’s fascinating how many examples we’ve already seen of players calling out fellow players on social media in ways more harsh and reputation-damaging than a traditional media outlet would dare.”

Full piece (including a link to Beall’s article)

2. Oda overcomes
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine writes…”John Oda overcame a double bogey Monday to maintain his lead at the Web.com Tour’s season opener.”
  • “The UNLV product offset his double on the par-4 fifth hole with six birdies as part of a second-round, 4-under 68. At 13 under, Oda leads the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay by two shots over Marty Dou, who carded a second-round 66.”
  • “For the second straight day, play was suspended because of darkness. Three groups will have to finish their second rounds Tuesday morning…”
3. Glass half full/half empty
A Reuters report identifies two things: the LPGA Tour will feature its largest collective purse ever this year, and that pursue is nowhere near what PGA Tour players will play for.
“The LPGA season kicks off on Thursday for a season that will comprise 34 events and distribute some $70 million in prize money, a record amount for the circuit although it is still barely one-fifth on offer on the PGA Tour.”
  • “The discrepancy roughly parallels the difference in television ratings in the United States between the tours, according to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, with the women mainly shown on the smaller audience Golf Channel while the men’s circuit is broadcast on free-to-air network television.”
  • “The difference in purses is the difference in total viewership,” Whan told Reuters in a television interview ahead of the Tournament of Champions season opener that will be held in Florida.
  • “There is a real business reason. It’s based on real data. I understand it. I was a sponsor before a commissioner.
  • “It doesn’t mean I like it, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Seven or eight years ago it wouldn’t have been one fifth. We’re up 80 percent in purses since 2010.”
4. Hosung Choi to make PGA Tour debut?
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Hosung Choi, a two-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and internet sensation, is set to make his first PGA Tour appearance of his career after being handed an invitation to compete at next month’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, according to multiple Korean media outlets.”
5. Spieth the victim?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell argues that the real-time stats, day trader mentality, and abundance of scrutiny have combined for a hyperfocus on the putting stroke of one Jordan Spieth. And it’s hard to believe this is doing him any favors.
  • “Is former Tiger coach Hank Haney’s opinion that there’s a yip in Spieth’s putting stroke a short-term liability, or a long-term one? Are Spieth’s back-to-back MCs a trend or an anomaly?”
  • “Coach Sean Foley said Woods was subject to daily referendums when he worked with him.”
  • “Tiger isn’t alone anymore as the subject of intense inspection on web sites, in reader commentaries, Twitter and podcasts. The growing volume of opinion may well be good for the game, nurturing — or inflaming — interest like never before, but it comes at a price for players struggling to reverse a trend. There’s more pressure to produce results than ever before, and to produce them more quickly, before negative opinion becomes tsunamic.”
  • “Fans are more invested in players, with so many more opportunities to follow them online. The PGA Tour’s live streaming allows fans to isolate their viewing of their favorites through an entire round. That’s only going to grow.”
6. What we learned at the Sony
Looking back at the tournament that was, our Ronald Montesano has some observations.
  • “Shorter and Strategic will always have a place on tour…Courses like Waialae (restored by Doak and team) and Harbor Town offer less-than-long hitters an opportunity to showcase their talents. Remember last fall’s Ryder Cup? Team Europe neutralized the length advantage of the USA at Le Golf National, and rolled to victory. Great courses from a bygone era will charm  competitors and fans alike, and the essence of proper golf course architecture will never fade from fashion.”
  • “Ryder Cup snubs lead to resurgence…Last week, we discussed the Xander Schauffele snub by USA Ryder Cup team captains. This week, the veteran most expected to make the team (Kuchar) won a second time since that international competition. Nothing sparks the competitive fires like being told that you aren’t good enough. Kuchar’s multiple international caps weren’t enough to secure a spot in France, but he is playing like he wants Tiger Woods (2019 President’s Cup captain) to know that he plans to return to Team USA pronto. We think that the fans support his cause.”
7. Valentino Dixon to exhibit in NYC
Rightly, Golf Digest’s Max Adler with the story...”…you might say Dixon’s true arrival into the professional art scene occurs this week. January 17-20, doors open to the 27th Outsider Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York. Alongside 67 exhibitors representing 37 cities from 7 countries, will hang the golf landscapes whose creation subsisted the soul of an innocent artist locked inside a cell.
  • “To have my drawings showcased in New York City, the art capital of the world, it’s a dream come true,” Dixon says. “I feel like this is redemption for my teachers at the Buffalo Performing Arts High School. For so long I had let them down.”
8. Two holes-in-one in four holes?
Tony Korologos at Hooked on Golf...”So what are the odds of getting two aces in one round? How about two aces on the front nine? This past weekend at the Coral Canyon Amateur tournament in St. George, Utah, Kirk Siddens did just that…”
  • “The odds of two golfers in a group making an ace on the same hole is 26 million to 1. The odds of making back to back aces are around 50 million to 1. So somewhere in there lies the odds of one golfer getting a hole in one in four holes, or two consecutive par 3’s. I say let’s call it 37.75 million to 1.”
9. Air Max 1 golf shoe: grass edition
Golf Digest’s Brittany Romano…”Sneaker News leaked Nike’s newest golf shoe drop that has everyone talking. The star design features a green grass shoe with what appears to be a turf-like covering. The “grass” is complemented by a thick white midsole and throwback rubber outsole. The shoe is a remix of the iconic Air Max 1 sneaker that became popular in 1987 as the first shoe to feature visible air pockets in the midsole.”
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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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19th Hole

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