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Wishon: What swing weight should your clubs be?

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In a previous article, I discussed the fitting of the shaft weight and mentioned that a discussion about the weight of a golf club should not only include shaft weight, but swing weight as well.

The reason? These two elements are so interrelated, and so important when it comes to helping golfers find clubs that will give them their best tempo, timing, rhythm and of course, their best shots.

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Before I dig in any further, let’s clarify two things:

  • Shaft weight is by far the biggest contributor to the total weight of the club, which is simply a measurement of how heavy a club is.
  • Swing weight is the measurement of the head-weight feel of a club. A club with a heavier swing weight will feel heavier to a golfer than one with a lighter swing weight, because its balance point is closer to the club head.

As with the fitting of the shaft weight, the club fitter also has to evaluate the golfer’s transition force, tempo, strength and any pre-determined feel preference the golfer may have when making the decision of what the swing weight of the clubs needs to be.

Both elements — shaft weight and swing weight — are influenced by the same golfer swing characteristics, which is why good club fitters will fit for both the shaft weight and the swing weight at the same time in the fitting process.

In the actual fitting process, however, the shaft weight comes first. This is because the test clubs required to focus on the fitting of shaft weight and swing weight together have to first be assembled with a shaft that the club fitter deems suitable from his analysis.

Shaft flex and bend-profile design is also important, and I’ll cover that in my next article. It’s why good club fitters think about weight and flex/bend profile simultaneously in the fitting process —  they have to in order to come up with candidate shafts to use in the test club hitting sessions.

Once the club fitter determines a shaft with suitable weight and the best flex/bend profile characteristics for the golfer’s swing characteristics, the matter of fitting for the swing weight is done by having the golfer hit shots with a test club while adding lead tape to the club head. Shot shape, on-center hit results, and certainly the feedback from the golfer are then assessed.

Usually, it goes like this. As the golfer hits shots with the test clubs, the fitter adds lead tape to the clubs heads — about two swing weight points at a time — while observing the ball flight and on-center hit performance.

The fitter is also asking the golfer questions such as:

  • How does your swing tempo/timing feel?
  • Do you sense that you are fighting any tendency to be too quick with your tempo?
  • Do you sense that you have to make more of an effort to swing the club?
  • Do you feel the presence of the club head during the swing enough?
  • Do you feel that the head feels a little too light, too heavy, about right?

The club fitter has to find that point at which the golfer begins to sense either a little better feel or begin to feel that his swing tempo and timing is better for the weight feel of the test clubs. That really is the key of a successful total weight/swing weight fitting — when the golfer does not have to consciously think about his swing tempo and timing.

It just happens.  

And because the swing weight fitting process has to also include the flex/bend profile and weight of the shaft, the fitter knows that he will be switching between the different shafts he has evaluated as suitable for the golfer while he is also performing the “add a little weight at a time to the club head” evaluation to determine the best head weight feel for the golfer.

This is a perfect example of how experienced club fitters will “multi-task” to evaluate separate, but related specs in the fitting process, all at the same time. It’s why good club fitters are good and others are not when it comes to simultaneously evaluating each of these separate but very much related fitting elements.

The goal in the swing weight fitting is to get the golfer to a point where he reports that the club head is starting to feel a little bit too heavy, or the club is starting to require a little more effort to swing than the golfer would prefer. At that point, the club fitter removes a little of the head weight. Then a few more shots are hit to determine if the golfer still senses the head weight feel to be too much, or just right.

It is possible that the golfer never indicates a distinct, positive feel preference for the weight feel of the test club even when the head weight is brought back from a point of feeling too heavy for the golfer. When this happens, the good club fitters know that they need to test the golfer with a different weight shaft and go through the head weight fitting process all over again.

In my previous story, I offered some basic shaft weight fitting guidelines:

  • Strong golfers/aggressive transitions/faster tempos = heavier shaft weights
  • Weaker golfers/smooth transitions/smooth tempos = lighter shaft weights

These are guidelines that work for most golfers, but are not 100 percent set in stone for all golfers.

It is not uncommon for strong/aggressive transition/faster tempo golfers to end up being better fit into lighter shafts, but with a higher swing weight. While it certainly is less common for weaker/smooth transition/smooth tempo golfers to do better with a heavier shaft, it is not impossible.

This is why a very experienced club fitter can be worth his weight in gold. With experience come more situations in which the fitter encounters golfers who deviate from the guidelines.

Good clubfitters also realize that the interaction of shaft weight and swing weight is such that it is always possible to find strong/aggressive transition/faster tempo golfers who achieve their best tempo consistency with a lighter shaft, but with a higher swing weight to prevent the light shaft from making the clubs feel too light in some manner.

After all, there are a lot of tour players who play well with 60-to-65-gram shafts in their drivers and fairway woods. And a heavier head weight feel is how this can happen, even though logic may say that the player is too strong and forceful to be fit into such a lightweight shaft.

Sidebar: MOI Matching as an Alternative to Swing Weight Matched Clubs

Matching all clubs in a set to their MOI has become a viable alternative to swing weight matching for many golfers. MOI matching may also be thought of roughly as building the clubs in a set to progressively increase swing weights from long to short irons in the set.

Candidates for MOI matching over swing weight matching can be golfers who:

  • Go in and out of consistency issues with the irons
  • Suffer from occasional-to-frequent bouts of pulling short iron shots offline
  • Sense less comfort and consistency with the short irons vs other irons in the set

For more information on MOI matching, visit: http://wishongolf.com/clubmakers/matching-golf-clubs-by-moi/

Sidebar: Don’t Get Trapped by a Specific Swing Weight

Remember, swing weight is NOT an actual measurement of weight as are grams, ounces or pounds. Swing weight is an arbitrary measurement of the relationship of weight in a golf club about the 14-inch fulcrum point on a swing weight scale.

When fitting swing weight, good club fitters really know that they are instead fitting for the head weight feel of the golf club. They are trying to find what head weight feel is going to bring about the best swing tempo and shot consistency for the golfer based on the length, shaft weight and grip weight of the clubs. Once that best head weight feel is found for the golfer, then the club fitter can perform a swing weight measurement to have as a guideline for the other clubs in the set, or as a baseline for taking the golfer into an MOI matched set.  

In short, the head weight feel of D2 in a club that is 45 inches with a 60-gram shaft and a 50-gram grip is not going to be the same head weight feel as D2 in a club that is 43.5 inches with an 80-gram shaft and 40-gram grip. Thus, golfers should not get locked into a particular swing weight when changing length, shaft weight, or grip weight but rather go through a new investigation into what head weight will bring about the best tempo and timing in the swing.  

Good club fitters know this, so once they choose the best length, shaft weight and grip preferred by the golfer, they fit for the best head weight feel and do not get locked into a specific swing weight.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

26 Comments

26 Comments

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  4. Grace

    Aug 16, 2020 at 10:21 am

    I have Rogue x irons and I had the swing weight checked and every club has a different swing weight. I purchased these crabs new. Is that correct?
    Or should they be the same?

  5. greg

    Jul 14, 2016 at 3:25 am

    great article, Mr. wishon. what is your take on bridging the gap between shaft weights throughout the set. for example most people have a 55 -65 g weight shaft in their drivers and around 100-110g shafts in irons.would golfers in general see an improvement in consistency if there was a smaller difference in shaft weight throughout the set. Sergio Garcia plays a 100+ g shaft in his driver and his irons are in 120g shafts. would I benefit if I went from my 120g iron shafts to 90g shafts so that its not way too different in weight in comparison to my 70g driver shaft ?

  6. Joe

    Jun 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Tom, Great article. I grew up with traditional loft and lie theories that have been blown out of the water and proportion for that matter. I recently had a set of mp 64’s built with KBS tour S. 2degrees flat. Played well with them but they always seemed a little long at STD length as I am only 5-7″. I found myself choking up on most all the irons, including the PW, so I had them cut from the butt end 1/2inch. Love the way they feel as I always wanted a little lighter club, similar to the Cobra cavity backs I played years ago with graphite shafts, but know that I lost significant swing weight. ( most likely D3 to C8 or C9. ) Played a few rounds and love the overall weight but am probably getting a little quick. Is lead tape the answer?

  7. Devon

    Mar 18, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Hi Tom:

    I recently bought a set of Cobra amp cell pro muscle back irons. The clubs are factory swing weight D3 3-9. I am a tall guy (6’5″) with pretty fast club head speed, 115+ for driver, and 4 handicap. I have the DG X100s in the irons, and they are 1/2″ extended. I also have big hands, and have the Lamkin Oversize R.E.L. 3GEN ACE grips, which weigh 78 grams, as opposed to the factory New Decade MC weighing 46.5 g. By referencing another thread on this site (see below), I figure the longer, heavier shafts and heavier grips mean my clubs are 9 SW points lighter than factory, or about a C4. I also see that better players with faster swings might want a heavier swing weight, which means my ideal may be heavier than D3. That same thread suggests I need 2 grams of club head weight for 1 SW point. The way I read this, I need to add at least 18 grams to club head to get back to D3, and more if I want heavier than D3. That seems like a lot of lead tape. Two questions: 1) am I right in my calculation that I would need to add 18 grams to get back to D3 and more for higher than D3; and 2) if I am correct, is it wise to get 18+ grams in the head by adding lead tape, or is there a better way?

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. Super helpful.

    http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/44071-swing-weight-factors-in-relation-to-parts/

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 18, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Devon:

      Once a golfer begins to use very heavy grips or a substantial counterweight in the butt end of the shaft, you pretty much have to throw swingweight measurements out the window and rely strictly on experimenting with the headweight until you reach a point that the head does not feel too light or too heavy during the swing. And once that point is found, then for future reference you can take a swt measurement. But that swt measurement will only be pertinent for your specific combination of length + shaft weight + grip weight.

      When you use a very heavy grip, more times than not if you keep adding weight to the head to get the swingweight back up to what it was with a normal weight grip, the head weight feel will be too heavy. Hence the reason you have to go with a trial and experimentation process to add weight to the head until you get to a point the head weight feel is not too light or too heavy and not really aim at a specific swingweight measurement.

      This by the way, is one of the ways that MOI Matching of clubs can be better than using swingweight . With a very heavy grip, the MOI is not affected all that much because the increase in grip weight is at a point on the club closest to the MOI’s axis of rotation for its measurement. The idea would be to install the heavy grip, then start experimenting with adding weight to the head to set the MOI at the level it was in the clubs before the heavy grip installation. And in this case, you would not be adding all that much weight to the head to get to that same MOI level as before.

      • Devon

        Mar 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

        Tom, thank you so much for responding. I would not have guessed that getting a lot heavier in butt end wouldn’t necessarily mean you have to add a ton of weight to the club head. I will say that, having yet to experiment with adding weight, my clubs actually feel pretty good without any added weight on club head, which would confirm what you are saying in your reply. I’m glad I asked, because I was envisioning this hideous glob of lead tape pasted all over the back of my beautiful new blades, and a 7 iron that weighed as much as a brick, and I was thinking that can’t be right. I’m super excited to go experiment now. Who knows, maybe I’ll even end up with an MOI matched set….:)

        Thanks again.

  8. sam

    Mar 6, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    hey Tom, again a great article.
    whats you thoughts on counterbalancing?
    i have a tank cruiser putter and find the counter weight is great for my stroke so how about the rest of the set?
    is it true with the weight more in the butt end it can help with swing plane? (slight over the top issues) “dropping” it inside a bit more and helping with a smoother transition?
    is it worth putting a weight in the butt of the driver for a trial?
    love to hear you thoughts and if you use this method yourself in certain builds?
    Thanks Tom keep up the great work!!

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 16, 2015 at 10:33 am

      SAM
      Absolutely we and many clubfitters see a very high percentage of golfers improve with the PUTTER when using a heavier counterweight in the butt end of the shaft, one that is most typically 80g to 100g. The effect is to put more weight in the hands to calm down the stroke action more to result in better distance control, a reduction in push/pull tendency and more on center hits for better overall putting consistency. No question about this.
      But with regard to use in full swing clubs, here is really is a trial and experimentation, hit or miss thing. No question some golfers have improved their clubhead speed and release with counterweights in the realm of 20 to 40g in the butt end of their full swing clubs. But we cannot really find a common thread in terms of what swing types are more prone to improvement with a counterweight in the full swing clubs. We’ve seen smooth swingers, slower speed players, aggressive swingers, higher speed players both improve and not improve with a counterweight.

      So for now, until we or someone else finds that common thread to better pinpoint who will and won;t improve from a counterweight in the full swing clubs, it is a matter of try it and see what happens but don’t get bummed if nothing happens.

  9. tlmck

    Mar 6, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Due to physical ailments, I have recently switched to ultralite graphite shafts in all my clubs with a heavier swingweight and am loving it. I take the club back slow with a slight pause at the top, and then just let gravity do the rest. Just effortless, pain free power. Even accounting for the stronger lofts on the new clubs, I have still picked up an honest 4 yards carry with the irons, and about 8 with the driver. My accuracy has not suffered either. I had actually tried swingweights down in the mid C range at first, but that seemed to required more effort to keep on target.

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 6, 2015 at 10:15 am

      TIMCK
      Absolutely a perfect example of how finding the right head feel does contribute to better swing timing and from it, the ability to maximize clubhead speed potential and shot consistency !! That’s precisely the value of working to find the best combination of total weight + headweight feel. Good for you that you went on this “search” and found YOUR best weight distribution in your clubs!

  10. Joe Golfer

    Mar 6, 2015 at 2:17 am

    @Tom Wishon. I would love to see an article giving suggestions on what shaft profile is best for which type of golfer.
    Nowadays we often hear about butt stiffness, middle of shaft stiffness, and tip stiffness (yes, I realize it can get much more complicated than just measuring at three areas, but I mention these three simply because shaft manufacturers often describe shafts in this manner rather that listing points all along the shaft).
    I think most of us know that a stiff tip shaft will give a lower ball flight and is generally for the faster swinging player who does not need help getting the ball into the air.
    I was wondering if you could offer some thoughts on the other two areas, the butt and middle profiles. For example, would a slower tempo player who still has decent swing speed like a soft butt, medium butt, or stiffer butt profile. Likewise for the mid point profile of the shaft.
    Some discussion on fast tempo players vs slower tempo players on these two aspects (butt and mid stiffness) of shaft profile would be quite interesting. Or are these areas simply personal preference, trial and error?
    I realize that not everybody fits into the same boat, and that there are exceptions to every rule, but it would still be interesting to hear your well-informed opinion on such matters as far as what the findings are in general for the majority of golfers.
    Always appreciate your articles.

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

      JoeG

      The next article in this series is about fitting for flex and bend profile of the shaft. But since these articles have to be short, I won’t be able to cover as much as I did a bit back when I did a three part article all about shafts and shaft fitting and golfer swing characteristics to shaft design spec relationships. Go here – http://www.golfwrx.com/author/tomwishon/ Scroll way down and you will see Part 1, 2, and 3 of this series of shaft articles. The info there will answer all your questions.

      Thanks for your interest for sure.

  11. theo

    Mar 5, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    The “don’t get trapped” sidebar is a great read. I’ve been in this ‘ether of confusion’ much of my golf life and this paragraph provides some clarity. I used to wear the “I’m a D3 guy” badge thought about having it tattoo’ed on my arm. But then I’d feel someone else “heavy” irons and change my allegiance on the spot. And when I trie to replicate the swingweight mine felt “different”. And on and on. This is a good explanation. I wish someone would come up with a new standard besides swingweight because it’s caused me much grief. Thanks Thomas.

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Theo

      Well there is for sure another way although as yet I won’t call it a “standard” – but it sure would be a much better way for golfers to empirically know how to always end up with the same swing feel when they switch specs like length, shaft weight, grip weight, head weight. It’s in the other brief sidebar about MOI MATCHING as an alternative to swingweight matching of clubs. There’s a link in that sidebar to an article we put together to explain MOI matching, what it is, how it works, why it is potentially a better way to reference swing feel in clubs than swingweight. There are a number of more technically aware clubfitters who have been making all clubs they fit and build to be MOI matched for several years now.

      Few have heard of it unless they hound this forum a lot – there have been a number of threads on WRX’s clubtech forum about MOI Matching. Few have heard of it as well because the OEMS don’t do it. Many think if the big companies don’t embrace something then it can’t be any good. There are several reasons they haven’t even though I can assure you they know of it and a couple have even commissioned a serious “look see” into it.

      First, all the OEMs make their clubs to a series of standard specs so their clubs can be shipped to all the retail golf outlets to be sold off the rack. They do this because this is the only way to sell the highest volume of clubs. Hence all the clubs sold off the rack can only be made to one swingweight as a std spec. MOI matching has no advantage if you just pick one MOI and make all your clubs to that single MOI measurement. It has to be fit to each golfer just like swingweight should – based on the golfer’s strength + swing force + sense of feel for their swing timing and rhythm. So for an OEM to go with MOI matching, it would not do anything better for them since they have to make their clubs to one series of std specs.

      Second reason the OEMs won’t do MOI matching is because it would take a HUGE educational effort on their part to convince the millions of golfers who are so used to swingweight matched clubs that it is better. It would only take ten golfers putting their MOI matched clubs on a swingweight scale and wondering negatively why all the clubs are different swingweights before an OEM would toss in the towel and go back to swingweight.

      Thanks for your interest !

  12. Hippocamp

    Mar 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for a great article, Tom.

    Any advice on how to deal with these new shafts with super high balance point? Just swapped a stock 65g 3W shaft for an Aldila Tour Blue 85g shaft with the idea of shortening the club by 1/2″ or so. Initially cut the Tour Blue to stock 43″ and was puzzled that the club actually had a lower SW with the shaft that weighed 20g more – at exactly the same length. Then it became clear that most of that extra weight was near the butt in the Tour Blue.

    Anyway, made it clear that the distribution of weight in the shaft is more important than total weight for determining the SW of the club.

  13. Curt

    Mar 5, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Takes some cajones to call out one of the best in the Biz………

  14. ken

    Mar 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I don’t know a darned thing about swing weight. Nor do I care to know.
    When I pick up the club at the gold shop and awing it few times, I immediately know whether I like the feel and weight of the club or not….
    IN fact I would tell the club fitter “don’t bother telling me the swing weight. You’ll just confuse me.”

  15. Jeff Borders

    Mar 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    But aren’t most club heads around 200-205g? I think the shaft weight is a lot more variable with today’s raw head weight. I could go with a shaft in the 50 gram range all the way up to 80+ grams.

  16. Marni Ines

    Mar 5, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Have to disagree with the comment that shaft weight is, by far, the largest contributor to the total weight of the club, because, it is not. The head is BY FAR, the largest contributor to the total weight of the club.

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Marni
      Let me explain why the shaft weight most definitely IS the biggest contributor to the total weight. Let’s talk driver just for sake of the explanation but it is true for all other clubs as well. Graphite shafts can be found for drivers that weigh as little as 39g up to 90g. We won’t include steel here because far less than 1% of all golfers play with steel shafts in the driver today. So that is a 51g range in the shaft weight.

      The vast majority of grips for men exist between mid 40s and mid 50s in gram weight. Sure there are some exceptions to this but they are very seldom used for the vast majority of golfers. So grip weight exists in only a 10g or so high to low range.

      The headweight is what is used to control the final swingweight of the club. Let’s say you build two drivers, one with a 39g shaft and one with a 90g shaft. To achieve a D1 swingweight for example at a length of 44″ with a normal 50g grip, with the 39g shaft the head has to weigh 213g and that club has a total weight of 302g. To achieve a D1 swingweight at 44″ with the same 50g grip with the 90g shaft, the head has to weigh 200g which brings this club to a total weight of 340g.

      So for a 51g range in shaft weight, the head weight only ranges by 13g to achieve the same swingweight at the same length with the same grip. But the total weight is different by 38g, which is far more than the head weight range.

      Hence shaft weight is the major determinant of the total weight of any club. Thanks for asking about this so I could have the chance to explain this more clearly.

      • NaborsX

        Mar 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm

        Fantastic info. Really appreciate you sharing the knowledge!

      • John P

        Mar 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

        As a swinger of a set 770 CFE’s I love my Wishons. However, I think head weight is the largest contributed to TOTAL weight of a club. In the example the heads are 70.5 and 58.8 percent of the TOTAL club weight. Maybe the shaft is a big contributor to SWING WEIGHT because the weight difference is distributed along the length of the club. Love these articles, keep them coming!

      • PJM

        Mar 8, 2015 at 5:18 am

        Hi Tom. Thanks for the article and the explanation. I think your comment that the shaft is the major determinant of the total weight is clearer than your earlier comment that the shaft is the biggest contributor to the total weight. I agree with Marni’s interpretation that the heaviest component (i.e., the club head) is the biggest contributor to the total weight, but understand that you are saying that there is much greater variation in the weight of the shaft than other components. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.

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Opinion & Analysis

2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Betting Tips & Selections

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Here we go again.

After the multi-course American Express and the two-track Farmers, the PGA Tour arrives at the legendary Pebble Beach for this week’s AT&T.

Shorter than the average tour event, the coastline course/s deliver a reasonably simple test for the high-level celebrities and their professional playing partners, but this changes dramatically should any of the famed coastal weather arrive.

Bad enough for those paid to hit a dimpled ball, it can turn an amateur’s enjoyable (and expensive) round into something horrendous like this.

Three players clearly stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, both in terms of quality and world ranking, and they do have figures that justify that – in spades.

Favourite Jordan Spieth is the King of Pebble. His record here is unsurpassed, and he relishes the challenges of this seaside terrain.

However, with no serious turn in conditions, I’m not sure his current game is much to go on. The 29-year-old has missed the cut in two of his last six starts, the best results coming in limited field events at two of the FedEx play-off events and the Tournament of Champions.Not as if Spieth needs to be in form – he won the RBC Heritage last year after a run of mc/35/35/mc, but even a win, runner-up, third , fourth, seventh and ninth, it always feels as if you take your life in your own hands when backing him at 10/1 and less.

Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland make up the elite trio, all residing in the top-16 of the world rankings.

Both justify being alongside the Texan at the top of the market, although until last season’s closing sixth place finish, only Fitz’s 12th at the 2019 U.S Open was worth noting from an event formline of missed-cut and 60th.

Interestingly, the Norwegian matched that finish three years ago, becoming low amateur for the second major in a row, and both are hard to argue against.

With combined wins in Mayakoba, Puerto Rico and Dubai, as well as top finishes at various Open championships, conditions suit both equally well. Choosing between them is tough enough, but with home players winning 27 of the last 30 events held here (17 of the last 18) and with doubts about the motivation for playing this week, they can all be left alone at combined odds of around 9/4.

The draw is probably as crucial here as any other event, with Pebble Beach having some of the smallest greens on tour and Spyglass Hill being affected occasionally by similar winds. Make the score at Monterey Peninsula, if at all possible.

Despite the quality up front, the section that includes defending champion Tom Hoge, Maverick McNealey, Andrew Putnam and Seamus Power has equally strong credentials for the title.

Hoge aims to become only the second player to defend this title since 2000 and, whilst playing as well as ever, is no Dustin Johnson, whilst it’s hard to put McNealey in front of the Irishman given the latter’s 2-0 lead in PGA Tour wins, and 3-zip if you count the KFT.

Power ranks in the top echelons of players with form at short courses and is easy to make a case for in an event at which he opened up a five shot lead at one point last year, before finishing in ninth.

The 35-year-old has never been better, now ranked inside the top-30 after a season that included that top-10 here and again at Southern Hills, a top-12 behind Fitz at Brookline, third at Mayakoba and fifth at the RSM. The highlight, of course, was the victory in Bermuda, sitting nicely with his first victory at the Barbasol, that Kentucky event showing links to proven coastal/short course player Kelly Kraft (runner-up here to Spieth in 2019) and Aaron Baddeley and Kevin Streelman, with six top-10 finishes between them at the AT&T.

Rather like the player he beat in that Barbasol play-off (J.T Poston) Power is fairly easy to read, and although the very nature of pro-ams doesn’t suit everyone, the course make-up suits perfectly.

Usually consistent and in the top echelons for tee-to-green, greens-in regulation, and for up-and-down, Power comes here looking to recover from an unusually poor performance on the large Abu Dhabi putting floors. Certainly the figures look awry compared with his 10 strokes gained for tee-to-green and 12th for around-the-green, and it’s easy to see improvement in California, where in 2022 he lay in fourth place into Sunday at the pro-am at La Quinta, as well as a previous ninth place finish at the Barracuda (fifth into Sunday).

He’s the best of the week but I’m also including:

Alex Smalley – We were on 26-year-old Smalley for the American Express a few weeks ago and he was going well until the PGA West (Nicklaus) caught him out, causing a drop into 62nd from 21st place, and close to two of the other three selections this week, as well as Garrick Higgo, who just missed out due to lack of experience here.

The recovery into a place just outside the top-20 was impressive, though, with a final round 63 comprising 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, as well as making all his putts under 10 feet.

Those sorts of figures have been expected from the outstanding Duke graduate, who made his PGA Tour debut as an amateur at the 2017 U.S Open. Since then, it hasn’t been plain sailing, indeed he has yet to win an event despite an excellent return to this level in 2022.

Starting with a best-of-Sunday 65 to finish tied runner-up at Corales, he then finished in the top six behind Jon Rahm and co in Mexico, 10th at the Scottish Open and 13th at Sedgefield.

Since October, Smalley has made seven of nine cuts, highlights being 11th at Bermuda and a pair of top-five finishes at the RSM and Houston, all contributors to the tee-to-green stats that see him rank 1/2/6/11/13 for his ball-striking and significant given the test this week..

He couldn’t get it going at Waialae for the Sony but followed up the La Quinta effort with a top-40 at Torrey Pines, when his tee-to-green game was again perfectly respectably ranked in 33rd given the strength of the field.

Runner-up in the Dominican Republic, fourth and 15th in Houston, and with form at Colonial and Bermuda, this looks the prefect test for a player that at least had a look last year, and that the bookmakers simply cannot make their mind up about.

Robby Shelton – Makes his event debut here this week in his second time at the top level, but the former Walker Cup player has enough relevant form to make him of interest, particularly after a sixth place at the multi-course American Express a few weeks ago, his best finish in California so far.

Shelton included Scottie Scheffler and Ben Griffin as play-off victims when winning two of a total of four KFT events in 2019 and 2022, coming here after making eight out of ten cats (yeah, I know) since arriving back on tour in September.

Best efforts are 15th at the Shriners and a top-10 at the RSM, but let’s also throw in a sixth at Mayakoba, 11th at the Honda and a top-20 in Texas.

This is a drop in class, and significantly in distance, from Torrey Pines and I’d expect to see more advantage taken here.

Harrison Endycott – One of the Player To Follow for this season, it’s hard to work out exactly what the 26-year-old Aussie wants in terms of course set-up, but given his heritage and junior career, it’s fairly certain he can play well in the wind.

Having made his way through the grades including a win, two top-10s and two top-20s on the KFT, he wasted little time making his mark at the highest level, finishing tied-12th at the Fortinet in California, a joint best-of-the-day 65 launching him up the board on day three.A month later, Endycott started the Bermuda Championship with a pair of double-bogeys before signing for an opening nine-under 62, the catalyst for another career top-10, and in November he overcame a poor opening round at his home PGA Championship (111th) before flying through the field as the event progressed, finishing a never-nearer 18th behind Cam Smith.

Even the missed-cut at the Australian Open was not devoid of promise, an opening 68 seeing him start the second round in 7th place.

With a pedigree in Australia and a residence in Scottsdale, I’ll take the chance he will find something back in California, scene of the best of three events in 2023 – 22nd at the American Express – when his game showed the all-round prowess it did in Scottsdale – top-11 in approach and top-15 tee-to-green.

Recommended Bets:

  • Seamus Power – WIN
  • Alex Smalley – WIN/TOP-5
  • Robby Shelton – WIN-TOP-10
  • Harrison Endycott – WIN/TOP-20
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Opinion & Analysis

2023 Farmers Insurance Open: Betting Tips & Selections

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Get your bets on earlier than usual this week as the Farmers Insurance Open runs Wednesday to Saturday, the advancement of a day avoiding a clash with the NFL Conference Championship games.

We raise the bar a notch as the tour reaches Torrey Pines, a course used for this (and related) events since 1968, although the current set-up on the South Course now measures almost 1000 yards than the one seen 55 years ago.

Now utilising the easier North Course for one round, players will still need to have their grinding game as the weekend progresses over a course re-configured for the 2021 U.S Open – won by this week’s hot favourite Jon Rahm – and one that has seen the last three winners score no better than 15-under.

As my learned GolfWRX colleague says:

While last year’s winner Luke List was a shock, beaten play-off rival Will Zalatoris certainly fits the bill in becoming the last of a long line of contenders at Torrey that have challenged at the majors.

Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman, Justin Rose and, of course, seven times Torrey winner Tiger Woods, would all be seen as elite in their time, and you can confidently add the likes of runners-up Tony Finau, Adam Scott and Xander Schauffele to those.

Greens change to Poa Anna this week, and with the home course possessing suitably tough greens, players need solid tee-to-green games to remain with a chance down the back-stretch on Saturday afternoon. Forget the pitch and putt of La Quinta and friends, this week is far from a repeat.

You would be forgiven for thinking this is the Woods era, a solid 4/1 shot heading the market.

Tiger he is not, but having won four of his last five events and winning the Farmers here in 2017 and the U.S Open four years later, Jon Rahm carries almost unbeatable status into this week. However, much depends on getting the right draw over the first two days – at the price he can be left alone.

With the trophy likely to go to one of the better fancied players, here’s a chance to select two or three from the next half-dozen and still look at a better return than backing the favourite – and, for me, Tony Finau and Jason Day fit the bill.

Unlike someone like J.T Poston, I can’t seem to call Tony Finau right, but if he is ever going to repay the faith, it is here.

Having raised his game to another level in winning back-to-back at Minnesota and Detroit, the 33-year-old was fancied to go well in Mayakoba. Naturally, he missed his first cut since the US Open in June, subsequently gagging up in Houston, making it three wins in seven starts – not Rahm (or Scheffler of early ’22) but not far behind.

Fancied to do another back-to-back special, Finau then withdrew from the RSM Classic before probably needing the run-out when 7th at the Hero World Challenge. – extremely frustrating but, on face value, continuing a career-best run.

2023 has seen encouragement in both starts, with eight rounds in the 60s leading to a seventh place at Kapalua and a most recent 16th at last week’s pro-am jolly, where he came from outside the top 60 on Thursday and from 34th at the cut mark.

Finau’s tee-to-green game remains of the highest class, ranking ninth in ball-striking over three months and third over six, but it’s now matched by a putting prowess that takes advantage of his constant green finding.

Events may be limited, but over the last 14 rounds or so, Big Tone leads the tour in putting average, beating even the likes of flying Jon Rahm. Sure, you can regard that as a skewed stat, so take it over another 12 weeks and he is in third – remarkable for someone that just a year ago was known for missing the vital ones.

Take the 2021 U.S Open away and Finau has four top-six finishes and a pair of top-20s here, and ignore last year’s missed weekend too – he was in the top-10 after the first round and was simply not at the races on day two.

Finau’s record on poa greens reads well enough – he won the Rocket Mortgage, and has top-10s at Riviera, Winged Foot and Olympia Fields, the latter pair giving credence to the Torrey/majors connection, whilst connecting Memorial form sees him record two top-10s and two top-15 finishes.

Being unconvinced that either Zalatoris’ or Justin Thomas’ games are pitch perfect, TF looks the best challenge to the favourite.

The favourite’s record in California is almost too good to be true, with four wins, seven top-5s and three top-10s but if anyone can challenge that, it’s surely Jason Day, who looks as if he is now fully recovered from injury and personal tragedy.

Winner here in 2015 and 2018, the Aussie also boasts a runner-up, third and fifth place around tough Torrey and an average position of 15th from 14 Pebble Beach outings. He loves California.

Having dropped from world number one to outside of the top-100 in five seasons, the 35-year-old has fought back from adversity to make his way back up the rankings, helped by a pair of top-10 finishes at, no surprise, Pebble and Torrey.

In order to protect what has been a fragile back, the 16-time major top-10 star reached out to swing coach Chris Como, formally an aide of Tiger Woods.

“Going into this year I did some swing changes with my coach, and I feel like those are slowly cementing themselves in there,” Day said on Golf Channel.

“I’m shallowing it out,” Day continued. “The swing has changed dramatically. It took me about a year and half to get the body correct, and the body movement correct until I could actually get into shallowing it out correctly.”

Judged on the latest figures, it seems to be coming together nicely.

Day ended 2022 with four cuts from five, including 8th at Shriners, 11th at the CJ Cup, 21st at Mayakoba and 16t in Houston, and last weekend finished in the top 20 at La Quinta having been third after two rounds.

16th for ball-striking over the last three months, slightly better over six, his top-30 for driving accuracy has led to a similar ranking for greens found. Take that, and any improvement, into an event he enjoys more than most, and we have a winning formula.

Away from the top, it’s hard to get excited about the chances of many.

Having nabbed a big-priced second last week with one of the 12 Players-to-Watch 2023, it is tempting to go back in again on Davis Thompson on a course that may suit even better. However, hitting 14 out of 18 greens at the Stadium Course is a far cry from a debut at Torrey Pines and he may just need the sighter.

Taylor Montgomery calls himself after his fourth top-five in just nine full-time starts on the PGA, particularly after a debut 11th as a sponsor’s invite last year. Prices in the 20s don’t appeal at all against proven and regular winners though, so take a chance on another top finish from the defending champion Luke List.

For someone that believes List is Dye-positive, his first win on the poa greens of Torrey Pines was a bit of a shocker.

I put the 38-year-old up as a lively top-10 bet last week, when the thought process was that this long driver should only need to drive and flip to the greens, but sadly his game was all over the place. However, I’ll take another chance in conditions that clearly suit last year’s play-off victor, a win that came off four straight cuts here that included a 10th and 12th placed finish.

Since the start of the 2022 season, List has 11 top-25 rankings for driving, five for approaches and seven for tee-to-green, whilst it was only a couple of starts ago that he matched the best at Kapalua.

As for the fabled short stick, it’s a case of being with him when he just works better than field average – 6th at Bethpage Black, in two of his four completions at Riviera and in three of five outings at Silverado, all of a  similar grass type.

Players constantly repeat form here at Torrey, so whilst he may not do a 1-2 or, indeed, a 2-1 on the lines of Mickelson, Day, Snedeker and Leishman to name a few, List is very capable of pulling out a finish on the first two pages of the board.

Recommended Bets:

  • Tony Finau Win 
  • Jason Day Win-Top-5 
  • Luke List Top-10 
  • Luke List Top-20 
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2023 American Express: Betting Tips & Selections

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Last week’s Sony Open saw the unusual occurrence of a top-10 devoid of a name that had played the Tournament of Champions, and yet eventual champion Si Woo Kim won his fourth PGA event, all on Bermuda greens.

Sometimes, like picking the week that a poor putter knocks in 30-footers, it’s just picking the right stat on the right day.

The tour makes the annual return to southern California for the charity pro-am event, where in its 63 history many courses have played host to the great and the good of the entertainment world. And Bill Murray.

For us, concerned with only who might win and at what price, we return to a three course rotation on which one one player in the last 16 years has won in under 20-under and an in an event that has seen four of the last 10 winners start at triple figures, with Adam Long going off at 500-1+.

Put simply, the set-up is too easy to enjoy it too much, players won’t miss many greens, and, as Adam Long said, “you can make a lot of putts because these greens on all three courses are just perfect. So you can make them from all over.”

The front of the market is classier than normally found here, but with the combined price of the top eight, we are asked to take around 4-6 that any of those win. Sure, that’s highly likely, but many of that octet have thrown away winning chances over the last few months, and the obvious man to beat, Jon Rahm, threw his hands in the air last year, calling this a less than satisfactory set-up.

In an event that is worth looking at after the cut – the average halfway position of winners over the last five years is 8th – the suggestion is to play a touch lighter than usual, with just two selections in the pre-event market.

Short tracks that reward consistent tee-to-green and putting efforts see me look for ‘The Real JT’ at every opportunity, and at 60/1 I can’t resist putting James Tyree Poston up as the best of the week.

Winner of the 2019 Wyndham Championship in 22-under, from course specialist Webb Simpson, JT confirmed then his love for Bermuda greens, something he had shown when seventh here and sixth at Harbour Town a few months earlier. The Wyndham, incidentally, home to a trio of wins by Davis Love III, a confirmed Pete Dye specialist.

Fast forward to 2022 and, after a solid all-round performance at sub-7000 yard River Highlands, the 29-year-old comfortably won the John Deere Classic, where he again proved too good for some charging rivals, from tee-to-green and on the dancefloor.

Poston’s best form outside of his two wins is at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, another specialist Dye/DL3 track, where he has a record of 3/mc/8/6 and where he has ranked in fifth and seventh place for tee-to-green.

After a solid top-10 at the top-class Tour Championship at the end of last season, Poston comes here after a solid run of 21st at the RSM, the same at Kapalua and 20th at last week’s Sony, ranking 6th and 13th for tee-to-green in both of the more suitable, shorter tracks, all of which have Bermuda greens.

Now teetering on the edge of the world’s top 50, Poston probably can not compete on the longer, elite courses. He’ll need to take advantage of ‘his’ tracks, and, with a 7th and 25th already in his locker around here, this event is most definitely one of those.

I’d like to have been with Andrew Putnam, playing excellent golf, making his last 13 cuts, and holding an enviable course record, but at the same price as last week he’s just left out given the tougher opposition. Top that with a tendency to throw away a weekend lead (Barracuda, AT&T and the RSM just a couple of months ago) and I’d rather be with Alex Smalley who has gone the opposite direction, now trading at more than double his price for the Sony just seven days ago.

The 26-year-old Duke graduate played in both the 2019 Arnold Palmer and Walker Cup sides, finishing with a record of three wins from four at each, before gaining his PGA Tour card when recording three top-five finishes and two top-15s on the KFT, eventually finishing 12th on the 2021 KFT finals lists.

Included in his 2021 season was a 14th at Corales, and he showed that to be no fluke when finishing in the top 15 at both Bermuda and Houston, both with similar greens as he will find this week.

2022 was a big year for Smalley, starting with a best-of-Sunday 65 to finish tied runner-up at Corales, finishing in the top six behind Jon Rahm and co in Mexico, 10th at the Scottish Open and 13th at Sedgefield.

Since October, Smalley has made five of seven cuts, highlights being 11th at Bermuda and a pair of top-five finishes at the RSM and Houston, all contributors to the tee-to-green stats that see him rank 1/2/6/11/13 for his ball-striking.

The second-season player was always on the back foot at Waialae last week, finishing the first round way down the pack after the first round. Cross that out and I’m struggling to see why he’s been dismissed by the oddsmakers for his second attempt at a course that found him ranked top-10 off the tee just 12 months ago.

There is a lingering fantasy around Luke List, whose 11th at the long Kapalua course might indicate a solid run this week. Given his first two wins came at Pete Dye related tracks (South Georgia designed by Davis Love, five time champion at Harbour Town) and Sawgrass Valley (the very name giving away its Dye/Bermuda links) he is clearly one to watch, even if he is simply one of the worst putters on tour.

He may be left behind by a few around this putter-heavy track, but he has a best of a 6th place finish in 2016 and a pair of top-22 finishes over the last two seasons. List should only have to flip wedges to many of these greens, and should he simply finish field average in putting as he did when finding over 11 strokes on the field at Torrey Pines (yes, 11 strokes. Plus 11 strokes) he will land a top-20 wager.

Reccomended Bets:

  • J.T Poston WIN/TOP-5
  • Alex Smalley WIN/TOP-10
  • Luke List TOP-20
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