Three things I want to address before I kick this off.
- “Better, best” will not be addressed. It’s never about that these days only what works for me or you.
- I’m not adding TrackMan data to this for one simple reason: It doesn’t matter to me for a first impression. I can get lost in the data and ultimately it confuses my ability to just enjoy the sound feel and look of the driver. Obviously, the fitting was on TrackMan, but in the past, successful drivers for me started with the emotional part. Simply, do I like the thing? Can I look at it? Can I trust it? Can I hit shots with it? That’s it.
- When I say “spin this” and “spin that,” it’s always addressing a positive aspect.
On Tuesday of this week, I had the good fortune of visiting the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI in Oceanside, California) to do my TSi metal woods fitting. Won’t get too far into that, but essentially it’s golf heaven in every sense of the word. Like TaylorMade’s Kingdom or Callaway’s ECPC, TPI it’s a gearhead paradise.
Titleist Master Fitter Joey Saewitz (@thejoeysaewitz on IG) was my fitter and after hitting a few balls to warm up, we dug into my gamer driver that I adore.
Current Gamer Spec
TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees @ 8.5). Fujikura Ventus Black 6X (no tipping) 45 inches, D4, GolfPride BCT 58R
I have been constantly messing with my driver between new shafts, lofts, lie, etc. Since I’ve been playing a bit more this month, I’ve had the chance to work on my swing and the driver has been the last thing to come around. I’m working on decreasing dynamic loft through the bag and have not adjusted my driver to match. The point is, I’m hitting the driver solid but have lost a ton of height and spin to keep it in the air.
I’m saying this now because for key metrics I was at a deficiency because of the craftsman not his tools. The SIM I was fit into was/is excellent. So, as you read on, keep in mind that I knew that numbers-wise apples to apples my setup was vulnerable to getting beat out due to my tinkering.
My average numbers these days are are 105-108 mph swing speed, 155-160 mph ball speed, 14-degree launch, and 1,800-2,000 spin. At 43-years-old, when I’m hitting it solid I get a lot out of my driver. IF I’m swinging well, at my low spin, off days can be nauseating with the driver.
TSi3: If two of my favorite drivers 975D and R7 Superquad TP had a baby, the TSi3 would be it. Its flawless appearance-wise. The heel section gives it an onset look that the faders will love and the top line toe section is a bit rounded off to give it an open look without having to crank it open. Not the first time we have heard that but nonetheless, Titleist nailed it.
The face has a cool matte finish that I can’t get into yet, but it frames a white ball excellently.
TSi2: Like the TS2, it has that high-MOI shape, although I will say the top line and transitions are a bit softer on the eye. It’s a driver that looks like it just wants to go high and far. If I wanted to hit something as hard as I could that’s the shape I would look for.
Side note—the black shafts in the TSi3 are almost too cool to even look at—the closest thing to a Darth Vader golf club I have ever seen.
This is where they really figured it out. Titleist drivers in the past to my ear sounded good but not great. There was always an essence of ting that I couldn’t fall in love with. The TSi series fixed that in totality, like all the great drivers on the market in 2020 it has that hammerhead thud that I adore. When you crunch it, you literally hear crunch. At impact, however, it has a more compressiony (is that a word?) feel than its competitors. The comparison would be a one-piece forged feel vs a hollow body players iron. Both feel excellent but there is a difference. You can feel the ball squeeze into the face which I think most will notice and respond well to.
PERFORMANCE—Not going to compare it to my gamer as it’s not fair, I gear headed my gamer to the point of lunacy. I will only comment on what the TSi series did while testing.
TSi3: The biggest standout here was usable spin. I am not a high-spin player by any stretch, so if I can find a driver that gets me 2,100-2,200 consistently when I flush it, it’s a contender. For a player at my speed to sneak it out there with the big hitters, I have to launch it at 14 at 1,700 spin, and hope I’m aimed correctly. What I found with the TSi was I was getting that performance at 2,100-2,200, and if anything only giving up 2-3 yards all while doing it 5/10 times as opposed to 2/10.
What does all that jibberish add up to? Consistency and something I can play with. Is it longer than my gamer? I have no idea, but we will find out. What I know is I hit a bunch of really good shots with TSi3, and after I got going with it, it was point and shoot. Stable? Yes. Long? Yes. Forgiving? Yes. Playable? Yes.
TSi2: To be honest I only hit a few with the Tsi2 as its not my genre of music. What I can say is it feels apples to apples with the Tsi3, launches higher with a bit more spin, and goes really straight. No shocker there. The high MOI category has a bunch of contenders, and in my opinion, it’s a head weight game. Heavy is always better for stability.
The setup I landed on
I was fit into the (D4 SureFit setting 9 degrees @ 9.75, flat) however after testing a bit at home on course and range, I landed on the D1 setting, which I like. For whatever reason, I can play Tsi3 at 8.25 and still maintain height spin and it flew about five yards further.
Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees @8.25, D1 SureFit, 44.5 inches, D4 swing weight)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1)
Overall, the TSi Series drivers will be VERY popular but not for the reasons you would think. It’s playable, you can hit shots with it, that’s the mark of a GREAT golf club. It’s not all ball speeds and carry anymore in my opinion. This is a driver I can go out and play well with, that’s huge for a hack like me. In my experience, I can’t say that about a lot of drivers I’ve tried to make work in the last four to five years. That’s just me. Lots of great drivers every year but I’m a hard case and finding one that’s just right is a challenge.
Ultimately, for me, the best driver on the market is SIM hands down because it performs in the hitting bay and even better on the course—my hunch is Titleist has something that will do the same.
It’s a beautiful driver that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know.
Driver, shaft combinations of strokes gained: off-the-tee leaders
‘Tis the season for, well, looking back at the previous golf season. Hopefully, you’re still able to put a peg in the ground where you live.
However, if you find yourself stuck on the couch, staring longingly at your clubs in the corner as they begin their period of forced hibernation, we’re here to offer you an always enjoyable (we hope) diversion: a look at the equipment of some of the best golfers in the game this past season.
More specifically, we’re taking a look at the driver head and shaft combinations of the best drivers of the golf ball on the PGA Tour (as measured by their strokes gained: off-the-tee metric) for the 2022-2023 PGA Tour season.
Let’s get to it.
10. Hayden Buckley: 0.611
Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Lin Q M40X Blue 6F5
9. Luke List
Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX
8. Viktor Hovland: 0.741
Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @8.4)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 TR X (45.75 inches, tipped 1 inch)
7. Keith Mitchell: 0.743
Driver: Mizuno ST-Z 230 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 75 6.5
6. Kevin Yu: 0.803
Driver: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Pro White 80 TX
5. Brent Grant: 0.806
Driver: Srixon ZX7 Mk II (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Pro Black 75 TX
4. Patrick Cantlay: 0.852
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5 @8.75 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60 TX
3. Rory McIlroy: 0.907
Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (9 degrees @7.5)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 6 X
*McIlroy switched into TaylorMade’s Qi10 LS driver at the DP World Tour Championship.
2. Ludvig Åberg: 0.982
Driver: Titleist TSR2 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X
1. Scottie Scheffler: 1.021
Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (8 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X
*Scheffler switched into TaylorMade’s Qi10 LS driver at the Hero World Challenge.
There you have it, GolfWRXers. We’ll be back with more pieces of this nature as we X out the days in December.
Callaway Apex Pro, Apex CB, Apex MB combo irons – Club Junkie Reviews
When Callaway released the new Apex Pro, Apex CB, and Apex MB irons in August, better-skilled golfers were very excited to get them out on the course to try for themselves.
The Apex Pro packs a ton of technology into a small head size with reduced offset and a thinner topline. Callaway updated the new Apex CB with a new sole design for better turf interaction and shot consistency. The Apex MB is the blade for elite players who are looking for precise distance control and shot shaping.
Callaway knows some golfers like to mix and match clubs from different sets to optimize their performance, so I was very intrigued to see how the Apex Pro Series Triple Play iron set combined all three irons.
Callaway Apex Pro Long Irons (4, 5, 6)
When you set the new Apex Pro irons down, you will be pleased with the look of reduced offset and a compact shape. The irons aren’t so small that you get intimidated, I think Callaway picked a good size. Being slightly larger than the CB and MB gives you a little more confidence that you don’t need to strike it dead center in order to get a good shot out of them.
The Pros use multi-material construction to add distance and forgiveness while the forged face and body give you soft feel and distance control. Urethane Microspheres are also used to dampen vibration and give the Pro irons a soft and solid feel. Now the GolfWRXer in me wishes the Pro had a touch less offset, but I like the overall shape and think the more rounded toe gives them a softer look.
Out on the course, the 4, 5, and 6-irons are easy to hit and do offer you a little extra firepower for those longer shots. The feel is soft and muted, even on mishits, and the turf interaction from the Dynamic Sole design resists digging in soft conditions. The 4-iron is a real cannon off the tee on short par 4’s and long par 3’s, giving you the distance as well as added height to stop the ball on the green.
Off the turf, you can easily elevate the 5 and 6-iron shots into greens, but all of the Pro irons offer better forgiveness than you might expect. My miss is generally off the toe and those shots still get up in the air and carry. When you miss, you can still carry that bunker or get the ball to the front of the green.
Apex CB Mid Irons (7, 8, 9)
These might be my favorite looking out of the three iron sets in terms of size and shape. They blend some of the roundness from the Apex Pro with a slightly sharper toe and more compact size. The Apex CB have very little offset, and the transition from hosel to leading edge is done well and without too much curvature.
The soles are more narrow, but you can see more of the angles in the Dynamic Sole. The pre-worn leading edge and trailing-edge relief stand out more and work very well. I play in Michigan, and you rarely come across a firm and fast fairway, so turf interaction is very noticeable in these softer conditions. Much like the Apex Pro, the CB gets into the turf immediately and wants to shallow out and exit quickly.
Solidly struck shots feel so solid and soft with a heavy “thud” at impact. When it comes to feel, these irons will easily hold their own against other popular forged CBs. Shots hit thin or off the toe will bring more vibration to your hands and produce a clickier sound.
Distance control with the Apex CB irons is very, very good. Well-struck shots seem to fly exactly the same distance and height every time. The launch is a little lower than the Apex Pro but you still can elevate them off the turf or tee. These irons also seem to spin a bit more as you notice shots having a little more curvature to them. Into the wind, you can see a touch of rise in the shot. You will notice a little more of a dropoff in carry when you miss the center of the face, but directionally the ball stays online well.
Callaway added MIM weights in the toe, and as much as they perfect the balance of each iron, they seem to add some forgiveness as well. Skilled players will love the shotmaking ability of the CB: You can hit them high, low, left, or right, and in any combination of the aforementioned.
Apex MB Short Irons (10, 11)
First, just having irons with a “10” and an “11” on the sole is flat-out cool. That little difference is fun to see and they always get comments from other golfers. While all of the new Apex irons blend well together, these have the most distinctive look to my eye. They are the edgiest look with a sharper toe and straight leading edge. There is a lack of softness and roundness to the me, but again, they blend in well with the set.
I only have the pitching and gap wedge in the set, but that is about where my skill tops out! The MB will demand your attention as they obviously are the least forgiving in the set. While well-struck shots will reward you with impeccably soft feel and a solid “thud” sound, off-center will be a little more harsh on your hands and ears. My misses tend to be the most dramatic and you will see a big drop off in distance when you hit it out on the toe. Where the Apex Pro will get you on the green, the MB can keep you just off depending on the miss.
For being such high-lofted clubs, they do keep a lower ball flight that carries a lot of spin into the green. You can easily fire at tight pins with confidence that the trajectory and spin will keep the ball close to its landing spot. And since they are MBs, you can flight those shots any way you would like with ease.
Turf interaction is good, but these will dig the most out of the set. But even with the deeper divot, the irons get through the turf very quickly.
Matching the gap wedge to the set is something I have liked in this set. There is just a feeling of consistency on full, or close-to-full shots that you don’t get with a sand wedge-style head. Those full shots kind of feel like you are just hitting a pitching wedge but at a shorter distance. The “11-iron” still works around the green, and you can hit little pitch and chip shots with plenty of spin, even with an open face.
Overall, Callaway’s Triple Play offers a little bit of everything for players who need a little help in the long irons but want consistency in the scoring clubs. Feel, distance, and forgiveness are all added to the mix in good amounts in order to balance out the set. If you are a single-digit handicap who wants a players look from address but needs a little help, Callaway’s Apex Pro Series combo sets are well worth trying out.
More Club Junkie Reviews
- Nikon Coolshot Pro II Stabilized laser rangefinder review – Club Junkie Reviews
- Mitchell Golf Steelclub E-Z Commercial Shaft Puller review – Club Junkie Reviews
- Fujikura Ventus TR Blue Shaft review – Club Junkie Reviews
Tony Finau WITB 2023 (December)
- Tony Finau’s what’s in the bag accurate as of the Hero World Challenge.
Driver: Ping G430 LST (9 degrees @7) Buy.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX
3-wood: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond T (14 degrees) Buy here.
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80 TX
Putter: Ping PLD Anser 2D prototype Buy here.
Grip: Garsen Golf Ultimate
Grips: Lamkin UTx Mid
Ball: Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot Buy here.
More Tony Finau WITBs
- Tony Finau WITB 2022 (February)
- Tony Finau WITB 2021 (November)
- Tony Finau WITB 2021 (September)
- Tony Finau WITB 2021 (April)
- Tony Finau WITB 2021 Genesis Invitational
- Tony Finau WITB 2021 (January)
- Tony Finau WITB (2020 Tour Championship)
- Tony Finau WITB 2020
- Tony Finau WITB 2020
- Tony Finau WITB 2018
- Tony Finau WITB 2017
- Tony Finau WITB 2016
- Tony Finau WITB 2015
- Tony Finau’s winning WITB: 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic
- Tony Finau’s winning WITB: 2022 3M Open
- Tony Finau’s winning WITB: 2021 Northern Trust
- Ryder Cup WITBs: U.S. Team
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