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WRX Insider: Inside the bag of Sergio Garcia

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Sergio Garcia has always been one of the premier ball strikers in all of golf, but last week’s win at the Sanderson Farms Championship was the culmination of a testing process that Sergio has been engaged in since the beginning of the year.

2020 was the first year of Garcia’s career that he teed it up without a club contract, following in the footsteps of Ryder Cup teammates Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, and Paul Casey.

After his contract with Callaway ended in late 2019, Garcia showed up to Abu Dhabi in January with a full bag of Ping equipment, sparking rumors that another signing was forthcoming. The bag included a Ping G410 LST driver, TaylorMade SIM 3 and 5-woods, Ping Blueprint irons, Ping Glide 3.0 wedges, Ping PLD Anser putter, and a Titleist Pro V1 ball.

However, by the time he made it to Torrey Pines in February, the driver was then replaced with a TaylorMade SIM 9 degree. From that point more switches followed—Sergio was seen testing a Honma driver during the lockdown, the Ping G410 went back in after the break, and he had a brief spell with the P7MB irons at the Safeway tournament in Napa.

It has been a spotty 2020 up to a certain point, but it was some tweaks he made after the COVID-19 lockdown that finally put Garcia in a pocket with his gear and brought back some old feels. In Garcia’s previous nine starts leading to the win at Sanderson, he had four missed cuts and only one top 10. The process happened in steps, and in no way delivered instant gratification. But like anything, good things take time. Being a player who is 80 percent feel and 20 percent everything else, Sergio can play with anything and usually make it work, but being at a point in his career where time is of the essence, things have to feel perfect.

The first key to the puzzle started with a phone call Titleist wedge master Aaron Dill received from someone else’s phone…

“I received a call one day sometime before Memorial and it showed up as Carlos Ortiz, always excited to chat with Carlos so I answered and it wasn’t Carlos, it was Sergio. They were out practicing together and Sergio fell in love with Carlos’ wedges and wanted to try them. Oddly enough, the T Grind that Carlos plays was identical to the grind Sergio played when he was on staff with us. Bob had an oil can finish “Sergio wedge” on a table that I used to marvel at in my early days with Titleist before I was Voke’s Tour Rep.

“Once Sergio and I were able to meet in person to get him dialed he expressed that he was looking for a wedge that he could hit any shot he wanted to with (versatility). His hands are so good that he is a player that doesn’t want to be limited by any grind profile which is why the lower bounce T worked so well. It’s a wedge that allows you the freedom to hit any shot you want with no bounce limitations and puts the ownership on the player to execute. In many cases, players with confident hands like Sergio want very little “help”—the comfort level is so high that no training wheels are needed.”

The next part of the equation came at the Safeway Open.

TaylorMade tour rep Adrian Rietveld and VP of Tour Operations Keith Sbarbaro who have worked with Sergio for some time had dialed in his woods finding more head stability across the board with the ever-popular Fujikura Ventus Black profile.

The launch conditions of the SIM have always been something Garcia loved, however, there was something in the dispersion profile that didn’t quite win him over. Keep in mind, the other option was the pinnacle of stability, Ping G410 LST, hard to beat that one…

So what’s the fix? The player wants the added distance but at the same time wants the control he has with the current gamer. The Ventus Black added some stability but there was more to find.

That’s where tour reps like Sbarbaro and Rietveld rise above the normal Joes. Sensing it could be a combination of a couple of things, they encouraged Sergio to test the TaylorMade TP5 ball. Although Garcia was happy with his current ball, for whatever reason, it wasn’t matching up with what he wanted to achieve with the driver. At this level, a couple of RPMs up or down can be the difference between a shot in the right rough or in the fairway. The TP5 has been known to be a ball that holds its spin at high speeds, and with that comes not only a ball that launches, but also one that offers control on center and mishits. Which for players like Rahm, McIlroy, and Garcia is an added benefit.

Not to say the competitors of the TP5 don’t do that as well, but we are talking about Sergio Garcia, and getting it perfect requires performance that lives away from the launch monitor. It could come down to finding an improvement in a 5-10 yard dispersion box with the woods. Think about that for a minute: The player is trying to find a ball that does it all and draws or fades four extra yards off the driver. Next level.

Knowing that the driver piece was sorted, Rietveld was pleasantly surprised to discover Sergio had put the ball in play at Safeway, and although he missed the cut there and at the U.S. Open, the evidence of good ball-striking was starting to reveal itself.

“If you want to see the numbers of a premier ball striker, pay attention to his launch data across his woods. To be able to have a 3 and 5-wood that launches the exact same all while achieving proper spin for each is the sign of a player that has complete control of impact.”

“Sergio is a player that plays toward the hole constantly, so his stock launch numbers change constantly through the round. He hits high cuts, low draws, straight, you name it. Whichever way the hole moves is the shot Sergio will play. That requires master craft control at his speed.”

Garcia over the years prefers to play not only the same profile in all his woods but also the same weight. Example being his wood setup until Safeway (Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei Blue 80 TX in driver, 3-wood, and 5-wood). For the first time in years, Sergio has opted for more of a progressive weight set up. When testing 3-woods, the idea was if the Ventus performed as well or better then his gamer, it would go in. The process was simplified as the new Ventus Black 7 X outperformed the old setup straight away and the 5-wood was apples to apples. The final setup looked like 7 X driver, 7 X 3-wood, and 8 X 5-wood.

At that point, it was the final switch into the TaylorMade Spider X putter that married it all together. Sergio has a positive history with the Spider line having used it to win the masters.

So what of the irons? That part of the bag is always a crapshoot for players like Garcia who can play with kids set if he had to. Irons, like wedges, are an emotional category for Garcia, who at times will try what’s new if that’s how he’s feeling but mainly wants an iron that inspires him to hit shots first and foremost. In the case of the Ping Blueprints, turf interaction was a huge factor, but it was also the novelty of it being a Ping iron that made it attractive.

According to Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates:

“In testing with Sergio, he responded to the irons immediately loving the turf interaction and being able to hit all of his launch windows. I think the biggest kick we got was seeing how much he couldn’t believe it was a Ping. Growing up knowing our Ping Eye 2 and irons like that, to be able to hand him a true forging was an eye-opener for Sergio and also a badge of honor for us. He’s a premier player and one of the greatest ball strikers of all time, to have someone like that admire what you give him with such enthusiasm validates all the hard work we put into this stuff.”

Sergio Garcia WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees in upright setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X (Tipped 1, 45 1/8 inches, C8 Swing weight w/ 20G insert in butt end)

  • Launch Std: 175 MPH, 2400RPM @10.5, 307 Carry

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM “Rocket” (14 degrees @14.75 in upright setting, 1.5 Degree sleeve)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X, Tipped 1.5, 43 inches, C8 Swing weight w/ 20G insert in butt end)

  • Launch Std: 169 MPH, 3150RPM @8.5, 277 Carry

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM (19 degrees in upright setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X, Tipped 1.5, 42 inches, C8 Swing weight w/ 20G insert in butt end)

  • Launch Std: 163 MPH, 3900RPM @8.5, 260 Carry

Irons: (3-PW) Ping Blue Print (Black Dot)
Shafts: Nippon Pro Modus3 130X w/ Custom Ping “Counter Balance” Plugs (20G)

  • Specs: Length/Loft/Lie/SW
  • 3: 38.75/20.5/59/C7+
  • 4: 38.25/23.5/59.5/C7+
  • 5: 37.75/27/60/C7+
  • 6: 37.25/30.5/60.5/C7+
  • 7: 36.75/34/61/C7+
  • 8: 36.25/38/62/C7+
  • 9: 35.75/42.5/62.75/C7+
  • P: 35.5/47/63/C7+

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 “Raw” (52-12D @52-10, 58T (Ported for swing weight)
Shafts: Nippon Pro Modus3 130X w/ Custom “Counter Balance” Plugs (20G)

Grips: Super Stroke S-Tec (Blue, Round 2+1)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X (Copper)
Grip: Super Stroke Traxion Tour Pistol Taper

Putter Specs: Length/Lie/Head Weight/Loft/SW

35/70/350/2.5/E2

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ’19

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Mark Keirstead

    Oct 12, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Sergio has used Tour Lock Pro counter weights for many years now. I just happened upon a TLP fitter in Palm Springs five or six years ago and he fitted my driver and three wood with TLP weights and opti-vibe shaft inserts, I about 30 gms total.
    The results were nothing short of amazing. I’ve always been too quick form the top, losing track of where the head was, and the extra weight was a dramatic help. And yes – despite being counterintuitive, distance increased.
    Sergio at one point has almost 100 gms of weight in the shaft. I’ve since learned that Nicklaus and Palmer always has a layer of two way lead tape under their grips.
    I was a Class A PCS guy back in the early/ mid 90’s , and always dismissed counterweighting – don’t knock it till you try it!!

  2. Dan B

    Oct 12, 2020 at 10:33 am

    What a great deep dive into Sergio’s bag. Thanks Johnny!!

  3. Benny

    Oct 11, 2020 at 7:53 am

    Awesome article. Sergio always played heavy. Like really heavy. But interesting to see how much counter balanced these are now. Also aren’t Blueprints forged and welded together?
    Thanks Wrx.

  4. the dude

    Oct 10, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Uhhh…what, BluePrints are a true forging?? (did I read that right?)

  5. hko

    Oct 9, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    last thing i’d be interested in is what’s in this guy’s bag. the moment i saw him spit into the hole cup, he’s out.

  6. J

    Oct 9, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    whoa, those are some light swingweights.

    • Neil Esposito

      Oct 10, 2020 at 1:11 am

      Heavy clubs, light swing weight. 20 grams added to the shafts are almost at 100g. Crazy. Worth a try? Why not.

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Equipment

Ben Hogan adds GS53 MAX driver to lineup

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Ben Hogan golf is throwing its Hogan flat cap into the ring and entering the MAX driver-category with the introduction of the all-new 460cc GS53 MAX driver.

The GS53 MAX creates extra forgiveness, thanks in part to its multi-material construction and a 22-percent larger and 11-percent taller face than the current GS53. For those that love the original GS53, don’t worry it will continue to remain in the line, with the new MAX being a line extension for those looking to get extra help on shots missed around the face.

The driver is constructed from 4 distinct pieces

  • Carbon composite crown to reduce mass around the top of the driver’s head and to push more mass low to increase MOI.
  • Forged face for precision, and ball speed
  • Titanium soleplate with perimeter mass
  • Tungsten weight at the rear of the sole to further increase MOI and help increase launch while reducing spin.

Thanks in part to the weight savings from the crown, the titanium soleplate has more mass positioned away from the face and around the edges to increase the stability of the head, and to acoustically tune the driver for a solid sound at impact.

“The combination of the lightweight composite crown and tungsten sole weight allows us to position the Center of Mass so that we maximize launch while decreasing the amount of ball spin. This provides a higher ball flight, especially for players who don’t have Tour-caliber clubhead speeds for increased carry and roll out. “
– Scott White, CEO, Ben Hogan Golf Company.

The GS53 MAX driver will initially be available right-handed and come in lofts of 9° and 10.5°. It will be adjustable using their proprietary hosel adjustment system known as “flight control”, which offers the ability to add or decrease loft by 1° and lie angle all while never having to worry about realigning the shaft/grip.

The last part of the driver puzzle is the shafts options and to increase the value to consumers the GS53 MAX comes with the choice of three premium aftermarket shafts including:

  • Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black for golfers seeking a lower trajectory
  • Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Blue for golfers seeking a mid trajectory
  • UST Mamiya Helium for those seeking a higher trajectory

Price, specs, and availability 

Thanks to Ben Hogan Golf’s direct-to-consumer model, the new 460cc GS53 MAX, is available starting today fior $355.00 with the choice of the 3 premium shaft options.

For more information on other Ben Hogan clubs including fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters or to purchase the GS53 MAX Driver visit www.benhogangolf.com.

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U.S. retail golf equipment sales exceed record $1 billion mark

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This summer, golf saw a surge in business as states emerged from COVID lockdown and equipment sales is one of the areas that has been booming.

On Wednesday, Golf Datatech, an industry research firm, announced that U.S. retail golf equipment sales surpassed the $1 billion mark for the third quarter – which is the first time sales have reached $1 billion for July, August and September.

That figure also represents the second-highest quarter ($1.013 billion in Q2, 2008) of all-time, and per Golf Datatech, golf equipment sales for 2020 are up a whopping 42% over the same period in 2019.

Speaking on the incredible surge in equipment sales, John Krzynowek, Partner, Golf Datatech, LLC, said

“The story keeps getting better as golf continues to surge coming out of the shutdown, and Q3 equipment sales suggests that 2020 will likely end up positive for the entire year. Year-to-date sales for total equipment are now up 0.2% compared to 2019, and considering the size of the hole created by the shutdown in April and May this recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. While the US economy will not enjoy a ‘V Shaped Recovery’ in 2020, if golf continues on this trajectory we will be there soon.”

Per the company, the best selling items for September were golf bags at +19% and wedges at +18%, while golf shoes were +2%.

Overall, the golf club category was +0.9% for the month, with balls and gloves trending slightly lower at -2.7%. Krzynowek also revealed that rounds played was another area with surging numbers:

“These month-over-month sales records are unlike anything we’ve ever seen since Golf Datatech started tracking performance data in 1997. Our Rounds Played data also shows similar record-breaking growth over the past several months, which is a strong indication that avid golfers and newcomers alike are driving the sport to new levels right now.”

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‘Play a big driver. Why not big irons?’ – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the case for big irons. WRXer ‘2Down’ plays a Ping G410+ driver and has recently put Ping’s G710 irons in the bag, saying:

“Wondered how many play a large headed driver and play a draw or fade off the tee but when they pull an iron it’s some blade size thing so they can “work” the ball.

Recently I put G710 in the bag and answered my question for myself. They feel different for sure, but I am quickly adapting to only bringing the putter with me to the green.”

Our members have been discussing the combination in our forums.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Itsjustagame: “Personal preference but big irons tend to have more bounce, more offset and wider soles some or all of which may not suit a particular player.”
  • Fairway14: “Driver is played from a lie with the ball sitting on a tee, irons are played from a variety of lie types.”
  • J13: “They don’t really make “big” irons for players. Most have offset low CG for high launch, and super strong lofts.”
  • LeoLeo99: “I love my big irons. G400. Best I’ve ever used.”

Entire Thread: “Play a big driver. Why not big irons?”

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