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Gold medal gear: An inside look at Xander Schauffele’s Olympic WITB

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It was less than 30 days ago that Xander Schauffele stood atop the podium at Kasumigaseki Country Club’s East Course in Tokyo, gold medal around his neck. Schauffele vanquished a field of 120 competitors from 42 nations by a stroke in the men’s golf competition.

It’s only once every four years that we get the chance to compile a gold medal-winning WITB in men’s golf, so we wanted to offer a more robust entry in the 2020 Olympic golf time capsule. To that end, we enlisted the help of Jacob Davidson, PGA Tour Manager for Callaway, to dig deep into the contents of Xander’s toolbox.

Callaway has seen staffers take two of the four major championships this season and the top spot in Tokyo. Investments in R&D and manufacturing — on the golf ball side in particular — are paying dividends in general, and as you will see in our conversation, for Schauffele in particular — perhaps most notably in the areas of his golf ball (Chrome Soft X LS) and irons (Apex TCB).

Our discussion with Davidson (edited for length and clarity), below.

GolfWRX: What type of player is Xander with respect to his equipment? Is he a tester and tinker, always searching? Is he more of a “set it and forget it” guy? Somewhere in-between?

JD: The thing about Xander is his team around him is very close. Obviously, his father is his swing coach, and his father is an industry guy who has been around the golf industry for a long time, even on the manufacturing side, so he has a deep, thorough understanding of golf equipment. He’s instilled a little bit of that in Xander, who is unique in that he is a deep thinker — he thinks through everything and is very calculated — but he can also go back into “player mode” and is very laid back, much more of an athlete, very even-keeled, very relaxed.

Xander lives in San Diego very close to our test center in Carlsbad. His dad is there as well as Austin Kaiser his caddie. So when we do work, it’s not just Xander showing up. With the whole team there, they’re very collaborative sessions.

He’s not a tinkerer once his bag is set, but with his team, we’re always looking for any small ways we can make him better. Year over year, if you look at his stats and some of the areas of his game where he’s gotten better — like his approach game, that’s an area we’ve worked hard with him on, looking at every club individually, making sure the spin windows, distance, and launch are right.

GolfWRX: With respect to spin, he recently made a ball change, right?

JD: At the Memorial Tournament, he switched into the Chrome Soft X LS. Really, the genesis of that switch was that Xander has been working hard on his fitness and he picked up some clubhead speed and that changed the delivery of the golf club, so we needed to move him into something that had a little less spin.

He had played a lower-spinning ball early in his career and had moved into a mid-spin ball, but we were able to move him into that golf ball, which he really likes because it gives him the ability to flight the ball lower, and he doesn’t feel like he’s lost greenside control. He’s excited about that, and the stats show it was a good fit for him.

GolfWRX: Was it one thing in particular that tipped him off to feeling like he needed to find a way to kill some spin?

JD: Well, he has a launch monitor and is very diligent, and he’ll even take his GCQuad out in practice rounds to ge actual data on course. Through that, we started seeing some spin numbers that were a little high, and that led us back to the test center to do a deep dive. We looked at some solutions, and the golf ball was a natural fit for him — it spun a couple of hundred RPMs less with the irons and just a touch less with the driver, so we didn’t have to tweak much in his bag setup.

GolfWRX: Cool. Well, with respect to that setup, let’s dig into his bag.

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (9 degrees, NS setting, 6GF, 6GB)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD BB 7 X (custom black, 45.5 inches, tipped 1 inch, D3)

JD: Xander plays the Epic Triple Diamond 9-degree head. He’s been in a Triple Diamond head for years now. Not doing anything crazy. He’s been in the shaft for a long time. He’s cruising at 120-121 mph clubhead speed, ball speed around 178-180. Launch is around 10 degrees. Spin is around 2,400 RPM. We moved him up a full degree from last year to optimize his driver — he was getting a little bit low on the launch and spinning it a little too much. We felt like if we could get the launch higher and keep the spin relatively flat it would give him more efficient numbers.

3-wood: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (15 degrees @14)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 TX (43.25, tipped 1.5 inch, D3)

JD: He made the move recently…had been in the Mavrik Sub Zero. He found the Epic Speed to be a little easier to launch — it got up in the air a little quicker — but he also felt he could play a flighted shot better with it. Same shaft setup, so it was a really easy transition.

7-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (20 degrees @18.8)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 X (41.5 inches, tipped 2 inches, D3)

JD: It’s a course-dependant club, as he has a driving iron as well. He likes the 7-wood when the rough is up a little bit thicker as it’s a little bit easier to get through the rough.

GolfWRX: What is it about this family of shafts for him?

JD: He loves those shafts and he’s always played them. He knows how they feel in competition. He’s a feel golfer with a lot of rhythm in his golf swing, and you find with guys like that, they know the feel and how a shaft reacts and they don’t want to change.

Irons: Callaway Apex TCB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

JD: Xander was instrumental in helping us with the design of these irons. He was very involved in the process from start to finish. We got a lot of feedback from him. He had played the Apex Pros previously. Our R&D team went to him with some ideas with the goal of offering one of the most consistent irons that has ever been played, and with that, we came up with concept of having a removable weight on the back. There’s no plugs in the hosel, from a club building standpoint, it’s easy to replicate that build, there’s nothing that compensates. We can keep the CG in the center, right behind the clubface. From our end, it’s easy to replicate, but it’s also the most consistent and there’s nothing that has to be done to compensate. We worked hard with him on the offset and topline and the bounces and grinds. It’s a direct replacement for the iron he was playing, and it’s now our most popular iron on tour. He had the first prototype set. He was probably the first guy to hit them.

  • Loft (4-PW): 22.5, 26.5, 30.75, 35, 38.5, 43, 47 degrees
  • Lie (4-PW): 60.5, 61, 61.5, 62, 62.5, 63, 63.5 degrees
  • 6-iron spin: 6,600 RPM
  • Swing weight: D1.5 (4, 5) D2 (6-P)
  • Length: Standard Callaway length

Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (52-10S), Titleist Vokey Design SM6 (56-10 @57), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (60-06K)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

JD: The MD5 blends nicely from the pitching to gap. It’s a familiar shape to him. He uses it on a lot of full shots or slightly off-speed shots. He loves the trajectory. It comes out a little lower and he feels he can control the spin a little more.

With the other wedges, it’s mostly a matter of the sole configuration, and we’re working hard to get him something.

Putter: Odyssey O-Works #7 CH Red
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion 2.0 Tour (10 grams)

JD: He works really hard with his putting coach, and they saw with the armlock some really, really consistent Quintic numbers. They saw his launch angles were very consistent from four feet to 40 feet. The numbers were off the charts, and that led him to working with the armlock.

Over at the Scottish Open, the greens were a little bit slower, so that was a little bit tougher. Speed control was tougher, and he felt when he had to hit it harder, he was better with the shorter putter, so he went back to that over the weekend at the Scottish.

But he’s a world-class putter, so it goes to show his whole team has full expectations of helping him reach No. 1 in the world. We’re always going to be working on helping him get better.

The armlock didn’t stick, but it’s been a great training aid. It helps him in his transition from his backstroke to his through-stroke, he tends to get a little bit of lag. The armlock has helped him eliminate some of that.

It may be temporarily shelved, but he’s still working with it as a training tool, and I think he might bring it back. I don’t think it was a one-and-done, because he’s intrigued by it and the numbers are so good.

Joe Toulon, Odyssey Tour Rep, told us this about Xander’s putter earlier this year, “The top line and back tracer lines really work with his eyes. The CH provides him a little bit of toe hang and it matches up nicely with his path and arc. He’s used face-balanced options in #7’s before and will typically only use something with little-to-no toe hang.”

  • Loft/lie: 3.5/71.5  degrees (loft adjusted weekly)
  • Alignment: Top and tracers in white
  • Insert: White Hot
  • Length: 34 3/8 inches to end of grip
  • Swingweight: D7.5
  • Weight: 516.5 gams
  • Shaft: Black stepped shaft

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Equipment

The best 5-woods on the market – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing 5-woods. WRXer ‘Texas_Golfer’ is on the hunt for a new 5-wood and kicks off the thread saying:

“Currently have a cobra F9 and just want something new. It’s the oldest club in my bag haha. What would you say is the best one out right now? Was thinking Ping G425 maybe? Or maybe the new cobra RadSpeed? Looking for any first-hand experience and opinions. Thanks.”

And our members have been sharing their favorite 5-woods in the thread.

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.

  • jbandalo: “Ping G425 fairway woods are exceptional. Super easy to hit and consistent.”
  • Texas_Tom: “I think the G425 is the friendliest and straightest FW out there. Maybe not the absolute longest? But very easy for the 2nd shot on a long hole. The shaft is going to be the main issue. I don’t like the Ping Alta CB shafts, except for the Tour shaft in a 3W. I changed out shafts for the Orange Tensei shaft and love it.”
  • Byrdman2230: “I was playing sim max until I hit the G425 fairways. They are the easiest fairway woods I’ve ever hit. Pair them with the tour 75 shaft, and you’re good to go.”
  • Mobert19: “This forum is sickening. It just made me order a TSi2 5 wood when I have a TSi3 3 wood and 19 degree G425 hybrid. This place is bad news.”

Entire Thread: “The best 5-woods on the market

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (10/8/21): Bettinardi BB8 Tri DASS Peace Wizard putter

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Bettinardi BB8 Tri DASS Peace Wizard putter

From the seller (@mhardiman90): “Looking to move my brand new BB8 Tri DASS Peace Wizard. Have only carpet rolled it once. This putter was $1600 + tax from the latest Bettinardi Summer Social event.

Putter will come with a Black leather stitchback Grip Master with a “T-Hive” logo (cost me $40 additional to putter). Putter will come with a Red leather Wizard head cover (have additional covers at request for extra cost). Putter will come with the original sales price sticker from the shaft stating the price and registry number. 

Looking to get $1699 OBRO shipped fully insured via FedEx Ground with signature. Can include the matching ball marker in the last picture for an additional $100 ($130-$160 value depending on where you look).”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Bettinardi BB8 Tri DASS Peace Wizard putter

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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Equipment

Phil Mickelson finally found a hybrid he loves

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report

Phil Mickelson, by his own admission, hasn’t historically been “high on hybrids.” There are several reasons the reigning PGA champion hasn’t had much success with the clubs in the past: Too much variability in spin and ball flight, depending on where the ball is struck on the face. Too difficult to flight the ball down. Inconsistent distance.

Given Mickelson’s apprehension around members of the hybrid family, it’s interesting to note that he is carrying one of Callaway’s new Apex UW (utility woods), which were released to retail this week.

Mickelson’s Apex UW (Photo c/o Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

What’s different about this hybrid for Mickelson?

“It gives me a consistent apex and a consistent spin rate from different lies that hybrids haven’t given me, and the ability to hit from the rough and control the flight and bring it down that fairway woods don’t,” Mickelson told Callaway’s Johnny Wunder.

Mickelson’s UW hybrid is reportedly bent to 17 degrees, tightening the gap between his longer clubs while also allowing him to hit a variety of shots. The Apex UW utility wood was designed to combine the best features of higher-lofted fairway woods, hybrids, and a more neutral ball flight.

(Photo c/o Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

“The reason why I like it is the center of gravity is more forward, or plays like an iron, so I don’t get the jumpers out of the first cut and then the big spin ones out of a tight lie, Mickelson said Wednesday from the PGA TOUR Champions’ Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS. “And the relief on the back sole allows me to open the face and keep the face open through impact in the rough on the chop rough shot, as opposed to having the back of the sole close the face through impact. It allows me keep the face open and have some loft so I can get it out of thicker, longer, heavier rough a lot easier.”

Read the full piece on PGATour.com.

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