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6’9”, 211 mph ball speed: Inside James Hart du Preez’s setup

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You may have heard some rumblings about a 6-foot 9-inch golfer who averages 373 yards off the tee, and is teeing it up at the 2022 American Express this week at PGA West’s Stadium Course in La Quinta, California.

His name is James Hart du Preez, a 26-year-old South African Ping staffer who’s making his PGA Tour debut this week.

Previously, Bryson DeChambeau and Wilco Nienaber (a fellow Ping staffer) were the kings of distance on the PGA Tour. It looks like there may be a new head honcho in town, though.

I’ll admit, I was initially skeptical of du Preez’s distance (he averaged 373.1 yards in 2020/2021 on The Sunshine Tour, a South African tour. For reference, DeChambeau led the PGA Tour in driving distance in 2021, averaging 323.7 yards per drive). To get some verification, I got in touch with du Preez’s Ping club fitter Brad Millard. I also wanted to know what’s different about the club setup of a guy who is so tall and hits the ball so far.

Millard, the Player Development Manager at Ping’s Headquarters in Phoenix, personally fit du Preez for his current Ping equipment. In speaking with Millar on Wednesday ahead of The American Express, it appears all of the rumors are true. Du Preez really does hit his drives with 208-211 mph of ball speed.

He’s also done something that no other golfer has accomplished at the Ping fitting facility; he carried the back net of Ping’s range from the indoor hitting bay. That’s something Bubba Watson, Tony Finau, Cameron Champ, or even Wilco Nienaber have ever done. According to Millar, it was a 375-yard carry, with over 143 mph of club head speed.

Apparently, du Preez is the real deal — at least when it comes to distance.

Check out my Q&A with Millar below, and for more photos of du Preez’s equipment setup at the 2022 American Express, click here.

Tursky: First off, can you talk about what it’s like working with du Preez, and is 211 ball speed real? Also, what are some of the challenges that with working with a guy who’s that tall?

Millard: He’s done something we’ve never seen at Ping. James Hart is the only guy I’ve seen hit one over the fence from our bay. It was a 375-yard carry, with over 143 club head speed to launch it over our net.

I would say the biggest challenge is his height and getting clubs long enough. He had never really tested shafts out. He was using X100s when he came to us, and I switched him into a little heavier and stiffer X7, which seemed to help for his height and strength.

The biggest thing that we had to focus on for him was making sure we didn’t get him into equipment that would produce fliers. You can imagine with how far he hits it; he creates gaps bigger than most players do.

How far does he hit a 7-iron?

Around 225 yards. His 8-iron went about 190-195, so we had to make sure we got him into something that would spin enough so it didn’t produce fliers. We didn’t want him to hit a ball 230 when he was trying to hit 220 because the ball didn’t spin enough.

That was one of the main focuses on our fitting, was gapping and going through and making sure he didn’t have anything that would go too far, so if he had a number in mind he didn’t hit it over that.

What does he do with length, loft and shaft on his driver?

So the shaft is 46 inches, which, for him obviously, it looks as comfortable as a 45 or 45.5-inch driver would look to a normal human. It was more about comfort. We didn’t want to go too long, so we went with something comfortable for him that he could control. That’s how we landed with 46 inches. As far as loft, he obviously doesn’t need a lot of loft because of his club head speed it just spins too much.

It’s a pretty low lofted driver, a 9-degree Ping G425 LST head (with 8 degrees of actual loft), and a very stiff shaft in that Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green (80 TX, tipped 1-inch).

What are the lengths of his other clubs? Does he have to go super long?

Yeah, plus 2 inches.

What problems does that create, if any, with the build?

The only issue is that it makes the swing weight extremely heavy, but due to how strong he is, he doesn’t seem to mind whereas other players might feel that, just due to his size and strength.

What are his swing weights?

E0, and most other players play their clubs between D2-D5. They’re pretty heavy.

So for his other clubs, he has a 3-wood and a driving iron?

Correct, and he uses those a lot since due to his length, he doesn’t always need driver.

I’m not sure if you’ve worked with Wilco Nienaber at all, but is he longer than Wilco?

Yeah, I had Wilco in two days before and yes, he is a little longer than Wilco. Not by much, I mean Wilco still hits it out there, but he definitely has Wilco by a few.

I was recently watching Wilco hit drives at the hitting bay and I thought there’s no way a golf ball can father than that, but I guess it can…

Yeah, and partially why Wilco hits it far – I’ve seen Cameron Champ and I’m sure you have, too – but part of the reason Wilco hits it so far is due to his launch conditions. I would say Wilco was about 202-205 ball speed, and James was 208-210 or 211 ball speed, and with similar launch conditions, so that gave him a few extra yards.

Anything else I need to know about this kid?

I think all of us are anxious to see how he performs at this level. Obviously he has the tools and the length to play, it’s just whether he can hit it as close as these guys and make putts to make a cut. So I think we’re all curious to see.

When he came in and we were just warming up, he got to his 7-iron and I was like, holy cow, he’s swinging his 7-iron 110 mph like my driver. This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I pulled in some people, like John Souza who manages our WRX department who’s worked at Ping forever, and Christian Pena was there. I’m like, you guys gotta see this. Then he flew the net, and I basically shut down the fitting. I’m like, OK, there’s nothing else I can do when you’re hitting it that far and that straight, over the net. It’s like, ‘I think you’re driver is good, bud.’ I’ve never seen anybody hit it over that net except James.

Make sure to check out all of our photos of du Preez’s equipment in our forum thread.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Length Police

    Jan 22, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    Nobody cares about his length. He’s currently in 152nd place out of 156. Way to go.

  2. MrHogan

    Jan 22, 2022 at 10:55 am

    I have seen this guy play and he does in fact hit it extremely long and straight. When he learns to hit his irons and becomes a better putter, just like all long hitters it’s gonna be a huge learning curve for him before he can contend.
    It’s absolutely incredible watching this guy hit a ball that far, and the incredible part is, he stays in balance and doesn’t appear to swinging for the fences. Unlike DuhShampoo who always appears to be off balance and swings out of his shoes.

    • DuhShampoo

      Jan 22, 2022 at 2:34 pm

      We’ve seen you swing too MrHogan, we weren’t impressed. Tell the wife I said “hey” too. Me and Davonte the Bull will be over sometime this week.

  3. RSA

    Jan 21, 2022 at 4:43 am

    There are plenty of good South Africans who have won over here who actually deserved this spot at the AMEX, this guy has won nothing and barely makes a cut on our smaller South African sunshine tour. Who wants to watch some one drive greens but can’t even break par – over hyped and under whelming

  4. Alex Harper

    Jan 21, 2022 at 12:46 am

    Has anyone looked into his stats after today’s round?

    • Statman

      Jan 21, 2022 at 10:12 am

      10/18 greens 8/14 fairways 324 off the tee and lost 1.5 strokes in SG putting

      2 doubles – both the result of H2O balls with approach shots

  5. How many not how far

    Jan 20, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    76 – think what he would have shot if he hit it 10 yards longer……

  6. Drkviol801

    Jan 20, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    Im over 6’6″ and Club Champion fit me for irons only a quarter inch over standard!! Never go to club champion total chumps.

    • More to it than height....

      Jan 20, 2022 at 9:17 pm

      well, height alone does not determine any fitting adjustments. 6’2” with short arms could be fit for longer clubs than 6’5 with long arms….

    • Brandon Bolt

      Jan 20, 2022 at 10:46 pm

      I am 6’6″ and a bit of change and my irons are plus 1.5 imch for reference. Unless you are stretch armstrong, it is tough to believe that plus quarter inch would be enough.

      • drkviol801

        Jan 21, 2022 at 12:19 am

        Yes! Thank you bro that’s exactly right.

  7. U. Bin Gaffled

    Jan 20, 2022 at 12:06 pm

    Will we still be in awe of his swing speed and simulator numbers when he misses the cut? Asking for a friend.

    • Big Russ

      Jan 20, 2022 at 3:20 pm

      You sound like a miserable person…smh

      • Hartman

        Jan 20, 2022 at 3:58 pm

        You sound like you bought land in the Metaverse. SMH.

        • Bigger Russ

          Jan 20, 2022 at 5:48 pm

          First I shook my head, then you…..SMD

      • leezer99

        Jan 21, 2022 at 6:24 am

        You sound like ‘that guy’.

  8. Tony Dyck

    Jan 20, 2022 at 11:11 am

    “You’re gonna need a bigger net!”

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Whats in the Bag

Scott Stallings WITB 2022 (August)

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Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees @ 9.25)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Lin Q M40X 5F5

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (15 degrees), TaylorMade Stealth (High Launch, 16.5 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Lin Q M40X 8F5

7-wood: TaylorMade Stealth (21 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Lin Q M40X 8F5

Irons: Titleist T200 (4), Titleist T100 (2020) (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS Money-Taper 130 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey TVD (52-M, 56-M), Titleist Proto (60-M)
Shafts: KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 135 X

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Grip: SuperStroke

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Whats in the Bag

Anthony Quayle WITB 2022 (August)

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Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond S (8.5 degrees @9.5)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X

Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (19 degrees), Callaway Apex TCB (3-5), Callaway Apex MB (6-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour Hybrid Prototype 95 X (19), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue EX Weight Lock (3-5), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (6-9)

Wedges: Callaway Jaws Forged (46-10, 54-12, 60-10), Callaway Jaws Full Toe (64-10)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (46-60), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue (64)

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG Double Wide

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Equipment

GolfWRX Spotlight: RypGolf’s Rypstick

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Product: RypGolf’s Rypstick

Pitch: From RypGolf…

Start hitting longer drives and shooting lower scores. The Rypstick Distance Training Aid
features three interchangeable weights, plus an optional counterweight, all in the convenience of one stick, without any tools necessary.

The versatility of the Rypstick is unmatched, allowing you to swing up to 10 percent lighter than your driver weight, helping to build speed, and up to 25 percent heavier than your driver weight, helping to build strength. For every 1 MPH of added clubhead speed, you’ll gain 3 extra yards of driving distance. All it takes is 15 minutes, three times per week, and you could add 15-25 yards to your game!

Rypstick’s compact, streamlined design fits seamlessly in your golf bag and enables you to build speed from anywhere. The Rypstick is also a great warm up device to use prior to your round of golf, making it an incredibly useful stick.

Over 300 top PGA Teaching Professionals, all use the Rypstick. These top professionals are validating the impact Rypstick’s had on the games’ speed revolution. In addition, Rypstick is used by 75-plus tour athletes, 10 long drive competitors.

Our take on the Rypstick

It seems like everyone is chasing speed these days. And if you’re ready to join the hunt, you’re going to need both a tool for the job and a training program. With respect to the latter, RypGolf offers a four-part training protocol, which we like. And it’s serious business! Four weeks of training for each protocol. Having a swing speed training is great, but without a plan, you’re never going to see 10 or 20 yards of distance gains.

The Rypstick definitely has some weight to it and the first swings take a little bit of strength to get it moving! Like warming up with multiple clubs, you can really feel your muscles working through the swing. After just a few swings at high effort, you really feel like you can swing a normal golf club with some increased speed! The auditory feedback the Rypstick delivers is a big plus as well. We definitely see viability as a warm-up tool in addition to the speed training protocol.

For us, RypStick hits all notes relative to competitor models: weight options, no tools required, available counterweighting, and the price point ($199) is lower than most other swing speed trainers on the market.

You can buy the RypStick here. 

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