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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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Equipment

Scotty Cameron unveils new Special Select Jet Set putters

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Scotty Cameron has today introduced the new range of Special Select Jet Set putters.

The limited release features a four-model collection designed for the player looking for a particular design aesthetic in a high-performance configuration with attention to shape, color palette and finish.

Precision milled in the United States from a block of 303 stainless steel, each new Limited Release Special Select Jet Set putter incorporates Scotty’s performance balanced weighting technology featuring customizable sole weights, as well as purpose-built aluminum sole plates designed to optimize weight distribution in the wider profile of the Plus models.

Speaking on the new range, Scotty Cameron said:

“A lot of golfers want to game the same putters the pros play. Our new Special Select Jet Set putters offer a taste of that experience with a few extras that put them in a category of their own. The Tour Black finish is something a lot of people really like, so when I can, I make putters using it combined with dark, smoky accents. The overall tone-on-tone look is inspired by custom car builders, and that’s where the Jet Set name comes from. We’ve offered this concept in years past. This is the next version of Jet Set. Specifically, the ‘Plus’ models that are in between the width of a Newport 2 and a Squareback 2. I developed this “tweener” size working with a few Tour players who wanted something in between the width of a traditional blade and our Squareback flange width. The Special Select Jet Set Newport Plus and Newport 2 Plus offer those desired sizes and happen to be the first we’ve created for everyone. Limited releases like these new Special Select Jet Set models are for those who want a high-performance putter, but also that little extra.”

In addition, the Special Select Jet Set Newport, Special Select Jet Set Newport Plus, Special Select Jet Set Newport 2 and Special Select Jet Set Newport 2 Plus feature custom graphics, a Tour Black finish with a dark, tonal color scheme, a specialized Pistolini Plus grip, shaft band and headcover.

Displaying the evolution of Scotty’s research in bringing the benefits of higher MOI to blade putter shapes, the line’s “Plus” models introduce slightly wider profiles than standard face-to-flange blade dimensions in design to offer maximum performance from a blade putter.

Special Select Jet Set Newport

“A souped-up version of Scotty’s classic heel-and-toe weighted blade, the Special Select Jet Set Newport includes a plumbing neck, the model’s distinctive rounded features and a unique sight line milled on the topline. Precision milled from 303 stainless steel, this limited release putter has a solid face, misted Tour Black finish, adjustable performance balanced raw tungsten sole weighting and includes the line’s new textured Pistolini Plus grip and Jet Set headcover.”

Special Select Jet Set Newport Plus

“Crafted slightly wider when measured from face to flange, the Special Select Jet Set Newport Plus offers a new size in high-performance blade putter design. Relying on proven multi-material design methodology, Scotty accommodated the fuller profile by distributing weight to the perimeter and incorporating a 6061 aircraft grade aluminum sole plate, anodized black and engraved with the line’s Jet Set graphics. A milled flange sight line provides clean alignment, while customizable stainless steel sole weights provide balance. A new, textured Pistolini Plus grip, Jet Set shaft band and specialized headcover complete the package.”

Special Select Jet Set Newport 2

“Designed with the proven shape, plumbing neck and tri-sole of a modern Newport 2, the Special Select Jet Set Newport 2 is milled from 303 stainless steel with customizable tungsten sole weights, a Tour Black finish and the line’s Jet Set graphics package, including a specialty shaft band, headcover and textured Pistolini Plus grip. Incorporating a subtle design characteristic—and inspired by the putters he makes for touring professionals—Scotty included a milled sight line on the topline rather than a standard flange line. A limited number of left-handed Special Select Jet Set Newport 2 models were also created.”

Special Select Jet Set Newport 2 Plus

“Splitting the difference in flange width between a Special Select Newport 2 and Squareback 2, the Special Select Jet Set Newport 2 Plus offers a Tour-inspired shape that introduces the next profile in high-performance blade design. Milled from 303 stainless steel with a solid face, the Newport 2 Plus has a 6061 aircraft grade aluminum sole plate, anodized black and engraved with the line’s Jet Set graphics. A milled flange sight line provides clean alignment, while customizable stainless steel sole weights provide balance. The putter includes the line’s new, textured Pistolini Plus grip, Jet Set shaft band and specialized headcover.”

The limited release Special Select Jet Set putters will be available worldwide on Aug. 19, 2022, at Titleist authorized golf shops, and are priced at $650 each.

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Equipment

2022 TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 wedges launched

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What you need to know: TaylorMade is launching the latest iteration of its “Swiss Army knife” Hi-Toe 3 wedges. In contrast to TaylorMade’s MG3 wedges, Hi-Toe 3 wedges feature a higher toe peak, higher center of gravity for lower launch and more spin, a four-way cambered sole, and full-face scoring lines all aimed at maximizing versatility and performance around the green.

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3: What’s new

  • Full length scoring lines on all lofts above 54 degrees for additional spin on open-faced shots.
  • Raised micro-ribs between the full grooves (introduced in MG3 wedge) add texture to the face for increased spin and performance on partial shots.
  • Aged copper finish to complement the raw face

TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3: Additional technology

In order to assist in executing “all the shots” TaylorMade Hi-Toe 3 marketing references, TM engineers again incorporate a four-way cambered sole into the 8620 carbon steel Hi-Toe 3. Generous bounce and a wide sole meet a low leading edge for enhanced playability from a variety of lies.

And of course, the weighted toe pad “high toe” portion of the Hi-Toe 3 raises the center of gravity and moves it closer to the center of the face in an effort to produce lower launching, higher spinning shots.

ZTP Raw Grooves are implemented in the Hi-Toe 3 for optimal spin across a variety of conditions.

Full face ZTP RAW grooves

What TaylorMade says

“Our athletes all offered great input individually, but collectively everyone wanted something versatile. They wanted a single wedge that could perform around the greens from deep rough, thick fescue, bunkers with different sands, in wet conditions and from tight lies. That’s a lot to fit into a single design, but with Hi-Toe 3 we’ve done it.” — Bill Price, Product Creation, Wedges and Putters

TaylorMade Milled Grind 3: What it looks like

52 degree

56 degree

60 degree

Pricing and availability 

Hi-Toe 3 is available for order now at www.taylormadegolf.com and at retail locations with an MSRP of $179 USD. Hi-Toe 3 comes stock with the KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 shaft (115g) and Lamkin Crossline 360 Round 52 gram grips (Gray/Blue/Black End Cap).

Hi-Toe 3 is available in standard bounce (50, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60 degrees), low bounce (58, 60 degrees), and high bounce (58, 60 degrees).

KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 115 shafts are standard along with Lamkin Crossline 360 grips.

MyHi-Toe 3

Added elements of personalization are available through MyHi-Toe 3. They may choose from four different finishes, including the classic brushed copper, chrome, black and raw, before selecting text, logos, and paint fills to create a purely unique design.

A complete list of customizable options includes:

  • Finish
  • Grip
  • Shaft
  • Length
  • Personalized text
  • Loft & bounce
  • Custom paints fills: Logos, icons, carbon steel, hosel rings, text

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (8/9/22): Mint Ping i500s

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At GolfWRX, 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 – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of mint Ping i500s.

From the seller (@lawrencedc1): “Asking $725 Plus Ship.  Played 5 rounds.  Didn’t make the Bag!”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Mint Ping i500s

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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