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The WILD story behind Tom Hoge’s 1-of-1 putter he used to win at Pebble Beach

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Tom Hoge – at 32 years old – rolled in a 20-footer on the 71st hole of the 2022 AT&T Pebble Pro-Am to all but seal his first PGA Tour victory ever. At the moment, the putt gave him a two-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth and allowed Hoge to cruise home to victory with a par on the 72nd hole.

When that 20-foot putt dropped, you could feel the relief from Hoge. Something he worked for his whole life was finally coming true. It’s one of those moments in sports that gives you chills just thinking about it.

The backstory to how Hoge ended up with the putter he used to make the putt, though, is arguably even more intriguing.

Here’s how the story goes.

Ahead of the 2022 American Express in Palm Desert, Hoge was searching for a putter that would help him with his alignment. He was tending to aim left, and he needed something to help square him up.

His caddie, Henry Diana Jr., approached Odyssey Tour rep Joe Toulon on the side to request a custom 2-ball for Hoge to try.

“Henry thought a 2-ball with a long line on it might be something easier for him to line up,” Toulon told GolfWRX. “He didn’t tell Tom about that conversation… I said, ‘You know what, I’ll have one made up and ready to go in case that time comes.’”

This was no stock order, though. Hoge is very particular with his putter preferences. According to Toulon, Hoge has always used a plumber’s neck hosel with slight toe hang. The problem is, the Odyssey White Hot OG 2-ball doesn’t come stock with that hosel offering.

Therefore, the custom 2-ball putter that Toulon ordered for Hoge had to be specially made with a plumber’s neck.

The custom job took about a week, and the putter was delivered to Pebble Beach on a practice day prior to the event. Due to the heavier hosel construction, Toulon had to remove the back weight from the sole as you can see below.

With all of the proper weight adjustments made, Toulon then caught up with Diana Jr. at Pebble Beach to show him the putter, to which Diana Jr. responded, “Yeah, I think he’s going to like it…let me show it to him.”

So, ahead of the 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Hoge was presented with a 1-of-1 custom Odyssey White Hot OG 2-ball putter with a custom plumber’s neck built to his liking.

According to Toulon, Hoge liked the putter immediately, but he was still deciding between a few different putter options as of Wednesday night before the event started. Ultimately, though, he decided to give the new custom 2-ball a try for the tournament.

“He switched last week, but he probably didn’t make a final decision until probably Wednesday I don’t think,” Toulon explained. “He had a couple putters in the bag until then. It was kind of a game-time decision.

“We took weight out of it, just because with that neck that we put on it adds some weight compared to the usual spud that’s on it. So we had to take shave some weight and ended up going with that. It was still heavier than what he using, but he said, “I kinda like it, so let’s leave it.” So we left it… it’s a 1-of-1 with that hosel for sure.”

So, just to summarize: Hoge was looking for a putter, his caddie had Toulon build up a custom 2-ball with Hoge’s preferred hosel on it, and then Hoge went on win with it the same week he saw the putter for the first time.

Pretty incredible, right?

Just wait. The story gets even better.

Didn’t it seem odd that Diana Jr. would recommend a 2-ball putter specifically, especially when it needed such a custom build?

Well, not really, as it turns out.

Diana Jr. was a professional golfer back in the day, and his father, Diana Sr., was a tool-and-die maker who also built golf clubs on the side.

In his playing days, Diana Jr. had the same problem with his putting that Hoge was having; Diana Jr. tended to aim his putter too far to the left.

A look at Dave Pelz’ 3-ball putter from the 80’s (Photo Credit: thegolfauction.com)

He was using a 1986 Dave Pelz Three-Ball putter at the time, which was years before the Odyssey 2-ball was invented or available on the market.

Since Diana Jr. was struggling with his aim using the Pelz 3-ball putter, his father, who was a tinkerer and club maker, suggested that he build up Hoge a 2-ball putter for him to try.

“My dad used to be a tool and die maker but he made putters,” Diana Jr. told GolfWRX. “When I was playing professionally I was having a hard time with alignment, so in the mid-90s he made a 2-ball putter. I was using the Pelz putter, but I was aiming too far left. I didn’t like the Pelz putter. He’s like, ‘Well, hell, I’ll make you a putter. I think three is too many, I’ll make you a putter with two…that was 5 years before the Odyssey 2-ball came out.”

As Diana Jr. explains, the custom 2-ball his father made worked wonders for his aiming and squared him up.

Seeing Hoge struggle with the same problem, Diana Jr. figured a 2-ball could help Hoge the same way it helped him nearly 30 years prior.

“My dad was a tinkerer and he was always forward thinking in a lot of ways and he had great ideas,” Diana Jr. said. “Pelz was obviously the pioneer of it, and then [my father] tweaked it, then Odyssey obviously came out with it. But it really worked.”

Obviously, it worked on Sunday for Hoge, too.

“It’s just unbelievable how full circle it went,” Diana Jr. said. “I told my dad [when they came out with the 2-ball years after he developed it]: ‘You missed the boat again. You tweaked the 3-ball down to a 2-ball, then they made a zillion of them.’ But we certainly got paid back last week with what happened. I chuckled to see [Hoge] putt the way he did. It was a magical week. It really was.”

The funniest part? Hoge has no idea about this whole backstory. When I asked Diana Jr. if he told Hoge the full story about how the putter came about it, he answered, “Eh, not really.”

The 20-footer that Hoge made on the 17th green on Sunday at Pebble Beach was an absolutely huge putt for Hoge and his career, but that putt — and all Hoge’s putts last week — had special significance for his caddie, and it all goes back to his father’s handiwork some 30 years prior.

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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.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Thomas A

    Sep 6, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Pelz sell Odyssey the 2-ball design for $250,000?

  2. gunmetal

    Mar 15, 2022 at 11:02 am

    Wicked cool story! If Hoge-No bogey keeps winning, I’m pretty sure there will be a plumbers neck variant offered in the near future!

  3. Pingback: PGA Tour, GolfWRX announce agreement – GolfWRX

  4. Pingback: Photos from the 2022 WM Phoenix Open – GolfWRX

  5. bevan

    Feb 9, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    Really great article, thank you

  6. Bladehunter

    Feb 9, 2022 at 6:51 am

    How that man a raise. When you have a guy on the bag who’s that active behind the scenes. He’s worth a lot.

  7. L

    Feb 9, 2022 at 1:52 am

    Hilarious how all these companies are pushing for MOI with weights at the back of everything and yet here we are LOL

    • L is bad a flog...

      Feb 9, 2022 at 9:50 am

      Is your stroke as pure as that of the guys on Tour… I thought not… Enjoy the MOI moron…

      • GaGolfer

        Feb 9, 2022 at 10:49 am

        A little harsh, aren’t you, son? No more caf for you for a while.

      • True L

        Feb 9, 2022 at 12:07 pm

        L is correct, they didn’t have any problems putting with little blades back in the day.

        • L Train

          Feb 9, 2022 at 12:29 pm

          “…is correct” … “back in the day”….. hey little bud, I think you meant to say “was correct”

  8. Ben

    Feb 8, 2022 at 11:51 pm

    If I could go ahead and get one made up in lefty that would be great.

  9. birdiedancer

    Feb 8, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    That’s how Karma is supposed to work. Hoge is a grinders’, grinder..
    I hope he keeps running the tables with his magic stick.

    • Benny

      Feb 9, 2022 at 6:24 pm

      Well said. Great read as always Golfwrx. We know golf doesn’t bring forth amazing stories everyday. Yet time and time again viewers on here get all mad about the articles.
      Thanks again Golfwrx.

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Equipment

Masters gear roundup: Limited-edition bags, balls, and more

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The Masters in itself is a huge tradition in the world of golf, but it also brings its own traditions with it. One of the big ones for us golf equipment fans is the limited edition gear that is influenced by the season’s first major championship.

Around tournament time, companies big and small offer bags, balls, and accessories that are designed with the colors and history of the Masters Tournament.

Here is some of the gear that we will see this weekend out on the lush, green grass of Augusta.

Callaway

The land Augusta National sits on was once a nursery. Callaway looks to be celebrating that history this year. Colorful flowers are used all over the side panels on the staff bag and on top of the headcovers. Callaway also did some limited edition Chrome Tour golf balls with azalea patterns.

Mizuno

There might not be a green bag here for Mizuno, but they know how to celebrate the Masters! This year, Mizuno is offering Mizuno Pro 241 “Azalea” irons to a limited number of lucky customers. A new green iridescent finish is applied to the heads and some beautiful colored ferrules bring some floral color to the irons. If you are lucky enough to grab a set, you will be impressed by the green display box the irons come in as well!

TaylorMade

This year’s staff bag goes a little heavier on a metallic green color to pay homage to the first major of the year. If you look closely at the details, you will notice shiny gold accent pieces, a small Amen Corner, and an inner lining with Georgia peaches. The headcovers are made from matching metallic green fabric and feature “88th” embroidery for the number of Masters tournaments that have been played. TaylorMade’s TP5x Pix golf balls come in a case that looks, and feels, like a peach!

Srixon

Srixon’s bag for the 2024 Masters goes heavy on green and white with a more simple and classic design on the outside. When you unzip the pockets you will treated to a hidden inner lining that has Georgia’s state fruit, the peach, printed all over. Heck, Srixon even included the pit! Headcovers are matching white and green but have a look that reminds you of the iconic Masters scoreboard.

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Whats in the Bag

WITB Time Machine: Tiger Woods’ winning WITB, 2019 Masters

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At the 2019 Masters, Tiger Woods famously ended an 11-year major championship drought. When Francesco Molinari faltered during the final round, Woods pounced. With a Sunday 70, he captured his fifth green jacket and 15th major championship.

Check out what Tiger had in the bag below.

Driver: TaylorMade M5 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 60 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (13 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind Raw (56, 60)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS

Ball: Bridgestone TourB XS

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

 

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Best irons in golf of 2024: Pure enjoyment

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In our effort to assemble the 2024 best irons, we have again compiled an expert panel of fitters to help you find out which of the 2024 irons is best for your game.

Ultimately the best way to find your personal best iron set is to work with a professional fitter using a launch monitor. The difficult part is a lot of people don’t have easy access to fitters, launch monitors, and club builders — so at GolfWRX, we have done a lot of the work for you.

We are in the era of not just maximizing distance but also minimizing the penalty of common misses for each player — this applies to irons just as much as it does with any other club in the bag. And of course, proper set makeup and gapping is essential. This is why, now more than ever, custom fitting is essential to help you see results on every swing you make.

We want to give you the tools and information to go out and find what works best for you by offering recommendations for your individual iron set wants and needs with insight and feedback from the people who work every single day to help golfers get peak performance out of their equipment.

Best irons of 2024: The process

The best fitters in the world see all the options available in the marketplace, analyze their performance traits, and pull from that internal database of knowledge and experience like a supercomputer when they are working with a golfer.

It’s essentially a huge decision tree derived from experience and boiled down to a starting point of options—and it has nothing to do with a handicap!

Modern iron sets are designed into player categories that overlap the outdated “what’s your handicap?” model, and at GolfWRX we believe it was important to go beyond handicap and ask specific questions about the most crucial performance elements fitters are looking at.

These are the best iron categories we have developed to help you determine which category is most important for your swing and game.

Best irons of 2024: The categories

2024 Best irons: Pure enjoyment

We continue to see an overlap in the way fitters in this category define the top irons. The most playable irons are the most likely to be higher launching, and shots that fly higher make the game more enjoyable for everyone. This reiterates our belief that your iron selection should not be defined by your handicap but instead by what gives you the best opportunity to play your best — and most enjoyable — golf.

Ping G430

Their story: Billed as Ping’s “longest iron ever,” the G430 irons combine a lower CG with stronger, custom- engineered lofts and a thinner face that delivers up to two more mph of ball speed, per the company. At the heart of the new addition is the PurFlex cavity badge, an innovation that features seven flex zones that allow more free bending in design to increase ball speed across the face. In combination with a lower CG, the badge aims to contribute to a solid feel and pleasing impact sound.

Fitter comments:

  • “The best G.I. iron on the market. Easy to hit and launch while making great ball speed for distance.”
  • “The best iron in the game improvement category. High launch and packed with forgiveness on those off-center hits. It’s one of the easiest irons to hit. So easy to hit and look at for the average golfer.”
  • “Yeah, I mean, that’s definitely a go-to and in the matrix for sure. I mean, it’s just super easy to hit, super forgiving. They don’t mess that iron up.”
  • “Ping does a great job of building golf clubs. Their design is fantastic and it’s not for everybody, you know, it’s not the lowest-spinning club…but it sure is one of the most forgiving golf clubs and most consistent golf clubs. Ping G430 in that category of club, you can have something that a good player who needs a little help maybe can use because it’s consistent across the face, and you can’t do that with some of the other clubs because they’re not as consistent across the face for the ball speeds. It is a monster for us.”
  • “The best iron in the game improvement category. It’s one of the easiest irons to hit.”

For more photos/info, read our launch piece.

TaylorMade P790

Their story: Engineers utilized the variables of tungsten weighting, SpeedFoam Air, and internal mass — with an assist from AI — to precisely give golfers what they need in each iron. For example, launch and forgiveness in the long irons. More specifically, TaylorMade is using what the company calls FLTD CG (flighted CG) to strategically position CG throughout the set (lower in the long irons, higher in the short irons). CG is positioned almost a millimeter lower in the long irons compared to previous generations. In the shorter irons, the higher CG positions allowed engineers to dial in spin and promote accuracy.

Fitter comments:

  • “Best combination of everything. The amalgamation of all irons on the market blended into one mathematically perfect design.”
  • “I think people recognize the name. It’s a very popular club. It stands up to every model in a category.”
  • “That’s the staple in the players distance category. It’s year-in, year-out. It’s tough to beat TaylorMade — they don’t go wrong with that iron, for sure. They make little refinements, but it’s almost like, yeah, just keep making little refinements. Don’t kind of mess that up just because the, I mean, it, it fits such a wide range of players and it’s just such a good iron that fits a wide, wide range of handicaps.”
  • “I think where TaylorMade kind of struggled over the past is getting that spin on the golf club, and I think each generation it just keeps getting better. I think they did an awesome job.”
  • “If it’s not our best-selling iron in the fitting center, it’s always like number two. It’s such a great, great performer across the board. And yeah, it just keeps getting better every year. It’s really awesome; crazy distance on that thing too.”

For more photos/info, read our launch piece.

Srixon ZX5 Mk II

Their story: MainFrame v2 was developed with an Automated Intelligence process, flex-maximizing variable thickness pattern of grooves, channels, and cavities carefully milled into the backside of Z ZX5 iron faces for high ball speeds. Not only does MainFrame boost COR, but it also repositions mass away from the face and into the toe and sole for a lower CG for easier launch, more consistency, and forgiveness.

Fitter comments: 

  • “I’m a big believer in the V-Sole. For high-speed guys who want a little forgiveness and are steep, it just doesn’t stick in the ground. Super soft and high launching. Not a ton of offset. It’s also been a good fit for moderate-to-high handicappers.”
  • “So I would say it, it kind of stands out in its category because it does launch higher than its competitors. It also sits in between some of the models, like, it doesn’t directly compete with a hollow cavity and it doesn’t compete with, like the Cobra King Tour. Like, it’s a degree stronger. For a forged iron, it performs great for us. The only problem is that it is a little bit light in a swing weight, so we have to be careful of who we fit.”
  • “It’s definitely one of our more popular irons for sure. You know, you get a guy who wants to play something small but still wants something more forgiving, and they don’t want kind of that full hollow body iron. I mean, that’s definitely one of our best sellers for sure. We’re seeing that a lot of combos — that’s a one iron that you can definitely combo with the ZX7 for sure.”
  • “I think a lot of guys like the concept of the V-Sole with them…If you’re talking an overall package, you know, for the guy that is looking for something clean. That’s a spectacular golf club. Good looks and good feel and great, you know, great performance, and it fits a lot of categories.”
  • “I think the one struggle a lot of companies have with that category is getting something to spin, so to try and give like guys so they don’t get those knuckleball shots or that fly out of the rough that goes 20 yards longer. I kind of think that that’s what I think makes that item so good is you get some spin on it, and I think it, it looks and feels good enough that like it, a guy that’s a mid-single digit can play it and be like, yeah, that’s good enough for me. But it’s also forgiving enough that a guy that’s in that kind of 12-to-15 kind of category if he wants to reach a little bit and play something that might look a little bit better. It just fits such a huge, huge range of players. I think it’s just awesome.”

For more photos/info, read our launch piece.

Mizuno JPX923 Hot Metal

Their story: “With the JPX923 Hot Metal, Mizuno introduces “4355 nickel chromoly,” which is 35 percent stronger than the original Hot Metal material and allows for an eight-percent thinner clubface. Cup face construction works in tandem with a deep center of gravity for high launch with stopping power. Mizuno developed Hot Metal Pro, Hot Metal and Hot Metal HL (High Launch) from 175,000 real golf swings recorded via Mizuno’s Swing DNA system.”

Fitter comments:

  • “These are great for a player who flips at the ball but also needs some help and forgiveness. The strong lofts help reduce a player’s launch and spin.”
  • “Great forgiveness with the feel that Mizuno is known for.”
  • “Great looking and great feeling irons.”
  • “If I had a player come in, that’s just your, you know, your average golfer. It’s one that is like, “Hey, this is, this is one to try.” This is gonna produce a lot of ball speed and is super forgiving. You can combo it really well. Mizuno does a great job where you can do combo sets just with lofts.”
  • “It’s very good. It’s one of the most popular. Always in the mix of game improvement irons when people come in and they want to hit something that’s forgiving and that also still feels less clicky.”

For more photos/info, read our launch piece.

Titleist T200

Their story:  If there were gripes about the previous generation of T200 irons, it was probably because of feel and sound at impact. Titleist heard your feedback on the previous T200 irons, and it listened. The new 2023 T200 irons have a reengineered chassis to create a stiffer structure and create a more stable feeling and muted sound. They also refined the Max Impact Technology within the head to sit closer to the L-face, further solidifying the feel.

Fitter comments: 

  • “Best overall for us. Great looks, workability. Plenty of forgiveness.”
  • “I like the great look of these and they are easy to play for the average golfer.”
  • “That’s a big combo iron for sure, especially, but it’s also, you know, in that player distance category, it’s one of the higher launching ones, and it’s gonna spin a little bit more. I would say some of those irons in that category they launch, you know, they’ve launched a little bit lower and they don’t spin, which it is great for some players, but also some still want to play a smaller package.”
  • “I think it was definitely a big jump from the previous one. Yeah, I mean, one thing I’ve noticed is compared to some of the other irons, even kind of equal loft, it tends to get a little bit more height on it.”
  • “It’s great for one of those guys that if I get in there that’s kind of hitting a little low. It’s one to kind of throw in my hands…you’re seeing that initial launch kind of pick up a little bit compared to some of the other ones.”

For more photos/info, read our launch piece.

Best irons of 2024: Meet the fitters

RELATED: Best driver 2024

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