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Wedge Guy: There’s no logic to iron fitting



If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I’m not afraid to take on things in the golf equipment world that I think do not serve golfers’ best interests. My contrarian approach is based on a lifetime of playing this game at a pretty high level, and over forty years deeply immersed in the golf equipment industry. When I see things that I just do not believe are in golfers’ best interests as you try to hit better golf shots more often, I’ll call them out.

And while I’m a big believer in getting custom-fitted for golf clubs, when it comes to iron fittings, I think our industry has it all wrong.

Here’s why.

Let me begin by telling you I have recently completed a “secret shopper” process of experiencing the fitting protocol at three separate levels – one of the major custom fitting brands, one of the top retail brands’ fitting bay and one of the top equipment brands’ demo days at the club level. I think that gives me a pretty good perspective of what most golfers will experience in a custom fitting session for irons.

As you likely know, iron fittings are almost always centered on fitting the 6-iron by exploring a range of different head designs and shaft options. With reliance on launch monitor data, and almost exclusively hitting shots off of standard tight texture hitting mats, the process is purported to fine-tune the fitting parameters from which to build the golfer the most appropriate set of irons. It’s a nice goal, but I don’t think this process is the right way to get there.

In one experience, lie angle was never even addressed, which was quite puzzling.

In another, the fitter started by having me hit some shots with my 29-degree Hogan Ft. Worth 15 iron, then proclaimed my carry distance to be a full 10-12 yards shorter than I am 100 percent certain that it is. How did that happen?

And in still another, I was asked what iron model I was most drawn to, and then told that one “probably wasn’t right for me,” even before asking what I was seeking from a new set of irons.

How would he know that?

But in every one of these cases, the “fitting” process was centered on the 6-iron, which makes absolutely no sense to me. In more and more golfers’ bags, the 6-iron is the second or third longest iron — maybe even the longest iron. Very few golfers are carrying 4-irons anymore, and even fewer a 3-iron. More and more golfers are opting for hybrids once lofts get below the 5- or 6-iron.

So, where’s the logic of fitting one of the longer irons in your bag, then assuming that all the other irons will just fit right in? Your 6-iron is closer in loft to your 3-wood than it is to your 9-iron. And if you are playing the right tees for your strength profile, the middle of your iron set is the 8-iron or 9-iron, not the 6-iron.

Oh, and good luck asking to hit one of those higher lofts in the same iron model, with the same shaft as you just got “fitted” off the 6-iron.

In two of the secret shopper fittings, the fitter strongly suggested that I include the gap or “A” wedge in the set. I addressed this bad advice in a recent post.

So, as advanced as our fitting protocols have become, with the advent of launch monitors and related technologies, I think we have it all wrong when it comes to fitting irons. But will it change? Only if golfers force that change.

Maybe it’s time we did.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Over his 40-year career in the golf industry, he has created over 100 putter designs, sets of irons and drivers, and in 2014, he put together the team that reintroduced the Ben Hogan brand to the golf equipment industry. Since the early 2000s, Terry has been a prolific writer, sharing his knowledge as “The Wedge Guy”.   But his most compelling work is in the wedge category. Since he first patented his “Koehler Sole” in the early 1990s, he has been challenging “conventional wisdom” reflected in ‘tour design’ wedges. The performance of his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to move slightly more mass toward the top of the blade in their wedges, but none approach the dramatic design of his Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf – check it out at



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  3. geohogan

    Sep 15, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    As important as loft angle IMO is lie angle
    With every iron sitting squarely on the ground, the butt end of every club should be the same height from the ground. Ref. George Knudson
    ie lie angles perfectly matched in the set.

    All that is required is a bending bar to adjust those clubs out of lie angle sync.

    14:15 … “butt end of every club is the same distance from the ground”

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  6. Bob Pegram

    Sep 2, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    I used to work for a big box golf store. A couple of the “fitters” were new (being trained) and should have not been doing fittings. I had previously worked for a Top 100 rated custom clubfitter who trained me. These new “fitters” would sometimes ask me questions that showed they didn’t have enough knowledge to be in that position. One didn’t even understand the idea of bend point of the shaft and how that affected shots nor how a shorter length club will flex somewhat less than if the same shaft were in a longer club. (In general, a lower bend point will hit the ball higher with somewhat more spin. However, there are exceptions/variations which is why the launch monitors are so helpful.)

  7. Matts

    Aug 7, 2023 at 10:37 am

    Most golfers need several different fittings: driver, fairway wood, hybrid, irons and wedges. These fittings also need to identify at what specific clubs the various transitions need to happen.

  8. M Pearson

    Aug 4, 2023 at 3:57 pm

    Have only done a couple manufacturer-specific fittings and, as someone who plays ~+3/4″ shafts and between midsize + a wrap of tape and oversize grips, was left disappointed given that the availability of shafts over standard length is minimal and shafts with grips over standard is minimal or zero. Good luck finding both in the same shaft, much less multiple shafts for the sake of comparison.

    I would love to see manufacturers offer demos for a fee. I would gladly pay for a couple weeks use of three or four 7 irons with the specs I’m looking for with even midsize grips. This would also eliminate the issue that average to strong amateurs arent going to swing or hit the ball the same every day–i.e. a club/setup you like one day you may not like as much 2 days later, or even more likely, if you really like a specific club/setup, it could very well be you just happen to be putting a couple decent swings on the ball.

  9. Max

    Jul 30, 2023 at 12:03 am

    How did I ever learn to play golf and eventually break par with the blades and woods my dad bought for me from the pro shop when I was 14? All this technology, but the game is still hard and requires practice.

  10. Jeff

    Jul 29, 2023 at 10:38 pm

    Who here wants to hit it shorte
    r? I certainly dont want to. If you do, go to the back tees!!

  11. Matts

    Jul 29, 2023 at 3:40 am

    So if you are fitted correctly (6 or 7 iron), and purchase the fitted set of irons (4 iron through PW) and the gapping is very uneven, how is this a good fitting? The other six irons need to be fitted for correct gapping by means of tweaking the lofts if possible.

    • Jeff

      Jul 29, 2023 at 10:14 pm

      Why would the gapping be uneven?

      • Jim

        Jul 30, 2023 at 8:58 am

        Strength and ability to hold proper launch angles. Many people hit the 4 and 5 and sometimes even the 6 the same distance. Each iron needs to be set to the players needs.

        • Jeff

          Jul 30, 2023 at 7:18 pm

          If you hit your #4 iron, #5 iron, and #6 iron similar distances. Homestly, you don’t need a fitting. You should invest in a lesson

  12. Prime21

    Jul 27, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    WHO uses 6 irons anymore? Asking for a friend. Also, YOUR requirements should ALWAYS be expressed. Communication is a two way street. While I agree that a fitter should have asked you better questions & gotten better information from you, you must also own the fact that YOU have a role in this “problem”. Fitting has improved greatly throughout the years, BUT it can always be better! KEEP STRIVING FOR GREATNESS!

  13. Mike

    Jul 27, 2023 at 11:38 am

    I once went to a big box store iron fitting where in order for me to test an iron, they had to take a new one from a set & (heavily) tape it up. So the shotlink data was meaningless.

    Also went to a club champion fitting on a super cold day & never really got warmed up. The fitter kept pushing me towards more ‘player’ irons w/ a senior shaft. Totally out of my profile on both counts! He was actually surprised that I didn’t drop $2,000 on the iron set!

    Ironically, many of the clubs in my bag that I hit well (irons, 3W, TM mini-driver) I did not get fit for.

  14. Dirty-d

    Jul 27, 2023 at 8:32 am

    That’s too bad. I’ve had great iron experience at MK golf in San Antonio, always fit me off the 7i and tweak lie angle and loft to meet my needs as well. Always tried lots of brands. And always free repairs I am very loyal to that company due to their customer service and performance

  15. Craig

    Jul 27, 2023 at 3:58 am

    Unless you can get a proper full back tour experience fitting, if you have a good idea of your specs then fitting is mostly a waste of time.

    • Jeff

      Jul 29, 2023 at 10:21 pm

      Having traveled the tour for over 35 yrs and visited indepented ckub fitters over the years. Your statement is 100% wrong! I do suggest, you go see your local PGA professional for lessons!!

  16. Dan Bates

    Jul 27, 2023 at 12:14 am

    The big name fitters have turned into churn and burn companies owned by pe firms. I’m an avid decent slightly under scratch player. I’m not a gear head but no what I want. For the ridiculous prices at txg or club champ fitting with only a 6 iron is nuts. Should be much more in depth. Same goes with drivers. Shaft adapters they use screw with swingweight and flex. To me there’s gotta be a better way to fit all clubs.

  17. Jeff

    Jul 26, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    With all your club knowledge. Maybe you should have asked the fitters about lie angle!! The fitters I have been to, we discuss lie angle. Sounds like you set the fitters up and were looking for something to put in your article.

    • Terry Koehler

      Jul 27, 2023 at 11:36 am

      No, my goal was to see how various entities approach fitting . . .

      • Jeff

        Jul 29, 2023 at 9:47 pm

        Its works both ways. The more questions you ask, the better the fitting becomes. Information in,information out.

      • Jeff

        Jul 29, 2023 at 10:25 pm

        So, how many club fitters did you visit?

    • Paul

      Jul 27, 2023 at 7:57 pm

      I think you missed the point. I’m a former professional and at my local stores they just let me go and fit myself but he wanted to see what the average guy off the street would get.

  18. Jeff

    Jul 26, 2023 at 11:38 pm

    There is no logic to club fitting. How about no logic to putting the loft on an iron head versus the iron number! Who would do that???

    • Terry Koehler

      Jul 27, 2023 at 11:34 am

      Hello, Jeff.
      The “logic” of putting the loft numbers on irons, as we did with the Ben Hogan FT. Worth 15 irons, was to bring a measure of precision to irons. We’ve purchased our wedges by loft for decades, because that is a precise way to know what you have. Drivers, fairways and hybrids are almost all sold with the loft number clearly indicated. So why wouldn’t you want that same level of clear precision throughout your set? Because the number on irons has no finite value as to loft, golfers really don’t know what they are getting. And the continued “jacking” of lofts has removed all meaning from the relative numbers on the sole.

      • Whatever Terry

        Jul 28, 2023 at 7:16 pm

        The numbers on the sole never mattered. As long as your 5 iron goes further than you 6, and your 6 does further than your 7, etc. who cares what the loft is? Saying that the number on the sole only matters when it’s a certain loft is a jaded, old-head, boomer perspective. “Back in my day,” ?

      • Jeff

        Jul 29, 2023 at 9:37 pm

        So how did that work out for the company??

      • Jeff

        Aug 1, 2023 at 8:06 pm

        Terry, how did that “logic” work?

  19. OG Minkler

    Jul 26, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    I think custom fitting is mostly overrated. I had similar trackman experience, it said my best 6 iron was 147 yds. I hit a 6 iron 165 at sea level in California mild temps. I did my homework on irons and shafts beforehand so I knew what i wanted going in. I walked away ordering that exact makeup. If you’re a club junkie and know your game a custom fitting is not 100% necessary in my opinion.

    • Jeff

      Jul 26, 2023 at 11:42 pm

      I guess no need for tour vans. Let the pros do their homework abd figure out what they need

  20. Laker

    Jul 26, 2023 at 7:38 pm

    Try getting a midsize grip … I’m amazed a better effort is not made by the majority of fitters

  21. Jay Arr

    Jul 26, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    Personally, I think the so-called “Brand Agnostic” fitting places are a big scam… I’ve been to TXG and it was useless.
    Ping and PXG do a pretty decent job of getting you into heads and shafts that will better your game, both use 7i, not 6i to fit.
    I pretty much agree with 95% of what you wrote.

    • T

      Jul 27, 2023 at 2:21 am

      The problem with those brand agnostic places is, in order to use all heads for all shafts and frequency match build the heads to those shafts they have to bore out taper tips for parallels in order to do those builds and hope they can match the weights all across and fit the shafts. I don’t want my Mizuno taper heads bored out and parallel shafts put in, I don’t care what anybody says, I know what I feel and I can feel the difference

      • geohogan

        Aug 4, 2023 at 1:19 pm

        @T… totally agree taper tip is the only method to know that the club head hosel and the shaft are concentric. Parallel tip shafts into a parallel bored hosel can be out of concentricity by many hundred of inch and differ club to club.
        IMO, once 5 iron became longer than 38 inches, close to 39 inches, 6 iron and up became more difficult to swing for most and using a shorter shaft in the irons is problematic because the head weights and SW are set for the longer shaft.

  22. Big Guy

    Jul 26, 2023 at 4:46 pm

    Dunno if I agree with this.

    If a player can be fitted correctly for a 6 iron, which is one of the longer irons they will carry therefore one of the more difficult to hit, then it stands to reason the the shorter irons will also fit better.

    Loft jacking is a result of the top end of the bag equally going longer and to create correct gapping, the irons also needed to be strengthened. This naturally creates a gap in the wedges which an A wedge helps to fill.

    I want to know that a new iron set improves my chances of consistent success and a correct gapping.

    • L

      Jul 26, 2023 at 8:06 pm

      You’re only allowed 14 clubs in the bag so it doesn’t matter what the loft label is on the iron once it’s in the bag.
      But it is a problem when fitting clubs are mostly just the 6 iron.
      That’s the whole point of this article. There is no “filling in” of a gap when you’re only allowed 14 clubs so it doesn’t matter what the label is

  23. Whine.e

    Jul 26, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Then provide alternative and create a market. Youre articles are just more and more sounding jilted. I know better blah blah blah.

  24. PJ

    Jul 26, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    When I went to my local nationally known club fitter they had an obvious brand bias. When they had me hit my 6 iron, and then had me hit several other brand 6 irons, the fitter pointed out how much farther the new 6 iron traveled. I pointed out that the newer irons have less loft than mine so they will all go farther. He had no answer.

    Then we did wedges and there was an obvious bias as to the brands that I had to test. What was worse is after spending the money for a full bag fitting, the guy says he would throw in the driver fitting for free. I told him “I already paid for that”. He didn’t know what to say.

    If you get fit make sure you tell them you are going to try EVERY brand. If they have you hit irons ask them what the loft is, and if it is less loft than yours hit the other brand 7 irons and compare that to your 6 iron. It eliminates the BS.

  25. Chris M

    Jul 26, 2023 at 1:59 pm

    I will say I just did a PXG fitting and they have at least moved to a 7i for fittings. I had always used 6i on previous fittings so that was a welcome change.

    • PPP lol

      Jul 26, 2023 at 3:38 pm

      Pings have always been 7 iron, which is why PXG is a 7, because all the Ping guys went to PXG is why all PXG looks like Pings

  26. Garrett

    Jul 26, 2023 at 1:06 pm

    I tend to think sole design, leading edge, and lie angle, all of which affect turf interaction, are the most important parts of iron head fitting and need to be done on grass.

    • D

      Jul 26, 2023 at 3:39 pm

      Which is why they don’t, because 90% of people who get fit can’t hit the damned ball properly to save their lives, which is also why and how these fitters make money and exist to sell stuff lol

    • Jeff

      Aug 1, 2023 at 8:29 pm

      Garrett, good point!!!

  27. Bob

    Jul 26, 2023 at 12:04 pm

    The first time I saw a lie board was with the Ping ISI fitting in about 1996. That was a logical first step and widely adopted now. Much better than their fingertip-to-floor method that didn’t take into account toe drop.

    Not sure what the point is here.

  28. James

    Jul 26, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Nice write up, however, what do you propose?

    • Jim T

      Jul 29, 2023 at 10:12 am

      Exactly! Good description of the problem but what’s the solution? Fit the 7-iron? Fit all the irons? We know that ain’t gonna happen.

  29. D Gillis

    Jul 26, 2023 at 11:33 am

    Ever notice the difference in lengths on standard irons!? Ridiculous!

    No wonder no one is improving. BUT my 8 iron now goes 190!

    • Bob

      Jul 26, 2023 at 12:11 pm

      Not sure who the first snakeoil salesman was to start jacking lofts, but it started an ugly trend. Like currency inflation.

      In Christianity, they call that fornicating with the moneychangers.

      • Robert Thompson

        Jul 26, 2023 at 5:16 pm

        Cobra was the first guilty party when it came to loft jacking. It didn’t take long for everyone else to follow suit.

      • D Gillis

        Jul 26, 2023 at 6:08 pm

        Well done!

  30. Aaron

    Jul 26, 2023 at 10:54 am

    Was there any consistency to the length and lie of your irons at each of the fittings? Did anyone have you +1/2” while another had you at -1/2”…etc?

  31. Andrew

    Jul 26, 2023 at 10:49 am

    Mr. Koehler, being a long time reader of your articles and major fan of your work. I couldn’t agree with you more. This industry is centered on sales and that’s one of the main reasons the average score remains the same, even after all the technology. Although I fear it will never change. It’s great to hear you fighting along side us. Thanks again for another great article.

  32. Jon

    Jul 26, 2023 at 10:35 am

    This is why I assemble my own irons with components from GolfWorks. It seems more and more all the fitters are worried about is selling distance. The predominate mistake is with the shafts that are being suggested are too light in weight.

  33. Approved

    Jul 26, 2023 at 10:33 am

    Hear, Hear!

  34. O

    Jul 26, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Because they’re just sales people. They’re there to sell, no matter what. And the old adage of the used car salesmen fit nicely.
    And they have incentive to sell certain ones for more of a cut, so they suggest those than the one you actually want

    • Kingsley

      Jul 26, 2023 at 4:06 pm

      Absolutely not true, at least in regards to tech reps from major companies. Tech reps take care of the majority of fittings and do not receive any incentive on sales. Your comment is obtuse and uninformed.

      • Dong

        Jul 26, 2023 at 8:09 pm

        Ever been to Club Champion? True Spec? No? Well then lol
        Can’t debate truthful and experiential observations based on fact

        • Kingsley

          Jul 27, 2023 at 8:34 am

          I said tech reps for large companies (Callaway, Titleist, Ping, Taylormade, etc). Companies like Club Champion and Tour Spec (and in house fitters at clubs) are usually partially compensated on sales. We can have a meaningful conversation once your ability to read accurately improves.

          • Ding

            Jul 27, 2023 at 2:54 pm

            Actually, your comprehension verges on kindergarten, since, the original commenter didn’t mention big box or large label manufacturers, the dude was pointing out the fact that they are, in principle, SALESPEOPLE – so stick to that and not reach or add your own opinion on something he didn’t mention, doof lol

    • geohogan

      Jul 26, 2023 at 5:11 pm

      Nothing happens in the world unless stuff is sold.
      No only is your comment demeaning to used car salespersons but
      sales in general.
      A dentist tried to up sell me to a bridge or implant when a filling
      was all that was required.

    • rebfan73

      Jul 26, 2023 at 10:41 pm

      I’m a custom fitter for a major OEM company. When at a fitting, I go out of my way to tell people that I’m a fitter, NOT a salesman. My pay is not commission
      based. If I do my job correctly, my customer will hopefully walk away pleased and with the knowledge that they’re playing the best club for them, wether it’s their own or ours. Sometimes I can do better for the player, other times I can’t. And the OEM I work for uses a 7 iron, not a 6. I don’t think 6 irons have been used for some time, so I question the validity of your article….

      • Dan

        Jul 27, 2023 at 7:44 am

        Thanks for chiming in. I agree with your comment. As a consumer golfer, frame of mind has become a focal point. Getting a set of irons per a fitting recommendation is most helpful. After that, well, a consumer golfer has to practice to get the better results desired using his more tailored equipment. This article unveils some weaknesses in the fitting approaches taken, yet, similar to the fitting approach described in the article, fails to present a more impact full form of a fitting style and process.

      • G

        Jul 27, 2023 at 2:57 pm

        Well duh, that’s because you’re getting a salary, duh, everybody knows that, BUT you are getting a commission of around 2% for the sales of the goods, so don’t be disingenuous, sheesh. So great, you’re a fitter, but let’s just pretend you don’t sell anything for the year – what will your bosses think of you then? Exactly. You’re a salesperson. Get real

      • Wayne Walters

        Aug 17, 2023 at 6:17 am

        I was fitted early 2021 at a national name brand company. The fitter used 6-irons across different brands. Ultimately it was a chase to see what got the best numbers in terms of distance. I ended up with irons with shafts that are too light, and too upright, for $2k out the door. I play better currently with my 1994 MP-14s with 130 gram stiff shafts that I bought at a yard sale for $100.

    • PigB

      Jul 27, 2023 at 9:19 am

      This has been my experience every time, including tech reps! I feel all of my fittings have been hall-assed with a hard sell at the end.

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Beyond limits: Carbon bending and the future of shaft manufacturing



My name is James, and I am an equipment junkie. Like many of you, I am also a (mediocre) golfer struggling to take my golf game to the next level. But since I’m not so keen on hitting the range or the gym, I’m always searching for the next big breakthrough to help me avoid excessive practice and golf lessons.

TLDR: I am back to report that I may have found the ultimate breakthrough involving how golf shafts are manufactured. It will sound mind-boggling and counter-intuitive, but the new technology involves controlling a shaft’s variables of weight, flex (CPM), and torsional strength (torque) all independently of one another. As if this alone doesn’t sound far-fetched enough, it also purports to control the subjective aspect of how stiff the shaft feels without affecting the other variables.

To the best of my knowledge, I never knew any of these were possible, but seeing (and feeling) is believing, though I’m still reeling from my recent experience. Moreover, I dare predict that the sheer novelty of this discovery has the potential to redefine the golf shaft industry as we know it.

Also, the article is long. You’ve been warned.

In A League Of Their Own

Over the years, I have reported on several golf innovations and technologies that made golfers sit up and take notice. Of those finds, let me briefly recap two products that especially stood out before I unveil my most recent discovery further below.

Starting at number three, I present the now-famous Autoflex shaft by Dumina. Introduced in early 2020 during the COVID epidemic, the small Korean company claimed that their shafts didn’t use any flex designations and are to be selected solely based on a golfer’s swing speed. Against conventional wisdom, the company claimed that a super flexible, ultralight shaft can improve distance and accuracy for golfers of all swing speeds. The AF shaft, with its mysterious Korea Hidden Technology (KHT), sounded too good to be true, but more often than not, golfers who braved the steep price and the hot pink color agreed that the shaft seemed legitimate. Many also credit it with creating a whole new category of soft and hyper-flexible performance shafts.

Next in the number two spot is the groundbreaking FreeFlex shaft from SJ Golf Lab, also out of Korea. When the FF shafts surfaced in early 2023, I first thought they were a slightly improved version of the Autoflex. At weights and flex even softer than the AF, the shafts also improved distance and accuracy at a lower price point than their counterparts.

Upon delving further, FreeFlex Technology (FFT) was far more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Against the norm, the inventor of FFT claimed that a shaft’s weight, flex (CPM), and torque are NOT relative to each other and that each variable can be controlled separately. According to SJ Lab, a lightweight, flexible shaft with a strong torque was possible, and vice-versa. The incredulous claim went largely unnoticed at the time, but the folks at SJ Lab recently decided to prove their technology by introducing the ultimate unicorn of a shaft.

Aptly named ‘Hammer Throw’ the rubber-like shaft featured a conventional shaft’s weight of 62g yet measured only 140 CPM to be incredibly soft and flexible. To top it off, it also featured a strong 3.5 torque similar to an S-flex shaft, all unlikely numbers that have never been combined in a single shaft before. The Hammer Throw proved to be a wonder shaft for slower swingers, helping to increase club head speed, distance, and even accuracy.

Ultimately, SJ Lab redefined the concept of ‘shaft customization’ by proving that a shaft’s WT, CPM, and TQ can be controlled independently to any degree.

Featuring SJ Golf’s FFT technology, the Hammer Throw and FF38 also caught the attention of many WLD athletes with swing speeds over 150mph.

Mind-Bending Revelation

The AF and FF shafts are indeed quite amazing, but what I’m about to share with you may be an even bigger discovery than both of them combined.

It was a Thursday afternoon in October when I arrived at SJ Golf Lab. I had just finished a round of golf that morning and felt flush after having bested my buddies on a tough track. I was to cover the story of a new line of putter shafts (based on the Chaos Theory in physics, no less) and was looking forward to seeing if it could help my putting.

I was making small talk with Dr. Choi, the inventor & CEO of SJ Golf Lab, when a courier arrived to hand him a sealed envelope. Inside was a patent certificate for a new golf shaft manufacturing process, which was to be featured in SJ Lab’s latest MetaFlex series of shafts.

“Oh, that sounds interesting” I said politely. “Is it like FreeFlex technology?”

What came next was a barrage of information so contradictory and yet so transformative in its revelation that I forgot all about the putter shafts.

Entering The Realm Of The Senses

Carbon Bending Technology (CBT) is the latest brainchild of Dr. Choi, the inventor of FreeFlex shafts. As incredulous as his FFT may seem, his new CBT technology takes it even further by stating that a fourth variable, the shaft’s level of firmness, can also be controlled independently of the other variables.

“CBT technology involves bending or wrapping carbon in a certain way to control how stiff a shaft feels, independently of weight, flex, and torque.” – Dr. Seung-jin Choi, inventor of CBT Technology 

Take a moment to let that sink in. Not only is he saying that the objective values of WT, CPM, and TQ can be controlled in any manner desired, but he can also control the subjective aspect of how firm a
shaft feels.

If CBT technology is legitimately possible, the implications of his discovery are immense and may well change the way golf shafts are made. Needless to say, such a spectacular assertion begs the question, “How can such an improbable idea be possible?”

As I struggled to comprehend what I just heard, Dr. Choi handed me a shaft and asked me to try and bend it. Grabbing it at both ends, the shaft felt light and soft, and I was able to bend and flex it easily. I was then given another shaft and asked to do the same. The new shaft felt much firmer from the get-go, similar to what I’d expect from a typical S-flex shaft. When I said that the second shaft felt much stronger than the first, I was in for a rude awakening.

“They’re the same shafts” Dr. Choi said. “The only difference is that the second one was treated with the CBT process. Other than that, both are practically the same in CPM and torque.”

“What do you mean these are the same shafts? This one is definitely stiffer.” My eyebrow arched in puzzlement at such a blatant contradiction.

After all, I was holding both shafts in my hands, and no one in the world was going to convince me that these two had the same CPM and TQ measurements.

The skepticism in my voice must’ve been obvious as I was led to a measuring device. I wish I could’ve seen the look on my face at that exact moment when my eyes confirmed both shafts to have the same CPM and torque.

Two same-looking shafts measured similarly in CPM and torque, despite one feeling much stiffer.

Goosebumps broke out on my arms, and my brain felt numb. Stunned, I took turns grabbing each shaft by the ends and bent them over and over again. There was absolutely no doubt that one was stiffer than the other. It wasn’t even close. Yet, if the numbers don’t lie, how was I to reconcile the two empirical facts at odds with each other before my very eyes?

Seeing Is Believing… Or Is It?

After repeated measurements to ensure I wasn’t dyslexic, I regained enough sense to sit down with Dr. Choi to hear more about the sorcery of carbon bending.

ME: How does CBT differ from your earlier FFT technology?

CHOI: CBT came as a result of golfers loving our FreeFlex shafts with the FFT technology but wanting even more. The FFT allows us to control the weight, flex, and torque independently. We used this discovery to design a new breed of shafts that help all levels of golfers increase club head speed and distance. But some of the stronger, faster-speed golfers were eventually turned off from it, as they couldn’t get accustomed to the soft feel and flex. The fear of spraying the ball all over the course was just too much.

To solve this issue, I looked at many factors that led golfers to describe whether a shaft is soft or stiff. Similar to FFT, I soon discovered that a shaft’s stiffness is not relative to its CPM value. By reinforcing a shaft through a special process I call carbon-bending, it can be made to feel as stiff as I wish without changing the original CPM or torque.

ME: (blank stare)

CHOI: Did that answer the question?

ME: Uhh… no? What do you mean the CPM doesn’t change? If the shaft became stiffer, it means the CPM value must have increased, doesn’t it? How we perceive stiffness is subjective, so we measure the CPM value objectively with a machine. That way, we can compare the CPM values of different shafts to see which one is stiffer with the higher number.

CHOI: Normally yes, but like I said, how stiff the shaft feels does not have to correlate with the CPM. They are independently controllable. As I just showed you with the two shafts earlier, both measured at the same CPM and torque. It was only when I applied the CBT method to one of them that it became stiffer than before, as you have seen for yourself.

ME: Yeah, I’m still not sure how that is, feeling firm in my hands but the machine reading it as soft. Is this like the cat in Schrodinger’s box, where the cat is both alive and dead at the same time? This shaft is also both soft and firm simultaneously?

CHOI: Not quite. But how about this? What if the CPM measurement we currently use to gauge and compare stiffness between shafts is not the only method? What if there were other ways that we haven’t considered to control the feeling of firmness?

ME: So you’re saying you discovered a new way to objectively measure how we feel or perceive stiffness?

CHOI: I think it’s better to say that I realized that a shaft’s CPM and stiffness can be independent of each other, whereas before, we thought they were directly relative. It led to look for other ways to make the shaft firmer, which is what I did. In the process, it also made me think, what else are we missing? Maybe we’ve been limiting ourselves in believing there’s nothing new left to discover.

Shaft Manufacturing 101

According to Dr. Choi, the method of manufacturing carbon shafts has remained largely unchanged since 1979, when Taylormade first introduced the first graphite shaft that offered many advantages over conventional steel shafts. Since then, various new materials and technologies have made the shafts lighter and stronger, but the basic shaft-making process remains the same.

The making of a modern golf shaft consists of wrapping layers of prepreg (treated carbon fiber) sheets around a steel shaft (mandrel). As more layers are applied, the shaft becomes progressively thicker and heavier (WT), which makes the flex (CPM) stiffer and increases the torsional (TQ)

The characteristics of a shaft depend on the amount of material and how each layer is oriented on the mandrel. How this is done varies among OEMs.

The current method and its proportional relationship between WT, CPM, and TQ is widely accepted. However, it also presents a big challenge for shaft-makers, whose main goal is to make shafts that improve distance with more accuracy. This is because generating more club speed for more distance necessitates a light and flexible shaft; while improving shot accuracy requires the shaft to be firm in both flex and torsional strength.

To balance the trade-off as best they could, OEMs have continually researched new materials and higher-quality carbon, along with their own, often secret, ways of weaving and arranging the carbon prepreg. A good example to illustrate shaft improvement in this manner is the lighter 50-gram range of X-flex shafts, which were a rarity only a few years ago.

At least for now, 5X shafts seem to be the pinnacle of conventional shafts that can be made with the existing process.

Shaft Manufacturing 2.0

In physics, Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration (F=MA). The same can be applied to golf at impact, but since a golf club is designed to be in motion, its dynamic energy is calculated as Impulse=MAT, where T is the time the ball stays in contact with the club face.

Dr. Choi explained that increasing any of the three factors would transfer more energy to the ball (I).

In other words, by making the club head heavier (M), faster (A), and getting the ball to remain in contact with the clubface longer (T), the distance will increase as a result.

Now that we can get faster club head speed (FF shafts), how can the shaft be made to feel stiff while retaining a longer distance? The solution was surprisingly simple, as most discoveries tend to be at first.

“Imagine wearing a pair of skin-tight nylon stockings,” Dr. Choi said. “It’s tight, but you can still move and bend your knees easily.” Truth be told, I’d never worn stockings before, but I nodded to see where it would lead.

“If you were to put on one more, your legs will feel stiff, and with yet another, it’ll now be very difficult to even bend your knees,” he was building up towards a big reveal. “But no matter how stiff your legs now feel with the layers of stockings, you can still rotate them.” Come again?

“When you try to sit down, the legs will stick straight out like they’re in a cast, right? But you’d still be able to twist or rotate your leg [left and right] because the stockings are not exerting force in that direction.”

Dazed at the anticlimactic turn, I tried to recall the last time I had a cast but he plowed on. “The original characteristics of your legs don’t change because of the stockings. They’re still your legs, which are bendy and flexible.”

I may have missed a whole lot there, but loosely translated, CBT technology is like adding tight pairs of stockings to make a shaft feel firmer, but won’t change what the original shaft was in terms of
torque or CPM.

Helical Carbon Armour

Carbon bending involves a new step in the shaft manufacturing process, where a thin strip of carbon is helically wrapped tightly around the shaft to increase stiffness. This new sheath of armor will firm up the feel of the shaft but will not affect the CPM or torque. In addition, Dr. Choi’s in-depth research further showed that the width of the strip band and the spacing between the helical spirals all played a part in changing the characteristics of the shaft in minute ways.

Each shaft has been treated with CBT and using different carbon weave, band width, materials and alignment to display a unique characteristics that can be tailored to a golfer’s swing

The truly mind-blowing prospect of CBT, however, is its ability to create an endless number of unique shafts with specific performance characteristics. For example, the number of new shaft possibilities can reach tens or even hundreds of thousands, depending on various factors, including but not limited to the width and thickness of the band, the spacing and orientation of the helical spiral, the weave pattern of the band fabric, and each of the different materials that all of these factors can be applied to.

“Can you imagine a PGA tour pro being able to dial in a golf shaft to squeeze 99.9% of the performance potential from their favorite shaft, without giving up anything they prefer in WT, CPM, TQ, and now FEEL?” – SJ Golf Lab 2023 

If It Looks And Barks Like A Dog?

Several days later, I returned to SJ Lab to test the new MetaFlex CBT shafts. The lineup consisted of three driver shafts of 5H, 6H, 6.5M, and iron ix90 shafts (H for high kick, M for mid-kick). Again, the MF series is designed for faster-speed golfers who swing at least 100mph to well over 120mph. I purposely asked not to see the shaft specs beforehand, as I wanted to remain neutral in determining how the new shafts felt and performed.

Waggling the 5H shaft first, it felt similar in weight and flex to a typical R-shaft. I usually average a smooth swing of about 95 mph with my FF38, but the 5H shaft instinctively made me try to swing harder to compensate for the firmer feel. The good drives launched high and carried as far, with spin between 1900~2000 rpm. As I warmed up, I was hitting it quite well, despite swinging a bit harder than usual.

I had grown accustomed to swinging smoothly and in tempo with FF shafts, so it felt good to swing hard again and not worry about the head catching up. The overall distance was comparable with my own driver at 240~250 yards, so I guessed the 5H specs to be about 220 CPM and close to 4.0 torque. On the downswing, the shaft reminded me of the many 5S shafts I had been using before being turned onto softer shafts. I imagined I could play it well, but struggle to keep it straight on the back nine when I gradually get tired.

Next, the 6H shaft felt like a conventional 5S on the waggle, but much stiffer like a 5X shaft on the actual downswing. I guessed it to be about 230~240 CPM and 3.5 in torque, as I was only able to turn the club head over about one-third of the time. I got a couple out to 240 yards but the rest of the shots varied from a fade bordering on a slice interspersed with low pulls. I felt the shaft demanded more speed for it to show its potential, and my slower speed wasn’t making it sing as it should.

Lastly, the MetaFlex 6.5M told me right away that it was out of my league. The waggle reminded me of a Ventus or a Tensei shaft, and the actual swing was even stiffer and closer to a 6X shaft. As expected, my shots were mostly pushed dead right, as I couldn’t effectively load the shaft with speed.

When I tried to force the head to turn over, I’d overcompensate to flip the wrist and pull it low left. The few that managed to land on the fairway barely traveled 210 yards with a noticeable decrease in ball speed. I can usually muster enough muscle to make a typical stiff shaft work over nine holes at least, but the 6.5M felt like an iron rod.

Overall, MF shafts’ waggles felt similar to conventional aftermarket shafts and felt even firmer during the actual swing.

I was now ready to see the actual spec measurements of the three shafts.

I could never have imagined such numbers corresponding to the firmness I experienced with MetaFlex shafts.

“There’s no way these numbers are the actual specs,” I protested. “These are softer than my FF38, so how…?” Hearing my voice hit a high pitch, I quickly closed my mouth. I already knew to expect something different, but this? Trying to reconcile the stiffness with such low numbers was just as difficult as it was the first time I encountered this phenomenon.

For lack of a better comparison, imagine picking up a cute kitten to hear it purr, only to be shocked at hearing it bark like a big angry pitbull with its tail stepped on. Does this mean I can no longer use phrases like “seeing is believing,” What will happen to “if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog?”

More importantly, what does this mean for the future of golf shafts?

Implications For The Future

Deep down, I believe every golfer wants to increase their driver distance. It doesn’t matter if you average 150 yards or 300 yards. As golfers, the need to hit it farther is in our DNA.

Since discovering that longer, easier distance (and accuracy to boot) is possible with the advent of AF shafts, I’ve never looked back. When FreeFlex shafts debuted earlier this year, I switched all my shafts throughout the bag and couldn’t be happier. I’ve received dozens of similar emails from golfers who read about my experiences and took the plunge, mostly to their pleasant surprise.

As amazing as the shafts are, some scoffed at the absence of such shafts on professional tours. If they’re so good, why aren’t they used more? After all, a distance gain of 10 yards on drives can mean as much as 5-10 percent closer to the pin on approach shots for shorter putts, which can translate to millions of dollars in winnings. In fact, dozens of pros from all major tours have tried them, some openly and some in secret.

As a recreational golfer, I can live with an occasional OB if it means consistently out-driving my friends. But an elite tour pro for whom a single stroke may be worth millions? Not a chance. Even the best can become a psychological wreck if the shaft flexed more than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Especially on the back nine of a major on Sunday afternoon.

But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose there exists a shaft that truly offers longer distance and accuracy of the soft FF shaft with the reassuring feel and playability of a stiff shaft. Better yet, what if your favorite shaft can be readjusted to fit all of your needs for maximum performance output and feel preferences? I’d bet my last Pro V1s that elite professional golfers will stop at nothing to have them tested and optimized to benefit each of their own swing metrics and performance. It’s in their DNA.

Dr. Choi also mentioned that he is nearing completion of his state-of-the-art swing and shaft diagnostic system, which can prescribe precisely the type of shaft (weight, flex, torque, feel, kick, kitchen sink?) needed for a player. And he builds it to that specification. Customization to the fullest.

As the company’s name implies, that is the ultimate goal of SJ Golf Lab and Dr. Choi, who hopes his shafts will come as a “Special Joy” for each and every golfer.

All in all, CBT certainly felt to me like the next evolutionary step in golf shaft technology.

So, what do you think? Can we trust the accuracy of the statements made by SJ Golf Lab? I would love to hear from other golfers and knowledgeable shaftoids in the industry, and what it can mean going forward.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The science of spin



Over my 30-plus years writing about equipment and designing wedges, I must have been asked thousands of times: “How do I get more spin with my wedge shots?” That seems like such a simple question, but the answer is as far from simple as you can get. So, today I’m going to try to break down the science of spin into its separate components.

The amount of spin imparted to the golf ball in any wedge shot will be affected by three basic things:

  1. The ball you play
  2. Your personal swing skills
  3. The specific wedges you play.

Let’s look at each of them.

The Ball

One very simple way to improve the spin you get with your wedge shots is to play a premium ball with a soft cover. The harder and usually less expensive balls typically have a firmer core and a cover that is more durable but doesn’t allow as much spin. You should experiment with various balls to see which gives you the optimum combination of distance and spin.

Your skills

We all know those golfers who seem to spin the ball better than others. That’s because they have honed their skills to make an accelerating, pure strike to the ball most of the time, and to make contact very low on the clubhead – elite players wear out a dime-sized spot on their wedges that is center-face and between the 2nd and 5th grooves. My bet is your wear pattern is more the size of a quarter or even half dollar and centered several grooves higher. You’ll see later why that is so important.

Anyone can learn to be a better wedge player by engaging a golf professional and spending lots more time practicing your wedge shots. I highly recommend both, but also realize that spin is greatly affected by swing speed as well. A strong player who can hit a gap wedge 120 yards is likely to generate much more spin than an equally skilled player who hits gap wedge only 90 yards.

Now we get to the fun part – how the specific wedges you are playing will affect the amount of spin you can impart to any given shot.

The wedges


Very simply, if you are playing a wedge that you’ve had for years, the grooves are likely well past worn out and are costing you valuable RPMs on every wedge shot. That said, no wedge brand has any measurable competitive advantage over another when it comes to groove technology. The USGA has not changed the rules on grooves in over a decade, and every premium brand of wedges is utilizing the best CNC-milling techniques to push those regulations to the limit. There’s just no story here. And my robotic testing indicates the total absence of grooves only reduces spin by 15-17 percent on a dry ball.

The Shaft

Yes, wedge shafts are that important. You should have shafts in your wedges that closely match the shafts in your irons in weight, material, and flex. This is particularly important if you have evolved to lighter and softer iron shafts. The exception to that is if you play X-flex shafts in your irons, take a tip from almost all tour professionals and opt for a slightly softer flex in your wedges.

Clubhead Design

What is much more important to make a wedge “spin-ier” is the design of the clubhead itself. While wedges really didn’t change much for decades, over the past few years, every major wedge brand has begun to position a bit more mass in the top section of the wedge clubhead. This repositioning of mass raises the CG a bit and improves the “gear effect,” which enhances spin on every wedge shot.

While they all are doing so to a different degree, most are held back by their reliance on their tour professionals’ input. Those elite players already spin the ball as much as necessary, and they don’t need or want more spin in their wedge shots. But that isn’t in your best interest.

This subject simply cannot be addressed without referencing my own work in wedge design for over thirty years. My wedges for Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, Ben Hogan and now Edison Golf have put increasingly more mass in the top half of the clubhead to help recreational golfers get more spin on all their wedge shots. I’m flattered that all major brands are finally starting to follow my pioneering of this design concept, because it works.  (Caliper measurement reveals that none of today’s wedges even have as much mass above center-face as my original Reid Lockhart wedges did in the mid-1990s)

Regarding my reference to tour players’ skills and their dime-sized wear pattern earlier, by striking their wedge shots so low in the face, they are optimizing spin on their traditional “tour design” wedges, because it maximizes the amount of clubhead mass above the point of impact. We all know that “thinned” wedge shot that flies low but has sizzling spin – same concept.

To help explain how this CG placement affects spin, look at what has happened in drivers, fairways, hybrids, and now irons.

As the “launch monitor wars” have come to dominate club-fitting (and selling!), the “holy grail” of distance is high launch and low spin. The engineers are achieving this by continuously finding ways to put maximum mass low in the clubhead with carbon crowns, tungsten inserts and thin faces. But good wedge play is all about penetrating trajectories and optimum spin — and all that mass in the bottom of the wedge head is exactly the opposite of what is needed to deliver that ball flight.

Final thoughts

I’ll also leave you with this thought on getting maximum spin on your intermediate-range wedge shots.  You are quite likely to discover you actually get more spin with your 52- to 54-degree wedge than with your higher-lofted 56 to 60. That’s because the ball is less likely to slide up the clubface, which causes loss of spin and higher ball flight. Give it a try to see for yourself.

This has been one of my longer posts, but the topic is worthy of a full explanation. I hope the “science of spin” is much less mysterious now.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s RSM Classic betting preview: Experienced heads likely to contend at Sea Island



The final full-field event of the 2023 fall season has arrived. The PGA TOUR heads just south of Augusta for the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside and Plantation courses) in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Each golfer will play three rounds on the Seaside course and one round on the Plantation course.

The Seaside course is a par-70 layout measuring 7,005 yards, and the Plantation course is a par-72 setup coming in at 7,062 yards. The Seaside course, which was redesigned by Tom Fazio, plays more like a coastal links, while the Plantation course is similar to a tree-lined parkland course. Both feature Bermudagrass greens and will be very scorable. The past five winners of the event have all finished between -19 and -22.

Some notable players in the field include Brian Harman, Ludvig Aberg, Si Woo Kim, Akshay Bhatia, Cameron Young, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Russell Henley, Taylor Pendrith and Corey Conners.

Past Winners at The RSM Classic

  • 2022: Adam Svensson (-19)
  • 2021: Talor Gooch (-22)
  • 2020: Robert Streb (-19)
  • 2019: Tyler Duncan (-19)
  • 2018: Charles Howell III (-19)
  • 2017: Austin Cook (-21)
  • 2016: Mackenzie Hughes (-17)
  • 2015: Kevin Kisner (-22)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for Sea Island Golf Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

The greens at Seaside are big, so it will be important to stick approach shots close to avoid having to make difficult two-putt par saves. In what should be a birdie-fest, golfers will need to stick their approach shots to contend.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Sam Ryder (+24.8)
  2. Russell Knox (+22.4)
  3. J.T. Poston (+20.3)
  4. Eric Cole (+18.8)
  5. Alex Smalley (+18.4)

Good Drives Gained

Length really isn’t a factor at either course. Looking at the past winners at Sea Island, they’re all accurate golfers off of the tee who know how to find the fairway. However, over the past few years, “Good Drives Gained” has been a much more predictive statistic at this event than “Fairways Gained.”

Total Good Drives Gained in past 24 rounds:

  1. Russell Henley (+22.7)
  2. Brendon Todd (+21.8)
  3. Tyler Duncan (+21.7)
  4. Martin Laird (+20.6)
  5. J.J. Spaun (+20.5)

Strokes Gained Putting: Bermudagrass

This tournament could become a putting contest if the winds aren’t strong this week. Historically, the winners of the RSM Classic are great Bermudagrass putters (Simpson, Kisner and Hughes).

Total Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda in past 24 rounds:

  1. Maverick McNealy (+27.7)
  2. Chad Ramey (+25.3)
  3. Martin Trainer (+23.0)
  4. Justin Suh (+22.7)
  5. Taylor Montgomery (+22.5)

Birdie or Better Gained

With birdies (and potentially some eagles) likely to come in abundance, pars aren’t going to cut it at Sea Island. I anticipate the winning score to be close to -20, so targeting golfers who go low is the right strategy here.

Total strokes gained in Birdie or Better Gained in past 24 rounds

  1. Eric Cole (+31.4) 
  2. J.T. Poston (+21.3)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+20.9)
  4. Luke List (+20.7)
  5. Justin Suh (+16.1)

Strokes Gained: Par 4 (400-450)

With eight of the par 4s on the Seaside course measuring 400-450 yards, I’m looking to target golfers who excel on par 4s of this length.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Russell Henley (+21.1)
  2. Denny McCarthy (+13.4) 
  3. Matthias Schmid (+12.8)
  4. Callum Tarren (+12.6) 
  5. Ryan Moore (+11.4)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (25%); Good Drives Gained (21); SG: Putting Bermudagrass (21%); B.O.B (21%); and SG: Par 4 400-450 (12%)

  1. Russell Henley (+2200)
  2. Sam Ryder (+9000)
  3. Chesson Hadley (+6500)
  4. Brendon Todd (+5000)
  5. Eric Cole (+3500)
  6. J.T. Poston (+3500)
  7. Stephan Jaeger (+4000)
  8. Matthias Schmid (+6000)
  9. Brian Harman (+2000)
  10. Austin Smotherman (+25000)

2023 RSM Classic Picks

Matt Kuchar +4000 (DraftKings)

There are plenty of players at the top of the odds board who have a strong chance to contend this week, but few have had the recent repetitions that Matt Kuchar has had. The veteran is in fantastic form and felt as if his game was in great shape heading into the World Wide Technologies Championship, where he came agonizingly close to victory.

Kuchar has three top-19 finishes in his last four starts worldwide, including the runner-up in his most recent start. At one point, he had a six-shot lead before making a disastrous quadruple bogey on the 15th hole during his third round. Many expected Kuchar to struggle on Sunday after blowing such a big lead, but he performed admirably and would have won if Erik Van Rooyen didn’t shoot a ridiculous -8 on the back nine.

The 45-year-old currently lives in St. Simons, Georgia so will be right at home playing at Sea Island this week. His history at the course isn’t as spectacular as one would think given how well the course fits him on paper, but he does have four top-30 finishes at the event since 2013.

In five of Kuchar’s six wins since 2012, he’s had a top-5 finish in one of his three previous starts leading up to the win. I believe his start at the WWT was a foreshadowing of a looming victory.

Billy Horschel +4000 (DraftKings)

After struggling for much of the 2022-2023 season, Billy Horschel has finished the top 20 in five of his past six worldwide starts including a T14 finish in his most recent start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.

Horschel hasn’t played the RSM Classic with regularity but finished in 2nd place at the event back in 2016 where he lost to Mackenzie Hughes in a playoff. The course is a perfect fit for Billy, who’s not overly long off the tee and putts incredibly well on Bermudagrass.

Billy will come into the event as motivated as ever to contend on a course that he should be able to pick apart. With seven career PGA Tour wins, there’s no doubt that Horschel is a closer who will be able to keep his composure down the stretch.

Harris English +6000 (DraftKings)

After a 2021 Ryder Cup appearance, Harris English has had an inconsistent two seasons on the PGA Tour. However, the Sea Island resident finished the season on an encouraging note, finishing 10th at the BMW Championship.

English has a mixed history at Sea Island, but he does have a 6th place finish in 2020. He finished 29th last year, but a final round 65 may be an indication that the 34-year-old figured something out at the course that he grew just a few hours away from.

It’s a bit concerning that English has been off since August, but he’s played well off of layoffs in the past. Last year, he finished 9th at the Fortinet off a 6-week break. In 2021, he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions off of a 5-week break. This break has been a bit longer, but the extra time may not be a major detriment.

Enlgish is a better player than he’s shown over the past 18 months, and I believe he’s in store for a resurgent season that may start this week in Sea Island.

Taylor Pendrith +6500 (DraftKings)

Taylor Pendrith is in fantastic form. In his past three starts, he’s finished 3rd, 15th and 8th. Despite not seeming like a great course fit at Sea Island on paper, he’s had some great history at the course throughout his career.

Last year, Pendrith finished 15th at the event, gaining 5.4 strokes on approach. He also came into the event while playing some below average golf and still managed to hit it great at Sea Island. In 2021, he finished 26th despite missing the cut in two previous starts as well as the following start. I believe now that the Canadian is coming into the event playing some incredibly consistent golf he should be a serious threat to contend deep into the weekend.

Ben Griffin +7500 (DraftKings)

Just a week ago, Ben Griffin was 22-1 and one of the betting favorites at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Although some top end players such as Ludvig Aberg, Brian Harman and Cameron Young have been added to this field, I still believe the drop all the way down to this price gives Griffin a ton of value this week.

The North Carolina hasn’t built up an extensive course history at Sea Island just yet, but he did finish 29th at the event last season. The 27-year-old fired an opening round 65 to start his week and then shot two more rounds in the 60’s after a second round 71. His experience last season should be helpful in his pursuit of a victory this time around.

Sea Island should suit Griffin perfectly. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 15th in the field in both Strokes Gained: Approach and in Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermudagrass. His sharp iron play and ability to hole putts on Bermuda make him an ideal candidate for to contend at Sea Island.

Alex Smalley +8000 (DraftKings):

The past five events in the PGA Tour’s swing season have given us winners who’ve already won on Tour multiple times. The fa oll is typically a time for first-time Tour winners to shine, and among the top candidates to accomplish that this week is Alex Smalley.

Smalley has contended a few times thus far in his career and one of those times was at last year’s RSM Classic. A consistent effort of 67-66-67-67 resulted in the Greensboro, North Carolina resident finishing in a tie for 5th place for the week. It’s no surprise that Smalley likes Sea Island given the amount of golf he’s played in the area and his knack for playing well on shorter courses.

The Duke graduate is beginning to round into form, finishing 30th last week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship fueled by a final round 65 (-6). Smalley has done his best work on easier courses and the course should provide plenty of birdie opportunities for the 25-year-old.

Kevin Kisner +25000 (DraftKings):

Kevin Kisner has been playing incredibly poorly by his standards since his win at the Wyndham Championship in August of 2021, however Camilo Villegas’ win last week showed us how quickly things can change.

Kisner has shown some minimal signs of improvement during the fall season, finishing 62nd and 51st in his two starts at the Fortinet Championship and the Sanderson Farms Championship. More importantly, Kisner gained 1.8 strokes on approach at the Country Club of Jackson, which was his best approach performance since November of 2022. Going back to the Villegas example, while he was in the midst of a twelve-start stretch where he didn’t finish better than 54th, the Colombian gained 4.0 strokes on approach in a missed cut at the Sanderson Farms Championship in a missed cut. Clearly, he found something and went on to finish 2nd and 1st in his next two starts.

If there’s a course that Kisner may be able to find “it” on, it’s Sea Island. Kisner is a former Georgia Bulldog who’s won here in 2015, lost in a playoff in 2020 and has two additional top-7 finishes since his win. At long odds, “Kiz” is worth a sprinkle on one of his favorite tracks.

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