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5 equipment questions with Nick Dunlap’s club fitter about his winning setup

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Nick Dunlap recently shocked the world by winning The 2024 American Express as a 20-year-old amateur, but really, his playing resume should have been an obvious sign of early success on the PGA Tour.

Dunlap, who’s currently a Sophomore at the University of Alabama, won the U.S. Junior in 2021, and the U.S. Amateur in 2023. He also won his first collegiate event in March 2023, then reeled off wins at the Northeast Amateur in June and the North and South Amateur in July.

Now, he’s a PGA Tour winner.

Following Dunlap’s historic victory at The American Express, GolfWRX.com caught up with his longtime fitter and TaylorMade Senior Tour Representative Cory Johnson for a five-question, gear-focused Q&A.

Check out our interview with Johnson below, or head over to Nick Dunlap’s Winning WITB to see his full-bag specs.

GolfWRX: When did you start working with Nick? Was there anything performance-wise, or in terms of his equipment setup, that stood out to you about him?

Cory Johnson, TaylorMade: I started working with Nick in 2015 when he was 11. He was put on our radar by a past KFT staffer and I’ve been helping him through TM’s elite amateur development efforts ever since. From the beginning, he was ultra-competitive and just hated to lose. I remember an AJGA event when he was 14; he took fifth place and had to be talked into staying for the trophy ceremony since he was so mad at not winning.

Currently, compared to PGA Tour players, how do his launch monitor numbers stack up? Does he have exceptional speed or consistency? What are his strengths? 

Nick’s numbers are usually in the mid 180’s with the driver and he has about four speeds that he can move it. He essentially has a low/mid/normal tee shot, and full ship-it shot for what the hole puts in front of him. He has plenty of speed, but I think his huge strengths are his ability to hit it those different ways, and put it in play depending on the hole/wind.

Would you consider Nick a “gear head”? Does he enjoy getting into the tech part of golf, or is he more of a feel player? 

Nick added a launch monitor to his normal practice in this past year so he has become way more in tune with those numbers, which a big part of his wedge game improving. When it comes to the actual specs on the clubs, he falls way more in the feel category and doesn’t get in to that very deep. Most of the initial feedback is going to be on head shapes, loft/lie looks, and weight.

What was the fitting process like for the Qi10 LS driver, specifically? How did he improve by making the upgrade? 

We were fortunate to have Nick test some prototype heads in August before he won the U.S. Am, so we had a pretty good idea what we needed to start this year off. Nick wants a driver that will not go left, can maintain enough spin when he hits the low tee shot, and starts in his intended window. The Qi10 LS was about 2 mph faster than his previous driver, and launched a little higher. He played the new driver for 4 rounds on a trip to Forida before coming to Palm Springs, then the three practice rounds at Amex, and just basically never missed a shot. At that point, he was ready to go, which shows how good the Qi10 line is because he isn’t usually a tinkerer with equipment and is hesitant to change quickly.

Does he have anything particular spec-wise that stands out, such as lie angles, lofts, grip size?

The usual tricky part with the driver is Nick liking a driver that won’t go left, but his eyes naturally go to a club head that is fairly upright and around 44.75 inches. When he is playing his best, his driver is more a push-straight ball that just never moves. Right now he is playing the driver in the “Std upright” position to get that start line where he needs, and the sliding weight is all the way in the “Fade” position.

Thanks, Cory!

For more photos and info on Dunlap’s setup, don’t forget to head over to his Winning WITB from the 2024 American Express
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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. FreddieKruger

    Jan 25, 2024 at 1:32 pm

    Great insight, thanks for the knowledge! Now, if only I can find a dependable “No Left” driver! The search is ON!

    • Benny

      Jan 28, 2024 at 2:34 pm

      Hahahaha, well said. I guess I would be happy in the 180’s no matter where it went.

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Whats in the Bag

WITB Time Machine: Danny Willett’s winning WITB, 2016 Masters

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Driver: Callaway XR 16 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana W-Series 60 X
Length: 45.5 inches

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3-wood: Callaway XR 16 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana W-Series 70X

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5-wood: Callaway XR 16 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana W-Series 80X

Irons: Callaway Apex UT (2, 4), Callaway Apex Pro (5-9)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Superlite

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Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (47-11 S-Grind) Callaway Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind (54-11, 58-9)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Superlite

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Putter: Odyssey Versa #1 Wide (WBW)
Lie angle: 71 degrees

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Ball: Callaway Speed Regime SR-3

Check out more photos of Willett’s equipment from 2016 here.

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Project X Denali Blue, Black shaft Review – Club Junkie Review

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Originally, Project X was known for low-spin steel iron shafts. However, the company might now be known for wood shafts. Denali is the newest line of graphite shafts from Project X. With the Denali line, the company focuses on feel as well as performance.

There are two profiles in the Denali line, Blue and Black, to fit different launch windows. Denali Blue is the mid-launch and mid-spin profile for players who are looking for a little added launch and Denali Black is designed for low-launch and low-spin. Both models are going to offer you a smooth feel and accuracy.

For a full in-depth review check out the Club Junkie podcast on all podcast streaming platforms and on YouTube.

Project X Denali Blue

I typically fit better into mid-launch shafts, as I don’t hit a very high ball so the Denali Blue was the model I was more excited to try. Out of the box, the shaft looks great and from a distance, it is almost hard to tell the dark blue from the Denali Black. With a logo down install of the shaft, you don’t have anything to distract your eyes, just a clean look with the transition from the white and silver handle section to the dark navy mid and tip.

Out on the course, the Blue offers a very smooth feel that gives you a good kick at impact. The shaft loads easily and you can feel the slightly softer handle section compared to the HZRDUS lineup. This gives the shaft a really good feel of it loading on the transition to the downswing, and as your hands get to impact, the Denali Blue keeps going for a nice, strong kick.

Denali Blue is easy to square up at impact and even turn over to hit it straight or just little draws and most of the flex of the shaft feels like it happens right around where the paint changes from silver to blue. The Blue launches easily and produces what I consider a true mid-flight with the driver. While it is listed as mid-spin, I never noticed any type of rise in my drives. Drives that I didn’t hit perfectly were met with good stability and a ball that stayed online well.

Project X Denali Black

When you hold the Denali Black in your hands you can tell it is a more stout shaft compared to its Blue sibling by just trying to bend it. While the handle feels close to the Blue in terms of stiffness, you can tell the tip is much stiffer when you swing it.

Denali Black definitely takes a little more power to load it but the shaft is still smooth and doesn’t give you any harsh vibrations. Where the Blue kicks hard at impact, the Black holds on a little and feels like keeps you in control even on swings that you try and put a little extra effort into. The stiff tip section also makes it a little harder to square up at impact and for some players could take away a little of the draw from their shot.

Launch is lower and more penetrating compared to the Blue and produces a boring, flat trajectory. Shots into the wind don’t rise or spin up, proving that the spin stays down. Like its mid-launch sibling, the Black is very stable and mishits and keeps the ball on a straighter line. Shots low off the face don’t get very high up in the air, but the low spin properties get the ball out there farther than you would expect. For being such a stout shaft, the feel is very good, and the Denali Black does keep harsh vibrations from your hands.

Overall the Project X Denali Blue and Black are great additions to the line of popular wood shafts. If you are looking for good feel and solid performance the Denali line is worth trying out with your swing. Choose Blue for mid-launch and mid-spin or Black for lower launch and low spin.

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Equipment

What we know about Bryson DeChambeau’s 3D-printed Avoda irons

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Bryson DeChambeau fired an opening-round 7-under 65 at Augusta National, hitting an impressive 15 of 18 greens in regulation in the process. Golf’s mad scientist’s play grabbed headlines and so too did his equipment. In place of the Ping i230 irons he had in the bag last week for LIV Golf’s Miami event, DeChambeau is gaming a prototype 5-PW set of irons from little-known direct-to-consumer manufacturer Avoda.

What is Avoda Golf?

Founded by Tom Bailey, also a Mike Schy student like Bryson DeChambeau, Avoda Golf is a direct-to-consumer golf equipment company that currently manufactures both single and variable-length irons in one model that are available for pre-order.

What irons is Bryson DeChambeau playing?

Per multiple reports, DeChambeau is playing a custom-designed set of single-length irons that incorporate bulge and roll into the face design. The two-piece 3D-printed irons were reportedly only approved for play by the USGA this week, according to Golfweek’s Adam Schupak.

Regarding the irons, DeChambeau told Golf Channel the irons’ performance on mishits was the determining factor in putting them in play this week. “When I mishit on the toe or the heel,” DeChambeau said. “It seems to fly a lot straighter for me and that’s what has allowed me to be more comfortable over the ball.”

What can we tell about the design of the clubs?

These days, it is a little hard to speculate on what is under the hood with so many hollow body irons. DeChambeau’s irons look to be hollow on the lower section as they do flare back a decent amount. That “muscle” on the back also looks to be fairly low on the iron head, but we can assume that is progressive through the set, moving up higher in the short irons.

A screw out on the toe is probably used to seal up the hollow cavity and used as a weight to dial in the swing weight of the club. From pictures, it is hard to tell but the sole looks to have a little curve from heel to toe while also having some sharper angles on them. A more boxy and sharper toe section looks to be the design that suits Bryson’s eye based on the irons he has gravitated toward recently.

What are bulge and roll, again?

Two types of curvature in a club face, traditionally incorporated only in wood design. Bulge is heel-toe curvature. Roll is crown-sole curvature. Both design elements are designed to mitigate gear effect on off-center strikes and produce shots that finish closer to the intended target line. (GolfTec has an excellent overview of bulge and roll with some handy GIFs for the visual learner)

What else is in DeChambeau’s bag?

Accompanying his traditional Sik putter, Bryson builds his set with a Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, a Krank Formula Fire driver and 5-wood, and a TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver, all with LA Golf graphite shafts.

 

 

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