WITB – May 2019
It has been almost two years since my last “What’s in the Bag” post, so I thought I would update things with a new post since there have been several big changes in my bag for 2019. The golf industry changes fast, and there is always something new and exciting coming out. It’s tempting to want to get the latest and greatest driver, putter or wedges. Those are the clubs most golfers change out the most.
What’s In The Bag?
I’m an endless tinkerer and like to change things up if I think it’ll help me gain an edge or snap me out of a funk. However, sometimes frequent club changes can be a detriment and lead to inconsistency. One of the clubs that used to change most often in my bag was the putter, but since October 2017 that hasn’t been the case. In fact, only 4 clubs are still in my bag since the last WITB in June of 2017.
Driver – PING G410 Plus
I’ve been playing PING drivers exclusively since 2014 and have upgraded to every new model that has come out since then. I just replaced the awesome G400 LST driver with the new PING G410 Plus. This is a minor upgrade as I only switched out the club head. I continue to use the PING Tour 80x shaft that I got with the G driver in 2016 and used with the G400 also. The shaft is heavy, stable and consistent. I’m actively searching for an after-market shaft that is 15-20 grams lighter to see if I can pick up some distance.
With the G410 Plus driver, I’m back to my standard 9-degree loft after experimenting for two seasons with the 10-degree head in the G400 that produced more spin, higher ball flight, and more carry. I gave up about 6 to 8 yards of distance but probably gained a bit of accuracy with the 10-degree lofted driver.
3-Wood – PING G400
In February of 2018, I went down to Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida for a fitting with the mad scientists from True Spec Golf. My mission was a difficult one for me, as I had been searching for years: Find the perfect 3-wood. Under the watchful eye of an expert club fitting specialist and a Trackman launch monitor, I hit fairways from almost a dozen manufacturers. Once we settled on the right club, we started testing shafts to arrive at a head & shaft combo that performed the best. The winner was a PING G400 3-wood (14.5 degrees turned down to 13.9) fitted with a Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec 80x shaft. Finally, I found a new fairway wood that totally was dialed in for me. With the new 3-wood, my spin rates went down, launch angles went up and I gained over 10 yards! #ClubFittingMatters
Hybrid & Long Irons
No changes here – I’m still gaming the awesome Srixon Z H45 2-hybrid and Srixon Z U45 3-utility (20) and 4-utility (23) from late 2014. All are fitted with Aerotech shafts; the 2-hybrid has the Aerotech HLS880 and the long irons have the Aerotech Steelfiber i110cw shafts. Because I carry four wedges, bagging all three of these clubs usually puts me over the 14 club limit so the odd man out is usually the Srixon Z H45 2-hybrid, but that may vary depending on the course and conditions. For casual rounds on weekends or tournament practice rounds, I’ll often carry all three.
There aren’t many clubs on the market that look as good and perform as well as the Srixon Z745 forged cavity back irons I got back in 2015. After three years in the bag, I was still very happy with them, so it would take something special to replace them. As it turns out, something special came along in the form of the gorgeous Honma Tour World 737vn irons. They sat in the garage for almost 6 months before I finally made the decision to reshaft them with my preferred shaft – Aerotech Steelfiber i95cw shafts. Once I did, there was no way I wasn’t going to game these amazing Japanese forged irons. So far so good.
My trusty but aging SCOR 50-degree gap wedge I got back in 2012 (part of a 5-club set) is probably the best club in my bag. That gap wedge is almost solely responsible for my 2017 WAGC National Championship win. I used it on the last three holes of the 54-hole tournament by getting up and down for par from 125 on #16, chipping to 2.5 feet for birdie on #17 and hitting it to 8 feet from 118 yards to birdie the final hole and win by a shot. Most recently I used it to play the final 3 holes in 3-under to win the North Florida regional qualifier for the Tour by Under Armor.
It has only been a few months, but I replaced the very reliable Hopkins 54 and 60-degree wedges I had for several years recently with Honma TW-W forged wedges in 56 (bent to 55) and 60-degree lofts. The 60-degree Honma wedge, in particular, is fantastic for almost every shot inside 95 yards. The aggressive toe and heel relief allows me to open it up and play flop shots with ease, hit the “crowd pleaser” pitch shots that spin hard or land it soft with good distance control from 50-95 yards.
However – I’m really struggling on bunker shots with the Honma wedges. My previous Hopkins 60-degree wedge had a channel sole grind with tons of bounce on open-faced shots, making it perfect for the deep Bermuda rough and soft sand bunkers we have down here in Florida. The new Honma 60-degree wedge has very little bounce by comparison, and that is making my bunker shots dig into the sand. I’ll have to practice a little with it and shallow out my bunker swing to make it work.
Putter – Scotty Cameron Futura 5W
The Scotty Cameron Select Newport 2 Notchback Dual Balance putter I had in the bag for most of 2017 is gone. It never made the trip back from the 2017 World Amateur Golfers Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. When you putt as poorly as I did during that tournament, you have to take it out on the putter, so I did. It now resides at the bottom of a lake at the Mines Resort & Club that used to be the largest open cast tin mine in the world.
My new flat stick is the putter I should have bought in the first place instead of that Newport Notchback that doesn’t float. It’s the Scotty Cameron Futura 5W. This mallet has been my gamer since December 2017 and was made even better with an upgrade to the innovative Stability Shaft from Breakthrough Golf Technologies in October of 2018. This specialized graphite shaft improves feel, launches the ball lower (yes, that matters in putting also) and rolls the ball more consistently. It’s fitted with the ubiquitous Super Stroke Mid-Slim 2.0 grip.
A few years ago when I published my last WITB, I had just received a shipment of 28 dozen Bridgestone B330 golf balls. After giving away several dozen to friends and playing the ball for over two years, I finally ran out a few months after the new Bridgestone Tour B golf balls were released. I was fitted for the new Bridgestone Tour B X golf ball but wanted to try something softer, so I switched to the Taylor Made TP5 for a while, then fell in love with the Callaway Chrome Soft. It feels fantastic from tee to green, performs well in windy conditions, and the variety of crazy colors and unique patterns available is awesome. However, the Chrome Soft may not be ideally matched for my game. On full swings, I may tend to overcompress it a bit and lose distance over the higher compression Bridgestone Tour B X. Plus, every now and then I’ll nip a wedge shot just right and spin the ball back 20 feet on the green. Most of the time that means watching as a good shot spins further away from the hole. Too much spin on wedge shots is not ideal.
Distance Measuring Devices
My current laser rangefinder of choice is the excellent Bushnell Pro X2 that was the flagship model from Bushnell until the new Pro XE was released a few months ago. It has a bright red display, acquires targets fast, measures accurately and the battery life is excellent. You can turn on or off the non-USGA conforming slope function with a simple switch on the side of the unit. I have mine wrapped with a magnetic strap from Monument Golf.
When playing tournament golf or a course I’m unfamiliar with I like to supplement a laser rangefinder with a GPS device to measure distances to bunkers, fairways that run out and doglegs. I also like to have not only the distance to the pin but to the front or back of the green depending on the pin location. For several years I’ve used the Sky Caddie TOUCH and it works flawlessly. It’s lightweight and provides plenty of information. Sky Golf maps out courses themselves and in many cases, they give you much more information than other golf GPS devices.
This year I have replaced the trusty Sky Caddie TOUCH with their new flagship model – The Sky Caddie SX500. This thing is about the same size as a large smartphone with a big, bright and responsive touchscreen. While the size annoyingly prevents it from fitting in many golf cart cup holders, the large screen makes it easy to see the hole maps and the screen is easy to manipulate with changing modes or moving the cursor around to measure different targets. Battery life is amazing too. I used it recently after fully charging it overnight, and the battery was still at 89% after 18 holes and over 4 hours. Simply put – The Sky Caddie SX500 is my new go-to golf GPS.
There are a few oft-overlooked items that I can’t live without, like the little EZ Brush to clean my clubs. This small wire brush is conveniently spring loaded on a retractable cable and extends up to 30 inches. It simply gets the job done without being a nuisance and keeps my clubs clean.
I’m also kind of a snob when it comes to tees. I love the Epoch tees from Evolve Golf and I got a 300-count bag of their special USA themed tees before going over to Malaysia in 2017 to compete in the World Amateur Golfers Championship for Team USA. They also made a great gift for players from other countries that gladly snatched them up.
Finally, what would a good WITB post be without the bag itself? Every now and then I use my huge Burton USA Staff Bag from the WAGC, but for the most part, I stick with my trusty Sun Mountain 4.5LS stand bag. It’s on the large end for a carry bag, but is still pretty light and holds everything I need and more. Since I’m riding a golf cart 95% of the time, weight isn’t much of an issue for me. The 4.5LS also had features that make it perfect for golf carts like a flat bottom, lockable legs and a cart strap pass through.
There will be a few changes coming in the next few months as I get ready for my next big event – The Tour sponsored by Under Armor’s National Championship in Ocean City, Maryland in June.
The first change may be my golf ball. As I mentioned before, while I love the Callaway Chrome Soft’s great feel, wild patterns, and bright colors, it is not perfect for my game. It spins a bit too much on wedge shots and flies shorter off the tee than the ball I was fitted for – The Bridgestone Tour B X. I’ll be considering a switch back to Bridgestone in the near future.
The guys at MyGolfSpy.com recently confirmed my suspicions with some interesting ball testing results. According to their robot testing with a driver at 115mph, on average the Chrome Soft flies 12 yards less than the Tour B X. I would be giving up some feel around the greens and going back to a boring white golf ball, but I could be hitting one less club into the greens and that can make a big difference over the course of 18 holes.
As far as club upgrades, my wish list includes a new hybrid from the Tour Edge Exotics CBX line. The latest model is the CBX 119 and they are very hot on the PGA Tour Champions right now. I haven’t decided what loft to go for yet since they make every loft from 16 to 20 and a 22.
My wedges are in a constant state of flux these days. I love the new Honma wedges that are currently in the bag, but the lob wedge and I aren’t getting along in the bunkers so I may switch back to the Hopkins 60-degree. Heck, I may even get nostalgic and put the old SCOR 54 and 58-degree wedges back in the back to accompany the SCOR 50-degree gap wedge. Time will tell!