3 pieces of gear advice from Rose Zhang that will sharpen your game

Rose Zhang

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Leading up to her professional debut this week at the Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National, I spoke with Rose Zhang about the events she’s looking forward to, how she hits certain shots and, most important, how she sets up her equipment for success.

These are the top 3 takeaways from our conversation in regard to her clubs and her game.

1. Control your variables

When it comes to equipment, being able to control and understand variables is an important part of the testing process. Whether it be in your long game or short game, having a reliable way to understand changes when you make them can help speed up the process. When asked about her favorite club and why Rose mentioned her 9-iron for a very specific reason.

“My 9-iron serves as a calibration club for my stock shot, and I like to use it as a way to evaluate not only how I’m swinging, but also how other clubs in my bag are performing — especially into my wedges,” she said. “It’s long enough that I know when I miss one but short enough that I can make confident swings, and considering it’s my favorite practice club, I can calibrate my carry distances off of it.”

A wear spot on one of Zhang’s irons. Johnny Wunder – Callaway Golf

Just like in a scientific experiment, having a control variable can help you through the testing process. This can be a favorite iron or wedge, or for a lot of players, it can be a higher-lofted fairway wood that gets used multiple times a round. Whatever club it is, be sure to bring it with you to your next fitting to see how it compares and how new clubs might work around it.

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2. Proper wedge gapping

From her 9-iron to her wedges, I asked Rose about how she builds around the lower end of her set. One of the most interesting things she said was an issue she at one time had with gapping that was solved with a club switch.

Rose plays a set matching gap (A) wedge Johnny Wunder – Callaway Golf

“At one point I had a bit of an issue with my wedge gapping and had a 20-yard gap from my pitching wedge to my traditional 50-degree wedge,” she said. “I did some testing and worked with the Callaway team to find a solution that would work without changing any other parameters and we settled on a matching A wedge to my iron set.

“With the design and face technology, I got the extra ball speed and distance out of a club with the same amount of loft and didn’t have to change anything else in my set to nail down the gapping. The best part is I can still chip and pitch with it like my previous wedge.”

If you are a player who is looking for more consistent gapping into your wedges, try the matching gap (A) wedge for your iron set (most companies offer these either off the rack or through custom order) to help confidently hit the right yardages.

3. Find the right ball for you

There are many golf balls on the market and finding the right one is just as important as finding the right driver shaft, wedge bounce or grip size, because it has to fit your game and strengths.

“The ball is very important to me, and I’ve gone through a couple of options before finding the right one,” Zhang said. “At first, I played the Callaway Chrome Soft X, it’s a great ball and offers tons of distance but because I wanted something that I could stop faster on approach shots I ended up with the Chrome Soft X-Star. It offers all the distance I want but the construction helps me get more spin and a soft feel on shorter shots.” (Note: the Chrome Soft X-Star is not currently available at retail.)

“Scoring with my wedges is a key part of my success and having a ball that I know I can stop faster when greens get firm allows me to be more aggressive on approach shots and in my short game,” Zhang said.

For more of the latest gear news check out GOLF.com’s Fully Equipped podcast, or if you’re looking to get fit for your own perfect set you can check out an industry-leading True Spec Golf fitting studio near you.

Ryan Barath

Golf.com Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.