Davis Love III is a certified legend in the game of golf. He turned professional in 1985 out of the University of North Carolina, and since then he’s amassed 21 PGA Tour victories, including the 1997 PGA Championship and the Players Championship (1992, 2003).
The 57-year-old is also a Ryder Cup icon, golf course architect, author, and he hosted the recent 2021 RSM Classic in Sea Island.
Love III has been a professional since the days of persimmon driver heads with steel shafts, so he’s been right in the heart of the technology boom over the past several decades. As one of the old school pros on tour, it’s always interesting to see what he decides to have in the bag these days.
Recently, at the RSM Classic, I was able to take in-hand photos of Love III’s golf clubs. Here are 7 things I learned from his setup.
1) Lead tape placement
Those little gray strips of tape that pros apply to their golf clubs are called lead tape. The inexpensive, heavy strips help to add weight, and based on the location and how much is applied, lead tape can actually help shift center of gravity (CG) in the club head, thus impacting how the golf ball flies.
With two long strips added to the back portion of his Titleist TSi3 8-degree head, it’s likely Love III is looking to move weight away from the face to increase launch and forgiveness.
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Titleist TSi3 Driver
On his Titleist AP2 718 mid irons (6 and 7), Love III has clumps of lead tape around the middle portion of the back cavities, likely helping to add overall weight to the club head and put more meat behind the center of the face. On his 5-iron, though, Love III has just a small strip on the heel portion. While that may not be enough weight to significantly change the CG, the placement of the tape may help Love III release the club slightly faster for a draw flight.
It’s important to remember when applying lead tape for yourself that the location matters! Don’t apply lead tape on the club head just because it looks cool (although I do think it looks cool). If you’re confused about what location you may need to apply extra weight, consult a trusted fitter or local professional for advice.
2) A missile launcher
Love III uses a Titleist TS3 fairway wood, which was designed to be slightly smaller and lower-launching than its TS2 family member. Upon a closer look, he also employs the 13.5-degree version of the club head rather than the more traditional 15-degree version.
Loft is a crucial aspect of finding the launch, spin and distance you need, so make sure to test out multiple options before purchasing a golf club. For Love III, it’s likely he was looking for a slightly more penetrating ball flight with his fairway wood. Most amateurs, on the other hand, will probably benefit from clubs with more loft!
3) Always a Tar Heel
Love III was a three-time All American at the University of North Carolina, capturing six tournament titles, so he surely wasn’t short of confidence when he turned pro. He quickly proved he had staying power in the pro ranks, winning his first PGA Tour event in 1987 at the MCI Heritage Golf Classic at Harbour Town. It appears he’s never forgotten where he’s come from, though, as he still represents the UNC Tar Heels with his Stitch-made headcovers.
4) An iron set from the new school
Split iron sets (also referred to as “blended” or “mixed” sets) combine different models of irons to take advantage of design differences in the heads. Old school golfers – Love III could certainly be considered part of this group – typically grew up using one model throughout their set. Often, that meant using very small, thin and unforgiving long irons. Love III, however, has taken to the new school mentality of combining models.
For Love III, he uses a Titleist U-505 2-iron, a U-500 4-iron, and AP2 718 irons (5-9 iron). This means his longer irons will be relatively more forgiving, higher launching, and help to increase forgiveness across the face. His shorter irons help to take advantage of spin and trajectory control.
5) Simple stampings
Wedge stampings allow golfers to express their creativity, sense of humor, sports fandom, or give a shoutout to their family. When you have an awesome nickname like “DL3,” though, what else do you really need from your stampings?
Also take note of the loft-gapping of Love III’s raw Titleist SM8 wedges. Most interestingly, he goes with a 46-degree wedge instead of using the pitching wedge from his AP2 iron set. Using a traditional wedge rather than a stock iron-like pitching wedge can help golfers add a bit more control and spin, but a slight loss in distance.
6) A masterful putter
Love III is no stranger to using Scotty Cameron’s throughout his years on the PGA Tour. He even has his own “Inspired By” model made by Scotty Cameron himself. With such a close relationship to Scotty, it’s always exciting to see what flatstick Love III has in his bag.
At the RSM Classic, Love III was gaming a Tour-Only “Masterful” putter, which is made of high-end GSS (German Stainless Steel) with a milled face.
Funny enough, the topline dot was actually made with just a sharpie marker. It always makes me laugh when pros, who have access to the best club builders and prototypes money can buy, end up making custom adjustments with just a sharpie. But hey, whatever works.
7) The importance of shaft fitting
Need proof that shaft fitting is hugely important? Love III uses four different models of shafts throughout his set. He has a Fujikura Ventus Red shaft in his driver, a Tensei CK Blue 80 TX in his fairway wood, a Project X HZRDUS RDX Smoke in his driving iron (2), and True Temper Elevate Tour X shafts in the rest of his irons and wedges.
The lesson here is to not just assume that all of your clubs need to be from the same shaft manufacturer. Since each club head is different, each club needs to be fit differently for a shaft. Take Love III’s setup as the perfect example.
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