How Justin Thomas gained almost 10 yards with 1 driver change

justin thomas titleist tsr2 driver

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Results and statistics generally offer an accurate picture of how a golfer is performing. For Justin Thomas, the picture through four months of this PGA Tour season is decidedly murky: a mix of three top-10 finishes offsetting three missed cuts in nine starts.

The good rounds have been good, but the bad rounds have been anything but memorable. For Thomas’ lofty standards, success is determined by wins. More specifically, major championship wins. And with the PGA Championship heading back to Valhalla Golf Club next week, the Louisville, Ky., native, has his sights set on hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy on his home turf.

The drive to peak for the year’s second major saw Thomas make a scouting trip to Valhalla last week to assess the conditions and see if some at-home equipment testing could pay dividends — in particular, if he could get the driver back on track after ranking 62nd in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee in his first full season with Titleist’s TSR3 driver. Through the first half of this season, he’s 82nd in the statistical category.

justin thomas titleist tsr2 driver
Thomas’ TSR2 driver is set in the D1 SureFit setting, which means it plays at 9 degrees. GOLF

Even with his driving accuracy improving and ball speed ticking up, Thomas realized that a change could be good. With two weeks off to test, Thomas rang up Titleist Tour rep JJ Van Wezenbeeck to see if they could come up several driver builds to demo.

“Justin’s hitting more fairways this year than he has in previous years, but his directional miss was different,” Van Wezenbeeck told “Sometimes for him, that’s launch angle related. We wanted to tie in a driver that was easier to launch to try and limit the bias to one direction.”

Titleist TSR2 Custom Driver

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For a player with plenty of speed, TSR3 checked plenty of boxes for Thomas. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going outside the comfort zone to see if a new option helps, which is exactly what Van Wezenbeeck decided to do when he sent Thomas a TSR2 head for testing.

“I used a bigger style head [like the TSR2] a couple years ago,” Thomas told “I know it’s supposed to have a little bit more spin, so I was just trying to see if I could get my mishits to be a little more consistent and better. That’ll be better for my driving.”

The generous TSR2 profile is designed for golfers with inconsistent contact who need added launch, but even the best players in the world can benefit from the design, Thomas included. During testing, Thomas found the profile gave him the freedom to attack the ball, which translated to almost 3 mph of additional ball speed and a launch that was nearly 1.5 degrees higher than his usual window. That’s nearly 10 yards of extra distance for those keeping track at home.

justin thomas titleist tsr2 driver
Thomas practices with TSR2 on the range at Quail Hollow Club. Jonathan Wall/GOLF

“It’s been fast,” said Thomas, who’s now cruising at 182-183 mph ball speed. “It’s a little faster than the one I’ve been using. It could have something to do with the bigger profile, maybe it mentally feels more forgiving. I’m not quite sure. It’s one of those things that’s probably a subconscious thought.”

Content with the numbers he was seeing at home, Thomas took the driver for a test spin at Valhalla and saw similar results on the course, which led him to put TSR2 in play this week at the Wells Fargo.

“I’ve really driven is well the week I used it,” he said. “Just hitting it more solid. I don’t know what it is about the look, but I’ve just been a little bit more consistent with the spin numbers. Seeing fewer knuckleballs and curving. Drove it great for the two days I played [Valhalla]. It’s a long golf course and it’s all right in front of you — just drive it well and hit your long and mid irons well.”

Thomas will need every club in the bag to cooperate at Valhalla if he wants to get in the mix, but if the driver is humming, it certainly gives the 31-year-old an edge on the field.

“There’s a lot of drivers needed at Valhalla, so that’s always good for him to have something he’s feeling comfortable with,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “It’s causing the ball speed increase because when he feels like he can launch it easily, he’s able to apply some force. That’s always a good thing for JT.”

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.


Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at

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