If you hadn’t heard, Michelle Wie West is making her LPGA return this week at the Kia Classic. Based on the equipment she was photographed with at Aviara Golf Club, the overall set makeup hasn’t changed much since she made her last start in June 2019.
Time away from the sport makes you forget about how unique Wie West’s setup is compared to the average pro. More specifically, her setup at the top of the bag. The average PGA Tour player not named Webb Simpson carries three or four woods (hybrids included) on a weekly basis; that number increases to four on the LPGA Tour, with some relying on upwards of five depending on player preferences and gapping.
Wie West is on the high end with five in the bag. Only instead of slotting in a hybrid to replace a long iron, she employs five fairway woods. Five. The setup has served her well for years. Quite frankly, it’s a setup more amateur golfers should embrace if they struggle with strike consistency at the top of the set.
The setup goes Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond driver, Epic Speed 3-wood, Mavrik 5-wood, Mavrik 7-wood and Rogue 11-wood. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: Wie West’s oldest fairway wood is an 11-wood that boasts 25 degrees of loft. It’s a fairway wood you almost never see in the professional ranks and one Wie West hadn’t considered playing until 2017.
So how did Wie West come to rely on an 11-wood? As the story goes, her search to find a 5-iron replacement led her to consider the high-lofted fairway wood. Some adjustments had to be made to the club to fit Wie West’s yardage gaps — including cutting it down — but it wound up finding a home in her bag at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“I think Callaway has done a great job of accommodating me,” Wie West said later that year during the 2017 Women’s British Open. “They had to look back into their archives to find me an 11-wood.”
When Wie West showed off her setup to World Golf Hall of Famer Meg Mallon, she figured the sight of an 11-wood would elicit a response. Only Mallon had Wie West beat: “I was like, ‘You won’t believe what’s in my bag right now, I’ve got an 11-wood,'” she told Mallon. “She’s like, ‘Yeah, I won the U.S. Open with a 13-wood.'”
Who said high-lofted fairway woods were only reserved for older golfers and those struggling with launch? The mere thought of following Wie West’s lead and adding an 11-wood might send you running in the other direction, but before you completely write off the idea, it’s important to point out the versatility the club offers.
In a video on Callaway’s social, Wie West showed off the club’s bona fides, flighting an 11-wood into the wind before hitting a towering approach. It’s safe to say the club isn’t leaving her side anytime soon.
“It’s a lot easier than hitting a blade 5-iron,” Wie West said in 2017. We agree.
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