This is the most ‘difficult and tedious’ part of gear testing for a Tour winner
Save for maybe Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III and a handful of certified gearheads, it’s safe to say most pros aren’t enamored with product testing. Unless you’re Justin Thomas and can somehow break in a new set of blades in no time flat, the process tends to be on the tedious side and generally requires ample time and a stable of “experts” — usually tour reps and/or instructors — to make the testing session a success.
While it might not be an exciting part of the gig, every tour pro understands the importance of vetting the latest gear to see if it fills a hole in the bag. That includes 3-time Tour winner Max Homa, who recently joined GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast to discuss his testing process heading into the brief offseason in November and December.
“I’m not afraid to go test and try something new,” Homa said. “I almost always do it during the end of November, beginning of December. I’ll still test clubs throughout the season, but I don’t really have much to test right now. I figured out my main gap, which is the 7-wood, 3-iron thing I have going on.”
As you’d expect coming off a win to open the 2021-22 Tour season — along with a victory in February at the Genesis Invitational — there isn’t much on Homa’s testing to-do list in the coming months.
“The only thing I want to explore is lob wedge grinds,” he said. “I’ve never been super specific about [grinds]. I was talking to Xander [Schauffele] this year and he was mentioning using different wedge bounces for different surfaces, realizing that some guys will bring a different wedge for each week. I just don’t have a lot of knowledge on that yet.”
Homa also hinted that he could test out Titleist’s 2021 Pro V1 golf ball as well, but it’s unlikely he’ll make a change before the calendar flips to 2022. No reason to mess with success. In addition to playing some of the best golf of his career, there’s another reason why the 30-year-old is less inclined to alter a key piece of his gear DNA.
“I still play the 2019 Titleist Pro V1 golf ball, and I have the new ones at my house, but I’ve never really worked with it,” said Homa. “Testing golf balls, to me, is really difficult and tedious, so I don’t really plan on doing that during the season. Not to mention I had the best year to 18 months of my career with this ball, so I wasn’t planning on switching. But it would be good to see what the other one is about.”
Average golfers can relate: golf ball testing takes some patience to figure out the best make and model for your game. We’ve offered tips and suggestions in the past, but the fact remains you need patience to work your way through the myriad of ball options that exist. In other words, just hitting a few drivers, irons and wedges with each ball won’t do the trick.
“The sample size is big,” Homa admitted. “You can’t just go off 2 to 5 swings with each golf ball. You have to make tons and tons of swings, then you have to chip and putt because the noise matters and so does the spin around the green. Most of us don’t hit the ball in the dead center of the face every single time with zero curve, so you want to see what your misses are, where your good ones are, maybe slightly thin. It’s a lot of research and development to see if this one golf ball is better than the other ball for your swing.”
As always, if you want to conduct ball testing and save yourself some time, check out some of the smart ball fitting sites that exist in the space — and get plugged in with a certified fitter. Both will make you smarter about your gear.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2021? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.