Viktor Hovland hasn’t skipped a beat since the PGA Tour returned last month at Colonial. Cruising from event to event in his Lexus RC F, Hovland has finished no worse than T23 in five consecutive starts and enters this week’s Memorial off a T3 at the Workday, which also happens to be contested at Muirfield Village.
The last thing anyone would expect Hovland to do is mess with his current equipment setup. Even Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates was somewhat surprised to get call from Hovland on Tuesday afternoon with a request to test a new set of Ping i210 irons.
Hovland’s current setup works just fine, but with Muirfield Village firming up for the Memorial, the 22-year-old wanted to know if anything could be done to get him a touch more launch and spin. As someone who takes shallow divots and could be categorized as an underspinner, Hovland figured spin could be his friend on firm greens.
The task placed before Oates and the rest of Ping’s Tour crew was finding a way to increase launch and spin without altering Hovland’s shaft lengths, lofts or carry yardages. Sounds simple enough.
“Viktor knows he’s in a good spot with his game, so he’s not trying to change a bunch of variables,” Oates told GOLF.com. “Luckily, we already had something in the works he could try.”
During the first event back at Colonial, Ping had floated the idea of Hovland using irons with less bounce to increase launch. As Oates described it, removing four degrees from the camber in the sole (called a “bounce grind”) would allow Hovland’s irons to interact more with the ground and get the ball to impact higher on the face.
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Hovland spent four-plus hours testing the irons on Wednesday morning on a launch monitor, out of the rough and from the bunker to ensure the irons were noticeably better than his gamer set.
The end result? Removing four degrees of bounce from each head helped Hovland gain 1 degree of launch and roughly 150-200 RPMs of spin. That translates to a steeper landing angle (2 degrees) and a few extra yards of carry.
The only first world problem for Hovland was needing to have the iron number moved from the sole to the toe due to the amount of material that was removed.
Along with removing camber from the sole of each iron, Hovland also had two degrees taken off his 50- and 56-degree Ping Glide 3.0 wedges to achieve similar turf interaction. Hovland plans to see how the irons and wedges perform this week, but he’s viewing this as a potential long-term change.
Making an iron adjustment during a heater is something many golfers wouldn’t consider. Then again, Hovland has a successful track record when he tweaks his setup. We’ll see if it can continue this week.