How a shaft change helped this major champion get back to the winner’s circle

Justin Rose the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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Sometimes a little tweak is all you need and this week at the Genesis Invitational, Justin Rose expanded on the recent equipment changes that helped lead to his first win in four years at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Over the last few seasons, Rose has gone through a number of equipment changes, most notably a search for the perfect set of irons to match his game. Now even though club heads play a massive role in the overall performance of a set, the one thing that might have been the missing piece was a shaft change to help him feel his way through shots better, especially on partial swings.

“I think the things that really mattered there was my intuition and the feeling that I needed to put something in play that was just a little easier to handle, especially from a shaft point of view,” Rose said Tuesday at Riviera. “I was having a little bit of a hard time hitting the three-quarter shots into greens and things like that.

Just Rose hitting balls as Riviera
Justin Rose warming up on the range Ryan Barat/GOLF

“I felt like the current setup I had in my bag was just feeling hard work. Who knows, I played that spec for 10-to-15 years and 10-to-15 years is a long time. Bodies change, physicality changes, all that type of thing, so I began to have an intuition I needed to tweak something… as I said, I think it was more of a Spidey sense. I wanted to play more of a combo set, something that would give me a little bit more forgiveness at the top end and obviously something slightly softer with the shaft to give me a little bit more ability to feel the shorter shots.”

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One of the most important takeaways from Rose’s insights is just how important feel is on partial shots, and this is something a lot of golfers tend to ignore when it comes to getting fit for irons. There are only so many times in a round of golf when a player is going to hit a full stock shot and when playing in the wind, as the pros did a couple of weeks ago at Pebble Beach. Those partial shots become even more critical when controlling ball flight.

As Rose alluded to, as a shaft begins to feel too stiff or too heavy, the natural reaction is to swing harder to try and get the shaft to work for you, and from an on-course perspective, this can lead to inconsistent contact and poor dispersion, especially on the crucial partial shots when the shaft isn’t getting loaded as hard.

So next time you’re on the course and you feel like you have to work a little too hard to get the most from your irons, it could be time for a shaft change.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? 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.

Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.