I’ll be the first to admit an LPGA gear dive has been a long time coming. Tracking PGA Tour equipment trends is highly enjoyable, but if you want a better idea of the equipment setups you should be trying — the swing speeds of the top female golfers are more comparable to the average male golfer — take a look at the LPGA.
Lydia Ko is a great place to start. The two-time major winner leads the LPGA’s season standings with an eclectic mix of gear. Here’s a look at seven things that stood out when I inspected her equipment during the Ascendant LPGA event.
Proto Concept isn’t a household name on the PGA Tour, but the Japanese-based equipment manufacturer — a collaboration between Endo forging house and retail giant Golf Partner — has been making inroads on the LPGA Tour this season. Ko is without question the biggest name playing their Proto Forged cavity-backs.
According to Ko, the Proto irons were 2-3 yards shorter than her previous PXG gamers, but the dispersion pattern and carry yardages were consistently tighter in the mid- and short-irons. Ko plays Proto Concept in the 6- through 9-iron before moving to a Titleist T200 5-iron.
Without a full bag contract tying Ko to one brand, she’s found freedom in being able to test what she wants.
“Having a bunch of clubs to test can get overwhelming at times,” Ko told GOLF.com. “But what I appreciate is being able to add clubs that fit my game.”
It wouldn’t be a proper gear dive without a lead tape mention. Ko doesn’t rely heavily on lead tape to solve her club-weighting problem, but her T200 5-iron does feature a single strip on the lower section of the cavity.
For Ko, it’s just enough to dial-in weight and increase launch ever so slightly to get her carry gaps in the right spot.
When you see hearts and “my fav” scrawled on a headcover, it’s safe to assume the club holds a special significance. Hidden underneath the canvas headcover is a 19-degree Ping G425 hybrid that I assumed was Ko’s favorite club in the bag — until she set the record straight.
“That’s just my sister doodling on it,” Ko said with a laugh. “It must be her favorite. The 19-degree has been going in and out of my bag. It was in there at the British Open instead of my 5-wood. But on a week where it’s not super windy, I’ll usually go with the 5-wood.”
In addition to the custom canvas headcover, Ko’s 19-degree hybrid was the only one in the bag with a purple Iomic grip. The rest of her clubs have a custom Iomic “mint” pattern that Ko confirmed might not be around for much longer. Instead of switching out all of the grips at once, Ko decided to take a slower approach by adding one to the bag to see how it felt.
“I really liked the mint ones Iomic made for me, but I’m ready for a change,” Ko said. “They made it in a lavender with the same feel. I’m in the transition of switching at the moment, so that’s the only reason why you see different grip colors in the bag.”
Assuming the lavender version checks out, she’ll eventually retire the rest of the mint grips for a fresh look.
Aim small, miss small
If you have aspirations of improving your driver consistency, go ahead and print out the above photo and hang it on your wall. The white paint you see on the face of Ko’s 8-degree Titleist TSR3 driver are tightly bunched tee marks that reveal an impressive level of consistency with the driver. (Having zoomed in on the hi-res image, I can assure there is nary a tee mark on the heel or toe.)
Consistent contact is only one part of the equation if you want to get better off the tee, but always remember that consistency generally leads to more reliable launch, spin and carry numbers. Having a reliable driver is something every golfer strives for, including Ko.
You can learn a lot about a golfer’s preferred shot shape with the metalwood by looking at the loft sleeve. In Ko’s case, the SureFit loft sleeve on her Titleist TSR3 driver, TSR2+ 3-wood and TSR2 5-wood are all set in the B1 setting. For those of you who aren’t well versed in the Titleist SureFit chart, B1 positions the club at .75 degrees flat (lie angle), which in turn opens the face a half-degree without altering loft. The result is a go-to fade shot shape that is easier to control.
Ko is one of several players who uses the same loft sleeve setting throughout the woods, but don’t assume that’s the case for everyone. Nelly Korda has three different settings for her Titleist woods, which I’ll touch on in a future gear dive.
Ko goes graphite
Graphite is the material of choice for many LPGA pros in their irons and wedges. We’ve covered the benefits plenty of times on this site, but today’s graphite is simply more consistent and reliable. Unless you are dead set on playing steel, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try.
For Ko, she follows a similar blueprint to Tiger Woods by transitioning from AeroTech SteelFiber FC 70 graphite in her irons to FC 80 in her wedges. The slightly heavier weight adds a bit more feel for touch shots around the green.
With one of the best short games on Tour (she ranks first in sand saves), you’re pretty much required to post a photo of Ko’s Vokey SM9 wedges. The multi-colored initials stamped all over the head come courtesy of Vokey Tour rep Aaron Dill.
Want to overhaul your bag? 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.