The inside story behind Collin Morikawa’s new one-off putter shaft
Almost 11 months ago, Collin Morikawa added a new member to his team for the first time ever: a putting coach. The two-time major winner began working with instructor Stephen Sweeney to rectify a part of Morikawa’s game — arguably the only part, if we’re being honest — that continued to confound him in competition.
When Morikawa’s putter is red-hot, he’s practically unbeatable. The problem is those days haven’t been as plentiful as Morikawa and Sweeney would like. The pair have spent countless hours trying to come up with a solution, taking a closer look at the setup and grip to see if they could find a long-term remedy.
What Morikawa has refrained from doing during his time with Sweeney is endlessly tinkering with the putter — something he did on numerous occasions during the 2022 season. Morikawa has remained loyal to TaylorMade’s TP Soto (L-Neck) with an LA Golf putter shaft — he started using the shaft during the 2022 Presidents Cup — but as Sweeney told GOLF.com, he started to pick up on a potential problem with the overall weighting.
More specifically, the carbon putter shaft he was using at the time.
Carbon composite putter shafts have risen in popularity over the past several years, due in part to their ability to reduce torque (how much the putter rotates at impact) and provide impressive consistency. Morikawa saw the benefits as well, but something still felt “off” during the stroke.
“We wanted to make a change because he didn’t feel comfortable,” Sweeney said. “His putter head is relatively light and the shaft was very heavy, so then the head felt very light. That meant it was hard to gauge where it was in space and in his stroke. His putting was inconsistent as far as speed control goes. If he had to load the putter to add speed, he didn’t have a sense of how far to take it back.“
As Sweeney confirmed, he and Morikawa started discussing different shaft options just before the Open Championship. They reached out to a few different shaft manufacturers to see if they could send along shafts for Morikawa to test on his own time — including Mitsubishi Chemical, who embraced the challenge of building something completely custom to meet the 26-year-old’s needs.
“When I contacted Mitsubishi they basically expressed enough interest that they decided they would make a custom shaft based on what I figured he needed, using player feedback from Collin and based on previous testing,” Sweeney said. “They went above and beyond to create 1 of 1 putter shaft. That’s not something that companies do, that I know of.”
The collaboration between Morikawa, Sweeney and Mitsubishi resulted in a Diamana prototype putter shaft that’s a “different makeup” and roughly 20 grams lighter — Morikawa’s new shaft is about 105 grams — than the model he used this season, in an effort to reduce the extreme weight difference between the shaft and head.
The cosmetics and full-length carbon fiber plies — used to create a smooth EI for feedback and feel purposes — still match up with the retail Diamana putter shaft, but the overall design is specifically geared for Morikawa. It’s one of the many benefits of being one of the best golfers on the planet.
Testing at TaylorMade’s The Kingdom facility soon confirmed Morikawa was on the right track as the Diamana proved to be the best option for his putter during testing. From there, Morikawa continued his work at home before debuting the shaft this week at the Ryder Cup.
“It’s lower torque but with a little more flex,” said Sweeney. “It increases the swing weight so that head feels heavier actually being heavier. His stroke length and speed control have improved dramatically because of it. This will be his first tournament with it in play.”
While it’s indeed the first week Morikawa will have the shaft in play, a lot of work went on behind the scenes to find the best option for his putter. Morikawa and Sweeney are hoping it’s the missing piece that ushers in the return of the red-hot putter in Rome.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.