Putters

Wall-to-Wall Equipment: How a 15-year-old convinced Justin Thomas to switch putters

justin thomas scotty cameron putter

Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday, umTuesday morning gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.

Thanks, kid

From the mouth of babes. That’s the best way to describe what transpired at Justin Thomas’ American Junior Golf Association-sponsored tournament several weeks ago in Kentucky. In the throes of a full-on putter search, Thomas happened upon a junior golfer at the tournament who worked with Justin’s father, Mike.

The two struck up a conversation that centered around the putter in the junior golfer’s hands: a Thomas-inspired Phantom X 5.5.

“He was using the putter, pretty much my putter that Scotty Cameron, the line that we kind of came out with, and he was like, ‘you know, when are you going to start using it again?'” Thomas recalled. “‘Are you still using the long neck?’ I was like, yeah, I am, and I was kind of explaining it, and he’s just like, well, when are you going to start using it again? And I found myself defending myself to this 15-year-old.”

In the end, Thomas wound up questioning his own putter choice — and made a change.

“I was like why am I not using this thing?” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success. It’s not like I’m making a lot of putts with what I have. If you’re putting well, any of us can go out and putt with anything. I don’t know, it kind of hit me. I’m like the kid’s got a point. They designed a putter after it, maybe I should bring it out. When I brought it out, it looked good, it felt good. Again, a lot of familiar feelings with it.”

Thanks to one vocal junior golfer, Thomas found his putting stroke at Liberty National with his trusty Scotty Cameron X 5.5 Tour Prototype. If Thomas goes on to win the FedEx Cup, he knows who to thank in his victory speech.

Familiar feel

Johnny Wunder/Callaway

What initially started as a driver and shaft testing session at the Ely Callaway Performance Center turned into a golden opportunity for Jon Rahm to take Callaway’s Jaws Full Toe lob wedge for a spin following a practice session with his coach Dave Phillips.

“Jon and his coach Dave Phillips did some motion capture work on that Wednesday and he texted me Wednesday night asking to try some lob wedges with a bit more bounce,” said Callaway Tour rep Kellen Watson. “I, fortunately, had a couple of wedges leftover at ECPC, already built to his spec and I had an inkling that he may love the full toe because of the versatility it offers.”

“After we chatted about where the bounce he wanted to use was, we took measurements off of his 56-degree that he commented, ‘Is perfect on every shot.’ We found that he uses a lot of the midsole located heel ward, lined up with the first weight porthole. His 56-degree had about 14.25 degrees of bounce in that location, the gamer 60-degree had 12.25 degrees and the 58-degree Full Toe bent to 60 degrees had 16.25 degrees.”

Weakening the loft on the Jaws Full Toe to mimic his Jaws Forged sand wedge added the necessary bounce to bump Rahm’s previous lob wedge from the bag.

Rahm made wholesale changes to his club makeup when he joined Callaway at the beginning of the season, but outside of a putter swap, he’s kept the tinkering to a minimum for most of the season.

Emergency plan

What happens when your driver cracks mere minutes before your tee time? If you’re Dustin Johnson, you carry on with a 5-wood that can still go 285 yards in the air. If only we were all so lucky.

Prior to putting a peg in the ground at Liberty National, Johnson noticed a crack on the face of his TaylorMade SIM driver that immediately knocked it out of commission. With only a TaylorMade SIM2 Max 3-wood (14.5 degrees) in his car, Johnson opened play with a 5-wood off the tee while the second fairway wood was being retrieved.

With the wind picking up during the round, even Johnson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, admitted there were a few holes where he felt like a mere mortal without his driver.

“Especially into the wind, it’s a big difference,” he said. “Because I use my 3-wood for the 275 shot, but into the wind, obviously that comes way down, where driver I can still carry in the 290s to 300 into the wind.

Johnson eventually added a driver to the bag on Friday, but it’s worth noting he still ranked 53rd in driving distance (300 yards) on Thursday without a big stick. Asked what he’d say to the other 70-plus players behind him in the statistical category who had a driver at their disposal, Johnson shrugged.

 “I don’t know, you can ask them that,” he said.

Dialed in

To state Anna Nordqvist was dialed in with her irons at the Women’s Open Championship would be a massive understatement. The Swede hit 79 percent of her greens in regulation at Carnoustie en route to winning her third major title. Even more impressive? She missed just four greens over the weekend. Nordqvist switched to Titleist’s T100 irons last month at the LPGA’s Volunteers of America Classic, where she worked with Titleist fitter Scott Kraul to test the new version against the previous generation.

Testing revealed a slightly higher launch and steeper descent angle, which improved performance in the 5- and 6-iron. Nordqvist also highlighted the improved feel and turf interaction as reasons for making the switch prior to the Women’s Open Championship.

Quick-hitters: Rory McIlroy broke in three TaylorMade MG3 (46, 56 and 58-08LB degrees) wedges. … Srixon unveiled a yellow-and-white version of its Divide design on the Z-Star XV. … Sergio Garcia added a TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast mallet. … Anna Nordqvist moved from Titleist’s TSi2 driver (10 degrees; Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 60 shaft) into a TSi3 (10 degrees; Fujikura Ventus Red 6S) after noticing faster ball speeds and a more consistent flight that allowed her to control trajectory at Carnoustie. … Dustin Johnson switched back to his TaylorMade Spider Limited Itsy Bitsy.

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.

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