Welcome to Fit Factor, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re shining a light on the importance of club fitting, powered by insights, data and other learnings from the experts at our 8AM Golf sister company, True Spec Golf.
Legendary NFL head coach Vince Lombardi once said that “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Roll your eyes if you must, but there’s a difference between practicing and practicing with a purpose on the range. That doesn’t mean you need to treat every range ball like it’s the most important tee shot or approach of your life, but it pays to do the little things right when working on your game.
If you need some tips on how to improve your practice routine, look no further than how Dustin Johnson operates with a wedge in hand. On Tuesday at Augusta National, cameras caught Johnson casually lofting wedges into the air as he worked his way through the bag.
The reigning Masters champion made great strides to improve his wedge game from inside 150 yards at the start of the 2018 season. That included acquiring a launch monitor to tighten his spin rates. Consistent spin numbers usually equate to consistent carry yardage.
Of course, there’s more to Johnson’s short game improvements than simply adding a launch monitor to practice sessions. Taking a page out of the Lombardi playbook, Johnson does his part to practice with a purpose. That includes doing the little things the average golfer rarely takes into consideration.
As the camera zoomed in on Johnson in-between wedge shots, they caught him wiping down the face of his wedge to keep the grooves clean. It’s an overlooked part of the routine that’s critically important to Johnson’s practice sessions.
“When he warms up, he calibrates himself for the day to make sure he is where he is,” Keith Sbarbaro, TaylorMade’s VP of Tour Operation, said on GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast. “When you watch him warm up, it’s a process. He hits a wedge, he wipes the wedge down. He hits another wedge, wipes the wedge down. It’s very calculated. It’s like tuning an F1 car. He gets it tuned up so when he gets up there, he’s in full control of his golf ball.”
If Johnson is constantly keeping the grooves clean while he practices, a large variance in spin rate from one shot to the next would be a sign that something is amiss. However, if the grooves are caked with dirt, it’s almost a guarantee his spin numbers would be all over the place, even if he was making a nearly identical swing.
To highlight the wild swings in spin rate that can occur, GOLF senior equipment editor Andrew Tursky hit several balls with a clean and dirty wedge face from 37 yards. The spin numbers ranged from as low as 3,300 to 3,900 RPMs of spin with the dirty face to 7,600 RPMs with a clean face. That’s a difference of roughly 4,000 RPMs by simply using a wet towel to keep the grooves free of debris.
It’s a simple task that makes a big difference.
Want to overhaul your own bag for 2021? Visit the expert fitters at our sister company, True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.