2023 – Total Refresh
My WITB page had gone unchanged for the most part for several years. After moving at the start of 2022 and with covid prior to that, nothing had really prompted a switch from the status quo. Charging into 2023 my mindset had changed. I was happy with my gamers but ready for something new. The result was a change to every club in my bag – and my play is all the better for it.
Before I get into the specifics, let me just say that the number of excellent choices across the spectrum of clubs has never been stronger. From SGI irons to tour-centric drivers, if you can’t find a couple of viable options you are shopping with blinders on. And a reminder to not get hung-up on labels. Be open to trying clubs and evaluate them based on your results – there’s no substitute to hands-on testing.
Note: This post is accurate at the date of publication. Changes will continue to be made. I keep my WITB up to date HERE.
The Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2
Prior to testing the Stealth 2 [review HERE], I had never hit a carbon face TaylorMade driver, so it was truly a fresh experience. The sound was both captivating and satisfying. For me the Stealth 2 driver had that nice balance of distance and forgiveness. I hit just about every driver head on the wall at Club Champion and can truly say this is a very competitive category.
The main focus on shaft selection was spin – I needed more. My swing seemed to fall into a performance void where OEM stock regular shafts didn’t provide enough spin, and stock lightweight (I choose not to say ‘senior’) shafts had too much dispersion. Master Fitter Jason Heintschel was able to zero in on the new Mitsubishi Vanquish shaft [review HERE] and I couldn’t be happier. Seeing the ball launch higher and stay in the air longer is a wonderful thing.
The Other Woods
This was an interesting story that developed over a few weeks. The first eye opener, and bag changer, resulted from a hybrid fitting with Titleist Fitting Specialist Bill Forbes. Bill ended up recommending changing from my ol’ reliable TS 5 hybrid to the new TSR2 5 hybrid [review HERE]. Not only were ball speeds faster, but the stock Project X HZRDUS Red shaft provided wonderful spin and trajectory – ideal for a long par 3 fronted by water at my home course.
The Hybrid: Titleist TSR2
Bill also evaluated my TSi2 4 hybrid. After tinkering with the TSR2 and TSR1 hybrid heads, Bill switched to fairway heads. With a few setup tweaks, the seasoned fitter handed me a TSR2 7 wood [review HERE] that was nothing short of magical. Instead of a 190 yard low runners, I was now hitting 190 yard high flying beauties. As I said in the intro, be open to trying new things.
The Fairway: Titleist TSR2
When I went back to Club Champion to find a replacement for my 4 wood, Jason and I struggled to find a club that filled the gap between the TSR2 7 wood and the Stealth 2 driver. We could achieve total distances in the target 210 range, but not with any type of meaningful trajectory. And with a realistic conversation about “need,” it was clear that we were trying to fill a spot in the bag that just didn’t need to be filled. There was a reason I could count on one hand how many times I had pulled my 4 wood in the past year: it just didn’t serve a need – reliably. A good reminder to take an objective look at your setup from time to time.
The Irons: Cobra KING Tour
When I first saw the Cobra KING Tour irons [review HERE] I fell in love with their looks. The narrow topline and minimal offset were very appealing, but seeing “Tour” on them gave me pause. A few swings in, I was thrilled at how well the irons were performing for me. I was launching the ball effortlessly, distances were solid, and very importantly, there was a good amount of forgiveness. They became strong contenders to make the bag.
A fitting session with Jason back at Club Champion sealed the deal. There were a couple other heads that put up similar performance numbers, but none that beat the look and feel of the Cobra KING Tour. The icing on the cake was the VA Composite Baddazz shafts Jason guided me to. In performance and feel, no other shaft that was even close. I felt like I had hit the lottery – twice. Interestingly, the descriptor for the Baddazz on the VA Composites website is: high launch, low spin. The latter being the opposite of what I need. Fortunately, Jason knew from his experience fitting a wide range of golfers, and his training with VA Composites Founder and CEO Victor Afable, that the Baddazz are perfect for “pickers” like me. Plus those shaft graphics – cherry on top.
The Wedges: Edison 2.0
I receive a lot of compliments on my short game, and I have no doubt that Edison wedges are an integral part of my success. Switching from the original to the new 2.0 models [review HERE] was a no brainer. I completely concur with what Matt Saternus stated in his WITB 2023 [read it HERE]: “The Edison 2.0 wedges are everything the originals were and more. Higher spin, more stable, and more consistent.” Speaking of consistency, I also put the VA Composite Baddazz shafts in my wedges. My 51° is now a dart throwing machine from half to full swings.
The Putter: SWAG Savage One
The final, and most coveted, change to my bag is the SWAG Savage One putter [review HERE]. For years I’d been waiting for SWAG to release a mid mallet with appreciable toe hang, and like a fresh spring flower, the Savage One emerged at the perfect time. I love every aspect of the putter: looks, feel, and flow. But wait there’s more – the Savage One and three additional SWAG putter models are now available at Club Champion.