Matt Saternus What’s In The Bag 2023

2023 – A Year of Changes

Longtime, die-hard Plugged In Golf readers – of which I assume you are one, if you’re reading this – know that my bag changes at a glacial pace.  I don’t feel the need to change my driver every year [I explain why HERE].  Despite having a small army of putters, the same one is almost always in the bag.

But 2023 has been a great year for clubs, and I’ve tested an unprecedented number of them.  That’s led to a lot of changes in my bag.  In this post, I’ll take you through every change (and non-change) that was made.  I hope you enjoy it and, perhaps, find some food for thought for your own bag.

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: PXG 0311 GEN6

We’re starting out with a massive shake up.  After…I truly don’t know how many years…of PING dominance, a different brand’s driver is in my bag.  The PXG 0311 GEN6 driver [review HERE] won my PXG fitting by knockout, and then went on to beat the reigning champ.

The biggest reason for making the change is the ability to fine tune the weighting.  For the things I’m working on in my swing, I need the slightest bit of fade bias.  With the PING, the fade bias brought “big right” into play a little too easily.  With the 0311 GEN6, I’m able to take “big left” out of play without inviting “fore right.”  On top of that, I love the look and sound, and the numbers are awesome.

One thing about the driver set up did not change: the shaft.  In both heads, the Mitsubishi TENSEI 1K Pro White [review HERE] continued to be the absolute best thing going for my swing.

The Experiment: PING G425 MAX Driver @ 42″

For the last couple years, I’ve been trying to find an alternate tee shot club.  I don’t love hitting hybrids or fairway woods off the tee, but I wanted something that would be A) shorter than my full driver and B) more accurate for super tight holes.  I’ve played with mini drivers, but never found “the one.”  Then it occurred to me that the best solution might be a shorter driver.  I get all the forgiveness of a 460 cc head, the look I’m comfortable with, but the potential added consistency of the shorter shaft.  Will this ever see the course?  Will this end up at 40″?  No idea, but I’m having fun with the test.

The shaft in this franken-club is the Mitsubishi TENSEI 1K Pro Black [review HERE].  It’s a little more stout than the 1K Pro White, which works well with the weight I added to the head of the G425 Max.

pxg 0311 xf gen6 hybrid

The Other Long Club: PXG 0311 XF GEN6 Hybrid

Regular readers know that I carry just one non-iron besides my driver, and for 2023, this is it.  Just like the driver, this club was super impressive at my fitting [details HERE] and has continued to shine since I brought it home.  It hits a sweet spot for size – big enough to provide forgiveness but small enough that I like how it looks.  I can work it both ways, flight it down, and let it rip.  This, too, is shafted with a Mitsubishi TENSEI White shaft, which gives me a great combination of feel and control.

Still Contending: Callaway Apex Utility Wood

When I bagged the Apex Utility Wood last year, I thought I was done searching [review HERE].  I had found a club that launched pretty easily, didn’t go left, and was as long as I could ask for.  Paired with the Nippon Modus Hybrid shaft [review HERE], I was referring to it as a cheat code.

On top of that, I hit an all-time shot with it.  On #16 at Firestone South (The Monster), I uncorked a massive drive then got home in two with a towering 240 yarder that looked like it might land right down the flag stick.

Alas, I’m just a little more confident with the look of a hybrid and the PXG gives up nothing in terms of distance, forgiveness, or ease of launch.  All that said, the Apex is sitting right next to me on the bench waiting for one mistake so it can get back in the game.

The Irons: PING Blueprint & GEOM Moe

I have an attachment to these two iron sets that’s definitely emotional and probably irrational.

The PING Blueprints [review HERE] are just prettier than every other set of irons.  At address, they’re everything I want – thin, compact, square, virtually no offset – and that makes me feel like I can do anything.  Do I know that they punish my mishits?  Sure.  Do I care?  Not enough to give them up.

There are plenty of times when I think I should game something else.  There are great sets that are over 90% as good looking but with more forgiveness.  And I may make that change eventually, just not today.

The GEOM Moe irons might be the embodiment of me as a golf club.  GEOM does offer full sets, but the Moe was originally created as a half-set only, and that’s what I have.  I rarely carry more than four irons, regardless of which set I’m using.  The Moe irons also give me plenty of control with a nice boost of forgiveness [review HERE].  Without any buzz-wordy tech, they’re as fast as all but the top few sets in the world.  Finally, I love that they’re unusual without being snobby.  I love being able to turn people on to an independent maker without having to say, “These are cool, but they’re really expensive.”

The common thread between both sets is the Nippon Modus 115 shaft [review HERE].  I have yet to find a better combination of feel and control in an iron shaft, and the slightly lower weight helps me to stay fresh throughout the round.

edison 2.0 wedge

The Wedges: Edison 2.0

The unquestioned easiest change I’ve ever made was dropping the new Edison 2.0 wedges [review HERE] in the place of the original Edison Forged.  When I first got the original Edison wedges, they cemented their place in the bag with three sensational rounds on a golf trip, delivering tap-ins at seemingly every opportunity.  The new Edison 2.0 have started the same way.  Despite not one minute of short game practice, in my first rounds of the year I’m getting up-and-down at an absurd rate.  The Edison 2.0 wedges are everything the originals were and more.  Higher spin, more stable, and more consistent.  Finally, as you’d expect, the new wedges have the same Nippon Modus 115 shafts as the previous ones.

The Putter: SWAG Handsome Too

The longest-tenured club in my bag remains in place.  I’m just like Tiger…except all the winning and being good at golf.  I gave an extended look to something totally different, but my comfort with this club is just too high.  This is my favorite putter shape, and I think this is the best version of it that exists [full review HERE].  One day this putter will be relegated to a backup role, but today is not that day.

The Ball: PXG Xtreme

The PXG Xtreme golf ball does everything I need it to – goes long off the tee, spins into the greens, and feels great – at a cost that’s below almost every comparable ball [full review HERE].  As someone who is constantly beating the drum for more accessibility in golf, how could I play anything else?

The Bag: Koger Sunday Bag

This is the perfect Sunday bag [full review HERE].  It’s light, but the material is incredibly durable.  It has just enough structure to make it easy to slide clubs in and out.  There’s enough storage for the necessities and nothing more.  Carrying this bag makes me happy, which is the single best reason to have any piece of gear in your kit.

Matt Saternus
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12 Comments

  1. Anthony Fitz

    Great write up

  2. Those PXGs look awesome. I’ve also been thinking about cutting down my Ping driver shaft, but don’t really understand the relationship between shortening the shaft and adding weight to the head to compensate for the loss in weight. Do you have any articles on this?

  3. Beefhouse

    Please could you detail lengths, lies and lofts?

  4. seth peterson

    Matt,

    idk how I missed this when it originally was posted but love it like all of the stuff you post. I often find myself just checking the witb tab but nice to see the write up. Hey if youre done with the apex UW I’d have a home for it in my bag :p Keep up the great reviews.

    Seth

  5. Bob Merrill

    Matt – Great info! I’m also interested in your “Franken-driver” experiment as I am going down the same road. My main driver is a Ping G400 Max with an Alta CB Senior shaft. I also have a G400 which I shafted at 44.5″ with a Kuro Kage HNP Gen 2 and a 13 gm head weight. Whether or not it is a fairway finder is still open to question, but it is an experiment that I plan to continue. I’ve played with it a bit and may well have it further shortened to 43.5″ to see if I can get the dispersion down, adding weight (16 gm head weight and lead tape) as needed.

    Love to get an update on your experiment with the G425!

    • Matt Saternus

      Bob,

      I’ve only gotten some range time with the short driver, but the results have been really good. Contact has been very centered, so average distance loss is very small. It doesn’t have the home run potential of the full length driver, but it is quite straight.

      Best,

      Matt

  6. Hi Matt,

    About your wedges. Are you playing the Modus Tour 115 X flex – “PW” shafts straight-in for your wedges (exact same flex and shaft as in irons)? I assumed you were not playing the Modus 115 WEDGE specific shafts. Thanks.

  7. Matt – I’m seriously considering going to 10 clubs (or less) for the 2024 season. There are a number of reasons why I would make this change, including (i) I have typically played 12 or 13 clubs and upon review of the ’23 season determined that I did not have a meaningful gap between my 7W and 9W (about 5 yards) so decided to take out the 7; (ii) I like to walk, and any reduction in weight helps; and (iii) I don’t think that not having the other clubs I would remove to get to 10 will hurt my score much if any.

    I recall reading that you play this way most of the time and would love to know more about why you do so and how you make decisions regarding what to carry.

    Bob
    #DoubleSecret

    • Matt Saternus

      Bob,

      I typically carry a driver, 4, 6, 8, PW, and a putter. Hybrid is in the bag half the time. There’s always at least one additional Edison wedge, sometimes two. So that puts me anywhere from 7 to 9 clubs. I strongly prefer to walk and carry, and this lighter set makes that easier. I also like having to think about and “manufacture” shots more than just hitting stock numbers. And the kicker is, I score about the same, which relates to people’s perception of how they strike the ball. I’ve accepted the reality that every iron in my bag has a pretty big range of yardages as well as left to right variance. Most people think “I hit my 7I between 154 and 156 yards” which simply isn’t true. But that’s a whole separate tangent. :)

      Best,

      Matt

      • Matt – Thanks for the detail! I’ll be 68 next spring and with age has come a significant slowing in CHS so my gaps are narrowing anyway and my dispersion, both side to side and front to back is much bigger than I would care to admit. I simply no longer need as many clubs.

        Your comment about liking to manufacture shots really resonates with me. When I was in my mid-30s, my usual group decided to ply a “5-iron only” match, so we had to putt, pitch and figure out how to hit sand shots with a 5-iron. We had a ball and none of us scored much worse than usual!

        Thanks again.
        Bob
        #DoubleSecret

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