We get to see what equipment is in the bags of the leading pro’s all the time. But have you ever, like us, wondered what club designers, leading equipment engineers and golf brand CEO’s have in theirs?
Well we thought it would be interesting to find out. So as part of a new series we sat down with Sean Toulon, General Manager at Odyssey Golf to find out not only more about his game, but also what equipment’s in his bag for 2020.
What you should know about Sean Toulon
I’m a 3 handicap right now.
For sure I’m a scratch handicap putter, and when I drive the ball well I shoot low scores. If I don’t drive the ball well though I can shoot alarmingly bad scores. I used to hit a nice draw, but as I’ve got a bit older I don’t draw it as much.
I work for Odyssey, Toulon Design and Callaway now but I spent 15 years at TaylorMade.
I started straight out of college in the spring of 1983 as a sales rep for TaylorMade. When it was sold to the Salomon (the French ski company) in 1990 I went to work for Eddie Langert, one of the original founders of TaylorMade.
From there I started Zevo Golf and built it up to a $20million company, before selling. From the year 2000 until 2015 I was in charge of Product Creation at TaylorMade.
I managed countless projects at TaylorMade but the 300 Series woods, original R7 driver and Spider putter stand out for me.
During 15 years at TaylorMade, my most important project has to be the 300 Series metal woods. They came at a time when TaylorMade really wasn’t in good shape, and we didn’t have any good players playing our products.
The world knew TaylorMade were coming out with a new metal wood but nobody thought we’d come with three. They took off and brought the company back into the metal wood business in a big way. They became number one on tour quickly, which was really important.
The second most important project was the R7 driver, which was more my baby than any of the other projects I worked on. It was the first driver with movable weight technology, it took TaylorMade from being a good club maker to being an incredible innovator, which was a really big deal. The Spider putter project was a collaboration, and once in a while something comes along that’s got real longevity. Spider has had a wonderful time over the last decade.
I’ve had three hole-in-ones and my best round ever is 67.
The 67 was at Shadow Ridge, where I’m a member. Last year though my best round was 69 and the worst was 86, so there’s a big difference between a good and bad day. I’ve had three hole-in-ones, but not made one in 30 years. My last eagle was a month ago on a par 5 at Shadow Ridge. I hit a beautiful tee shot, backed it up with a super hybrid to 2 feet, and then wriggled the putt in.
For six days after working at TaylorMade I retired.
My kids (two sons, Sam and Joe) literally coerced me into starting a putter business – Toulon Design after leaving TaylorMade. Designing putters is just more fun, there’s so much science and technology wrapped up in their designs, there’s performance gains to be had too, but they’re much more an art form than any other part of the club design business. I’ve had a blast doing it.
I once beat Nick Faldo, but I’m sure he’ll deny it.
In truth he probably didn’t know, but when I was at TaylorMade he would come to look at projects we were working on in the Carlsbad HQ and he always wanted to play. We always played Aviara, and got Mark King and John Kawaja out. I was trailing Nick by one going up 18, which is a tough par 5. Nick hit his approach so heavy he plopped it in the water and took 7. I beat him by 1, it didn’t take him long to remind me he’d won 6 more majors than me though.
I’m not really a putter collector, but I usually have 10 putters in rotation.
If I couldn’t putt I’d be a 9 or 10 handicapper for sure. Putters just seem to accumulate, I must have 100 or more, but to be honest I get more excited about what’s new. It’s been a long time since I paid for a golf club. Back in High School I remember having a set of 1973 Ben Hogan Apex forged blades, they were beautiful, I’d be surprised if I paid anymore than $150 for them.
What’s in the bag of Sean Toulon?
I’m currently on the Mavrik standard, I love the way it looks, the shaping is great. I like how it has a pretty deep head. I hit the ball pretty high, so I’ve knocked down a 9° head to 8°, with a slightly upright lie angle to encourage a draw. I can’t stand flat clubs with hooked face angles, mine is a little open and upright. I try as hard as I can but my swing speed is about 95mph, I use a Fujikura Speeder 661 TR S flex shaft.
Fairways and hybrids
I’ve picked up 10 yards by switching to this years Mavrik Sub Zero fairway (15°). I love the ball flight, and the sound and feel are special, it’s something we worked on really hard. I’m using a stock Aldila Riptide 75g stiff shaft.
Hybrid wise I have a Callaway Super Hybrid (not available in the UK), it’s my favourite club right now. I’ve turned down a 20° head to 19°, I really like the big head, for me it plays like an offset 5 wood. I like to turn the ball over from right to left and this model is great for doing that. Like my fairway wood I use an Aldila Riptide shaft (80g).
I hit the ball very high, so I have the Apex 19’s from 4 – PW and an AW. Even though the lofts are strong I still hit them high. I’ve always been a long iron player and enjoyed hitting them.
My current set-up is the first time I’ve ever dropped a 3-iron to go to a hybrid, and I’m seriously glad I have. I’m a stickler for a clean look so I have stepless Rifle Tour Flighted shafts (6.0), my grips are Golf Pride Tour Velvet, I also have to have the logo down so there’s no distractions at address.
The Jaws MD5 S Grind sole is perfect for my game. I only use two wedges and I’ve never used one with more loft than 56.5° loft. Both my 52° (bent to 50.5°) and 58°(bent to 56.5°) are bent to reduce loft, but also because I like to see a little bit of hosel offset, as it makes me feel like I can drive the ball a little more.
I grew up playing a 56° wedge, whenever I experiment with higher lofted wedges I always leave shots short.
Putters don’t last real long in my bag, but my current Odyssey Toulon Austin has stuck for a while. I love fiddling about with finishes and cosmetics, this one has a rich dark brown chocolate PVD which is beautiful.
I use the Stroke Lab shaft with a tobacco coloured Lamkin deep etched grip. The putter is 33.5” long, with a 20g sole weight. I don’t add any fancy customisation, my name is already on the hosel, anything else would just be overkill.
I’d been playing the Callaway ERC Soft, and I liked it because although I couldn’t tell any difference from the tee, I felt like I was 7 – 8 yards longer with my irons, which I really notice in the 7, 8, 9 and PW.
I’ve just switched to the new Chrome Soft 2020, and I feel like it’s a little longer off the tee, and doesn’t give anything up with my irons. It’s also a really nice chipping ball and soft for putting.
I only mark my ball if I’m playing an event, and because I’m a simple guy it’s a single red dot on the side stamp. I’ve always been a good putter, but thanks to Triple Track all I need to think about is speed, which is so much easier.