Pick your perfect bag: In 2018 Sergio Garcia is playing an entirely new set of clubs and ball. This is how he chose them all
There have been a handful of mega player equipment moves in the last few years. Rory, Tiger and Lydia Ko are three huge names who've made a wholesale switch to a new manufacturer, and the latest superstar to make a move is Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard had been with TaylorMade for 15 years, winning the 2017 Masters, a Players Championship and 19 other titles worldwide. But last October the two parted company, with Garcia saying: "All companies change and the politics with TaylorMade have changed after leaving adidas. We couldn't come to an agreement."
Almost immediately Garcia was spotted testing Callaway's Epic driver, plus their Apex MB irons and Mack Daddy wedges. He finished third in the Race to Dubai, helped by a T4 at the season-ending event in Dubai using Callaway clubs. On January 2, it became official – Garcia was confirmed as a Callaway sta er, saying: "I'm really excited to switch to Callaway. After testing different brands I realised Callaway's technology and innovation will help me maximise my game and perform to the best of my ability."
He'd spent the last two months doing what club golfers do all the time, choosing 14 new clubs and a ball based on how they will help his game. He will use Callaway's new- for-2018 Rogue Sub Zero driver, along with Apex MB irons, Mack Daddy 4 wedges and the latest Chrome Soft X ball. He is still testing an Odyssey Toulon putter. To find out more about the process he's gone through, how he's made his decisions and reveal what you can learn from the process, we spoke to Dean Teykl, Senior Manager Tour Operations/Player Performance at Callaway, who's been working closely with Sergio to find his perfect 2018 bag.
The pair have been fine- tuning Garcia's set, and Teykl dived into 30 pages of notes to tell us what they went through to get Sergio's ideal set-up, including driver, woods, irons, wedges, putter and ball. It's a fascinating insight into how one of the world's best players goes about choosing his equipment. We know you won't have your own tour rep to hand if you're buying new gear this year. But the way Sergio went about it will help you make better buying decision.
What's in Sergio's bag for 2018?
Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9°)
|Fairway Wood||Callaway Rogue 3-wood, Rogue Sub Zero 5 wood (13.5°, 18°)|
|Irons||Callaway Apex MB (3-9)
|Wedges||Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (47°, 54° and 58°, all in S grind)
|Putter||Toulon/ Odyssey Azalea putter
|Ball||Callaway Chrome Soft X 18|
'SERGIO'S OLD SCHOOL... HE SHAPES ALMOST EVERY SHOT' ... Dean Teykl Senior Manager Tour Operations/Player Performance at Callaway, who tted Sergio Garcia
What does Callaway bring to Sergio's game?
Three things. Service, and attention to detail worldwide, is second to none. The products are at the cutting edge of innovation and the team atmosphere – player/ instructor /family /caddie /Callaway. They were all important factors.
How long has he been testing the new gear and what has he been most impressed with?
We started working on product together last October. Our Chrome Soft X ball got his attention rst, and then when he first hit our new Rogue driver he saw increased ball speed and forgiveness.
Is Sergio a tinkerer with his gear – did he try lots of options?
Not so much. I provided our complete line made to his specs and he chose each product by how it looked to his eye. Once he said he liked a product, he told me to make it perform. All of his Callaway product transitioned into the shafts and grips he was already using. He just wanted to try a different set of shafts for his irons, just to have a different feel. But in the end he stayed with his original iron shaft.
Sergio's been on record saying the ball is the hardest thing to change; has that been the case?
Not in this case, no. The Chrome Soft X provided a much softer feel, which he liked immediately. He plays from the green to the tee. He can bounce a ball on his wedge and almost be able to tell you whether or not he can play that ball. He plays the game more "old school" than most of today's players. He shapes almost every shot depending on the situation. The Chrome Soft X allows him to hit a variety of shots while gaining yardage from the tee.
What have been the most surprising results from the new clubs?
His new ball/club combination has resulted in more consistency. Being able to hit shots and each one is in the "window" of where he feels it should be gives him con dence to be more aggressive. Watching this evolution as the confidence grows, an aggressive Sergio will provide an exciting year!
How Sergio picked his 2018 Rogue Driver
Sergio will play the Sub Zero
We've worked with Sergio since he left TaylorMade, so he was playing Epic before we got together to t him for Rogue. For 2018 he's going to play the 9° Rogue Sub Zero, and I'm really surprised how quick and straightforward his fit was. Literally we hit 15 or 20 balls on Trackman from tees on a golf course and he was ready to put it straight in his bag.
How the club looks on the turf is really important
More so than many players I've worked with (during my 17 years in the business) how the club looks at address is really important to Sergio. He reckoned Rogue looked friendly which instilled con dence. The numbers then obviously need to stack up, but if he doesn't like how the club sits on the turf he doesn't want to give a try.
Ball speed, carry and total distance gains are significant
Coming from his TaylorMade M2 Sergio saw gains across the board by putting Epic in play. Ball speed was up by 3mph, and both carry and total distance were a further six yards down the fairway. Initial tests from Epic to Rogue saw further gains in ball speed and carry, along with a jump of 1° in launch, and that was without any tinkering.
Shaping shots with little effort
Sergio rarely hits a straight shot. When he sees a shot that requires a little cut, that's what he wants to hit, and he's comfortable shaping shots both ways. What he found with Rogue was that it was easier to hit the shots he saw, especially to turn shots over from right to left. With his M2 he felt he had to manipulate the club more to get the same result.
Big improvement is dispersion
After we tested we walked down the fairway to retrieve the balls Sergio had hit during the tting, and we were both surprised how tight his dispersion was with the Rogue. Sergio's a great driver of the ball anyway, but the high MOI nature of Rogue Sub Zero helps keep his heel miss in play and he felt shots flew through a very consistent launch window, which translates to nding even more fairways.
We change one component at a time
We haven't even looked at driver shafts yet with Sergio. We wanted a direct comparison between old and new models to get a true re ection of how the new Rogue performs for him. Further down the line, if Sergio wants to we can explore shafts much more deeply to see if there's further gains to be made.
How Sergio picked his Rogue Fairways
Decisions, decisions, decisions
During the test session we hit both the Rogue 3+ (13.5° loft) and Rogue Sub Zero 3+ (13.5°) – and as we stand Sergio is still deciding between the pair. As far as how they perform for Sergio they're very similar, but the looks give two different appearances; the slightly smaller Sub Zero shape is his preference. The shafts are exactly the same as the driver – Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver.
Sub Zero fairways are the way forward
Because the Sub Zero has more weight forward in the head, spin is reduced. Sergio particularly likes how his cut shots don't over- spin, and are more manageable. We didn't have to go through lots of product to nd the right fit either. Just like the driver Sergio knows what he likes, so there's very little tinkering. Tour pros often like to alter paint lines on the top edge of woods to suit their own eye (and make it look more open than it actually is), but we had nothing like that with Sergio.
5-wood or utility iron?
Sergio has been tted for both a Rogue Sub Zero 5-wood (18°) and a new X Forged utility iron (of the same loft). He will swap them in and out of his bag depending on the course he's playing. The utility has a lower, more boring ight for him. His planning involves analysing the par 5s and par 3s at each course and deciding whether shots needs to be run up to the green, or own all the way to the front edge.
Daily weather conditions also in uence the decision
The decision to use the 5-wood or utility iron changes daily as well. If it's windy, he'll look to keep approach shots lower and run them up if possible. But when it's wet he might need to y shots further through the air. He travels with both in his bag, so it literally it is a daily decision on which is best suited to the conditions.
The Rogue woods weren't the only eye opener
We started testing the Chrome Soft X golf ball by chipping and pitching on to greens. By the time we'd made our way back to hit fairways and drivers from the tee, Sergio realised the Chrome Soft went further than his old ball, so he was a bit confused. He said "how can a golf ball go further, yet spin more around the green?" Right there the switch became a no-brainer.
How Sergio picked his Apex MB irons
The lure of blades
I spent two sessions with Sergio looking at irons and he naturally gravitated towards the appearance of the Apex MBs. They're a bit different from his TaylorMade player cavity backs (P750), but he feels he can shape shots and control trajectory with them, which made the t a very simple process. The only difference between Sergio's set and a standard off -the-shelf set will be the "SG" logo on the back.
X Forged was an option
He did have a look at the X Forged irons (cavity-backs) as we built a set to exactly the same specs as his TaylorMade irons. He just felt he didn't need the added forgiveness that came from of a bit more off set and the slightly thicker topline.
New shafts were on the table
We looked at potentially using some new shafts. Sergio put in the True Temper Project X Load Zone (7.0) shafts when he played at the back end of 2017. He felt after trialling them in a couple of events when he was under the gun, dispersion just wasn't quite as tight as the Nippon Tour 130 he usually plays.
We looked at wedges, too
We showed him some more exotic grinds, but he was keen to stick with the standard S-grind sole. He likes to keep things simple, and he feels he can open up the SW and LW without any issues with turf interaction. By keeping it simple he also thinks it's easier to get exact replacements when he needs fresh new grooves. 47°, 54° and 58° lofts cover o his gapping.
Give me spin
There's two schools of thought when it comes to wedge spin. You get guys that can control spin, and guys that can't. Guys that can't need less spin, but the guys that can want as much as they can get. Sergio is most definitely in the "can" category – he sees spin as control. He gets it from face manipulation, club selection and whether he hits hard or soft shots. With his old ball he felt he needed to use trajectory to stop shots, he can now use spin – hitting low spinners is a preference.
Sergio is seriously good
I've been fitting pros for 17 years and Sergio is one of the most incredible ball strikers I've ever seen. To watch him call a draw with his irons and land the shot 10 feet left of the target is really special. Even off the tee golfers that can shape shots usually aim at the right side of the fairway and end up 25 yards left, but with Sergio he is literally moving tee shots four yards, which is so impressive.