July 01, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- This S55 iron has 20 degrees of loft instead of the standard 21. (Jonathan Wall/PGA TOUR.COM)
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Bubba Watson is known to a lot of golf fans as one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, but what some may not know is that the long-hitting lefty is incredibly particular about his irons and how they perform on the course.
Until last season's BMW Championship, where he switched to PING's S55 iron model, Watson had been using the same set of PING S59 irons since 2004 -- an incredible length of time when you consider most TOUR players typically switch into a new iron model every few years.
The comfort level Watson had with S59, coupled with the ability to work the ball both ways and hit it high or low, made it nearly impossible to get the irons out of his bag.
Following the decision to put the new irons in play at last fall, Watson won six months later at the Northern Trust Open. He followed up his fourth PGA TOUR title with his second Green Jacket at the Masters and hasn't looked back.
"It's been 10 years since I've changed irons," Watson said after his Northern Trust Open win, "and I just went to the S55s. Somehow, my bad shots turn out good."
Since the switch, every iron in the bag has performed to Watson's liking -- with the exception of his S55 3-iron.
"Ever since he started using S55, the one complaint he's had is that the iron doesn't cut enough," said PING Tour rep Christian Pena. "We messed with the lie a little bit, bending it a little flatter than what he was used to before going back the other way because it was too flat.
"We also took some loft off last week and he said that helped. S55 gets up in the iron pretty easy, but Bubba likes to hit that low stinger with this club, so we went from 21 degrees to 20 degrees. That helped a lot with that shot."
What the change to the loft and lie angle on the club didn't do, however, was allow Watson to hit the cut shot he was looking for with the long iron. Instead of continuing to tinker with the loft and lie, PING engineers decided to get creative, adding a 5-gram tungsten weight to the sole that was positioned closer towards the toe.
Tungsten has been used in irons before to alter the club's center of gravity, but in Watson's case, the tungsten was added in an effort to slow down the toe rotation and keep the face open longer, allowing him to hit a cut shot with the 3-iron.
Watson received the iron on Tuesday and liked the way it looked and felt during testing. It's unclear if he plans to put the club in play at The Greenbrier Classic.
According to Pena, this is the first time he can recall PING adding a tungsten weight plug to a long iron, making Watson's S55 3-iron a true one-off.
"That's the first time I've ever seen use do something like that in something that wasn't a putter," Pena said. "Usually we do something like that for putters, not iron heads."
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