Why Jordan Spieth changed drivers at Pebble Beach
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Written by GolfWRX @GolfWRX
Jordan Spieth’s shot-making creativity allows him to navigate golf courses aggressively yet still escape trouble when things go awry. That same creativity, however, presents a challenge when making equipment changes.
With his driver, for example, Spieth has at least five different shot trajectories that he’ll use depending on the hole layout and course conditions, according to Titleist Tour fitter J.J. Van Wezenbeeck. That variation in shot making is becoming more rare in the modern game.
“There seems to be fewer and fewer players every year that hit so many windows,” Van Wezenbeeck told GolfWRX.com on Wednesday at Pebble Beach. “The ‘swing hard and hit a high cut’ method is really popular among players, where you’re just trying to get a certain launch and spin to match one speed. Jordan has a fairway finder, he has a mid-flight cut, he has a higher cut, then he has a mid-draw and a high-draw. So you have to marry those spin and launch characteristics across a bunch of windows. … It’s a fun challenge.”
For Spieth, changing drivers isn’t simply a process of optimizing spin, launch and speed for one particular shot, as is the case with some of his PGA TOUR peers. Spieth needs to optimize his launch numbers for all of the shots in his arsenal.
During the last several years, Spieth has relied on the Titleist TSi3 driver, which was released to the public at the beginning of 2021, and has been in Spieth’s bag since 2020. Compared to the TSi2 model, the TSi3 produced a slightly lower ball flight, slightly less spin, had a more compact shape and allowed for a bit more workability.
Ahead of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which Spieth won in 2017, he began testing and experimenting with the new TSR2 driver model. In previous Titleist driver iterations, according to Van Wezenbeeck, Spieth shied away from the TSi2 or earlier TS2 model when compared to the TSi3 and TS3 options. Although he found the added forgiveness and overall performance of the “2” models to be effective, he didn’t like the shape of the driver when looking down at address. Thanks to a shaping change of the TSR2 driver compared to its predecessors, Spieth was able to match the performance he wanted with the look he prefers.
“He looked at the TS2 and he didn’t like the shape. He looked at TSi2 and didn’t like the shape, then he looked at TSR2 and really liked the shape,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “The shaping change has opened something that was a good performance product for him in the past, and now the performance and looks kind of marry those two things together for him. It has a little more traditional shaping. Stephanie Luttrell and the R&D team really focused a lot of energy on some of the toe shape and make it not look quite as flat, quite as pointed, and so the TSR2 has really nice movement in shape. She spent a lot of time with her team getting that shape really good. And in the heel section it’s slightly more pear shaped; it’s not quite as uniform in shape. It gives it a lot more traditional look in a high MOI (moment of inertia) product.”
While working with Van Wezenbeeck at Pebble Beach this week, Spieth found that the added forgiveness and slightly higher spin of the TSR2 allowed him to maximize efficiency with his five different shot shapes. He stayed with the same Fujikura Ventus Blue 6X shaft he had been using, and the only adjustment they had to make was with the SureFit Hosel setting on the driver head. Spieth previously played his TSi3 10-degree driver in an A-1 setting, which is a standard loft and lie. With the new TSR2 driver, though, they adjusted it into a D-1 setting, which has 0.75 degrees less loft and a standard lie angle. This helped Spieth find the exact flight windows he needed.
“As we worked through it, we found that TSR2 was helping him launch the ball more easily,” Van Wezenbeeck explained. “It was really stable on spin. …Spin stability is really important so that the draws aren’t falling out of the sky, and the spins aren’t ballooning. We found that the TSR2, when we got that in a D-1 hosel setting, it gave him a really good face angle he liked to look at, and it really helped keep the spins in the perfect window on his draws and his fades. And the ball speeds were really impressive.”
Spieth is putting his new TSR2 driver to its first competitive test this week at one of his favorite venues of the year.