December 03, 2018
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Jon Rahm putts during the third round of the 2018 Hero World Challenge. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
After Jon Rahm’s victory at the 2018 Hero World Challenge on Sunday in the Bahamas, TaylorMade’s Vice President of TOUR Operations Keith Sbarbaro – he’s also one of Rahm’s fitting reps on TOUR – answered some of my in-depth questions about Rahm’s equipment.
Click here to see Rahm’s winning bag setup, and enjoy the full Q&A with Keith Sbarbaro below.
Q: Technically, Jon Rahm has two 4-irons in the bag: a TaylorMade RSi TP UDI and a P-750. What are the differences in specs (degrees, club length) that make these both beneficial to be in the bag? It's also interesting he uses a Project X 6.5 in the UDI; has he done any testing with graphite shafts?
SBARBARO: He doesn’t play both 4 irons at the same time. The 750 is a 4 iron loft and the UDI 4 iron is 1.5 degrees stronger. They produce two different flights, so depending on the golf course he will choose one over the other. When Jon turned pro he needed a 3 utility iron; at the time we didn’t make one, and only had the older UDI. We didn’t have any 3 irons so we had to use a 4 iron and bend it stronger. Both are exact same specs expect for loft. He has tried graphite but really no advantage to it. Like I said the UDI is at 4-iron length, so at that length graphite feels very light to him.
Q: What is it about the Aldila Tour Green driver shaft that Rahm likes so much? He's had it in the bag since college! Is it performance, feel, or just familiarity?
SBARBARO: He has used that shaft since college. He has been No. 2 in driving both years on TOUR, so no reason to switch.
Q: He played MB irons in college, and he played Tour Preferred MB irons before the 750's. What's different about the 750's that he's now using a "cavity back"? Is there a set of Rahm Proto P-730's out there that he did testing with?
SBARBARO: When Jon turned pro we didn’t make a forged cavity back iron, which would have been his first choice, so we used the MB, which worked great; he was part of the development process for the P750, so it was an easy switch when they came out. He loves that he can get MB feel and performance out of a cavity back iron that is easier to hit, likes the longer and bigger blade. As for the P730 piece, no we never made a Rahm proto 730 as he loves the P750 and likely wouldn’t play them.
Q: Rahm's putter specs, 2.75 degrees of loft, 69 degree lie angle and 37 inches long, have gone largely unchanged since 2017, if I'm not mistaken. Has he made any recent tweaks? I saw after the Ryder Cup he briefly switched back to a black and white SuperStroke putter grip, but he won at the Hero using the Ryder Cup European grip. Was that just a sentimental thing, or is there something about that grip he likes better?
SBARBARO: Yes it’s the same specs since he came to TM. We have tried 36 inches and he struggled with short putts, and have also tried lines on the spider and nothing works better than 37-inch blank spider. As far as the grip, it’s been the same grip the entire time; he switched to Ryder Cup grip for obvious reasons and has just stuck with it. I don’t think he switched grips after the Ryder Cup.
Q: What does Rahm find beneficial about his Hi-Toe wedge (60 degrees) versus his Milled Grind wedges (51 and 55 degrees)? Is there anything special about his wedge grinds to help them perform better for him?
SBARBARO: Like the P750, Rahm was involved with he development of the high-toe wedge. The grind is very simple, we just removed two degrees of bounce from the market version. He tried a few different options and settled on this one. First week out with it was Dubai last year and he won, which included a great chip on the 71st hole to save par. He has said he might not have gotten the up and down without the high toe.
Q: Rahm plays a TP5x #10 golf ball. Why the number 10? And why the TP5x versus the TP5?
SBARBARO: He plays the #10 because in soccer, the best player/captain typically plays #10. Obviously, he’s a major soccer fan so it translates into his equipment. And why the TP5x? Because he was shocked by the performance; it’s the longest ball he had ever hit and the best ball in the wind. He picked up one club and 8-10 yards off the tee from the Titleist he was playing. When he turned pro he was concerned about the ball; it actually wasn’t in his contract to switch into the new ball until Jan. 2018. He saw the performance benefits at a testing (the one we turned into a commercial) and made the switch immediately. That commercial is as real as it gets.