January 05, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Garcia is heading into his second year with Callaway after capturing two wins in 2018. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia talks equipment changes and strategy after his first full year with Callaway in 2018.
So obviously you have a new driver in the bag, can you talk about the process of getting into the Flash (Sub Zero) from the Rogue and what you think about the new head?
I love the look of this new Epic Flash driver. The lines are a little bit straighter, so it’s easier to line up. Most of the drivers kind of line up, if you let them go, they fall to the right. This one stays more square, which is really nice. It just looks sharp. The lines and everything, they look really really solid. As soon as I saw it, I liked what I saw. That was easy.
What have you seen on launch and ball flight?
Launch is pretty similar. Ball flight is quite similar, maybe a smidge higher than with my old Rogue. Ball speed I did see a little bit of improvement. I did see a tiny bit of an increase in ball speed from last year with a combination of the new Chrome Soft X and the driver, so that’s always exciting. But yea it feels good, I’m excited about it.
Well the new face helps with off-center hits, and you don’t really miss the center of the face too much…
(laughs) Well we do sometimes and, you know, any help is important. But at the end of the day, the biggest help is for the amateurs. That’s where they’re going to see the biggest difference. Fortunately for us, and thankfully, we don’t miss the middle of the head too often. If we did, we’d probably be doing something else.
Talk about where you’re at with the driver shaft and the testing you’ve been doing in the off-season. You were playing the Mitsubishi Tensei Orange last year, right?
I played it for a little bit. But I went to the (Tensei) Blue at Greensboro, and I played it ever since. I’m really happy with it. I really like the way it performs to me. So I haven’t changed anything there.
How serious do you get on shaft testing? Are you a guy who likes to test every shaft and put them all through Trackman testing, or you get a couple shafts you think you’ll like and go by feel?
No, I don’t try… unless Dean and the guys from Callaway come to me and say, I think you should try this new shaft because it could really make a difference on you -- I don’t really like to try too many new things if what I’m using is working and I’m comfortable with it.
Working down into the bag a little bit, I see you still have all Apex MBs, what have you liked about those irons, and are you looking to make a switch this year?
Yea, I’ve had them all year. I think they’re really sharp. I love the way they look, the top line is really really solid. They feel great. I’ve felt really comfortable with them throughout the year… I’m excited to see some of the new ones that they’re going to bring out. But at the moment I’m happy with these.
Have you done testing with driving irons? It seems you always go blade 3 iron then into a 5 wood.
Last year I’ve had a driving iron, a Rogue kind of 2-iron in, for a little bit. I mean, I like it, but at the end of the day, I always feel like I get a little bit more playability with the 5 wood. Mainly because of par 5s in two and some tee shots. The good thing for me is that I can bring it down quite a bit if I want to. So I can, even if it’s a 5 wood, I can still hit it quite low. All the guys have a little bit of a hard time to keep a 5 wood down, but I’m able to do that. So I feel like I can get a little bit more off a 5 wood than a 2-iron at the end of the day.
What do you suggest for amateur golfers, who you play with in pro-ams… do you suggest a long iron, a driving iron, a hybrid or a 5 wood?
There’s nothing written about likes and dislikes. I think it’s whatever feels most comfortable to you. I think a long iron is always going to be the hardest choice, so unless you’re a good amateur you’re probably going to struggle a little bit more with that. I think nowadays, you know Callaway, they make long irons that are a little bit more playable, a little bit thicker, a little bit more between an iron and a rescue. Obviously you have the rescues that are also good clubs to have. But the 5 woods are always, if you have good confidence with it, they’re always a very easy club to hit.
Have you done some testing with the PM grind wedge with the higher toe?
I did a little bit last year and it feels good to chip around, but I feel like with the Mack Daddy Forged, the normal shaped ones, for anything from 60-70 yards to 100-110 yards, it feels a little bit more consistent because of the way it’s shaped and where the center of gravity of the club is and everything.
Are you making any changes to the putter or golf ball?
No I’m going to stick with the (Toulon) Atlanta that I’ve been using through the back half of the year. I’m really happy with that one. Golf ball, yea, I will be using the new Chrome Soft X that they’re bringing out. I’ve been testing it a little bit and it feels really nice. So that’s exciting.
So obviously you were with one company for a very long time. Now you’ve switched and I think it’s been about a year at this point. What’s been the most difficult switch to make as you reflect back over making that huge equipment change?
Yea I don’t know, it’s been fairly easy. I mean, for being the first year with Callaway it’s been very positive. Two wins. Obviously, I had a little bit of a rough stretch in the middle of the year, but other than that, two wins, getting the Ryder Cup record and everything. So I think it’s been very, very positive. And they made it very easy for me to get into all the stuff. And they worked hard with me to make sure that I got what I wanted and what I needed. So that’s been great. Probably the biggest question mark for me was the golf ball, because once you’ve played a golf ball for so long, to change into a different golf ball, it can always be tricky. But by what I’ve tested and what I’ve seen, and the performance I’ve seen from the Chrome Soft X, I’m not worried about it. I feel like it’s as good as my old ball was throughout all the clubs, and around the greens I think it’s a little bit better than my old golf ball. So it’s always going to be a move forward.
In 2018 all four major winners were equipment free agents. What do you think about that trend, and what’s your advice for maybe someone just coming out of college who is trying to figure out what to do with equipment deals?
Well at the end of the day you have to go with your gut. You have to go with what feels comfortable for you. If you have a company like Callaway or some other company that is offering you a nice contract and you like what they have as equipment, of course go. Go for it. That’s a win-win. If you’re not sure about the equipment, I don’t think that the money matters. Because what you’re making there you’re probably going to lose on the golf course. I think it’s important to go with what you feel most comfortable with. If you can match both things than it’s perfect. But if not, sometimes it’s better to take a little bit less money and have the equipment that feels really good to you. There’s always time to go back to that in the future.
As a renowned great ball striker – everyone has always referred to you as a “great ball striker” – do you think the equipment changes of say the last 5-6 years have leveled that playing field? Equipment is so good now with drivers and the technology in irons, do you think that’s hurt your advantage?
I do feel… and I wouldn’t say only for me. I think equipment has been… and I’m not the only one who feels this because I’ve talked to other guys and stuff, but I think equipment has helped the average player more than it’s helped the top player. It’s obviously helped us, don’t get me wrong, but I think the jump from the average player has been higher than jump from the top player. Like it hasn’t been equal.
Do you kind of long for the days when you were 17-18 years old, playing with the older equipment?
(laughs) No, I mean at the end of the day, I think that all of the changes and all the technology that all the companies have improved on, I think it’s made the game of golf better for all of us. So I don’t sit there and think ‘ah, I wish it would of never happened.’ Because, at the end of the day, it’s made the game more gettable for more people, more amateurs, and that’s the core of the game. Yes, we are the high level. We are the professionals, but the core of the game is the people that play it week-in and week-out. So you need to make it more fun for those people.
Last question, because I have to ask it, are you going to putt with the flagstick in, in 2019? Have you seen Bryson at all?
(laughs) Yea. I’m sure I will. But it won’t be from like 5 or 10 or 15 feet. I’m sure I’ll putt it once and awhile from like a foot and it’s a tap-in, and I’ll probably putt with the pin in when it’s a really long putt, like a 50- or 60-footer, because it give you a little better gauge on the distance. But putting from 10, 15, 20 feet, I don’t think I’ll do it because I feel like if I don’t hit it with the perfect speed, it probably can hit the flag and rattle out, instead of you know, if you hit a 20-footer a little too hard it hits the back of the hole and goes in. But everyone is different.