March 05, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- A look inside Francesco Molinari's bag. (Photos by Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
ORLANDO, Florida -- Francesco Molinari, coming off a 2018 season where he won the BMW PGA Championship, The Open Championship and was a crucial part of the winning Ryder Cup team, has officially announced that he signed an equipment deal with Callaway. As part of his deal, Molinari, who’s currently ranked No. 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, has switched all 14 clubs in his bag to Callaway, and he has switched to a Callaway golf ball.
While Molinari has used Callaway clubs in 2019, most recently at the WGC-Mexico Championship where he finished T17, Molinari is making his official debut as a Callaway staffer at the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill this week.
PGATOUR.COM caught up with Molinari while at Bay Hill to get Molinari’s take on the huge switch, and what he has in the bag and why. Check out his full setup below, and our full Q&A with Molinari.
Francesco Molinari’s full Callaway setup:
Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus 6x
3 Wood: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus 7X
Driving Iron: Callaway X-Forged UT (18 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Recoil F5 prototype
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 2019 (4 iron), Callaway Apex MB prototype (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (50, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (50 and 56), Nippon N.S. Pro prototype (60 degrees)
Putter: Toulon Madison Stroke Lab
Golf Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X “diamond” prototype
PGATOUR.COM: So obviously you win the Open Championship, and then you win the Ryder Cup and all these accomplishments, and then you switch up the whole bag. What’s that process been like for you?
Molinari: "Well it’s been fun first of all. I was basically looking at the end of last year at the company that would have the same strive and same intention to get better that I had last year and I still have now. Yea so I sat down with a few different companies obviously the Callaway guys were pretty impressive from the beginning. We started testing a little bit already around October last year, and yea I was impressed with the stuff from the beginning, so it was a pretty easy choice to be honest in the end."
How long did it take to get into the new clubs, and what was the most difficult switch for you?
"To be honest it was all pretty straightforward. I think I’ve got the advantage because I’m a guy that changes pretty easily. Even before last year I went through I think three different drivers through the season. Even if I was winning I kept tinkering a little bit so it was pretty easy. The main thing obviously was the ball when you make a change like this, but immediately when I tested it, it seemed very good. And the more I played around with it, the better it felt. And it performed. So once that was settled, wedges and irons were pretty straightforward. I’ve actually changed shaft in the 60 [degree wedge]. I used to have a Dynamic Gold S400 and I went to a Nippon just because it gives me a bit more height around the greens and a bit more spin."
"Then these blades are actually pretty new, I played them in Mexico for the first time. They’re made in Japan, so they’re a little bit different than the standard blade that I used already in Kapalua. I switched because they look a little bit better to me and they perform better as well so it was good. A bit more ball speed, same spin, same launch, same everything, so it makes sense to switch.
"The putter has been great, pretty easy transition. The Stroke Lab."
Do you like the multi-material feel of the shaft?
"It was an interesting switch I think because it’s obviously different from what I’ve had before shaft wise. The club head is pretty similar to what I had before. But yea, I think it feels more stable, which is how they designed it. But you can definitely feel a difference especially on longer putts. You can feel the shaft isn’t moving as much. I like it, it just makes it easier to deliver the club face where you want.
"And then the woods, I’m still tinkering a bit with the shafts but, again, the ball speed has been really impressive from the get-go."
Now a lot of TOUR players have the three-diamond prototype. Did you do a lot of testing with different heads, and then ultimately decided on this prototype?
"A little bit at the very beginning. When we started chatting with the Callaway people they were pretty convinced already this was going to be the best one for me. So, I think the very first testing with it I hit a couple of the other heads as well, but yea I immediately saw they were right and I went with this. Again, because the ball speed was very good, but very forgiving. So it just seemed like a step forward compared to what I had before."
"And same with the three wood. Last year the three wood was one of the clubs I was struggling a bit more with. And again, it feels very forgiving, it’s good off the turf and off the tee. I think many guys say this, but I think the three wood is many times the toughest to fit to just because you need to hit it in different conditions – off the ground, off the tee. So we did some experimenting. And I changed shafts in both of these (driver and three wood) because they were spinning less than what I had before. I think that’s obviously a good thing. For us guys we’re always trying to keep the spin down. You have many ways to go higher with the spin, but it’s much better I think to start with a lower spinning head because it gives you more options. If it’s spinning too much, there’s not really much you can do."
"And then I’ve got a utility 2 iron, still working around that. Last year I had something similar to this and a 5 wood. I think this year I’ll probably have this and maybe a hybrid. And just change depending on the course setup and the conditions."
"And then a slightly bigger 4 iron with the Apex Pro. Again, similar to the progression I had last year. Didn’t have a 3 iron and then I’ve got 4 wedges. So I need a 4-iron that is a bit more versatile. Obviously you get a bit more ball speed with a clubhead like that compared to a blade, so kind of brides the gap between the 5 iron and the utility or hybrid."
Last year you weren’t playing blades, and now you have blades in the 5 through pitching wedge. Why that switch of iron style?
"Just because they feel better. And again the performance was equal if not better, when you compare ball speed and spin rates and launch and all of that. Throughout my career I’ve always been a blade kind of guy, and then when I was with Nike, the last set I played with Nike was kind of an in-between blades and cavity backs. And then last year I was obviously using TaylorMade irons. When I switched to those two years ago, they didn’t really have a blade. Or it wasn’t so popular. So I just switched into those and liked them. But, when I tested the other blades before switching to these I loved the feel, and then these were an even bigger improvement in feel, and you can move the ball, and they’re just very good clubs."
I’ve always said golf ball is the hardest switch to make. How has that process been, what golf ball are you playing, and what performance benefits have you seen?
"I’m playing the Chrome Soft, the diamond one. I tested the diamond and the two-star. The two-star was spinning a bit too much for me, while the diamond was pretty much perfect from the beginning. But you’re right. From the beginning for me that was the biggest question mark in switching equipment. With the clubs, in general, irons and woods, you can do a lot of things with the loft and the shaft, and you can change things. But with the ball obviously it is what it is, and you need a solid performing ball, and that’s what I feel I got with the Chrome Soft. Again, like I said before, with the combination it’s hard to say how much it’s the driver and how much it’s the ball, but definitely more ball speed throughout the bag, keeping the spin the same, which is obviously massive for control. And a great feel, because I think it’s a little bit softer around the greens than what I played last year. So a gain at both ends."
How long do you think it’ll take you to get dialed into distances and feels and all that when it comes to competition?
"I think I’m dialed in already. I think Mexico was obviously a tricky week for everyone with altitude and how far the ball goes, but I saw my stats in Approach the Green, and they were very good already. And even more importantly I was controlling the ball and it was going as far as we expected it to go. Given obviously the altitude and the conditions, but yea it was to control. But it’s been smooth so far. There’s a great team here and in Europe to support me if I need anything. I’m sure like I did last year, and like I do every year, there’s still going to be some tinkering through the season. But it feels like I’m in a very good place already. I haven’t played much this year, I’ve only played two events. So I’ve had time at home to train and to get used to the equipment. But there wasn’t a lot to be done from that point of view."
You’ve switched your shaft on the 60-degree wedge, and you said you have a new driver and three wood shaft…
"The driver shaft and the three wood shaft are new. I used the Tensei White last year on both of them. I used the 70 and the 80 grams. Like I said, I think the woods, the club heads are spinning a little bit less so we had to adjust to that. And yea, these are new. I still had the Tensei in Mexico on the driver and the three wood, but we thought it was spinning a little bit too less, so the Ventus is new. We did some work last week and it seemed very good."
That’s becoming a popular shaft, a bunch of guys are switching into that…
"Yeah and you can see why. From the Tensei, I think the Tensei feels stiffer compared to this, but then when it comes down to performance, the performance of the Ventus is very good. The speed is great, and even if it feels a little bit softer, it performs like a stiff, firm shaft. It’s very stable. I think I’ll probably do some more testing today and tomorrow with the team over here to make sure everything is in place, but it’s exciting."
Last question. So you’re switching to Callaway and you’re announcing it the week of Bay Hill, and obviously Arnie was a big Callaway guy. Was there any thought that went into that, or it kind of just happened that way?
"No, I think it kind of just happened that way. But it’s great. Obviously Arnie was a massive inspiration to me like he was I think to most golfers around the world. Definitely one of the most global players in the history of the game. So for someone like me coming from not a major golfing country, he was a huge inspiration. I managed to meet him here a few years ago when I first came over. Just a great guy. But it just worked out to announce it this week, but it’s a fitting thing to do it at Arnie’s place."