October 15, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- (Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)
Following his first ever PGA TOUR victory at the Houston Open, Lanto Griffin offered his time to PGATOUR.COM to discuss his equipment. What we learned is that Griffin is much more like the common golfer than you’d expect when it comes to golf clubs and golf balls. Also, Griffin explains the meaning behind his “Where’s he on the money list?” wedge stamping, and how his buddy’s putter ended up in his winning bag.
Enjoy the Q&A below!
(Note: The conversation has been slightly modified for brevity and grammar)
PGATOUR.COM: How did your relationship with Titleist first come about, and how has the team helped you along in your journey to your first win?
LANTO GRIFFIN: I remember going out on the course weekly in my junior days, when I was 12 or 13 years old, trying to find Pro V’s. That was always the ball everybody wanted to find. If there was a hole with water on it, as a junior golfer, I’d put my Pro V back in my pocket, and pull out another ball, because you don’t want to lose a Pro V. Those are my first memories of playing a Pro V1, and I remember saving up money to buy a dozen, and it just felt like gold having a Pro V1 in your pocket.
Fast forward to my AJGA days, and they’d give you a dozen Pro V1s. That was all the motivation you needed to get into AJGA tournaments.
Then, in college, Titleist supported me. I kept on pushing them, asking them if I was ranked high enough to be sponsored and get free equipment. I had a really good fall of my junior year, and I remember Jim Ohlsen – Jim is one of my best friends now, he’s been with Titleist for a long time and I see him weekly out on the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA TOUR – sending me an email saying, “We have a spot for you on the squad.”
The majority of my college team played – I think we were sponsored by Srixon – and I could have got unlimited Srixon stuff for free, but I was willing to find the money to pay for Titleist because I loved it so much. Since the fall of my junior year in college, which was in 2008, I’ve been full-blown Titleist. I’ve never even considered switching equipment, because I feel like Titleist offers the best, most consistent equipment across the board. I’m extremely honored to be able to play the Titleist stuff, and I don’t have any plans in my future to ever play anything but the Pro V1 and the Titleist equipment.
PGATOUR.COM: So they’re like family at this point. Your philosophy on pocketing a Pro V1 on a hole with water, I think everyone can relate to that at some point or another…
GRIFFIN: Everybody can. And I’ll add one more thing. So Titleist supported me from 2008 on, and I had a really bad year, I think it was 2013 on the mini tours. I remember calling Jim (Ohlsen) at the end of the season; I missed second-stage of Q-School, and I don’t even think I had Latinoamerica status. I had no status, just playing the mini tours, and I called Jim.
I said, “Hey man, is there any way I can just get a set of irons? I’m guessing you’re not going to be able to support me this coming year the way I played.”
He immediately said, “Look buddy, we’re not dropping you. We’re behind you still.”
I’ll never forget that phone call, and Titleist having my back at probably the lowest point of my mini tour career… Jim is a hero to me, for sure.
Titleist is a very loyal company, and I’m a loyal guy to people who are loyal to me. We have a great relationship. So it’s pretty cool, and I’m very close with a lot of the guys, from the bottom to the top at Titleist, and I wouldn’t want to be with anybody else.
PGATOUR.COM: Flashing forward to current times, you have some interesting clubs in your bag. You have the T100 Black irons in there; what made you want to go with the black versions?
GRIFFIN: I had been playing the AP2 irons for two years, then they came out with the T100s this summer. I was so excited about getting them in my hands. I saw somebody put a photo on Twitter or Instagram of Cameron Smith’s black irons, and I thought they just looked so cool. So mid-summer, I asked the Titleist guys if there was any way I could get them.
They said, “For right now, they’re only for PGA TOUR players.”
I said, “Well, guess what? I’m going to be on the PGA TOUR in a couple months.”
I think they pulled some strings for me and I got home from Pumpkin Ridge, and there was a set sitting at home. It was like Christmas morning. Even to this day, just getting a box that has Titleist written on it, it’s so exciting to open it.
The black irons -- looking down on them -- they just look so cool. They have the perfect head shape; it looks like a blade but performs like a cavity back. They’ve gotten a lot of attention; everybody loves the black finish. I’m a huge fan.
PGATOUR.COM: What about the wedges? Are those stampings something you helped come up with?
GRIFFIN: That was actually at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship… Jim Ohlsen came up to the range on Tuesday and he was watching me hit some balls, and I said, “Man, you must be busy.” He was like, “Actually, I got everything done for the day, so I’m just hanging out watching you hit a few shots.”
“Well, you want to go stamp me some wedges?” I asked.
He said, “Yeah, what do you want me to stamp on them?’
I told him he had free reign to stamp whatever he wanted.
So he took my four wedges and he came back about an hour later. He threw two quotes from Talladega Nights on there. Then we had an inside joke throughout the year with Dino and Nathan and Brad from Titleist, that every time I’d ask for some help, or ask to borrow a Trackman, they’d say, “Yeah, we’ll be right over. We’re working with so-and-so.”
As an inside joke, I’d ask them, “Well, where is he on the money list?” Just being sarcastic and joking with them. That was when I was first or second on the money list, so at the end of the season, I asked Dino one time, I was said, “Can I borrow a Trackman for a couple minutes?” And he said, “Sorry, someone’s using it right now and he’s a little higher on the money list than you (laughs).”
That just goes to show the relationship we have at Titleist. We’re friends, and we give each other a hard time.
Then the “With all due respect…” stamping, it’s one of my favorite Will Ferrell quotes. He says in the movie, “With all due respect…” and then his manager says ‘That doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want to me,” and Ferrell answers, ”It sure as heck does!”
So there’s some inside jokes, and it goes to show the personality of the guys at Titleist. We’re all having a good time, and at the same time we’re getting some work done.
PGATOUR.COM: Well you’ve definitely jumped a bunch on the money list, so that joke is even better for you now. Then I understand there’s an interesting story about how your putter got in your bag…
GRIFFIN: It’s a putter that I used to use, and I got my buddy one of them about 4 years ago. We do a golf trip in Florida during The Masters every year, so when he came down this year, I was in an armlock putter at the time and I couldn’t hit the hole from 5 feet. So we were on the putting green at Sawgrass, and we were supposed to play in the morning, then weather hit, and Tiger was teeing off at 9 a.m. or something like that. So we cancelled our tee-time on the Stadium Course at Sawgrass, and we ended up coming back out after Tiger won. Obviously, there’s nothing that’s going to motivate you more than watching Tiger win The Masters. So we’re out on the green and I wasn’t putting well, so I grabbed my buddy’s putter and hit one and made it, and hit another and made it. We go out and play 9 holes on the Valley course at Sawgrass, and I kept using his putter and I was making everything.
I asked him, “Will you let me borrow this?” Now, he gets a lot of my hand-me-downs, so anytime I’m done with a set of irons or a driver, I hand them off to him. His bag is full of all my Titleist gear. He basically told me, “Look, if this is going to help you play well, it’s going to help me.” He loves playing TPC Sawgrass, and if I’m on the PGA TOUR I get more complimentary rounds and he can get out there with me. So there’s a clear understanding that if I play better with his putter, it’s going to help him out. I ended up winning with it the first week, and everybody knows that plays golf, momentum and confidence are key. I felt comfortable with that putter, and it’s been rolling good all year.
PGATOUR.COM: It worked out on Sunday, and now you’ll be taking a different kind of Masters trip next year.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, I texted my buddy on Sunday that it looks like our 4-year traditional Masters trip is going to have to come to an end. We’re going to have to spend it actually at Augusta instead of on our couch watching it.