June 22, 2020
By GolfWRX, PGATOUR.COM
- Vokey wedges represent more than half of all the wedges in play every week on the PGA TOUR. (Courtesy of GolfWRX)
The PGA TOUR is finally back in action after a long COVID-19 hiatus, and although the entire sports world is ecstatic to have live sports back, the return does come with some changes.
Especially for the TOUR trucks.
Titleist/Vokey Rep Aaron Dill may be the busiest rep on TOUR. Just by the sheer numbers, Vokey wedges represent more than half of all the wedges in play every week. To do some rough math on that, your stock event has 144 players, and the average TOUR player carries 2.5 wedges (50-64) in the bag. So in any given week there are 200-plus (242 at Colonial) Vokey wedges in the mix — and that's being conservative.
Point is, the guy is busy — building, grinding, stamping, socializing, testing, fitting, etc. It's a HUGE job.
So, what is life like now for the rep known as AD? We had the chance to fire a few questions at Aaron while he was working away at Hilton Head, and this is what he had to say.
GolfWRX: The fog has lifted and we are back to work! What's it been like?
Aaron Dill: The routine of our jobs has changed a great deal. We are so used to having access to the players, range, course, and facilities, and not having that makes our jobs a little more challenging. Distance from the players is also forcing us to diagnose issues using our phones and computers. The TOUR has done a wonderful job of bridging the gap; service is still a big part of making sure we are caring for the players to the best of our abilities, and with the current challenges, we all have to step up our games and be very proactive in creating solutions before problems arise. We have all done a great job conforming and preparing for the new life we have on TOUR. The workflow has reduced because we are not able to catch up with many players, like we are used to. Quality work is being done, it’s just performed in a new way for us all, and we have to adapt and be flexible.
GolfWRX: Presumably, the lead-up was a crazy time. What has kept you the busiest the last few weeks leading up to getting on the plane to Hilton Head?
Aaron Dill: Preparing for the restart kept me very busy, so many players had reached out to me asking to receive fresh grooves. Many players mentioned they had spent a lot of time working on their short games while golf was put on hold. The grinders are moving quickly to play some catch-up as well.
JW: Our friend Jimmy Walker made some driver shaft adjustments over the break. Specific to Vokey, did any guys make any radical switch-ups?
Aaron Dill: No major changes happened during the quarantine. Most of the requests were spin decay-driven since many players spent a great deal of time working on short game while being trapped at home. I did happen to work on some cool prototype options and gather some great feedback for future development.
GolfWRX: Vokey recently launched the Low Bounce K on Wedge Works. It’s been a popular TOUR grind for years; can you give us some insight as to why it's so popular and what profile of player it's for?
Aaron Dill: The K is a really cool grind and very popular for us on all major tours. This grind is somewhat complicated and is geared toward bunker play. Sole width helps a great deal in sand, which is a huge magnet for many players needing some forgiveness in the bunker. The other great benefit about the K grind is the ability to hug the ground in the square position. In technical terms, the sole/bounce angle is very low because the sole is so wide. With a low sole angle this wedge wants to hug the ground and give you confidence like you can hit off concrete. It’s a great balance of confidence, square-faced when chipping and pitching, and support and forgiveness in the bunker when you need it. This is one of the options most popular in links-style golf because of those two types of benefit – I want the look that I can get under the ball in firm conditions, and I want to feel like I have bounce in the sand and the ability to get the ball out of tall lipped bunkers.
GolfWRX: Justin Thomas has gone from the K (60-12) grind into another popular grind the "T" (Low Bounce). What inspired that switch?
Aaron Dill: The switch came from early Presidents Cup prep in 2019. Justin called me and said he anticipates very firm and fast conditions at Royal Melbourne. He mentioned that he was concerned about getting the feel right with his K, that maybe he had too much bounce. He was spot-on in thinking that, and it motivated me to get him a few options he could feel comfortable with in those kinds of firm conditions. I sent Justin three options (T, L, A), and the T he said felt and performed the best. Justin had shared this option with some of his peers participating in the event, which sparked further testing with other players preparing for the Presidents Cup.
GolfWRX: To finish this off, can you give us a sense of what a normal day on TOUR looks like for you?
Aaron Dill: Life is very busy on TOUR. Our day begins early with a 7:30 arrival at the van, and we start by filling it with tools and getting our work stations ready. We collect the field list and get an idea of the span of work that week based on who is in it, field size, and conditions of the venue. The course has to be looked at as well because each venue and environment varies. Where are the facilities? What type of grass and soil — and some early thoughts on requests and prep flood my mind.
Drawers are filled with inventory from the week prior, orders from the weekend are measured and placed in lockers. The players and coaches reach out during the day and each situation and problem is addressed based on the individual. There is usually a consensus on what issues will arise – loft and lie work, bounce adjustments, and fresh grooves are all very common work types.
Course information usually arrives Tuesday afternoon as players have had a chance to play and practice and get an idea of the challenges the course will throw at them. This pattern will go on from Monday to Wednesday — it’s our job to help these players build the perfect 14-club matrix to help them be successful. The job ends between 5-6 p.m. Wednesdays are a little shorter because we need to leave the property and get home.