Equipment Report

    Cameron Young’s driver switch sparks success

  • Cameron Young made a driver switch that resulted in success. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)Cameron Young made a driver switch that resulted in success. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Cameron Young caught the eyes of golf fans with his youthful explosiveness, unique pause at the top of his swing and strong T2 finish at last week’s The Genesis Invitational. The 24-year-old shot 17 under at The Riviera Country Club and was bested by only the champion, Joaquin Niemann.

RELATED: TOUR Insider: Cameron Young’s ‘Sliding Doors’ moment

The Genesis was Young’s second runner-up finish of his rookie season, which moved him to 17th in FedExCup. It also continued his rapid ascent in the Official World Ranking. He was still outside the top 500 in the world last May, but now ranks 53rd, with invitations to THE PLAYERS and Masters within his reach.

Making the transition from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA TOUR isn’t always easy, but Young has made it look that way. His driving distance has been a big asset, as he already is one of the top players on TOUR in that aspect of the game. He ranks second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (+0.81), fourth in driving distance (320.5 yards) and fifth in clubhead speed (124.1 mph).

Significant changes to his swing and equipment have allowed him to capitalize on his superior speed (more on Young’s swing speed and carry distance here).

Throughout his life, Young’s swing has been honed and shaped by his father (David Young, the longtime head professional at New York’s Sleepy Hollow Country Club), and it currently produces driver ball speeds of around 189 mph.

Yes, that’s serious speed. Titleist tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck, who now works closely with Young on his equipment, was taken aback at first by Young’s distance while at the Titleist Performance Institute for a fitting session.

“He was out at TPI warming up once and I went inside to grip a club; when I came back, I was looking at the launch monitor data and it was 171-172 mph,” Van Wezenbeeck told GolfWRX. “When I looked at what he was hitting, though, I realized he was hitting a 7-wood, not a driver.”

Despite the speed, Young was lacking control due to a severe in-to-out swing path of 6-7 degrees.

Along with his father/coach, Young worked hard this off-season to neutralize that swing path and bring it closer to square. By squaring up his club delivery, Young could reduce the right-to-left curve of his tee shots. This would give Young greater control over his golf ball and help him take advantage of his speed.

The problem with the swing change, though, was that Young didn’t initially adjust his driver setup to match his different delivery pattern, so the performance wasn’t increasing as much as it should.

During a driver fitting session at Torrey Pines ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open, Van Wezenbeeck found the fix.

“When he first got on the PGA TOUR, he was actually in a 9-degree TSi3 driver with an H2 heel setting, because his path was severely to the right, like 6-7 degrees,” Van Wezenbeeck told GolfWRX. “So he needed all the help he could to not hit blocks from there. And then, in the offseason, him and his dad worked on neutralizing that a little bit so it’s not as severe. That’s when we moved to the H1 setting and the 10-degree TSi3 head to accommodate the new delivery at Torrey, because he felt it was over-drawing in his previous setup.”

It’s important to remember – especially for amateurs who don’t work with top PGA TOUR fitters every day – that every variable in a modern driver head makes a big difference. A small tweak to weight settings in the sole, or to the hosel adapter, can change launch, flight and spin.

For Young, he started out in an H2 setting, which has Titleist’s SureFit CG weight all the way toward the heel to promote a draw. He then changed into the H1 setting, which moves the weight closer to center for less draw. He also switched into a D1 SureFit hosel setting, which means it’s a standard lie angle with -0.75 degrees of loft compared to the standard A1 setting.

While the changes may seem small, they were all Young needed to free up his driver game.

“It was kind of a light bulb moment, and he’s gone on a nice little run since then,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “He’s top three in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee in that time. It’s one of those things where when you’re making changes, you have to change the settings with it. Say you have an injury and you’re not swinging the same, or you’re working out and you’ve added flexibility, or you’ve added speed, or you’ve started seeing a new swing instructor, all those things point to changes, and those changes need to get accommodated with your equipment. So those are good times to go back to your fitter and get a check up.”

Since joining the PGA TOUR, Young has also rearranged his bag setup a bit to accommodate the more difficult course layouts.

On the Korn Ferry Tour, Young used a driver, 5-wood and 7-wood, skipping over the 3-wood entirely. Now, after his work with Van Wezenbeeck, Young uses a driver, a 16.5-degree 3-wood, and a T200 2-iron and 4-iron to go along with his set of Titleist 620 MB irons (5-9). These adjustments have helped ensure Young has a go-to club off the tee without leaving yardage gaps throughout the set that are too wide.

Amateurs should take Young’s changes as motivation to figure out what driver and bag setup is right for them. Small changes can reap huge benefits.