New driver, ball, long irons and wedges netted fourth TOUR win
May 11, 2022
By GolfWRX, PGATOUR.COM
Max Homa | Happy Dude
Max Homa is now a four-time TOUR winner after Sunday’s victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. It was his second triumph of the season, lifting him to sixth in both the FedExCup and U.S. Presidents Cup standings. This is the first multiple-win season of his career, and it could lead to his TOUR Championship debut and first appearance as a pro on a U.S. international team.
RELATED: A look at Homa's full bag
“I care about nothing more than making that Presidents Cup team,” Homa said after his win. This year’s Presidents Cup will be played at the Wells Fargo’s traditional venue, Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club, which also was the site of Homa’s first win, in 2019.
Swing changes under instructor Mark Blackburn, with whom he began working in fall 2020, have helped Homa’s career reach a new level, as have some changes to what’s in his bag. Coming into 2022, even though Homa had already notched a tally in the win column, he made four significant upgrades to his equipment.
Although Homa isn’t one to change equipment very often, he has a team around him that equips him with the right tools. When it comes to his clubs, he puts his trust into Titleist tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck and Vokey tour rep Aaron Dill. Van Wezenbeeck helps Homa get dialed in with his woods and irons, and Dill assists him with the wedges.
Below, we highlight each of the changes, based on information from Titleist and Homa himself, who spoke to WRX after his Wells Fargo win.
1. LOFT-Y EXPECTATIONS
Last year, Homa used a Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees) with an Aldila Rogue Black 130 MSI 60X shaft, and a SureFit hosel setting in the D4 position. The D4 position offers a standard lie angle while adding three-quarters of a degree of loft.
But Homa put a new driver in the bag in January, after a trip to the Titleist Performance Institute prior to the Farmers Insurance Open. Van Wezenbeeck got him dialed in with a TSi3 (10 degrees) with a Fujikura Ventus Black 6X shaft and a hosel setting of A1, which produces standard loft and lie. According to Titleist, this change helped Homa achieve higher launch, less spin and more ball speed, giving him more confidence to hit it hard without fear of the ball ballooning because of too much spin.
2. SWITCHING IT UP
On Tuesday, two days after his Wells Fargo victory, Homa explained why he changed into the newer model of Titleist’s Pro V1 despite his reluctance to make a switch in that department. Homa had no intentions to switch from the 2019 version of the Pro V1 after starting this season with a win at the Fortinet Championship. But he used the 2021 Pro V1 to win at Wells Fargo.
“I hate switching the golf ball,” Homa told GolfWRX. “(Titleist) sent me one of those prototype boxes of the 2021 Pro V1, and I didn’t even touch it. I was playing good with my ’19. I was like, ‘Why would I switch this out?’”
During the January trip to Oceanside, however, Homa was convinced to make the change into the new model for two main reasons. First, the driving ranges at PGA TOUR events use the 2021 model of the ProV1, not the 2019 that he had been using. The newer version also has similar performance and feel on longer shots while spinning more on short-game shots.
“When I went down (to Oceanside), JJ was like, ‘Listen, we want you to switch to the new ball for two reasons. Obviously it’s the new ball, but second, it’s going to be easy for you, when you practice, because the balls on the road are the 2021. We don’t have the ’19,’” Homa said. “I’m like, ‘OK, JJ, I’m playing some friggin’ golf right now, I don’t want to change the most important part of the game, like the one thing we hit every time.’”
Although he was reluctant to make the switch, Homa spent time testing the newer 2021 Pro V1 model, and sure enough, he found the performance to be “so similar” through the bag, except he gained spin around the greens.
“Most times you’ll get a golf ball and you’re like, ‘This is awesome off the tee,’ and then you’ll look at the irons and it changed the irons a little bit – the distances and the spin – and then you’ll go to the green and be like, ‘Oh it’s not spinning as much as my old one, or it’s spinning more than my old one,’” Homa said. “This one (the 2021 Pro V1), I felt like it was a really similar change from driver and irons, and then I just had to get a little bit used to it around the greens. Like I said, it spins a shade more for me.”
3. A GOOD CAVITY
Throughout his professional career, Homa has used mainly muscleback blade irons, which come with thin toplines, thin soles, and don’t offer much by way of forgiveness. At last year’s Fortinet Championship, Homa was using Titleist’s 620 MB blades through the bag (4-9 iron).
While at Oceanside in January, however, Van Wezenbeeck suggested he try out Titleist’s new T100S model 4-iron, which has a cavity-back construction and slightly stronger loft, to help achieve more forgiveness and height compared to his blade model.
“I’ve always played straight blades, and when I went down there to Titleist, Justin Thomas I guess had just switched to the T100S 4-iron,” Homa said. “I’m hitting it, and I’m like ‘Dang dude. This is just easy as hell to hit.’ It was going higher, obviously, with a lot more spin, but not significantly farther. It didn’t mess up a gap. So we switched to that immediately. I was like this is a no-brainer.”
Two weeks later, prior to The Genesis Invitational, Homa’s caddie Joe Greiner suggested that Homa also try out something more forgiving in the 5-iron, as well.
Van Wezenbeeck suggested that Homa switch into the T100 5-iron, which has slightly more loft than the T100S model. Van Wezenbeeck wanted to make sure Homa wasn’t getting too much speed from the 5-iron so that he didn’t mess up his yardage gapping.
In the end, Homa says the new 4- and 5-irons helped him gain higher launch without having to manipulate his swing.
“It just feels like when I have those two clubs, they’re so easy to hit,” Homa told GolfWRX. “I think it’s always easier to bring flight down than to add flight. You end up changing your mechanics in a bad way to hit it higher. So getting to hit a normal shot and getting to watch that thing launch to the moon, it’s a humongous benefit.”
As Homa told GolfWRX, the new designs of Titleist’s T100 and T100S irons make them look similar to his blade irons and provide desirable turf interaction.
“(Titleist) did a ton of work on the topline of all their irons to make even the biggest ones look like a blade if you’re looking down at it,” Homa said. “Obviously the bottom is a little bit bigger, but looking down on them, they all look like a blade anyways. If anything, the 4- and 5-iron cuts through the turf even better. I was telling JJ, … ‘These things go through the ground even better than my blades at times.’”
4. WEDGE WORK
Although Homa used the SM8 wedges to win the season-opening Fortinet Championship, he switched into the new SM9 wedges at this year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Due to the new designs, Homa said they were “a little bit easier to flight in the breeze” and that the “extra control is just taking out a variable.”
Homa used four SM9 wedges in his win last week: a 46-10F, 50-12F, 56-14F and a 60-04L.
According to Titleist, the F grind, which Homa has on three wedges, is an all-purpose grind that is particularly suited for full shots and shots with a square face. The L grind, which Homa has in his 60-degree wedge, is the lowest bounce option, allowing for maximum greenside versatility. Titleist says the L grind is designed for firm conditions and “precise players.”
While most SM9 wedges have the loft stamped on their sole, Homa’s are uniquely marked with the name of the club (such as SW, LW, etc.). For that, Homa gives all credit to Dill.
“I take zero credit for anything on my wedges,” Homa said. “Aaron Dill is like the Vokey master aside from Bob (Vokey). He is the coolest dude. I never ask him to stamp anything, but he always does something creative. I can’t remember, but it was sometime this past year, he had brought up the idea. He’s like, ‘Why don’t we write like LW, SW, instead of the degrees.’ I was like, ‘Dude, honestly that’d be pretty sweet.’
“So he’s been putting it on ever since, and everybody I talk to, like the other players, are like, ‘Man I like that, that’s cool.’
“I’m like, ‘Yeah, dude, it’s all Dill. I didn’t think of it.’
“It feels kind of old school. Like when you have a set when you’re a little kid and it just says like LW, and you don’t know what loft it is, but you know it’s a lob wedge. That’s definitely my favorite part about my set. But it’s all Aaron man. It’s awesome.”