What the top pros
choose between woods and irons

PGA tour professionals possess extraordinary skill and power. But their club setups, surprisingly, are rather similar. In order to compete in tough course settings, there seems to be certain club performance requirements that are sought, with a basic setup that generally does not deviate too much among players.

Specifically, first comes two woods: a driver and spoon (better known as the 3-wood). They are used for tee shots and for when driving more distance from the ground, respectively.

Most players start from the 4-iron. In some cases, a 48-degree wedge is substituted for the PW, but there are players who include two or three wedges before that. And the putter is also carried in the golf bag. If there are three wedges, that would count 13 clubs.

There are many players that have the same setup for the 13 clubs so far. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Phil Mickelson, who had two drivers, long and short, and won the PGA Championship in 2021. There are also players who put in only two wedges and add an extra short iron. I would say these 12 or 13 clubs are almost essential in tackling PGA tours.

And the last remaining will be a club that complements between the 3-wood and the 4-iron.
For example, if the 3-wood has a loft angle of 15 degrees and the 4-iron has a loft angle of 24 degrees, that would be a whopping difference of 9 degrees. The club will be in between this. The most unique part of the modern tour pro’s setup is what club is chosen to fill this loft gap, which makes a big difference in distance.

For example, Hideki Matsuyama carried a 20-degree iron-type utility in his bag when he won the Masters. Matsuyama often chooses a wood-type utility in this position, and even used a 3-cavity back instead of a utility at one point. He may be changing the characteristics of the clubs he chooses according to the course he is competing in.

on Rahm, who won the U.S. Open in 2021, chose a cleek (better known as the 5-wood). Given Rahm is a power hitter who can fit 80g-level shafts without difficulty, it is an interesting trend that he chose a fairway wood, which provides more height than utilities. The club is likely to be one that easily generates spin, and Rahm is hitting shots that differ greatly in vertical distance. Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa are among the other players who have included the 5-wood in their setups.

Xander Schauffele uses a 7-wood with a slightly increased loft angle, which drives the ball higher than Rahm's choice. Jordan Spieth carries a 21-degree wood utility for high launch. They seem to focus on the achieving high launch more easily.

In addition to players who carry fairway woods, iron or wood-type utilities, there are also players who choose irons instead. Brooks Koepka, who has been using the same 3-iron for years, is a well-known example. It’s as if you can feel his persistence of carrying the ball to a certain distance with the same flow as his iron set as much as possible. When it comes to club setup, it is better to have as many similar clubs as possible because the distance increments will become smoother.

One of PROTO-CONCEPT's key philosophies is to follow the same flow of club setups that tour pros place priority on, while honing drive performance and forgiveness. Even if the four types of irons are combined or when the iron-type utility C01.5 is added, they would be easy to hit with as a set with comfort while more readily benefiting from forgiveness.

Even if a club itself may be highly functional, the game of golf may turn out to be more difficult if the setup overall is not maneuverable. The setups of the top pros teach us how important the overall flow of the clubs is, and the need to be creative within the allowed framework of carrying 14 clubs in the golf bag.

『PROTO-CONCEPT』 PROTO-CONCEPT Brand Producer
Yasufumi Kawasaki