Before being curtailed by a rib injury, Sweden's Alex Noren managed to win his home event, the 2015 Nordea Masters, before making it back to play in the season ending DP World Tour Championship. After this event I got the chance to talk to him about his year and why he had made the switch to the latest Callaway Apex irons and hybrids.
Hi Alex. So the 2015 European Tour season has just finished here in Dubai. How do you feel it went for you?
Well I played 13 events first and then I broke a rib which took about 3 months to recover from and then I came back for the last 4 tournaments in the Race To Dubai series and not having hit a ball for 3 months I was a little bit rusty, but I shot under par in most of my rounds which was nice.
So it was a really good season up until I got my rib injury with some of my best form, I started very well, I won in Sweden and was second in Dubai, but the injury wasn’t very helpful.
So how is it now? Are you back to 100%?
Yes I feel good now so I’m going to take same time off until Abu Dhabi to help build my body up again, as I haven’t done much and still feel a little bit weak and rusty so that time, which I’ll spend practising over in America, will be good.
Despite your injury did you get to play around with your equipment and try any of Callaway's new gear?
Not really, but I managed to play around with the different clubs. I have always played the same kind of irons, previously I played the Apex and the Apex Pro, but now I have the new Callaway Apex CF 16, the bigger one, which is so much easier to hit.
We were told that when Callaway took the new Apex Pro irons out on Tour the players were saying that it went too far. Is that why you went towards the standard Apex or is it just easier to hit?
Well, I’ve always had an easy time to hit the ball high with a lot of spin so with my clubs I like ones that do the opposite, still go long but with low spin. So with the driver I have quite a low loft, every swing is different and I’m a player who has always struggled to hit it low, so I like everything that goes long and I can still hit a little high fade and it still goes almost same distance as others. So really I like clubs that are long and fast.
You talk about having low spin, so do you find it an issue stopping the ball on the green?
No, the opposite. That has always been my strong point that I can hit the higher shots that land softly so with the stronger clubs and the driver that doesn’t spin, it helps me maintain distance. With the older equipment and the balata ball I would have a tougher time hitting it long with my normal higher softer ball flight.
So you went from the old Apex Pro to the new Apex CF 16 irons?
I went from the old Apex Pro to the old Apex because I saw a girl golfer hit them and they sounded so nice. She had graphite shafts, but I asked her if I could hit her clubs and I just thought they were so nice. I’ve always like a little more rounded edges and a little thicker top line as I’ve tried the blades and they are nice, but it is a little bit like skiing where you don’t want to go back to the really thin skis!
So I was happy also when they bought out the new Apex CF 16’s and I just put them straight into the bag when they brought them out. They feel great.
Did you notice any difference in them, because they look a little more rounded at the back?
Well, I don’t mind that rounded look and I’m not that picky on aesthetics. If they fly well then I am happy. Looks are obviously important, but I’m laid back in that regard and if they go good I will play with them.
Have you had the chance to look at any of the 2015 woods?
Yes I’ve played the new Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond driver and I have that in the bag and I play an older XR 3 Deep fairway wood and the new Apex hybrid.
What do you think of the Apex hybrid?
I think it is very good. With the hybrid it is very important how the club lies at address so this one lies very well. It also a more powerful flight which allows me to hit it with a softer ball flight without losing out on total distance.
If I want to hit a draw it goes really firm and if I want to hit a soft fade it has that ball flight but still goes long. My previous hybrid was the Diablo and it just didn’t go as long. The Apex Hybrid plays more like a good 2 iron, which is really excellent.
The driver you are using is the Big Bertha Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond. That’s quite a low spinning club, so that goes back to what you were saying earlier about helping even out your natural high and high spinning ball flight?
Yes. I’m always trying to take more spin off the ball and the Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond has really worked well for me. The loft is 8.5°, but I put the Optifit adjustable hosel in the DS setting, with the draw making it more upright and the S indicates standard loft.
Even though I’m about 180cm tall, I’ve always played with a more upright shaft because my miss is on the heel so the upright setting helps me hit more of my mis-hits in the centre of the club. Plus as I like to fade my shots, the draw bias that comes with the upright setting helps the ball to go a lot straighter as well.