Spanish golfer Jon Rahm burst onto the scene in 2016 by becoming one of the few golfers to earn his PGA Tour card through money earned from tournament invites after leaving Arizona State college.
Following 2015 where he was ranked the #1 amatuer in the world, he finished low amatuer at the 2016 US Open before turning professional and achieving status on the PGA Tour for 2017. With such a background he had numerous manufacturers knocking on his door and he chose TaylorMade, so I caught up with him to find out why.
You’ve recently signed with TaylorMade for next year. What made you chose them over the other brands in the market?
The driver – very simple. It was the first M2 driver. My last year in university I tried pretty much every brand: Callaway, Nike, Wilson, Taylormade, everything really, and the conclusion I came to that was the biggest difference between the brands was in fairway woods and drivers.
All the irons were pretty similar and you could dial them in so that all the muscle backs were pretty similar from Nike, TaylorMade, Callaway and Titleist. So it was clear that driving and my choice of driver was going to be key.
So I started to think who the best drivers in the world are and you have Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Sergio and out of that group there are a lot of TaylorMade guys. You can add to that Brooks Koepka who was Nike, but I thought that if they had the choice they would probably go with TaylorMade drivers and when I tried it I thought it was amazing.
I found it incredible that I could still hit a fade, which is my preferred ball flight, and not lose any distance. In fact I think I can hit fades further than I can hit draws. So for me it was a no brainer. I am getting consistency with the woods and put them into play as soon as they came. I didn’t change to the irons right away but with the woods I took the old ones out and put the new TaylorMade ones in straight away and the next week I showed up to my regional tournament and ended up winning by six so it was a pretty easy choice.
So you have now seen the 2017 TaylorMade M2 driver. Is that the one you are going with?
Most likely, yes.
What do you like about that compared to the previous model?
You know I think it is the look. It is great how you can see the carbon fibre is a little closer to the face of the club and the way they have shaped it just gives it that feeling of speed, it just looks like it is going to go faster, and it truly does. The ball goes even further and straighter.
Also the work on the “Geocoustics” made it look and sound great. It is amazing how they have done it. When you hit those good drives the sound is amazing. Plus it is a little bit more forgiving than the previous version as the sweet spot is massive, so you get long distances more consistently which is amazing.
So if the numbers are the same then looks are quite important for you?
Yes look is really important. When you put the club down you want it to look good, if it doesn’t look good for me it is a deal breaker. It happened with the M1 driver for me a little bit – I put it down and to my eye it just doesn’t look as good as the M2 does.
So looks are personal and important – you can set up both to fit my swing perfectly, but I still can’t hit the M1 as well as I can hit the M2.
So going down the bag now are you taking the M1 or M2 in the fairways?
I still don’t know. Obviously all of the 3-woods they have are rockets. If I use the standard clubs then the ball goes miles. Today at the demonstration I flew one 295 yards which is not something I want to do consistently because it almost as far as my driver so I will probably need to set it up with different degree launches so it will go higher and shorter, but I’m definitely looking forward to working on them.
So far I like the 2017 M2 fairway a little better again based on the way it looks and for me sometimes the ball flight is a little better. To hit my fade the M2 fits my eye better.
Do you try and use loft to take off the distance?
You can do that or shorten the shaft. I know Jason Day has cut down the shaft in his 3-wood and DJ uses a 17 degree 3-wood so who knows, I am open to both options. A couple of times I teed it up with a 3-wood today and it just goes a lot further than I am expecting!
That’s a nice problem to have!
Not really because if you are trying to hit it short of a bunker and you end up in it then that is not good!
What do you use in terms of long irons or hybrid? Do you have a preference?
I have a 5-wood. I don’t really like hybrids. For some reason they just don’t work in my mind. They can look as beautiful at address as they can possibly look, but I just can’t hit them – I don’t know why! So I have a 5-wood and then I start with a 4-iron.
I know you are still working with TaylorMade on some of the new irons that are still to be announced. Are you allowed to talk about that?
I can talk about the clubs I used in a photo shoot in Indianapolis and I used the Proto irons which look amazing. They have tried to make them look as thin as the muscle-backs, but still have the cavity and a large sweet spot and a little more forgiveness which they do. The way that club goes through the turf is the same as thicker clubs which is amazing and the performance you get from the ball is the same as the MB so it is pretty neat what you have been able to do with the new stuff.
Are you okay with a semi-cavity back look rather than being an out and out blade person?
I have always played blades, but truly these clubs don’t look like they’re cavity backs. If you put them down side by side and they don’t tell you one of them is cavity back then you wouldn’t be able to tell.
Something we do have here in the bag is the new Milled Grind wedge. Do you like that?
I do. I like the LB grind which has a little thinner sole with a little less bounce. I like to be a little steeper on my shots, especially when you go to the UK you want to have a little lower bounce.
I’ve recently just put this in my bag, I’ve tried all the grinds and overall this is the one that I felt the most comfortable with, because I like to move the ball a lot and with this one I seemed to be able to hit the ball high and soft and low spinners too.
With a thicker grind those low spinners were amazing but trying to hit it high sometimes it was too thick of a bounce so if the ground was firm I wasn’t able to get underneath so that is the reason I went for this one.
So you’ve got the low bounce in all the wedges you use?
I don’t have the 56° and 52° wedges yet as I haven’t had time to try them all yet. Usually for my 56° wedge I go with more bounce and the 52° is just standard.
Have you decided on a putter yet?
I don’t think I am going to change the putter yet. I think I am going to stick to my 2-ball putter just because I’ve always had one and quite frankly I am scared of changing as I’ve always considered myself a good putter. But you never know if I go to the studio and find something I like then I will most likely change to one of the TaylorMade putters. I think the Spider Tour is obviously a great choice.
The TP5x ball is quite a big change. How are you finding it compared to the ball you were playing before?
Well, I have always played with Pro V1x and the difference is unbelievable. It doesn’t mean I am going to play it on Tour yet but I am definitely going to give it a try. I have never changed or ever tried to change just because I felt the Pro V1x was the best for me but this one was absolutely incredible.
Just to pick up 10 yards with every club almost starting with the PW is quite amazing. If you add that up you are hitting it 10 yards closer to the green with the driver and with the irons you are hitting it 10 yards longer you are really gaining 20 yards. Where you were hitting an 8-iron you are now hitting a pitching wedge which is absolutely incredible so if I can test it on the golf course back home and start to get the same scores, or better hopefully, than I do with the Pro V1x then I will consider changing.
So how do you decide which ball to use – are you looking at numbers for distance or are you looking for feel around the green or the best combination of both?
A little bit of everything. Obviously distance is a huge help. If you can hit it further off the tee you are going to have shorter irons in so it is not hard to spin a ball with you wedges. But you look towards everything. You want it to feel good at impact, and the TP5 ball feels amazingly soft and launches so high which is amazing, I don’t know how they think of that, it’s impressive. When I tried it around the green it performed in the same way. You would expect it to be a little firmer and perhaps come off high with less spin but if I hit the same shots I hit with the Pro V1 then the ball reacts just the same which is pretty incredible.
Do these different distance gaps mean you have to reconfigure you bag at all?
There are two things. You can re-configure or you can just work on it to get new distances. I think with a 5-year period to change it’s not going to be very difficult to adjust!
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