As an amateur, I started off in high school with old persimmon wood hand-me-downs from my Dad’s old college set before replacing them with a box set from Wal-Mart. After college I went through my first custom fitting.
Since turning pro at age 27 in 2003, I was fitted for more conventional sets from both major and mom-and-pop manufacturers, I had an Adams Golf tour department set, and I played single length irons from four different companies as well.
I’ve also been an adult-aged 14-handicap golfer, a tour player, a professional long driver, and professional speedgolf competitor.
So, I’ve experienced and can speak from a broad equipment spectrum.
When I competed in the Speedgolf World Championships, I usually carried 6 clubs that included a driver, long iron (or hybrid), mid-iron, short-iron, wedge, and a putter. For example, a driver, 3-iron, 6-iron, 9-iron, sand wedge, and putter…or a driver, 2-hybrid, 5-iron, 8-iron, gap wedge, and putter. This gave a nice even spread of clubs that enabled me to hit almost about any shot I needed while still keeping my golf bag fairly light.
I used rain gloves to keep my hands from slipping on the club (you sweat a lot when running), running shoes and/or minimal trail running shoes from New Balance, and a Sun Mountain or Orlimar "Sunday" type bag that had a small pocket for my hotel room key and 3-5 extra golf balls. I kept a handful of tees in one of my shorts pockets.
Here is a short video clip of me tying the World Championship for golf score at Bandon Dunes with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds in 2013:
I haven’t competed since 2007 but I still keep up with the sport and know many of the competitors.
Back then we didn’t have the same technology and knowledge that we do today, but if I were to compete again I have a much better understanding now of what I would use.
I would certainly test with the competition balls, but in testing I'd guess I'd probably need approximately a 3.6-degree head to get the spin I need for maximum total distance (for example for a firm grid) and 6.0 degrees to get my spin right for maximum carry distance (for a wet grid, for downwind conditions, etc).
Most major manufacturers don’t make heads with this low of lofts. Long drive companies come and go. In 2019, the most popular are probably Krank Golf and Callaway Golf (the long drive heads are only sold through Sellinger's Power Golf).
Shaft-wise, I would want to test what's ever out there to see what works best for me. It would probably be an XX or XXX. Length-wise, some guys will use up to 48-inch USGA-measured (50-inches the way they are measured in long drive) shaft lengths, but last I competed I did well with a 46.5-inch USGA-measured shaft for a good blend of maximum club length and the ability to hit the sweet spot consistently.
For my tour events, this is what I presently have in my golf bag.
As you'll see, I use clubs from a variety of manufacturers. To me golf clubs are first about performance. If one is truly interested in performance, you most likely won't have the same brand all the way through the bag. As a pro, that can mean not contractually obligating yourself to a particularly company, which is the case with me. I'm 100% free to play what I want.
Performance also can necessitate innovation, as you'll see is the case below with my irons and wedges.
Over the years I have dabbled with lots of different combos. Sometimes I've had a draw and a fade driver, sometimes a long drive driver and an accuracy driver, sometimes I maximized for total distance, sometimes I optimized for carry distance, etc.
For 2022, I have a 44.5" Ping G LS Tec 9-degree driver with Fujikura Golf Atmos Tour Spec 7X graphite shaft and the MCC Plus4 Arccos Caddie Smart Grip with 5 wraps of grip tape under it because they were out of the midsize ones. My hands are big enough (8 inches from wrist crease to tip of middle finger) that standard grips rip up my hands, so I like to go bigger.
Historically, I've liked the 65-gram Avon Jumbo Chamois 1/8 OS black grip. The grip isn't the best looking grip, but it absorbs shock well, it performs in all weather, and it lasts a long time. But this year, I could use something that helps me automatically track my distances on the course for a show we're planning to produce called "In the Game with Jaacob". Having previously played around with Arccos in 2015 and 2016, I know that Arccos should be able to do that for me. Plus, I'm a data junkie and I look forward to the insights I can derive from the on-course data given all the improvements they've made since then.
I also have a 44.5" Callaway Epic Flash 5.0 degree head set in the neutral and -1 face angle setting.
I've dabbled playing with two drivers in my bag for many years, probably since I first started my pro career in 2003.
Currently, the main reason I have two drivers is for options.
Using the higher-lofted 9-degree Ping G LS Tec above, I can hit high power draw's, ball's that ride a tail wind, and/or drives for total carry distance (for example, if I need to hit over a tree on a dogleg and have it stop…or for carrying a hazard).
With the lower-lofted 5-degree Callaway Epic Flash, I can hit high power fade's (teed at the same heigh as my power draw), ball's that bore through a head wind, and drives that maximize total distance.
As backup drivers, at the moment I have these two.
First is a 44" TaylorMade M3 460 8.5-degree driver with a Paderson KG860-D40 graphite shaft and 65-gram Avon Jumbo Chamois 1/8 OS black grip.
The other is a 7-degree Callaway XHOT (actual 6.5 degrees) with a Paderson KG860-D40 graphite shaft. There's also a little hot melt in the toe of this head.
It's also 44 inches to help me hit the center of the face consistently.
Swing weight is D4.
The grip is the same 65-gram Avon Jumbo Chamois 1/8 OS black grip.
For a fairway wood, I was using a 43" Callaway Rogue 15.0-degree fairway wood with X-Flex Fujikura Speeder Evolution IV graphite shaft at D4 swing weight…but the face caved in. I tried to get another one because that was what I had been fit in to at Club Champion, but the heads were no longer in production, I didn't feel like searching for a used one online, and they were willing to replace it with the newer model at no charge. So, now I have the Callaway Rogue ST LS 3+ 13.5-degree head with the same shaft. This shaft in particular helps me hit high approaches from the fairway when the ball is not teed up. I also tend to spin the ball a lot. Going with the 13.5-degree head helped bring my spin down. Note that the photo below is of the 15-degree head, but it basically looks the same as the 13.5-degree head.
The grip is usually the same 65-gram Avon Jumbo Chamois 1/8 OS black grip as on my drivers, but again for 2022 I'm going with that Arccos Caddie Smart Grip described above.
My hybrid is a Titleist 818 H2 17-degree with Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Black 95 X-Flex hybrid graphite shaft at D4 swing weight. It's similarly a high-launch shaft for soft landing approaches from longer distances.
The grip is again the Arccos Caddie Smart grip described above.
Irons & Wedges
Many of those who have been following me over the years know I’m a fan of single length irons.
Having played and sold single length sets, I knew the consistency advantages of single length irons. But I felt the existing offerings at the time all had flaws and none seemed to want to fix them, so I decided to make my own brand that kept the good and fixed the bad. Tom Wishon agreed to be my designer and after 2.5 years of research and development, Sterling Irons® were launched in April 2016.
Below is a photo in our New York apartment of the very first Sterling Irons® final prototypes (5-GW) that I used from 2016-2021. Each club uses a 115 gram (raw weight) Wishon Golf S2S Stepless Steel S-flex shaft. They are all 36 5/8" long, D4 swing weight, and initially set to 2.5 degrees upright (as a starting point before I tested them dynamically and made subtle tweaks).
I later switched the grips from in the above photo to the 65-gram Avon Jumbo Chamois 1/8 OS black grips that I've used off and on for years. I also took the stickers off my shafts as a personal preference. These are now my backup set.
In 2022, I switched to my 2nd and current set, that includes 4-iron through lob wedge (LW). Although, due to playing two drivers, I've take the 7-iron out of the bag and bent my lofts a little bit to even out the distance gapping. I believe the 8 is actually 33.5 and not 34.
I realize 17-18 yards is a pretty decent size gap between irons, but I actually like it better for several reasons.
It simplifies the decision about what club to play.
The gaps are still close enough to execute any shot I'd need to score well.
Distance data helps make me feel comfortable, but ultimately I play and make my final decisions more powerfully through instinct and feel.
I also really like a lot of bounce on my wedges for more forgiveness. Having the GW, SW, and LW bent weaker helps in that regard.
For this second set, after some shaft testing at Club Champion with Nick Gunawan, I switched up my shafts to something that gives me a little tighter dispersion with the Project X LZ 6.0s.
The grips are the Arccos Caddie Smart grip described above.
Currently I have a L.A.B. Golf Directed Force 2.1 - Black putter with 72-degree lie angle, 34.5" FST Matte Silver Tour Shaft, Press 1.L grip, and Ball Alignment Marking 2.
The main reason I switched to this putter is because it supports the type of soft, minimal effort, minimal arcing, pendular, square-to-path type stroke I like to make. It'd designed so that when one makes the stroke, the putter's inherent design helps eliminate unwanted head rotation and torque that you find in putters from any other manufacturer.
Prior to August 2019, I had been using the same putter since I got fit for it in the Adams Golf tour department in November of 2011.
It’s a Yes! Putter Victoria-II C-Groove Mallet Putter – 34.5-inches, 2-degrees upright, and 1-degree loft with a Yes! oversize grip (which is old and beat up now but I keep it on there because my hands just know it so well).
The mallet head and shaft bend work well for me because I like to see the putter moving more or less straight through impact immediately on either side of the ball. The mallet head and counter weight give the putter overall more weight. It’s bent and cut to fit my stroke with the 1-degree of loft helping me get the ball rolling right away versus a normal 3-degrees. I have large hands and the oversize grip helps me get more of my hands on the grip.
This putter is now a backup.
The ball I use is the Titleist ProV1x Left Dash.
Historically, I played the Titleist ProV1x for most of my career until the Snell MY TOUR BALL came out, which I also played for several years. For me and my golf, they are all very similar in performance. I also played the Srixon Z-Star XV for awhile…and now I'm back to the Titleist ProV1x but the Left Dash model.
How far do I hit the ball?
It depends on how fast my driver swing speed is at any given point, which has ranged from a max around 107'ish to the low 140s.
However, I can tell you that it more or less correlates with what is in this chart I created for you below. These numbers are calculated algebraically based on the average PGA TOUR Trackman distances per club for tour players. The LPGA numbers are also actual Trackman averages.
Note: Professional long driver usually hit drivers farther than indicated above due to more optimal launch conditions relative to PGA TOUR players.
As you can see, club head speed plays a huge factor in how far you hit the ball, which is one reason why swing speed training is so important if you want more distance.