LISTEN: What it’s like to test irons with elite ball-striker Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa’s other-worldly ball-striking makes him a threat every time he steps foot on the grounds at a PGA Tour event. In just six starts since he turned pro less than two months ago, the 22-year-old has already secured his card for the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, notched his first win in Reno, Nev., and finished runner-up to fellow TaylorMade staffer Matthew Wolff.
Had Morikawa logged enough rounds this season, he’d lead the Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green (1.42), greens in regulation (74 percent), birdies per round (4.9) and scoring (67.9).
But this isn’t simply a fresh-faced kid riding a hot set of irons: Morikawa’s ball-striking is for real.
During a testing session at the University of California, Berkeley, where Morikawa went to school, his dispersion pattern with a 6-iron was reportedly on the same level as a pitching wedge for most “elite players.”
Morikawa’s accuracy may be on another level, but when it comes to iron testing, he relies more on what he’s seeing and feeling — as opposed to launch monitor numbers — to verify if a club fits his game.
“It’s just a lot of figuring out what feels and looks good to me,” Morikawa said during a recent interview on GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast. “I think, obviously, there’s a bunch of technology with TrackMan, and all of the different launch monitors, that help tell you what is best. But, for me, it’s a lot about what is going to come out from that initial window of hitting that ball. And am I going to like that?
“It’s got to feel good off the face, it’s got to look good from on top of the ball. And then, obviously, it’s got to perform. But in those iron testings, obviously, I’m just trying to hit the best shots I can. I love to hit my little five- to 10-yard cut, and that’s what I try to do. And I think that’s kind of been my game. My ball-striking has been the center of my game for a long time now.”
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) June 5, 2019
Morikawa currently plays TaylorMade’s P730 muscleback irons and has been using the brand’s equipment going back to when he was 14. His long-standing relationship with TaylorMade made the decision to sign a club deal with the manufacturer an easy one when he turned pro.
“For me, it was a club company that I trusted, and I’ve trusted them for years, you know? So, it wasn’t really that hard of a decision,” he said. “It was something that, I knew the clubs that I’ve been using have brought me to this point, so why switch from there?”
In addition to detailing his iron testing process and deal with TaylorMade, Morikawa gave the backstory behind his “breakfast” wedges, and the gear he plans to test during the offseason.
Hosts Jonathan Wall and Tim Briand also dig into a number of hot equipment topics during the episode, including what the average golfer can learn from Dustin Johnson’s recent driver shaft-testing session.
You can hear the entire Morikawa interview, along with Jonathan and Tim’s gear thoughts, in the podcast below. Subscribe to the GOLF.com Podcast on iTunes here.