Scottie Scheffler really heats things up. The reigning Masters champion not only won the first major championship of the year, but also three other PGA Tour events since the beginning of February and thus rose to number 1 in the world rankings. During this time he also signed with TaylorMade after several years as an equipment free agent. “I’m not going to bag clubs if I feel like I’m sacrificing something on the course,” Scheffler told Golf Digest in March. “I liked being able to choose what I play, but the TaylorMade woods and irons have proven themselves so well that there really was no reason not to join them. You have to develop confidence in your equipment. You have a connection to what you have in your pocket.”
Golf Digest Equipment Editor E. Michael Johnson, less than a week after his Masters win, spoke to Scheffler about how to use his Stealth Plus driver, why he uses a high-loft 3-wood, and how he attempts to hit the green Jacket to use out of housework.
What was your first thought of the driver? Not just the red face, but the technical story behind the carbon face?
A driver has to pass the eye test for me, and when I first saw it from afar, I thought, “What’s with the red face? Then when I put it on the ground I was like, “Wow, that thing looks really pretty good.” Then we got to work and tested and I saw ball speed gains and distance gains and not losing accuracy, so what more could you ask for .
You have a preferred flight off the tee with a fade. But I’ve noticed that the moving weight is in the neutral setting, or fairly close to neutral. Did you tinker with the weight before coming up with this setup?
I did. We tested a number of riders with different configurations and found a few good options that I took home and used on the course. The weight was on the fade setting, but I then moved it about half an inch more towards the center. I went to Palm Springs [for The American Express event] and i noticed it was fading too much and i was missing a few more on the right than i normally would and i was trying to control the face. I’m weird in that in the fade position if we were to put the weight all the way out on the toe, I would almost feel that and flip it. So before the Palm Springs finale I moved it a bit more in the middle and rode a lot better that day. I was around 60th place so I was just testing it. Then we get to Torrey and I still saw more corners than I wanted and I definitely didn’t want to see anything go left. So we switched waves. I used this white Atmos stock and went to a Fujikura Ventus Black 6x. I moved the weight to the middle because I felt like I could hit more shots when this shaft felt so stable. I put it in the middle or a touch of the fade setting and have been driving the ball great ever since.
You’ve talked about seeing ball speed gains that get harder and harder to notice over time. What kind of profit do you see?
It’s about 3 mph faster on average, but where it really stands out for me is at my top speeds when I’m really trying to hit it hard, it was a difference of almost 15 meters, which is really noticeable. If I’m trying to take a bunker out of play, 15 yards means one less full club to a green, and that’s huge. That was one of the things I tried when I took it to the course to test and see what I could do with it. It was a seamless transition and I feel connected to the club.
Because of that win, was there a hole at Augusta National where you hit the driver that you might not have had before?
At #2, the fairway bunker on the right used to be a big deal for me and the game. This year I felt like with no wind I could go straight over that bunker with no problems. But that’s also due to the driver doing some work in the gym. I’m not really trying to gain speed, I’m more trying to preserve what I have. But this new driver allows me to be more aggressive off the tee as well.
Your previous Nike VR Pro fairway wood was ancient by today’s standards, but you recently installed the TaylorMade Stealth. At Masters, it looks like you used it 14 times from the tee and a few times from the deck. How difficult is it to find a fairway wood that serves both purposes well?
It is very difficult. That’s why I’ve had this Nike for so long. The first thing for me is the eye test again, so it has to be in the right position. Also, some fairway woods I had in college had too much offset, making it difficult for me to come off a shot. When I have a fun lie in the fairway with this TaylorMade head, the leading edge is slightly further forward than my Nike head, making it easier for me to get it out of those lies. This also makes it easier to hit out of the rough. I’ve also noticed that my failures are just so much better. For me, I felt like I had to swing well to get my old 3 wood in the game. I couldn’t take the 3-wood off the tee unless I was swinging well. I wanted to use the stealth to see if I still had all the shots and I first put it into play in Austin at Match Play and my misses were good and I kept playing around with it and saw that I still got all my shots, but my misses were better, especially from the heel.
In conversations with some tour pros over the past few years, they talk about how the new 3-woods sometimes go too far for them. Is that one of the reasons you carry 16.5 degrees of loft with you?
It’s definitely the length. I have the same problem. The TaylorMade tour guys are so good. We worked on the shaft, shaft length and loft to get it right. I don’t like seeing my 3 wood start too high. It’s a racquet I want to put the ball in play with, especially off the tee. There are only a limited number of times I have to hit a towering 3-wood into a green [editor’s note: Scheffler used his 3-wood 14 times off the tee at the Masters and just twice off the fairway, including a 257-yard shot to 19 feet on the par-5 eighth hole in the opening round]. I still have the opportunity to do that with this club but I’m not going to build the club like this to play. This loft hit the right distance and flight window for me.
Their irons are based on Tiger Woods irons and he was involved in their design. But from a playability standpoint, what have you found with muscle back woods in general and the TaylorMade P7TW in particular?
I see all my recordings with these. If you think about how tiger plays he hits a lot of different shots and i felt like i had to give these irons a try because, shoot, if tiger can use them they have to be good enough for the rest of us, correct ? I found that I could do some things with these irons that I couldn’t with my P730s. If you’ve watched me hit balls you might not notice much, but there is a definite difference in feel in the shot area and a few yards in flight. It wasn’t a huge difference, but it was significant to me. I could see a little flatter flight when trying to fly it down and could lift it higher when trying to do so. It also felt more stable when trying to hit it straight.
What was the first TaylorMade racquet you ever played with?
I believe it was a driver shortly after Nike stopped making racquets [in 2016]. It was one of those deals where the first thing I noticed was that the Nike rider was the only club that wasn’t ideal for me. It was a distance thing. I picked up the ball speed and could feel on my face that it was hotter than my Nike driver. I played around with it for a while, then played ping for a while, then TaylorMade came out with this new carbon wood driver and I was all in.
I’d be remiss not to ask a green jacket question. Tiger slept in his, Mickelson drove his around Krispy Kreme. What’s the best Scottie Scheffler greenjacket story from the first week with it?
I’ve only worn it around the house a few times when I was trying to mess with Meredith [Scheffler’s wife]. If she’s trying to get me to clean the dishes or something, I’ll put the jacket on and be like, “Really, I still have to do this?” I’ve had some fun with her with that.