Let’s check in on Patrick Reed, Ryder Cup dynamo, and see how he’s played this season. While he’s made 10 of 12 cuts, he hasn’t finished better than a tie for 23rd since February. And he missed the cut at the Masters, firing rounds of 76, 77.
In other words, not good.
The brash Texan’s approach play, in particular, has suffered this year. After placing 84th in strokes gained: approach-the-green (.158) last year, Reed has seen a significant dip in form with his iron play in 2017. He’s presently 186th on Tour, losing .640 strokes to the field average.
So, what the heck is going on with Patrick Reed? Fantasy golf nuts and Team Reed fans have been wondering just that in recent weeks, and it appears we now have an answer: Reed was golfing with jacked up clubs.
The five-time Tour winner plays Callaway X Forged irons (3 and 4) and Callaway MB1 irons in his 5-iron through pitching wedge. Reed told reporters Wednesday that his irons were off as much as 2 to 2.5 degrees in loft and life.
“It was making me have to alter my golf swing to get the golf ball to go straight. When I was swinging well, all of a sudden I would look up and the ball is long and left. Consistently I’m, ‘What is it, is it me, what’s going on?’”
From a Tour pro, two things are unbelievable here:
Two-plus degrees askew is huge. If you made your normal swing with an iron two degrees less upright than what you were used to, without compensating, you’d hit the ball 20 yards right. And from a loft standpoint, if you’re 56-degree sand wedge is really a 54, your normal carry distance will be about 10 yards shorter.
You can imagine how such outcomes would mess with Reed’s head (and lead to high scores). It’s incredible that a professional golfer didn’t notice. Now, it’s not clear if the clubs were uniformly messed up, or if some were closer to the correct loft and life, but for Reed not to notice that they were off is pretty incredible.
Tour pros are supposed to have relationships with their equipment akin to a violin virtuoso with his Stradivarius. Ben Hogan supposedly could tell if anyone had touched his clubs by feeling the oils of their skin on the grips. Stories like this involving other pros are legion. It’s just incredible that Reed wasn’t aware.
Second, most Tour pros visit their sponsors Tour truck/van on location Monday or Tuesday before the tournament. Every week or every couple of weeks, players have their equipment checked on the loft and lie machines to make sure nothing has bent during transit or use. Patrick Reed not doing this for the majority of the season, as his quote would seems to suggest, is likewise baffling.
Again, it’s unclear whether Callaway built Reed a bad set or a good set got bent out of shape. Either way, it’s absolutely bonkers it took this long to get to the route of the problem.
Regardless, with things “straightened out” Reed is playing well. He fired a 3-under 69 to open the Valero Texas Open.
“I finally feel like now I have all 14 clubs set exactly where they need to be where if I make the correct golf swing I know exactly where the golf ball is going.”