Jimmy Stanger will feel very comfortable this week at the Valspar Championship. A Tampa, Florida, native, Stanger grew up attending and volunteering at the event. Now, as a PGA TOUR rookie, he enters his hometown tournament in good form.

Stanger has recorded five top-40 finishes, including a T14 at The American Express, a T3 at the Puerto Rico Open and a T35 last week at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Prior to making his debut at THE PLAYERS Championship, PGATOUR.COM caught up with the 28-year-old Stanger to find out what clubs he has in the bag and why.

1. Use a driver with more forgiveness

In the past, Stanger opted for Titleist’s TSi3 driver model rather than the more forgiving TSi2 model. He bucked that trend with Titleist’s new TSR series of drivers, switching to the more forgiving TSR2 model.

“It definitely still has an incredibly hot face on it that allows me to hit the draw that I like,” Stanger said.

For amateur golfers looking for the right driver, don’t forget to try out multiple models from each brand to ensure you’re capitalizing on the performance benefits that suit your game.

To learn more about the different driver options on the market, head over to GolfWRX.com’s Best Drivers of 2024 list where Stanger’s TSR2 model ranked top five in the 96-105 mph swing speed category.

2. Try a 7-wood for more height

Stanger switches between a TSR2 7-wood and a T200 3-iron, depending on the course and weather conditions. If it’s windy, he opts for the lower-flying 3-iron. If it’s a bit calmer or the course is softer and longer, he goes with the 7-wood.

“(It) is a game-time move depending how windy it is,’ Stanger said. “This place (TPC Sawgrass), to me, is definitely a 7-wood golf course…the way I describe it is I’m hitting a flop shot from 240 (yards). It lands with a descent angle of over 50 degrees, which is essentially a wedge angle into a green. When I set it on the ground, it looks like I’m looking at a 60-degree wedge. It’ll go in the bag if it’s not very windy. A place like here (TPC Sawgrass), it’s a weapon out of the rough. If it starts getting windy, then we’ll quickly sub that thing out for my 3-iron.”

3. Use a new lob wedge for more greenside spin

Stanger uses four Titleist Vokey SM10 wedges in his setup (46, 50 bent to 51, 56 and 60 degrees) but treats his lob wedge differently than the rest.

With the 60-degree wedge, Stanger regularly swaps in a new head to ensure the grooves are fresh and provide the grip he needs.

“I’m pretty particular with it,” Stanger said. “My 60-degree I swap out quite a few times. This is probably already my second 60-degree of the year, maybe my third. The reason I do that this week (at THE PLAYERS) is these greens are tiny, they’re undulating. If you’re around the greens, you need to have maximum grip. So, you want that ball to spin and stop. So, a brand-new wedge is going to give you that. And it makes a big difference, even a wedge that’s two or three weeks old.”

If you want to hit that one-hop-and-stop shot, a new wedge with fresh grooves can help.

4. Practice fairway bunker shots to help reduce wedge spin

As opposed to his 60-degree wedge, Stanger likes to have his 46, 50 and 56-degree wedges worn in to reduce spin on full shots. Although trying to reduce spin on wedge shots purposefully may sound counter-intuitive, Stanger has his reasons.

“Very, very rarely will you see me put in brand-new 50-degree, 56-degree or 46-degree wedges,” Stanger explained. “I want those things to be worn down. So, when I get new 50, 56 and 46-degree wedges, I like to practice with them at home for two weeks to a month because I want to wear down the grooves a little bit. The reason being, I’m chipping with my 60, not hitting a lot of full shots with my 60.

“I’m only basically hitting full shots with my 50-, 56- and 46-degree wedges, and if that spin rate gets a little too high, it’s going to throw off my distance, and when the ball hits the green in its going to zip backward. Sometimes that can be good, but most of the time, that’s something that brings in uncertainty and unpredictability on the golf course. I know what a lot of guys do, (they) will take these wedges, take them to a bunker, and hit fairway bunker shots for a week. You do that, that’s going to wear down those grooves, add about a month of wear on them, and that makes them just about perfect.”

5. Try adding more loft to your putter on slower greens

Stanger typically uses a putter with just 2 degrees of loft, as he tends to keep his hands slightly behind the putter head at address.

Recently, however, Scotty Cameron built Stanger a putter with a standard loft of 3.5 degrees. This helps Stanger launch the ball a bit higher, keeping it on top of the grass when playing slightly slower greens with longer grass. More height on the initial launch of the ball helps to get it rolling faster rather than hopping offline.

“The last few weeks, we played on greens down in the islands, like Mexico and Puerto Rico, that were a little bit slower,” Stanger explained. “I struggled in Mexico, so in Puerto Rico, the Scotty Cameron reps were able to build this putter… I played well last week, finished third, had a chance to win coming down the stretch, and part of the reason was because of the clutch putts I made with this thing. Because of that reason, I figured let’s continue that this week. I don’t think I want to change after nearly winning a PGA TOUR event, and it’s felt pretty good on the putting green, so I’m excited to take this one into play this week.”

Really, there are two lessons there: try to match up the loft of your putter to optimize performance on the greens you typically play, and don’t change out your putter while it’s working.

SOURCE: [pgatour.com]