Neil Tappin talks to Lee Westwood about the clubs he has used throughout his career
Lee Westwood’s Amazing Gear Insight
In this trip down memory lane, he reveals the clubs that played the biggest roles in helping him reach world number one. He also talks through his incredible gold putter collection.
WATCH: Lee Westwood’s Amazing Gear Insight
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Lee Westwood’s Amazing Gear Insight
If you look back right from the beginning, what were the early golf clubs you remember using when you first started out playing?
Well my first set of clubs weren’t Ping, obviously I think most 11, 12 year-olds I was bought a set by my nan and grandad from a guy my mum used to work with. It was a half-set of Cary Middlecoff I think they were, ladies clubs. I just took them down on the field and had a hack with them really.
And then from there I got a set of Swilken cavity back ladies clubs and then my dad bought me a set of Ping’s when I was 13 years of age. Played well with them, won the county championship and then Ping very kindly started lending me clubs so I have been with Ping since 1987.
It’s definitely one of the longest relationships, how did it start, how did Ping, I guess they have people on the ground watching upcoming players, how did it all develop?
Yeah I was at advantage in Worksop, with the Ping factory in Gainsborough, its only 20, 25 minutes away. So the pro at Worksop Golf Club, John King, he stocked a lot of Ping equipment so I think the local rep had been chatting to John and we sort of got in contact with each other and took me down to the fitting centre at Ping and I got fitted there.
So in those formative years, you were starting to get noticed, get onto national teams and then turning pro, are there any specific models of clubs that you remember fondly during that period?
I would have been using the Ping Eye 2’s back then and I used those for a good few years. Then I was given a set of Beryllium copper ones and I went to the Tour School with those and qualified at Tour School with that set.
I used those coppers for my first tournament and then they brought out the Zing 2’s which I used for many a year. I must have used the Zing 2’s right through probably winning the money list in 2000, I think used the Zing 2’s for 7 or 8 years.
Were Ping not trying to get a different set in your hands?
I think I was winning 7 or 8 tournaments a year so they thought best to leave him as he is.
And what sort of involvement do you have in the clubs Ping bring out to market?
No I’ve always just trusted them and they’ve kind of gone there Lee there’s the new driver. We’ve specced it up to you, see how it goes, if it goes well, if it goes well if not better than the one I’m using then I put it in, if it’s not as good they are happy for me to use other ones. I used the G10 for many a year when they were bringing out ones after that.
How do you treat that process of putting new equipment in play?
Trial and error really. I’ll use it away from tournament play, give it a go there, then maybe use it in practice rounds and then the time has come to use it under the gun really on the golf course.
Have you ever thought about putting the really old stuff back into play?
No as good as modern technology is now you’d be giving up too much, I used the wooden driver a couple of weeks back, we went out and just had a bit of a fun game and I hit it flush out of the middle and I was playing with my son, he hit a high sky that went past where I had hit this flush with a wooden driver. So I mean technology is a big advantage nowadays, you’ve got such a massive sweet spot.
Of the big technological improvements which do you think has made the biggest difference to your game?
I think the ball and driver have made the most significant difference to everybody’s game but I don’t think its made that big of a difference to my game. It’s been unfortunate that driver technology has come on so well, people who were a great driver of the golf ball with the old equipment are now at a disadvantage because everybody is a great driver now. That is one of my bug-bears.
Whats the club you’ve got in the bag at the moment that will be hard to replace?
I don’t really have favourites really. I would say the driver I’ve got at the moment I love, its matched really well to me. I chopped and whinged my irons as airlines got in the habit of losing them, so I’ve had new sets of irons made. I change my wedges regularly.
So Lee talk to us about the gold putters you’ve got, explain what Ping do?
So when you win a tournament on any tour, Ping make a gold putter that is exactly the same. You get them for playing in the Ryder Cup, you get them for career money wins and career earnings too.
Do you think you could have maybe earned a little bit more money had you moved to a different brand?
You never know but as professional players you get offered all sorts of contracts when you get to a certain level. When you’re world number one everyone wants to give you a set of golf clubs. But when you are choosing a set of clubs its not really about the money. A lot of people do make the mistake of changing contracts and they fall off because the equipment is not right for them.
Thats been the great thing about working with Ping for 30 years, we’ve got a good relationship, we are loyal to each other. They stuck with me when I had a slump and I’ve stuck with them all the way through because I like dealing with the people at Ping.
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