November 24, 2021
Davis Love III is a certified golf legend. He turned pro from the University of North Carolina in 1985 and has since taken 21 PGA Tour victories, including the 1997 PGA Championship and the Players Championship (1992, 2003).
The 57-year-old is also a Ryder Cup icon, golf course architect, author and host of the RSM Classic 2021 in Sea Island.
Love III has been a professional since the days of the Persimmon Driver Heads with steel shaft, in the middle of the technology boom of the last decades. As one of the old school pros on tour, it’s always interesting to see what he’s got in his pocket these days.
Recently I was able to take pictures of the Love III golf clubs in my hand at the RSM Classic. Here are 7 things I learned from its setup.
1) Placement of the lead tape
These little strips of gray tape that professionals stick on their golf clubs are called lead tape. The inexpensive, heavy strips add to the weight, and depending on the position and the lead tape used, the lead tape can actually help shift the center of gravity (CG) in the club head and thus affect the flight behavior of the golf ball.
With two long strips on the back of his Titleist TSi3 8-degree head, it’s likely that Love III is trying to shift weight away from the clubface to increase takeoff and forgiveness.
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On its Titleist AP2 718 medium irons (6 and 7), Love III has lumps of lead around the middle portion of the rear cavities that likely help add to the overall weight of the club head and bring more meat behind the center of the clubface. However, on his 5 iron, Love III only has a small streak on the heel. While the weight may not be enough to significantly change the center of gravity, the placement of the Love III tape can help release the club a little quicker for a draw flight.
It’s important to remember that location is important when adding lead tape! Don’t put a lead tape on the club head just because it looks cool (although I think it looks cool). If you are unsure of where you might need to add extra weight, consult a trusted installer or local professional.
2) A rocket launcher
Love III uses a Titleist TS3 fairway wood that is slightly smaller and lower than its TS2 family member. Upon closer inspection, he also uses the 13.5-degree version of the club head instead of the more traditional 15-degree version.
Loft is a critical aspect of getting the start, spin, and distance you need. So try several options before buying a golf club. For Love III, it was likely that he was looking for a slightly more penetrating ball flight with his fairway wood. On the other hand, most amateurs will likely benefit from clubs with more loft!
3) Always a tar heel
Love III was a three-time All American at the University of North Carolina and won six tournament titles, so he certainly didn’t lack confidence when he turned pro. He quickly proved that he had staying power in the professional ranks and won his first PGA Tour event in 1987 at the MCI Heritage Golf Classic in Harbor Town. It seems he has never forgotten where he is from as he still represents the UNC tar heels with his stitch-made headcovers.
4) An iron set from the new school
Split iron sets (also known as “mixed” or “mixed” sets) combine different iron models to take advantage of the design differences in the heads. Old school golfers – Love III could certainly be considered part of this group – usually grew up with one model throughout their set. That often meant using very small, thin, and unforgiving long irons. However, Love III has embraced the new school mentality of combining models.
For Love III he uses a Titleist U-505 2-iron, a U-500 4-iron and AP2 718 iron (5-9 irons). This means that his longer irons are relatively forgiving, have a higher ball launch, and help increase forgiveness across the face. Its shorter irons help take advantage of spin and trajectory control.
5) Simple die cuts
Wedge embossing enables golfers to express their creativity, their sense of humor, their sports fanatic or to say hello to their family. However, if you have a great nickname like “DL3” then what do you really need from your stamps?
Also note the loft gapping of the raw Titleist SM8 wedges from Love III. Most interestingly, he uses a 46 degree wedge instead of the pitching wedge from his AP2 iron set. Using a traditional wedge in place of an iron-like pitching wedge can help golfers gain a little more control and spin, but with a slight loss in distance.
6) A masterful putter
Love III is no stranger to using Scotty Camerons during his years on the PGA Tour. He even has his own “Inspired By” model made by Scotty Cameron himself. With such a close relationship with Scotty, it’s always exciting to see what Flatstick Love III has in his pocket.
At the RSM Classic, Love III played a tour-only “Masterful” putter made of high-quality GSS (German Stainless Steel) with a milled face.
Funnily enough, the topline point was actually only created with a sharpie marker. It always makes me laugh when professionals who have access to the best club builders and prototypes money can buy end up making customizations with just a sharpie. But hey, whatever works.
7) The importance of shaft fit
Do you need proof that shaft assembly is hugely important? Love III uses four different shaft models in its entire set. He has a Fujikura Ventus Red shaft in his driver, a Tensei CK Blue 80 TX in his fairway wood, a Project X HZRDUS RDX Smoke in his driving iron (2) and True Temper Elevate Tour X shafts in the remaining irons and wedges.
The lesson here is not to just assume that all of your clubs have to be from the same shaft manufacturer. Since every club head is different, every club has to be fitted differently for a shaft. Take the Love III setup as a perfect example.
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Andrew Tursky is Senior Equipment Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com.