One would think that with his two early season wins and no equipment contract, companies would be lining up to sign Shubhankar Sharma. While a few club makers have approached Sharma, he is happy using a mixed bag of clubs on the way to some seriously low numbers.
Gurbaaz Maan of Falcon 1 Golf who looks after the 21-year-old’s equipment narrated the story of Sharma’s clubs. “Around the time he shot 10-under to keep his card in Manila, he tried a couple of different shafts and three-four different manufacturers on his irons. He was ready to change at that point in time, but didn’t.”
It was an interesting conversation, to say the least. There is always a temptation to switch clubs when a manufacturer offers you more money. Some of the more famous examples include Johnny Miller, Payne Stewart and Phil Mickelson who went through career lulls.
Shubhankar resisted this temptation. He said “Working with Gurbaaz, I’ve learned how the golf club works – what happens when you hit a bad shot and why it happens. Once you know you have the right equipment, you trust it and not make changes. With the way new clubs keep coming out, you always have this urge to change.” Echoing the great Jack Nicklaus, he added: “You don’t have to fix anything that ain’t broke.”
Last week, Sharma shot a final round 62 to beat a respectable field in Malaysia to take home $500,000. Golfing Indian caught up with the Indian professional as he makes a stop in New Delhi on his way home to Chandigarh to chat about his equipment setup and mentality to go low.
On shooting low scores – You can’t go into a round thinking that you’re going to shoot ten under. Every hole has to be played as it comes, and before you know it you’re playing well. In all the low rounds I have shot, I’ve felt good on the morning of the round. In golf anything is possible, you can make seven birdies in the last seven holes.”
Coming from behind versus sleeping on the lead – There is pressure when you lead from the front. The spotlight is on you (like it was for me in Johannesburg). There are expectations on yourself which you have to deal with as well. In Malaysia, I just wanted to go out there and express myself.
On playing aggressively – I’ve always played golf that way. Though I may not play safe, chances are I won’t go for the stupid shot. It’s instinctive, and I like to take it as it comes. Having said that, I took on a few shots on the last day (in Malaysia). If you want to go low, one has to take that approach and hunt for flags that others are not going for.
The adjustment in green speed between the Asian and European Tours – Greens in Asia are slower. Weather, of course, is also a factor as well as the different kinds of grasses. In Malaysia, I had to make an adjustment on the greens as I struggled with the flat stick for the first three days. Had to dig deep to get used to it.
What’s in the Bag –
Driver – Callaway Apex (9 degrees) with a Graffloy shaft.
3 WOOD – Taylormade M2 (15 degrees) with a Diamana shaft.
2 Iron/ Utility Hybrid – Shubhankar switches between a Titleist 2 iron and a Callaway hybrid depending on the course conditions. In Malaysia, the hybrid was in play.
Irons – 714 Titleist CB series(4-PW) with the Nippon NS Pro shafts. “These clubheads are the same style as the original CB irons that dates back to the early 2000s” adds Maan.
Wedges – Until last year, Shubhankar used Titleist wedges. A session with Gurbaaz Maan in Japan led to a switch to the Cleveland RTX wedges with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts. Maan adds “The switch was to do with the bounce and shaft. He uses three lofts – 52, 56 and 60 around the greens now.”
Putter – There was a Ping putter in the bag earlier which has now been replaced with a Scotty Cameron Red X. Maan says “He putted well with the Ping putter in India last year where there are slower greens. It is a more lofted club as compared to the Scotty. The switch was to do with adapting to faster greens abroad – different putters for different turfs.”
Ball – Titleist Pro V1X (2017 model)
Shoes and glove – Footjoy