Equipment Q&AOctober 15, 2019

Lanto Griffin on changing irons after hitting five balls, why he marks his ball with an M and the backstory on his putter

Houston Open - Final Round
Sam GreenwoodHUMBLE, TEXAS - OCTOBER 13: Lanto Griffin plays a shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston on October 13, 2019 in Humble, Texas. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Lanto Griffin has had an interesting path to the PGA Tour, including multiple stints on the Korn Ferry Tour. Last week at the Houston Open, however, Griffin became a PGA Tour winner, setting him on a path of a different kind. Golf Digest spoke with Griffin, a Titleist staff player, about the equipment he used in Houston, including the putter that made the key stroke, how he’s twice changed irons after hitting just a handful of balls and why he marks his ball with the letter M.

What’s your overall approach to equipment? Is it technical or more what your eye sees and your hands feel?

I used to change equipment based on the newest thing coming out or what looked good, but now I just trust the Titleist guys. If you asked me what my shaft does or why I’m in this club or that shaft, I really couldn’t tell you. Same with the golf ball. The way I look at it is they know so much more about equipment than I do. When we work on Trackman, they know what I need to have. I feel like most players at our level can get used to the equipment they have, but when you start searching for the right shaft and the right head you can get a little off. I think I’ve done a good job of sticking with what’s working and what I’m comfortable with.

You have the new Titleist T100 irons in the bag. What appealed to you about those clubs to the point where you made that switch?

Two years ago I was playing a CB/MB combo iron set. It was the week after I finished 19th in Wichita on the Korn Ferry Tour and I wanted to try the 718 AP2s even though they weren’t out yet. They had a little more forgiveness and better feel. But two weeks later I won the Nashville Open. You’d be crazy to switch irons after you win, but then the new AP2s came out and I hit maybe five or six balls with the new irons and immediately put them in. It wasn’t like I didn’t like the old irons, but the new ones’ top line was a little thinner and they just felt really good in my hands. I put them into play that week. Fast forward two years later and the T100 irons came out when I was playing in Omaha for the Pinnacle Bank tournament. I might have hit four balls with them and immediately fell in love with them. The way they went through the turf and the sole is a little thinner. I loved the top line, too. Looking down at the T100s it looks like a blade but has the forgiveness of a cavity back. It was an easy switch for me. I tell amateurs all the time they don’t need to be playing blades. Use the club that will help you perform the best.

You use a Vokey SM7 wedge with a raw finish for your pitching wedge instead of the T100. What does the Vokey give you that maybe the T100 pitching wedge didn’t?

The rusty look is really cool. I had a set pitching wedge with the CB/MB combo set but when you’re looking down at a wedge instead of a set wedge, I just feel like I’m in birdie range. Putting a pitching wedge in with that rusty look that looks more like a lob wedge than a pitching wedge, it gives me a comfort level that if I can hit it far enough off the tee to have one of those clubs in my hands I can make birdie. That raw finish looks good to my eye and it helps reduce glare when it’s sunny out. I’ve used that finish for four or five years.

RELATED: Winner's Bag: Lanto Griffin's equipment at the Houston Open

The SIK putter has an interesting backstory, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it does. In 2010 when I turned pro I met the SIK guys and I actually bought a couple of putters from them that year. They felt comfortable to me. I’ve putted well with Scotty Cameron putters and got my tour card in 2017 using a Scotty and used one for the entire PGA Tour season. I also used A Cameron to start the PGA Tour season this year. But one of my buddies came down for a Masters trip this April and I was struggling with an arm-lock putter and I just grabbed the putter out of my friend’s hands and hit a couple of putts and made them. All of a sudden I was like, “Man, this feels pretty good.” So I borrowed it just to have a different look and won with it the first week I used it. I didn’t change the lie, loft or grip at all. The grip is four years old. It was just kind of a freak thing where I grabbed it and it felt right. I think most golfers will agree that it doesn’t matter as much what is in your hands if you have confidence with it. That’s what you look for. I love Scotty Cameron putters and I know down the road I’ll go back to them, but for now this feels pretty good in my hands.

Your Titleist 917D2 driver has a couple of adjustable features. Do you tend to tinker with that or do you just set it and leave it be?

I like to leave it be for the most part, but certain weeks, like when we’re at elevation, I’ll try to get it to launch a little higher. I’ve always been a low-ball hitter and my driver has between 10.5 and 11 degrees of loft. But when we play in Denver or Bogota, Colombia, I jack it up an extra degree to try and get it up in the air even more. At elevation the higher you hit it, the longer it will stay in the air. At the start of the season I went out to Carlsbad and worked with [Titleist tour rep] J.J. Van Wezenbeeck at Titleist’s test center. My miss at the time was a heel-pull and I’m hitting balls and he says, “Let me try something.” He left and got the same shaft but cut it down half an inch and put it more upright. I started hitting it and my shots went from the heel to the center of the face. I walked away thinking he was an absolute genius for doing that.

What do you like about the Pro V1 versus the Pro V1x and how many golf balls do you go through in a round?

I’ve played the Pro V1 since 2003 when I started playing golf. It’s a comfort level and I 100 percent believe it’s the best ball in golf. The new Pro V1 takes a little spin off, which helps me because I’m a low-ball, high-spin player which is a little unusual. My hands are pretty far forward at impact and I trap it pretty good. So that ball allows me to flight it low or high, which I need. It’s all I’m used to. Depending on the course I can go through between three and six balls a round if I’m hitting a lot of wedges. If it’s a longer course with more long and mid irons, it’s probably one or two. I’ve been marking my ball with one line through the sidestamp and then two perpendicular lines. There’s also an M. I started dating my girlfriend and had her mark up a golf ball for me and she put an M on it. I won in Nashville that week and ever since there’s been an M on there. I’m not about to change it.