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My Day at Torrey Pines with Xander Schauffele by Royce, our social media manager for Callaway Golf

On the Wednesday before the 121st U.S. Open kicks off at Torrey Pines, I got the rare opportunity to walk with Xander Schauffele during a scouting trip. It was an incredible experience, and I was amazed at how much I learned in the five hours I spent with the four-time PGA TOUR winner. The way professional golfers, especially elite ones like Xander process information so fast it’s remarkable. I’ll try and break this down as easy as I can and hopefully you will take away a piece of what the wisdom bestowed on me.

The first thing I will say about Xander is he is one of the most relaxed and laid-back guys on TOUR (I worked for the PGA TOUR for 10 years before coming to Callaway, so I’ve known Xander since he has turned pro). He loves golf and I mean loves it and if you’re lucky enough to be a fly on the wall like I was today while he played with another four-time TOUR winner (I won’t mention his name since he’s not a Callaway staffer, but he is a SoCal guy who basically helped Xander a tremendous amount his rookie season on TOUR and someone Xander still plays a ton of practice rounds with).

Xander hitting a driver at Torrey Pines

Everyone knows these guys can move it and hit all the shots, so I won’t spend too much time on how they hit a heavy ball into the wind or how they can hit it high, low, right-to-left or left-to-right on command with the driver. That was fun to see, but not where I learned the most. It’s how they prepare and anticipate how the USGA will set up a course they see every January during the Farmers Insurance Open. They played a game around the greens that blew my mind (there were some serious stakes on the line to keep the competitive juices flowing and make every shot count). Tour pros practice their short games at nauseam, but I didn’t realize just how fun they can make their practice and how they make each rep count on the course, even in a fun round where both players carried their bags, count! It was incredible to witness not only how good their short games are but why they are so elite around the greens.

Let’s get to the game…

It’s a contest to see who can get the most up-and-downs. Here’s the premise. The two players took turns deciding a hole location and where they needed to hit from (they alternated holes the entire round). They put a tee in the ground and placed a ball on top of the tee. From there a player would throw both balls into an area around the green they want to hit a shot from (either thick rough, a bunker or a crazy long lag putt on a par 5). They basically short-sided themselves most of the time and made it as hard as possible to get up-and-down (this was all done after they played and putted out their ball in play on the hole). The attention to detail when deciding shots was what really caught me. They both have played the course so many times in tournament play, they know all the places you can put pins and why certain hole locations will be used during the major championship. Some of the reasons were, “if you got at a back pin, you might catch a hard bounce and go over, they will place a pin here because it is one of the most difficult places to putt from on this green.” There were a few more but you get the idea. They are trying to make this game as difficult on themselves as possible to try and mimic tournament conditions as much as possible and this went on for all 18 holes! Oh and if your chip, pitch, flop, sand shot or lag putt hit the tee on the first attempt, you got double the the points/pot. When you see players walking around with a few wedges and a putter the next time you’re at a TOUR event, pay attention to what they are trying to accomplish by working on all the shots around the greens.

The next thing I learned was just quickly these guys process information. Numerous times during the round I saw Xander talk to himself about, wind direction, distance, shot shape and where he wanted to land while standing over the ball. It was laughable watching him execute shot after shot.

The last nugget I’ll give you is, don’t be surprised if you see Xander using a 56-degree wedge a lot around the greens next week. The rough is up and the lob wedge, laid open, tended to go underneath the ball a little more than he like. On 18, he started chipping with his 56, out of the thickest rough on the course by the way and hit so many good chips. I’m sure this is something he will continue to experiment with now until Thursday but it was clear, the 56-degree worked really well around the greens, especially if he thought the ball was sitting up a little more than usual.

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My Day at Torrey Pines with Xander Schauffele by Royce, our social media manager for Callaway Golf

On the Wednesday before the 121st U.S. Open kicks off at Torrey Pines, I got the rare opportunity to walk with Xander Schauffele during a scouting trip. It was an incredible experience, and I was amazed at how much I learned in the five hours I spent with the four-time PGA TOUR winner. The way professional golfers, especially elite ones like Xander process information so fast it’s remarkable. I’ll try and break this down as easy as I can and hopefully you will take away a piece of what the wisdom bestowed on me.

The first thing I will say about Xander is he is one of the most relaxed and laid-back guys on TOUR (I worked for the PGA TOUR for 10 years before coming to Callaway, so I’ve known Xander since he has turned pro). He loves golf and I mean loves it and if you’re lucky enough to be a fly on the wall like I was today while he played with another four-time TOUR winner (I won’t mention his name since he’s not a Callaway staffer, but he is a SoCal guy who basically helped Xander a tremendous amount his rookie season on TOUR and someone Xander still plays a ton of practice rounds with).

Xander hitting a driver at Torrey Pines

Everyone knows these guys can move it and hit all the shots, so I won’t spend too much time on how they hit a heavy ball into the wind or how they can hit it high, low, right-to-left or left-to-right on command with the driver. That was fun to see, but not where I learned the most. It’s how they prepare and anticipate how the USGA will set up a course they see every January during the Farmers Insurance Open. They played a game around the greens that blew my mind (there were some serious stakes on the line to keep the competitive juices flowing and make every shot count). Tour pros practice their short games at nauseam, but I didn’t realize just how fun they can make their practice and how they make each rep count on the course, even in a fun round where both players carried their bags, count! It was incredible to witness not only how good their short games are but why they are so elite around the greens.

Let’s get to the game…

It’s a contest to see who can get the most up-and-downs. Here’s the premise. The two players took turns deciding a hole location and where they needed to hit from (they alternated holes the entire round). They put a tee in the ground and placed a ball on top of the tee. From there a player would throw both balls into an area around the green they want to hit a shot from (either thick rough, a bunker or a crazy long lag putt on a par 5). They basically short-sided themselves most of the time and made it as hard as possible to get up-and-down (this was all done after they played and putted out their ball in play on the hole). The attention to detail when deciding shots was what really caught me. They both have played the course so many times in tournament play, they know all the places you can put pins and why certain hole locations will be used during the major championship. Some of the reasons were, “if you got at a back pin, you might catch a hard bounce and go over, they will place a pin here because it is one of the most difficult places to putt from on this green.” There were a few more but you get the idea. They are trying to make this game as difficult on themselves as possible to try and mimic tournament conditions as much as possible and this went on for all 18 holes! Oh and if your chip, pitch, flop, sand shot or lag putt hit the tee on the first attempt, you got double the the points/pot. When you see players walking around with a few wedges and a putter the next time you’re at a TOUR event, pay attention to what they are trying to accomplish by working on all the shots around the greens.

The next thing I learned was just quickly these guys process information. Numerous times during the round I saw Xander talk to himself about, wind direction, distance, shot shape and where he wanted to land while standing over the ball. It was laughable watching him execute shot after shot.

The last nugget I’ll give you is, don’t be surprised if you see Xander using a 56-degree wedge a lot around the greens next week. The rough is up and the lob wedge, laid open, tended to go underneath the ball a little more than he like. On 18, he started chipping with his 56, out of the thickest rough on the course by the way and hit so many good chips. I’m sure this is something he will continue to experiment with now until Thursday but it was clear, the 56-degree worked really well around the greens, especially if he thought the ball was sitting up a little more than usual.

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