By E. Michael Johnson
Marc Leishman. Photo by Golffile
Marc Leishman won last week’s Farmers Insurance Open for his fifth PGA Tour title. The Aussie, however, also is known for mowing his backyard putting green almost every day when the grass is growing and being involved in his own beer brand.
Leishman also is knowledgeable about his equipment and took some time to speak with Golf Digest’s equipment editor E. Michael Johnson about how putter keeps him square to the target without an alignment aid, how hitting shots from the rough helped him settle on some new short irons and the new Callaway Mavrik driver in his bag.
Congratulations. Hopefully you celebrated with a Leishman Lager or two?
Indeed I did. I have quite a bit at home so that certainly took care of that.
The putting was pretty special last week. How long have you had the Odyssey Versa #6 in the bag and what do you like about the black/white/black striping?
My favourite thing about this putter is the white face with the black surrounding it and the black topline. I don’t have a dot or a line on top to help line it up so I go by my eye. But I can easily tell if it’s open or closed because I can see a sliver of the face and see the white on the black. So if it’s a little bit shut I can’t see the face and if it’s too open I can tell because I see more of the face than I’m used to. So I know that pretty much every putt I hit the face is square to the path and that’s half the battle. The feel and the balance are terrific, but how it helps with alignment is the big key for me. It’s been in my bag since Memorial of last year.
A piece of new equipment in the bag with the Mavrik driver. What drew you to the club and what did you discover during testing with it?
I drove it really well the first three days at Torrey Pines. I think the thing that drew me to put it in the bag was that the first couple of shots I hit with it were great and then when I missed a few it was a one-way miss. That’s a key thing for me. I like to set up down the left-hand side of the fairway and take a rip knowing that it’s either going to go straight or fade. This driver pretty much takes the left side of the golf course out of play for me. I can turn it if I want to, but I have to work to do that. It’s also quite forgiving. The misses aren’t as big, either. It looks great and sounds great so all that together made it easy to put in play.
I find it interesting that your two fairway woods are pretty close in loft at 16.5 and 18 degrees. Are those the actual lofts?
The 16.5-degree is actually bent to 15 degrees. That opens the face up and that’s a look I like. I don’t ever want to see anything that looks like the ball will go left. I hate hitting it left. As for my 5-wood, I’ve actually used it kind of like a 4-wood for a long time. If I draw it then it comes out like a 4-wood and if I fade it then it goes like a 5-wood. I have a lot of different yardages I can hit with that club. It’s an older model [Callaway Rogue Sub Zero] and I can hit it any yardage from 240 to 265. It’s like having two clubs in one.
Photo by Golffile
You’re one of many pros who use a split set of irons. Is it a pretty natural break or did you have to test some to see where the break was best?
It’s more the look for me. My lower irons are great-looking irons. That Apex Pro 4-, 5- and 6-iron are maybe the best-looking irons I’ve ever played. I used to play the whole set through the 9-iron. But I was a getting a few fliers with the short irons and I was testing some irons out of the rough to see if I could reduce the fliers a little bit and found that the blades don’t tend to jump as much. So now I can judge the distances better out of the rough.
Anything specific with the grinds of your Jaws MD5 wedges, and do you ever change bounce or grind depending on conditions?
I stay with pretty much the same thing. I like playing around with the face angle sometimes. I only carry two wedges and I don’t chip with my lob wedge very often. I like to get it on the ground as quick as possible, which probably comes from playing on firm turf growing up in Australia. It’s what I’m used to. If it’s a little firmer I’ll play bit with a square face and if it’s a little softer I’ll go to my 52-degree, which is really more like 53 degrees and open it up to create a little more bounce. So I change my face angle a lot so I don’t have to change wedges.
The swingweights on your clubs seem to be a little on the heavier side. Is that to help with control or perhaps help you move the ball with your preferred fade?
All my irons and wedges are D-5 swingweight so they’re pretty heavy. I idolized Ernie Els growing up and I knew he played heavy clubs and that’s to be honest why I started using heavy clubs, and I’ve just kept using them. They seem to be working OK for me. I’m not one to change very much.
You used to carry some scoring pencils in your bag from places you played well at. Do you still do that?
We change golf bags a lot more often now. Callaway does a lot of cool things with themed golf bags for the majors or for Odyssey. So no, I don’t do that anymore. I just grab a pencil at the tournament we’re at.
Photo by Golffile
So what’s the most unusual or personal thing you have in your bag?
My kids sign all my golf bags. They write their names on the belly of the bag, which is nice. I also have an Australian ball marker with my name on it and the boxing kangaroos with the Australian flag behind it. I’ve also used the same ball mark pitch repair tool for the last five years or so. I got it at Memorial. It’s really sharp and I’ve stabbed myself in the finger a couple times with it, but it works great so I’ve kept it.
Being a tour player there is equipment galore for you to try any time you want. Which makes me wonder, what’s the last club you bought with your own money?
Wow. I’ve bought clubs for my son but for myself, I think it was a lob wedge when I was about 16 years old or so. It was a Nike lob wedge.
OK, last one: How’s your putting green doing?
It’s completely dormant at the moment and hasn’t had to be cut since the middle of November. It gives the neighbours a break from the mowing sound. Waiting for it to warm up so she starts to grow again.