Golf One Media

Will Zalatoris Finding His Way Back

by | Mar 7, 2024 | PRO NEWS

Will Zalatoris is back “home’’ this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. Actually, Zalatoris was born in San Francisco and plays out of Dallas, but as the recipient of the 2024-15 Arnold Palmer Scholarship to Wake Forest – Palmer’s alma mater – he’s sort of a member of the King’s extended family.

“Even though I never got to meet him, the guy’s meant a lot to me personally and my career and led me to Wake Forest,’’ Zalatoris said before his opening round three-under 69. “They guy’s meant a lot to my career – I met my wife at Wake Forest. So, it’s just kind of a fun week to come here and spend some time with Amy and the family.’’

One of the game’s rising stars and better ball strikers, Zalatoris, who has battled a variety of physical ailments the past few years, went into Bay Hill looking as if he is ready to regain position among the world’s best players following a T2 at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera CC in Pacific Palisades, CA.

“I think in terms of how I’m able to practice and be able to recover faster, I came in with really no expectations this year, in terms of my body,’’ Zalatoris said. “I had never gone through an eight-month recovery (from a 2023 back operation), but I knew that I felt better. I just didn’t want to jump the gun and say, take the reins off, and get back to my old ways of practice.

“So, my speed is slowly coming back. Kind of the analogy that I’ve used is that I keep thinking that my speed is back to a 100 percent, but then all of a sudden it keeps creeping up a little bit more and more and more. So far, so good’’

A look inside Zalatoris’ bag reveals a full set of Titleist T150 irons, as well as new T350 3 iron.

“I switched to the T150’s right when I got them, or I guess it was earlier this year.” Zalatoris said. “The thing that was so fascinating with the T150’s was that you had more feel than any Titleist iron that we had ever made, but you still had the same forgiveness. And so, when I first tried them, shocker, professional golfers don’t hit perfect golf shots all day long, but I would hit one barely on the heel, barely on the toe. And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, I must’ve lost seven, eight yards on that.’ And it was going the same distance as when I hit it solid. And so, getting that feedback was amazing for me.

“The two biggest things that I always check for with irons is how they perform out of the rough. Because if I’ve got a little too much camber out of there, I might catch flyers all day long, which I know it’s cool to hit a pitching wedge 190 yards, but it’s not cool when you’re trying to hit it 150. And then on top of that – I told this to J.J. [Van Wezenbeeck, Titleist Director of Player Promotions] when he first gave them to me – it looked like they were built for me. Just because of how they go through the turf, they rip through the turf way faster than the T100’s that I was playing before. But I had more forgiveness and more feel, which is a unicorn. And so I’ve loved that [T150] iron.”

And the T350 3-iron?

“That iron was built to be kind of a game improvement iron,’’ Zalatoris said. “And honestly, we were on the range when all of us were together in LA testing it. We were just kind of goofing around and I was thinking, ‘Man, this thing looks awesome.’ And so, I started hitting some balls out of the rough, and started hitting them out of the fairway.

“I remember Max [Homa] and I spent 20 minutes with this thing, and we were like, ‘This thing is awesome.’ So the wide variety too, is something that I think is really cool. Because you’re seeing guys who are playing straight muscle backs going to the T100’s. You’ve seen guys maybe go from T100’s to T150’s, and there’s a lot of shuffling going around. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I have a game improvement iron in my bag.’ So what?  I love that thing. It’s my favorite club in the bag. But a lot of the changes that they made this year, especially with the feel, were really fascinating to me.”

oncore_golf
revo_sunglasses

About the Author

<a href="https://golfonemedia.com/author/steve_pike/" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the PGA.com website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California. Steve lives in Delray Beach, Fla, and posts his golf and travel content on his website at spikeongolfandtravel.com. He can be reached at spikee41@hotmail.com.