2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has had a long and illustrious career that includes 15 tour wins and playing on three winning Ryder Cup teams.
Throughout that time he has been a Callaway player and I spoke with him at the scene of his Thomas Bjorn Trophy tournament at The Shire London course, where he is also 2017/18 Honorary Captain, to find out more about what is in his bag.
Hi Thomas. Thanks you for joining us. You are currently using the Callaway Epic driver so what is the biggest difference between it and the driver you were using before?
Very rarely does a driver come along where you can honestly say to yourself that everything from ball speed, club head speed goes up, but it certainly did with the Epic driver.
It's the ability of this driver more than anything. I get the feeling with this driver that I am back where I was with a driver ten years ago where I had the feeling of the ball staying on the head for longer, so you can feel that you shape the ball and do different things with it, but at the same time the speed has gone up so you get more distance.
I felt drivers for a while got to a place where the ball was clinging to the face a little too much and you could get the distance but you didn't really know where the ball was going. With the Epic I feel I can go back to the way I feel driving should be where you can see the golf ball again.
I can feel the ball staying on the face for longer, which in reality it doesn't do of course, but that's what I feel even if others just notice the increase in ball speed.
Callaway also talk about this being a high MOI driver. Is that something you have noticed too?
It's not something that stands out for me as it is literally just the speed where I have seen an increase of 2, 3 or 4 mph in ball speed and it is there instantly, which is down to the aerodynamics and the materials.
Callaway has been bringing out models with echoes of the past like the Steelhead XR range. Are there any Callaway models that you would like to see brought back?
I actually have an old 20° Heavenwood hybrid still in the bag. In the hybrids they are not really distance clubs, they are more like a utility working club and that old warbird sole and short hosel really works for me.
I am not saying that things should not be brought back as you have to go with the times, but I just have this one club that I love and it's just one of those things that it never really left the golf bag.
You currently have the Apex MB1 blades as your irons so why do you prefer those over cavity back irons that could be more forgiving?
I've always been a blade guy and I am the type of guy who when I go into the rough I like to hit one iron more because I know I am less likely to get a flier with a blade. As soon as I go to a cavity back I get a flier, so it is just a question of what you want. Some players like fliers, some don't and I am one of those. If I go and play cavity backs then I have to re-arrange my whole game as I grew up with blades.
If I was starting out at age 15/16 then I would probably go down the cavity back route, because that is the way the modern game is played. I do get more distance and maybe one day that might be more important, but, you know, I am 46 and it is probably too late for a leopard to change its spots!
You've gone to the Chrome Soft ball, so what is the reason for that given that premium tour balls over recent years have tended to be firmer?
Well it's the development of the golf ball isn't it? You've got to go with the distance and you've got to get the control too. For a time I thought golf balls were getting a little too firm and you lost a little bit of feel.
The Callaway Chrome Soft is a soft ball compared to what's in the market, but if you go back to when I played in the 1990s, the feel of the Chrome Soft compared to the balata balls we used then is quite similar.
It's not something new to me in the sense of it’s a completely different golf ball, I just think that it's better because most other golf balls are a little too firm to be honest.
Do you have the same set every week or do you have 15 or 16 clubs that you choose from according to the course set up?
No, I just stay the same all the time.
Staying with course set up, I have played the 2018 Ryder Cup course at Le Golf National a couple of times this year. Are you intending to set it up like it is for the Open de France or will you make it nice and easy like Americans did at Hazeltine and Medinah?
You can't grow water is what I say! There is a lot of water on the Albatros course at Le Golf National and it is difficult to do anything about it.
The golf course is what it is and you can do little things to a golf course but I don't believe that you can do massive things. The last two courses we played in American Ryder Cups, they cut back the trees and they had no rough, but at the US Open and USPGA we have severe rough and really difficult conditions and the Americans tend to do well on those too.
Sometimes I think you can put a lot of thought into it, but is that what you want? I think the Europeans know the Albatros course very well and we know we can play it. That's the course we are going to play and we will see what it's like when we get there and if anything needs to be done to it. You know, Le Golf National is so great that is doesn't really need anyone fiddling that much with it.
What type of player do you think will do well there, as to me it seems that you need to be an accurate driver of the ball?
Yes, but I can't change that as if I felt I needed to make the fairways extremely wide, it's not like I can do that because the design of the course with all the banks doesn't allow that.
It is what it is and with the top players today it's not like they hit it everywhere off the tee. Some weeks they are more accurate with their driver and some weeks they are not. When they hit that kind of form where they are straight then they do well. When you get into the stats you can see that there is not that much difference between the teams on where they hit it.
It's 20 years since you were a rookie on the 1997 Ryder Cup team. In 2016 Europe had half the team who were rookies, whereas the USA had two, so is there an optimum number of rookies?
It's difficult to say there is an optimum number, but I don't think you want too many and you don't want none either. I won't say it was difficult last time at Hazeltine, but 6 rookies was certainly a big number.
However I saw in Medinah there was only one and it was difficult for Olly (Captain Jose-Maria Olazabal) to kind of appease everybody, so you need a little bit of everything.
Is there a perfect number? I don't know. I think you can have a rookie that is very mature and ready to play. When you go back in time then Luke Donald was a very mature player in 2004. I thought Rory was very mature when he came in 2010.
So you can have different types of rookies that are very much ready to play and could easily play five games and others who need eased into things bit more, but that's down very much to the personality of the player.
Are preparations on schedule for the Ryder Cup or is this a quieter time for you?
I'm right where I want to be!
Excellent. Glad to hear it! Thank you Thomas.
Reviews Of What's In Thomas Bjorn's Bag
Driver: Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver Review
Fairway: Callaway XR Pro Fairway Review
Hybrid: Callaway Big Bertha Heavenwood Review
Irons: Callaway Apex MB 2014 Irons
Putter: Callaway Odyssey O-Works Tank #1 Review
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft Ball Review
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