[PHOTO: Julio Aguilar]

The equipment team at Golf Digest is relentless in its position that if you don’t get fit for your clubs you are probably doing your game a huge disservice. Part of that process, along with getting the proper shaft, length, lie angle, etc. is getting the right 14 clubs in your bag.

A common mistake everyday players make is thinking of their clubs as a “set”. Instead, a better approach is to think of them as 14 individual clubs, each suited to perform a specific task. It is a mindset that contributed mightily to Peter Malnati’s win at the Valspar Championship.

How’s that, you say? Turns out there’s a backstory to the 5-iron Malnati struck at the 17th hole on the last day at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course that led to the birdie that thrust him into the lead for good.

Malnati uses a blended set of Titleist irons – a T200 4-iron, T150 5-iron, T100 in the 6 to 9-irons with True Temper AMT Tour White S400 shafts. He also uses a Vokey SM10 48-degree wedge as his pitching wedge.

The clubs Peter Malnati used to win the 2024 Valspar Championship

Tied for the lead on the 181-metre par 3, Malnati used his T150 5-iron, staked his tee shot to six feet and converted the birdie putt to go ahead by one shot with one hole to play. Malnati’s T150 5-iron was a new addition to his bag this season that he first put it in play at the Sony Open in Hawaii seeking more height and forgiveness.

“I’ve played a T200 4-iron for several generations, and that’s a great transition for me because it’s a little bit more forgiving, but just easy height,” he said. “I was like, If the 150 is kind of in the middle, would that be a nice transition to go to that in the 5-iron? So J.J. [Van Wezenbeeck, Titleist’s director of player promotions] sent me one, just purely experimental, but instantly, my carry distance was the same, but launch was a little higher and height was a little higher. I can easily make it go lower if I need to, but I can’t necessarily easily make it go higher if I need to. So that club, having the same look and feel as my [T100] 5-iron, but just launching it a little higher without losing any speed or carry distance seemed like a no brainer.”

Said Malnati of his crucial 5-iron at 17: “I remember telling my caddie I needed to make a 2 – I needed to hit it 208 [yards]. And 208 is a pretty big 5-iron for me, but in the situation I was in, it was just a very normal 5-iron… But that was really fun in that moment to just step up, not overthink it, just, It’s a full 5-iron at the TV tower, go. And to watch that ball fly was a really cool feeling, to have it like tracking [towards] the hole there, that was really nice.”

Think about your clubs like Malnati does and you might have more nice moments as well.