"Reflecting on Augusta and Building For the Future" With Maria Fassi

February 19, 2020
In this Episode
Maria Fassi's "Hello World" moment came at the 2019 Women's Am at Augusta, where she finished second. Now in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, she talks about the impact of equipment on her game, her rotation of putters and her connection to Team TaylorMade.

Trottie: Hello folks and welcome back to another edition of the team TaylorMade podcast. Chris Trott here, your host, as you should all know by now and I work out in the global tours servicing the game's greatest players for all their equipment needs. In addition to capturing some killer podcast content with some great people. Today's guest was the 2015 and ‘16 Mexican ladies champion, the 2018 first team All-American, 2019 NCAA women's D1 champion and is in her rookie season on the LPGA tour. Maria Fassi welcome to the pod and welcome to the top deck of the team TaylorMade trailer.

Fassi: Well yeah, it's just very exciting to be here with you and to finally get to see a trailer for the first time. It's pretty cool.

Trottie: I was going to say. How do you- I mean this view, if we take it in and we set the scene at the Floridian here being up like this is something else. What's it like to see a tour trailer for the first time? I believe.

Fassi: Yeah. I mean it's great just seeing how cool it is. And of course you can see it from very far since it sits up pretty high on the second floor here and it's cool with the glass so you can see outdoors and it's just pretty cool also to meet some of the people that work on the trailer and just getting to know more of a team TaylorMade family.

Trottie: Tell me about you and golf clubs because for me as well, we only met a little earlier. Are you much of a club tinkerer? Is it something that you know a lot about, some players know a ton about it. Others are like, help me deal with this or I don't want to know. How about you?

Fassi: Yeah. I think I just go off feel, I don't really ever look at numbers. I'll probably peak in for a few things, but I'm not a golf geek if you know what I mean. I think I'm just more of, okay, this feels good. This looks good. And if the guys who are fitting me say it's good, then I'll be okay with it. The one thing that I do play around a lot with is my putter. I switch putters quite often. I guess I get tired of the look. It doesn't matter if I'm putting well or not. I think putting is probably the only thing that I'm a little more-

Trottie: So even if you're putting well you might make a change as well?

Fassi: Yes. Yeah I get tired of the way a putter looks for some reason and of course keep the good putters at home and always kind of go back to those. I think I have like three or four putters that I kind of just rotate. But I think putting is probably the only thing that I'm really like a geek about. Like I really care about the little numbers and of course how it feels and how it looks and how it sits and all those things. But when it comes to my clubs and like wedges, irons and woods, it's just more of if I liked the ball flight and the guys back there say the numbers are well then I'll just carry on.

Trottie: So when you go through, just carrying on, are you a player that likes to shape the ball or are you a player that likes to just see straight? What's the, when is there any flag of like, hey, this might not work for me or this is excellent, I get it. You've got to satisfy the trackman and back there. But you're the player at the end of the day. So when do you overrule? Or has there ever been a situation where you overrule and say that doesn't hit the shape I want, I'm not doing it?

Fassi: Well. I'm scared of the left miss. So I, anytime I see something that wants to go left, I'll probably just try to see if we can find something different. I like to hit a little fade, especially with my driver. So I think that's kind of the shape that I try to look for. Even if it's just like a yard or two yard fade. But I like to see the ball kind of dying to the right. So if at any point I'll see something that's trying to go left, that'll definitely be a red flag for me.

Trottie: But obviously you're a great player and you've got yourself into this environment. As amateur golfers look on this, what can, obviously I want you to talk from a lady's perspective here. What can they expect to see from the new product? Is there anything that jumped out for you that the guys might not pick up on and you're like, hey this is pretty cool?

Fassi: Well I think, I mean just, I was actually testing out drivers with Beau Hossler today and just kind of hearing what he has to say. He to my eyes, he's more of a golf geek than I am for sure. And he was talking about the difference in spin and how he liked the ball flight and all those things. And for me I just like that even when I mishit the ball, like my miss was still the same. It was very consistent, a lot more forgiving for sure. And I know-

Trottie: Than previous product you've use.

Fassi: Yes.

Trottie: And did you notice twist face in there? You know, our twist face technology in the face. And that sounds to me like that's what you're talking about.

Fassi: Yes, absolutely. And even, I know we had the twist face on M5 and M6 but I think even more so now it's just very consistent, I picked up like 3 mph club head speed. I was at 106 with my driver, like on a normal basis. And after testing with the new product, I'm at 109.

Trottie: Wow!

Fassi: So that's of course...

Trottie: That's big deal for tour.

Fassi: I mean it's, it's pretty good. And I don't feel like I'm having to swing super hard or anything and it's on the range. I'm sure that's number's probably going to go up when I tee it up at a tournament. So I think that's pretty good. And I love the way it looks. That's big for me. It just sets up very nicely and it's like a lighter, color on the head. It's almost like a kind of like a dark grayish-

Trottie: Yeah, the chalk. It looks like those badass Porsche designs.

Fassi: Yes. So for me personally, I think if I set up to a club and I don't like it, it's going to be very rare that I'll stick with it. So for me that that was big and I'm just very excited to start using it next year.

Trottie: Do you know when I go into a pro shop and I obviously look at the products, I'm interested and I see it, I look at the ladies stuff and they've got different colors on them, different shafts, different grips, the clubs balance lighter. Is there anything else that you think that these companies should consider that should happen with ladies equipment or is it in the right place now you are different cat because obviously you're a tour player, but what about in general for equipment in the ladies game?

Fassi: I think for the most part, I think that your average club member they'll probably be perfectly fine with what's out there. I know for some golfers you're going to need a bigger head or lighter shaft or all these things. I think fitting even for amateur players it's pretty important because they don't practice as much and then if they go out and play with the wrong equipment then it's not going to work out for them. And I know for a fact that nobody likes to play bad.

When they go. I mean, I don't know. They play three, four times a month and if they go out there and play bad like that's not going to be very satisfying. So I think fitting, getting a fitting, it's pretty important for even for those amateur golfers. If it's just a fitting at a golf store or something like, it doesn't have to be super specific, but I think it's pretty cool. And for the ladies it's, I think we as, as an amateur golfer, you probably just go with what you have. But I think it's also important to give a little bit more attention. Yeah.

Trottie: Rory has just brought out a junior set and I don't know if you saw, he played in HSBC and there's a big push on his junior set out there. What did you do as a kid for golf clubs? Did you, were there just cut down ladies clubs or was there a junior option available back when you were, well a few years ago really, because you’re still very young. What did you do before you progressed into adult clubs?

Fassi: Yeah, I think my first set was probably a cut down set for sure. I don't think I had a junior set, especially the club that I grew up in, it's a very small course. It's only nine holes and maybe 150 members on a very good year. So we, I mean they didn't really have that many juniors, so we just play with what we had. So there were probably a very long, even though they were cut down, they were probably not. Not right for me. But that's what I started with. And then I think a couple years later I probably got like my first good set that was supposed to be finished for me. Yes.

Trottie: When you see these guys walking around the property, Dustin, Rory, is there anything that you want to ask them and have you ask them stuff about your golf game or traveling or anything and learn anything even from just this morning’s interactions?

Fassi: Yeah, I've actually talked quite a bit with Jason and Rory. We were kind of next to each other on a couple of the shoots this morning. And I've just been asking them like how many tournaments a year do they usually play and how do they, like how many weeks in a row will they play? Like if there's a major and then will they have it at the like the beginning of their three or four week run or would that be the last tournament they play in? So I'm just trying to see how like they, they all kind of schedule their year because I think that's pretty important.

I was kind of just looking over mine for next year, I was just kind of highlighting the ones that sound cool that I want to play in and I added them up and they were like 28 and I'm like okay, this is way too much. I don't know if I can do that many. And I was talking to them and I mean Rory, I think he played like 23 or 24 this year and he's like, and I'm exhausted.

So I think just learning from guys who got the experience that they have and just hearing what they have to say and the reasoning behind why they do those things. It's been pretty cool just for me to learn and I'm definitely not going to be playing 28 tournaments next year.

Trottie: What about analytics? Because Rory, I know plans his schedule based around knowing which golf courses fit the way he plays from his numbers. Do you keep analytics? Do you roughly know or have an idea? Okay, statistically this place is going to be good for my game?

Fassi: Yeah-

Trottie: Does that come into the decision?

Fassi: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I know there's a couple places that we went to this year that I know my game's not fit for those, so I'm like, okay, I'm not going to go back to those courses. I mean, I had a great time and people were amazing year-round, but just the course is not set up for it for the way I like to play the game.

So I think yea, though with the US I think that's going to be an easier decision for me to make. Like now, I have to go and I have to see the courses and I have to get those numbers and get the stats and be like, okay, yeah, this is not a good place for you. Or maybe this is an amazing place for you. Even if I didn't play as good this year or if I didn't like it or whatever. But if statistically it's a good for me, then it will definitely be something to consider. But I think, especially next year and maybe the year after that, it's just going to be like a trial and error kind of thing for me, just to really get in the groove of competition on the LPGA and what I want from just every week that I play.

Trottie: We did a really interesting podcast with Sean Foley in season one and Foles was touching on what he felt the differences were between LPGA and PGA and when he works with an LPGA player, the areas he wants to improve in their game versus the areas he wants to improve in the men's professional game. Do you see that there are areas on the lady's game already having spent a limited time on tour, but you need to improve there in order to achieve, I'm sure you have lofty goals. And are they different, you think from what the men's game is?

Fassi: Well, I think for, for a lot of the setups this year, I think, I mean the scores were very low.

Trottie: Yeah.

Fassi: So you of course you got to be making putts and, and that's always going to be something that every golfer's working on. Just trying to be making more putts and stuff. But I think for me and for what I've seen, I think I need to dial in my approach shots to the greens because I'm having shots from 80 to 130 yards like all the time. I rarely have a mid-iron. It's always short irons and wedges that I'm having to hit into the greens.

So I think if I can dial those and be very confident and comfortable over those, of course the putting is going to get easier because I'm going to be hitting it closer and having 10, 12 chances at birdie a round. So of course, you're not going to make all of them, but if you make six that's pretty good.

Trottie: Good number on board.

Fassi: Good number. Yeah. So I think I'm just very. I thought it was going to be a little bit different honestly. I thought it was going to maybe play a little bit longer and stuff like that. But it actually courses play a little bit shorter than I thought. So I just got to go back and really dial those in for next year.

Trottie: That's interesting. So coming out on tour, the whole environment of how the way course setup is different to what you considered. It's interesting and, I assume you are one of the longest players out there, right?

Fassi: Yeah. Yeah.

Trottie: Because you don't, you give it a crunch.

Fassi: I do. I enjoy doing that too. But yeah, I honestly thought it was, it was going to be a little bit longer than what it actually is. I mean like, like the US open and KPMG. I think those were the two that play the longest.

Trottie: And you played well at the US open.

Fassi: And I played pretty well at both of those. I think that's where I feel most comfortable, but that's not how it's going to be every week. So I got to get to be comfortable with when some of the shorter numbers as well.

Trottie: What about Lorena Ochoa, I mean, must've been an impact on you and a role model. Do you have a relationship? Are you guys talking, does she help you out at all?

Fassi: Yeah. Growing up she was what I wanted to be like and just both on and off the golf course. I mean she's an unbelievable player and it's just very exciting to be able to call her a friend. I think it's pretty cool. She's very close to me. My dad actually knows her from before. And growing up I was fairly close to her and now even more so I talk to her.

Trottie: Yeah.

Fassi: Very often actually. And it's just cool to ask questions and see like, hey, like how would you do this or what do you think about that? Or just hearing some stories that she has and how she went about things, especially her rookie year and the first few years of her career, it's been pretty important for me.

Trottie: What's the best piece of advice that she's given you?

Fassi: Well, she says that don't look to the side, just kind of stay on your lane, just do what you are doing. Because there's girls that are going to be on the range for eight hours and if that works for them, then that's fantastic. And then there's going to be girls who just warm up and go to the course and play nine holes and then come back the next day and are ready for a tournament.

So it's so different for everybody and she's just hey, just keep doing you don't be looking around like if maybe you see something that you think you might help you. Yeah. Like maybe give it a shot, but don't change it all out of nowhere because somebody else is doing it and they're being successful with it.

Trottie: Yeah. That's good advice. So we've got to go there because it's everyone’s listening to this mine included dream - Augusta. Playing Augusta must've been unbelievable. And to play in a tournament like that must've like tripled the experienced. Talk to us a bit about that.

Fassi: Yeah, it was so cool. It was my first time at Augusta. That was pretty special alone. And then of course getting to play the weekend before the masters and in front of 35,000 people. I've never seen so many people on a golf course. So that was super exciting as well. It was just a dream, it's really hard to put into words what that round meant.

And of course it didn't end up going my way, but I think it was for a reason. And I had a blast. I think I played as good as I could. I gave it all. I have no regrets, not one thing that I would want to change from that round at Augusta. And it was just so much fun to see that the support that we women’s golf got, and I think from there we were getting a lot more coverage and it's just exciting to see that people care about what we're doing and hopefully we can keep it going and make it keep growing.

Trottie: I think it was amazing that Augusta put that on. I think for the ladies’ game it was unbelievable. Your view on Augusta’s position with the ladies’ game, do you think it really is a needle mover for women's golf?

Fassi: Honestly I think it's a needle mover for women's sport. I think the fact that they opened the doors for us and they hosted such an amazing event. It just means so much. Many people would have never said that that was going to happen. And the fact that it did, they opened the doors for us. They went all out. I mean they didn't hold back with anything.

They treated us as good as you can ask for. And of course, having it the weekend before the Masters, I don't think the course is in, it's going to be in as good as shape as what we played in. So, I think it's big what they did. It's definitely something that's going to inspire hopefully some other people. And we can maybe like start a movement with that.

Trottie: Mexico City to becoming an Arkansas Razorback. I've been to Mexico city and I've been close to Arkansas. Very close. That's a serious transition. It's almost as much as me coming from the Wirral, England to Southern California. How do you wrap your head around that? You obviously I've heard and read you loved Arkansas and I believe that that experience from what I, what I'm sure everyone's heard and read really has impacted you as a person, but how did the girl from the city go to that, how did that happen?

Fassi: I don't know, there was a couple of Mexican girls on the team and in Arkansas at the time when I was being recruited and one of them, I'm very good friends with her brothers. They're a year older than me and we're all from like the same region. We played golf growing up, both regional tournaments and national tournament.

So I was pretty close with them and she's like, hey, this is an amazing place. Like just come look at it. And then the coach would also come, Arkansas’ coach Shauna would come to watch the Mexican ams as well. So she watched me play a couple times and I was like 14 at the time. I didn't really have a lot going for me to be honest. I hit it long, but that was probably about it.

Trottie: Were you using the cutdown clubs that were too big for you or were you in the ladies clubs at this point?

Fassi: I was in the ladies clubs, they were probably not good enough for me and I wasn't good enough for them. So let's not blame it on the clubs. I can do that all day, but I'll be real with you guys. And I think it was just a little bit of both. And yeah she watched me play and it just happened to be that there was a junior event 30 miles probably from school, from Arkansas. And my mom's like, hey, let's just go. We played the tournament and then we go visit this school. See what you think. We're all already there. Let's just.

So as we were kind of coming down on the plane, I was sitting by the window and I was just looking outside and all you could see were like cows and chicken farms and I was like, mom, where are we going? I was like, there is no way I am going to come to school here. Absolutely no way. There was nothing. It was just fields and-

Trottie: Completely different to Mexico City and the land there.

Fassi: And my mom's like, hey, you know what, we're already here. You don't have to come. You just go and take a look at the school, be polite to the people that are making this happen for us and then we can just go home. The fact that you've come to visit doesn't mean that you have to come here.

So I was okay. And we were supposed to meet with coach Shauna and coach Mike at the Blessings, which is our home course and we're driving on a two lane road with fields to the right, fields to the left, a couple of cows. And I was like, okay, whatever. And we pulled into the Blessings and it's just so hard to explain. You pull in and it's this super modern clubhouse and you can kind of see a little bit of the course, like the 18th hole and it's just, everything's perfect.

People at the gate are like, okay, like, yeah, we're expecting you. Like please pull to the left. And then I see Mike and Shauna and I kind of meet them for the first time and they showed me around and I just fell in love, with the place, yes. But more importantly with the people, they just made me feel like I belonged. From the course, we then drove to campus and they showed me around and then we met some of the people that help us in academics and then our trainers and nutritionist and all those things and everybody was just so happy to work there.

It seemed like just a big family and everybody just super welcoming and happy to be showing me around. And the girls on the team the same thing. They were all super nice and they're like, hey, if you have any questions, like you can always reach out to us.

And it was just a very nice culture that they had going. And I was like okay mom, maybe I'll take all that back and consider coming to Arkansas. That was the first school I visited and...

Trottie: Left an impression because obviously then when you went on, it ends up being where you go. Right so-

Fassi: Yeah. Shauna offered me my scholarship right away and she's like, hey, I know you're super young, you're only 14 so I'll give you a year. The scholarships yours for a year. Go look around, see other places, see what you think. And the only thing that she asked, she said if you're thinking about going somewhere else before you commit to them, please give me a call and tell me if there's anything that I can do to change your mind. So it was like, okay, thank you, I appreciate that.

And then I went to maybe six or seven other visits and every single one of them they offered me and they're like, okay, you can sign here if you want to come. I was like, okay, let me think about it maybe. Everything was so rushed with some of those other schools. So, I think I really valued and respected also that from Shauna, that she's like, Hey, and-

Trottie: Which is a big deal.

Fassi: She said I know we have it good here. I know there's not going to be another place that has it better than us, but it's not fair for me to just pressure you into deciding.

So I think that just, she was so humane and it was nice to get that feel from her, like she really wanted me but it wasn't going to be the end for her. Where at with some of the other schools that I went to, it kind of felt that way. So I'm very happy that I ended up in Arkansas, it was definitely an amazing three and a half years that I was there.

Trottie: Everyone who goes there seems to speak the same and obviously John Daley is a big guy, a big character around there. You got any John Daley, have you met him? Are there any stories have you seen him at all around campus there or in Arkansas?

Fassi: Yeah. He comes to the football games and when he comes, I mean there's times that he'll go in and play like in the morning and then just go to the games. But I haven't personally met him yet, but I've heard a lot of fun stories from him.

Trottie: Yeah. He's a good guy. So now we look at TaylorMade and obviously I think all of us here hope that we can fulfill a little bit of that. Sounds like just a fraction of the role that Arkansas did for you. If we can become your family as a pro, I know we'd absolutely want to do that. But what made your decision to join TaylorMade? It sounds like you are a deep thinker. You consider so much to go to Arkansas and become a Razorback. What made that decision to trust our company with the tools of your trade, which is important as a pro?

Fassi: Well, I think one of the main things, the first good set that I got growing up was TaylorMade. I was a nice fitting and it just happened to be that TaylorMade was the brand that worked with what they saw. So I was comfortable with the product. I've only played three brands mainly growing up. So I knew I wanted to stay around those same brands because I didn't want to really make a big change for money in my professional career because I think I can do better with what I know than just chasing after a good paycheck.

If we're going with a brand, I want to stay with like these three brands that I know I've played and that I'm comfortable with and I can play most of their stuff. But TaylorMade, I don't know, it was different.

Like I had, I remember when I was a junior TaylorMade Mexico kind of helped me out a little bit. So I had a relationship with them and they were great. They were just very nice people. And again just super excited to be doing what they're doing. And I think I really respect and admire that I guess because it's a constant in when it comes to making decisions. I really like people who like to work and like to do what they're doing and you can feel that.

So, for me, when we were talking to a couple companies and just looking at making a decision for clubs, I was okay, I think TaylorMade is going to be up there. And I know my agent he has such a long relationship with TaylorMade with some of the players that he's had and he's like, you're not going to find better people out here than TaylorMade.

And I know a couple other people that also had TaylorMade in the past or currently in. And they're like it's whatever you want. You get there. It's nice, it's quick. They, it doesn't matter if you're Tiger Woods or if you're just a rookie on the LPGA, they treat you the same. So I think that's, that's pretty cool how it all kind of went down and I'm just very happy that I ended up going with TaylorMade.

Trottie: We're very happy you're here and I know Wade downstairs our head tech, he'll be over the moon that you use that Tiger Woods line because he likes to think that he treats everyone the same and it's super important to us because all you guys are, you're all going for the same thing. So what can we expect to see from Maria Fassi as we move forward? What do you want to be? What do you want to put onto the tour and what do you want to stand for in pro golf?

Fassi: Well, I'm really hardworking, so you'll see a lot of that. I'm a fierce player. I like to go at it, I like to rip and of course with good equipment like I'm going to have for next year. It's going to be great to be able to rip it and just be-

Trottie: We like rippers. That works.

Fassi: Be having fun. Yes. But I think for me it's just going to be like, I'll be giving it my all when I'm out there and I always try to keep a smile on my face regardless of how golf is going. I think I'm just very lucky to be where I am. So for me it's just going to be a lot of that. Just a smile on my face, playing happy golf and I'm just trying to help the game grow, especially on the women's side.

Trottie: That's awesome. So we always wrap these podcasts up with speed injected questions and don't be too scared now. You should be fine. So Torrey Pines or Bethpage?

Fassi: Torrey Pines.

Trottie: Would you rather lead the tour in strokes gained off the tee or strokes gained putting?

Fassi: Off the tee. That’s probably the wrong answer, but-

Trottie: That's good.

Fassi: It's Okay.

Trottie: You're a ripper. I like it. The one course you could play every day for the rest of your life?

Fassi: Augusta National.

Trottie: Messi or Ronaldo?

Fassi: Ronaldo.

Trottie: I know that you're a big soccer fan.

Fassi: Yes big time.

Trottie: Window or aisle?

Fassi: Window.

Trottie: Number of career hole in ones?

Fassi: One.

Trottie: What would you shoot lefty?

Fassi: I wouldn't hit the ball. So a lot.

Trottie: Favorite TV, Netflix show right now?

Fassi: Schitt's Creek.

Trottie: Mallet or blade putter?

Fassi: Mallet.

Trottie: Beach or the mountains?

Fassi: Mountains.

Trottie: And the one shot in your career, which I know is so far, we'll take amateur career as well. Since you've ever played golf, you wish you had could have a Mulligan on?

Fassi: Wait, that's a hard one.

Trottie: I know, do you want me to tell you what some other people answered?

Fassi: Yes.

Trottie: Might. It's not for me to answer so you can answer it the same if you'd like. But I sat here with some of the best players in the game and a couple of them said they wouldn't have a Mulligan because golf is what it is. And I think that's a cool answer.

Fassi: Yeah. I think that what makes it hard.

Trottie: Yeah.

Fassi: Because let's go back to Augusta. Like of course, yeah, there's probably a couple shots that I could've hit better for sure.

Trottie: But then it's not golf.

Fassi: But I wouldn't change it because it would be different. Yeah,

Trottie: It's cool.

Fassi: I think that's a great answer for whoever said it. Thank you.

Trottie: You’re in good company. Trust me.

Fassi: Yes.

Trottie: I think it's brilliant. It's so, so much for the golf and I think sitting down here with you and this is the first time I've really got to talk to you. I'm super excited about the future.

Fassi: Thank you. Yeah.

Trottie: I think you're going to fit in great around here and I'm super excited to watch what goes on and honestly I know Wade and I said it before we got rolling. You are welcome on this trailer anytime we are anywhere near where you are. Cruise on, come to play the PlayStation.

Fassi: There you go.

Trottie: We’d love to see you. Thanks for coming on the podcast. Guys, this was Maria Fassi. She can be found on Instagram @MariaFassi1, of course it's the number one. And you can follow myself @TrottieGolf where I'll be capturing some of the stuff from the PGA tour @TaylorMadeGolf for the main handle, and we can also be found at SoundCloud, Spotify, all the usual places. Hope you enjoyed this episode, Maria. Thanks for swinging by. Awesome to have you enjoy the rest of your time here at the shoot.

Fassi: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me. This was very cool.