Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday morning gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
Nelly Korda’s equipment future is settled for the next few years. Over the weekend, Korda announced she had parted ways with Swedish clothing company J.Lindberg to sign a lucrative deal with apparel giant Nike.
On Monday, she made an even more intriguing move, inking a multi-year deal with TaylorMade Golf — GOLF.com first reported the impending signing on Saturday — to play all 14 clubs, including the TP5 golf ball.
Korda ascended to the top spot in women’s golf during her time with Titleist, but according to the 24-year-old, she saw the opportunity to take her game to new heights with TaylorMade’s equipment.
“I signed with TaylorMade because of their proven ability to elevate the game of the best golfers in the world,” she said. “In testing with the TaylorMade Tour Team, it was clear that not only was I working with high-performing equipment, but also a team that shared my passion for working as hard as possible to be in the best position to win. I’m thrilled to be a part of Team TaylorMade.”
This week’s Tournament of Champions event in Orlando will be Korda’s first official start with new TaylorMade gear, but she’s spent the better part of a month testing and getting acclimated to the new setup at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.
According to TaylorMade, Korda plans to replace her lightweight Titleist TSR1 driver with the draw-biased Stealth 2 HD (9 degrees), and TS-Series (TSi2 and TSR2) fairway woods with Stealth 2 (15 and 21 degrees). A blended set of P770 (5-6)/P7MC (7-PW) irons and Milled Grind 3 wedges (50, 54 degrees) round out the setup. (With no mention of a lob wedge, it’s very likely Korda will retain a Vokey WedgeWorks prototype for the moment.)
And then there’s the switch from Titleist’s Pro V1 to the TaylorMade TP5. Nothing is more important for elite pros than getting in sync with a new ball. For Korda, it very likely is the gear change that defines her switch to TaylorMade.
One of us
Major equipment manufacturers have been unveiling new clubs at a furious clip over the last few weeks, including Callaway and Ping. While weekend golfers have to wait until the official retail drop to get their hands on Paradym and G430, pros have the luxury of testing literally everything before we even know what’s coming to market.
The thought of testing every available driver might sound daunting to some golfers — but former Masters champion Adam Scott isn’t one of them. The Aussie posted an Instagram snap from an early-week practice session in Hawaii with the caption, “Now testing.”
Resting comfortably in Scott’s bag were three drivers: TaylorMade’s Stealth Plus, Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond and Ping G430 LST. Scott, who was already using Stealth Plus, wanted to know how a few of the new low-spin offerings stacked up against his gamer.
In the end, Scott opted to stick with Stealth Plus. Testing can be lots of fun, but as Scott’s latest session revealed, a well-fit gamer is always going to be tough to beat.
Callaway’s Paradym Triple Diamond driver has been on Tour for two weeks and already has two wins (Jon Rahm and Si Woo Kim). It’s safe to say Callaway’s latest low-spin creation is starting to heat up.
Along with Kim, Callaway Tour rep Joe Toulon confirmed over 70 percent of staffers switched to Paradym during the first full-field Tour event of 2023. Several non-contract players — a good barometer for how a driver is performing in head-to-head testing — also chose to give Paradym a shot in competition, including Jimmy Walker and MJ Daffue.
“It’s a very good percentage at this early stage of the product,” Toulon told GOLF.com via text.
Return to form?
Chris Kirk won three of his four PGA Tour titles playing Callaway equipment and wearing TravisMathew apparel. At the Sony Open, the 37-year-old confirmed he was returning to Callaway and TravisMathew for 2023.
“This is my first week back,” Kirk confirmed. “I spent some years on staff with Callaway Golf, and wore TravisMathew clothing for probably my first nine years on tour. This is my first week back with both of those companies, as a staff player for Callaway Golf, wearing TravisMathew clothing. Yeah, definitely been excited about that and excited to get going.”
Kirk wasted little time acclimating to new gear as he logged a third-place finish at the Sony Open, his best showing since a runner-up result at the 2016 Sanderson Farms Championship.
Sony runner-up Hayden Buckley posted the best finish of his PGA Tour career with Titleist’s Pro V1 in the bag. Buckley admitted he usually prefers to keep the tinkering to a minimum. However, after testing Pro V1 at home, the results swayed him to make a ball change for the first time in four years.
“I really don’t like change at all,” he said. “I think most of my clubs stay the same. The ball stayed the same for four years. But seeing things improve, and I saw it in the driver, I’m seeing it in the ball. Seeing things improve and knowing that people are back home really testing these things out and putting a lot of time and effort into, it’s really comforting to me knowing that I’m playing the absolute best.”
Performance was good across-the-board during testing, especially with the driver, a club he’s come to rely on.
“With the ‘23 ball, I saw ball flight was a little bit higher, which was nice. I saw the spin come down a little bit. I’m a high-spin guy. So, for me, it’s very tough when it’s very windy. And I looked at, left and right wise, I saw the ball being a little bit tighter. A lot of shots were catching the edge of the green instead of missing. And really just around the greens, it was perfect. Everything that I wanted. But for me, the driver’s a very important thing, and it’s one of my strengths. And I saw a little bit more speed with the new ball, which I don’t think anybody complains about more speed. And a little bit of spin off. I was spinning the driver quite a bit, and I saw that spin come down a little bit. And that’s something that we all look for.”
A total of 29 players in the field used either Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x prototypes in Hawaii.
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