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.
Minor equipment changes can make a big difference. Back in October, Nelly Korda made adjustments to her driver and gained 10 yards. Last week, Scottie Scheffler followed a similar script and picked up an additional 10 after making one significant (albeit small) alteration to his TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver at the WM Phoenix Open.
What made the most recent driver change interesting was the fact Scheffler chose to conduct testing the week of a tournament, something he rarely does during the course of the season.
“I definitely will test stuff,” Scheffler told GOLF.com. “But I don’t love doing it at a tournament. So if anybody wants me to test anything, I’ll do it at home. I want to use the best stuff, so I’ll happily test. I like new gear. Gotta try and get better.”
Scheffler made the switch to Stealth 2 Plus at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but the spin rate was bordering on the higher side. When he arrived on site at TPC Scottsdale, he quickly linked up with TaylorMade Tour rep Adrian Rietveld to conduct additional testing in an attempt to knock off the extra RPMs.
“When we got onsite at Phoenix, I went to the truck and built what I thought would be best for Scottie based on our last month of interactions,” said Rietveld. “We took it to the range and threw it on the TrackMan. We got launch where we wanted by dictating the 8-degree loft, but it seemed like the spin was just a little higher than he would want. He liked hitting it so much though, that he just kept swinging it and then took it to the course for a practice round.”
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At the time, Scheffler’s driver featured two adjustable weights — a 15-gram front weight (in the sliding track) and 22g back weight. With more weight situated toward the rear, Rietveld was able to see how the weight configuration added extra spin across the board. After talking with Scheffler, he returned to the truck and came back with several different weight options.
Too much spin can be rectified in a number of different ways. In Scheffler’s case, repositioning an additional 3 grams in the front track (18-gram weight) — to go along with a 19-gram back weight — allowed him to drop 200 RPMs of spin and lower launch.
While the launch and spin numbers might seem insignificant, the end result left Scheffler impressed when he put both drivers to the test on the last two holes at TPC Scottsdale.
“Bang, 10 yards farther with the new Stealth 2,” Rietveld said. “We go to the 17th tee, an iconic hole on this course, same thing. The 18th hole, same thing. We were confident that with the launch characteristics and on-course performance this driver would be going into play.”
More distance is always a welcome sight, especially when it comes with hardware on Sunday.
The above photo is a common sight when Hideki Matsuyama is in the field, but it’s worth adding some context. Yes, Hideki likes to test equipment, including different driver shafts. Most of the time it’s different Graphite Design models in various weights.
While he generally sticks with Graphite Design’s AD-DI 8TX, the different weight options give him the opportunity to see if there’s a better shaft weight for his Srixon ZX5 LS MKII driver. For the most part, he’s found the heavier 8TX to be the best option for his distinctive tempo.
That being said, Hideki is never afraid to test something out of it’s a noticeably better fit for the course setup. So he brings a mass of shafts each week for testing on the range. Whatever works for Hideki.
Crank it up
The thinner air can add a degree of difficulty to club selection at TPC Scottsdale. It’s not uncommon for pros to increase launch at the top of the bag to maintain a steep landing angle.
For Rory McIlroy, that meant going back to TaylorMade’s P760 in the 3- and 4-iron for “a bit more flight.”
“I feel by going back to that [TaylorMade P760] long iron in the 3- and the 4-iron, just to give me a bit more extra flight into the par-5s,” he said. “I feel like sometimes with the 3- and the 4-iron in the blades they can come in a little flat at times, where the par-5 and the second shots into the par-5s specifically this week are very, very important, so I thought having a little bit more flight on those long irons could be helpful.”
In addition to fitting the layout at TPC Scottsdale, McIlroy noted the P760 has a more compact look he prefers at address.
“It’s a little bit of a shorter blade length,” he said. “Sometimes the newer models, whether it be the 770 or the 790, it’s a bit of a longer blade length, and I feel like the toe just wants to close over on me a little. Instead of having to mess around with weighting or different shafts or anything, I’ve played those 760s before, and they’ve worked really well. It was just an easy transition.”
Quick-hitters: Tyrrell Hatton and Patrick Rodgers transitioned into Titleist’s 2023 Pro V1x. … Tommy Fleetwood had multiple TaylorMade putters in tow, early in the week, but ultimately stuck with his trusty Odyssey White Hot Pro #3. … Hideki Matsuyama was spotted testing a flow neck Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter. … Bryson DeChambeau, who no longer has an equipment deal with Cobra, made a trip to Phoenix to test Ping equipment at their headquarters.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.