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Rory McIlroy’s putter builder speaks on his winning TaylorMade Soto proto

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It’s no secret that Rory McIlroy’s biggest weakness has historically been with his putter. But ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he won by two shots, McIlroy made a putter switch and ended up with just 100 putts for the week — the lowest in his PGA Tour career. He also finished first in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, and put on a putting display for the ages on Sunday to shoot 64 (he birdied 5 of the final 6 holes).

Related: Rory’s Winning WITB from the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational 

What’s so special about this putter? To figure that out, I spoke with TaylorMade’s International Tour Director Chris Trott, who worked directly with McIlroy on building his new putter.

Trott explains that McIlroy showed up to Bay Hill “with a different kind of confidence” that week. His caddie, Harry Diamond, showed up to the TaylorMade Tour Truck on Monday night (McIlroy wasn’t on site Monday) with a previous putter of McIlroy’s — a Scotty Cameron that he won multiple majors with, according to Trott — and he wanted to have a new putter built that matched up with the specs of it. “He came with a plan and he wanted to be on spec,” says Trott. So the TaylorMade team sent Harry off to the hotel Monday night with a TaylorMade TP Soto with no face insert, one with an insert, some other variations, and they sent him back to the hotel with a few Spiders, as well, according to Trott.

But since Trott says that McIlroy liked the feel of his previous gamer, Trott thought it was best to send a request back to TaylorMade’s offices in Carlsbad for a TP Black Copper Soto with a midslant neck and a Suryln insert in preparation for McIlroy’s arrival the next day. “Nine out of 10 times we already have a head with the insert in it [inside the tour truck], but this putter is so new,” says Trott. “It’s not even out yet.”

Trott says McIlroy showed up to the Tour Truck the next morning, but he “wasn’t enamored” with the options, although he did fancy the solid face Soto. Here’s the photo notes that Trott took of the solid-faced Soto that McIlroy liked.

Good thing Trott sent that request back to the office, though! The first words out of McIlroy’s mouth when he saw the new TP Black Copper Soto slant neck proto with the Suryln insert, according to Trott, were “Hmm, that’s nice.” But he wanted to tweak the specs. He wanted the putter an eighth of an inch shorter and 3-to-4 swingweight points lighter. Eventually, Trott also added 0.25 degrees of loft to the face compared to McIlroy’s gamer, and made it 1-degree more upright.

The new putter Trott concocted also had a Golf Pride Tradition grip on it, and McIlroy had him change it to a TaylorMade Red Cap Pistol grip.

So, McIlroy took to the putting green with the solid face Soto and the Black Copper slant neck proto with the Surlyn insert. After a few drills, McIlroy decided he liked the feel and look of the Trott concoction, and while he really liked the Black Copper finish, he did have concerns about how it would hold up in the weather.

In the end, McIlroy decided on the TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto proto. Here are the photo notes that Trott took from inside the trailer while holding McIlroy’s (eventual) winning putter.

The numbers in the photo above mean the specs of McIlroy’s putter are as follows:

  • Weight: 508.3 grams
  • Swing weight: D1
  • Lie angle: 71.25 degrees
  • Loft: 2.75 degrees
  • Length: 34.25 inches

Here are photos that we shot of the putter on Tuesday of the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play:

It’s safe to say McIlroy made the right decision for Bay Hill, and according to Trott, he’ll likely be sticking with the putter going forward. And if not, surely Trott and his team will be there with 7-10 more putter options for McIlroy to try out and hand-pick from. Must be nice to be Rory!

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about Rory’s putter in our forums.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. todd page

    Mar 30, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    It’s basically a Scotty Monterey 1.5 just different color.

  2. Brando

    Mar 22, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    The putter has a flow neck different from the plumbers neck he has used in the past so it is a different style putter. Also you can take any off the rack quality milled anser style putter And adjust loft and lie cut it down lengthin it add weight ect to get it just how you want it like the pros do. Is not rocket science just make sure the guy adjusting loft and lie knows what he’s doing getting harder to find knowledgeable clubfitters these days and not a kid at Golf Galaxy whoes only been changing grips for a few weeks. Sweet putter hope Rory keeps it’s flowing he may be the best in the World when he’s playing like last week.

  3. Branden

    Mar 21, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    So Rory basically designed his own version of a Nike Method Core but in the Method Matter color?
    Looks identical, except with “Taylor Made” stamped on it.

  4. Tom

    Mar 21, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Basically a Scottsdale Anser head?

  5. Daniel

    Mar 21, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    The real question is whether the new putter or the lesson from Faxon resulted in the great putting performance.

  6. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Mar 21, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    A very nice putter, but ultimately it is the putting stroke more than it is the putter itself. He admitted he was putting less mechanically, and more with “feeling”. I think that had more to do with how well he putted than the new putter.

  7. joseph dreitler

    Mar 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks much for this article. Really enjoyed this story to see how exacting this Tour pro is about his equipment and what is involved and the various steps for the manufacturer and their Tour reps making him what he wants. And how incredibly customized for a specific pro it is by the manufacturer, in this case TaylorMade. The average amateur is not going to be able to buy such highly customized equipment like that from any mass producer, not that it would make a lot of difference. But given that you cannot buy that highly customized equipment – or have TaylorMade customize it just for you like Rory does, why in the world does it matter if I play the exact ball Rory is hitting with his clubs that I cannot buy? Tour Pros at that level are playing a totally different game and the fact that I can buy the ball they are playing is immaterial to me. The football used by Division 1 colleges is not as large as the NFL ball.

  8. Jim

    Mar 21, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Lovely putter (can you say “Ping”?), but speaking only for myself, I don’t like face inserts. Give me a plain old solid hunk of forged/milled metal – no inserts or fancy medallions.

    • +1

      Mar 21, 2018 at 4:39 pm

      I can putt better than you and most on this forum and using a cheap zinc die-cast putter from Walmart….. wanna bet?!!

      • Barack Obama

        Apr 2, 2018 at 8:47 am

        What a useless post… kinda like my presidency.

  9. Andre J Park

    Mar 21, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Newbie here, 508gms total weight of putter? Why are all store putters so light? 340gms is the norm. All the heavier putters,piretti,scotty,custom,are too expensive. Any putters that are heavier but, affordable out there?

    • Tim Armington

      Mar 21, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Rory is actually using a light putter compared to whats out there. Those were overall weights given on Rors putter. The 375 Piretti weights that u speak of are head weights only.

    • KM

      Apr 12, 2018 at 1:35 am

      350 for the head,120 for the shaft, 50 for the grip.

  10. Adam

    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    This is literally just the Taylormade Classic 79 Tm-180 which you can snag on ebay for 50 bucks….
    The only difference is the weights like a scotty.

  11. ogo

    Mar 21, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Custom fit custom machined prototype tour only putters have that special mojo that off-the-shelf mass produced putters just don’t have. A Scotty store bought putter is nowhere close to a custom fit custom machined Scotty. Live with that gearheads … 😛

  12. Jordan

    Mar 21, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Wow D1. We’re all out here playing E0 and heavier putters. Also interesting that Rory went from near face balanced mallet to a full arc blade… although it still didn’t look like on some of his putts that he takes a really strong arc. Whatever works I guess.

    • DB

      Mar 21, 2018 at 8:37 am

      Yes, that’s a good point. Most retail putters these days are pushing into the E range. Many of the 35″ ones are E4 or more. Total weights are often 540+.

      Yet on tour you see Rory with D1. Total weight only 508. I’ve heard Tiger’s putter is something like D6/7. Same for Fowler.

      • Jordan

        Mar 21, 2018 at 9:32 am

        The new Ping Vault 2.0 Dale Anser in 35 inches is E7 lol with a 350g head. The grip is only like 50g of foam though. Based on Rory’s swing weight for 34.25 inches and that grip probably weighs around 70grams… i’m guessing that the headweight is around 340g.

  13. Foo

    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Now this is a WRX article! None of that Eldrick this and that BS talk! This site should all be about this kind of tech and club stuff! Awesome!

  14. bb

    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:37 am

    what a head case…i’m sure he said the same thing about the semi-mallet he used when he won the tour championship…that worked out really well long term

  15. Lonzie McCants

    Mar 20, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Yep!!!! He won with this putter. But, if you can’t put, Rory’s putter will not help you win a tournament.

  16. robert

    Mar 20, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    There ya go, gearheads…. only a custom fit/built putter is any good.
    All yer off-the-shelf Scotty’s, Betty’s, Pingy’s are misfits for your unique putting stroke. Yer WITB is filled with craap putters …. :-p

  17. TMAC

    Mar 20, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    If he liked his Scotty so much that he basically wanted a copy of it made, why not just putt with the Scotty?
    TM making him use one of their putters? 14 club deal?

    • Scott

      Mar 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      Yes, he’s being forced by TM and taking the $ to do it.

  18. john peterson

    Mar 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Rory won by three shots…do you guys actually watch golf or even read about it?

  19. Tom

    Mar 20, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    a good looking great performing putter that isn’t a scotty

  20. Kevin Arnold

    Mar 20, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    It’s the Dunlop Loco putter circa 2003…..C’mon Taylor Made, how many times can you rebrand a Walmart putter, and in the end, it’s still a Walmart putter.

  21. Christopher

    Mar 20, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    It’s a lovely looking putter, but the red insert has a bit of a budget look to it. Even though some top designers have used red inserts, it looks a bit cheap. Not that it matters one bit if the putts drop like they did for Rory.

    • Foo

      Mar 21, 2018 at 12:52 am

      It ain’t PXG! lmao

    • Someone

      Mar 21, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      I agree. I think because it’s surlyn it kind of cheapens the look. I putt with a seemore and it’s got an insert as well, and it gets worn from lots of play, so you can’t see the marks on it. Overtime, as much as he plays, I wonder if he’ll have to replace the insert at regular intervals…considering it’s a plastic and not a metal.

      • Bob Parson Jr.

        Mar 22, 2018 at 4:17 pm

        Yeah, like Scotty’s GSS double sided taped inserts? Right!

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Equipment

Mizuno JPX 919 Tour Forged, 919 Forged, and 919 Hot Metal hit USGA’s conforming list

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As alerted by our always investigative GolfWRX Forum Members, three new Mizuno JPX irons have shown up recently on the USGA Conforming Clubs list; JPX 919 Forged (there is no image of the RH version, but there is of the LH), JPX 919 Hot Metal (and LH), and a JPX 919 Tour Forged iron.

Although still unannounced and unreleased by Mizuno, it’s likely these JPX 919 irons will be the replacements for the previous JPX 900 series. If you remember, Brooks Koepka won back-to-back U.S. Opens using JPX 900 Tour irons; now, it seems there may be a replacement for that iron on the way, judging by the USGA Conforming List.

Check out the Mizuno JPX 919 irons below, as listed on the USGA Confirming list.

Mizuno JPX 919 Forged

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal

Mizuno JPX 919 Tour Forged

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the USGA photos.

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SPOTTED: Srixon “Z785” and “Z585” irons

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Photos have recently popped up in our GolfWRX Forums of Srixon “Z785” and “Z585” irons. It’s been nearly two years since the company released it’s previous Z565, Z765 and Z965 irons, so it’s possible (if not likely), based on nomenclature, these could be the replacements for that series.

The photos in our forums show Z785 short irons (5-PW) and Z785 long irons (4 and 3), but it does not appear that the Z785 irons shown in the photos are driving irons, so it’s likely these photos come from a mixed set.

We do not have any official tech or release information about new irons from Srixon at this time, so we’re left to speculate for the time being. What do you think about the photos of these Srixon “Z785” and “Z585” irons?

Check out the photos of each below, and click here for more photos and discussion.

Srixon “Z785” irons

 

Srixon “Z585” irons

Click here for more photos and discussion.

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Equipment

Michael Kim on why he switched to a Titleist TS2 driver, and the change he’s making for The Open

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Michael Kim set a tournament scoring record at the John Deere Classic last week, so, needless to say, the UC Berkeley alum was firing on all cylinders.

With respect to one of those cylinders, Kim, historically not a great driver of the golf ball, was 34th in Strokes Gained off the tee and tied for second in driving accuracy with a new Titleist TS2 driver in his bag last week. For reference, he’s 192nd in Strokes Gained off the tee and 183rd in driving accuracy for the season. In other words, while Kim’s incredible putting (+13.51 strokes gained: putting) helped, the Titleist TS2 driver he began experimenting with at the FedEx St. Jude Classic also played a role.

We caught up with Kim by phone from Carnoustie and asked him about the decision to put the new TS2 in play.

“When I hit it, I liked it right away. I noticed the biggest difference on mishits. On my old driver, the ball speed would drop a little bit on a toe or heel hit, but with the new one, you barely saw any [drop in ball speed]. And it was definitely going straighter off the mishits. Straighter and longer, honestly.”

“Generally, I don’t make a switch, especially with the driver mid-year, but I put it right in play. And I’m working on some new things with my swing…I kind of turned the corner at the Quicken Loans…obviously hit it great at the Deere.”

“I tried the TS3, but it was a little too low spin for me. So we kept the same shaft [Aldila Rogue Black 60X] and I think it’s the same setting.”

Kim also mentioned he’s putting a steel-shafted driving iron in play for The Open this week–on the recommendation of a guy who knows a thing or two about playing well at the British Open.

“Zach Johnson told me on the plane ride here that I should maybe try a driving iron. So…I got out here and I asked to try a couple of different driving irons…On Tuesday, I tried out a couple of different T-MBs…2-iron, 3-iron. The 2-iron was going way too far, so I tried the 3-iron on the golf course. The way the course is set up, it’s just so firm…It’ll be great if there’s some wind. Exactly what I’m looking for. I’ll put it in play and I’ll probably use it a decent amount throughout the week.”

With respect to Kim’s wedge setup, Vokey Wedge rep, Aaron Dill, offered this comment

“Michael Kim has a really good short game that shows tremendous confidence. Michael uses a great system with his gap wedge having higher bounce, this help with flight and consistency, his 56 is high bounce for bunker and all shots needing extra bounce, and his 60 is a low bounce L for all tighter conditions and shots that need easy and fast lift. The beauty of this setup is it covers multiple shot window and types.”

We’ll see how it works out for him. Kim is competing in his first Open Championship. He tees off at 9:04 a.m. local time with Ryuko Tokimatsu and Chez Reavie.

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