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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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pga tour

K.J. Choi WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Valero Texas Open (4/18/2018).

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-6x

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ozik Matrix MFS M5 60X

3 Wood: Ping G400 (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7x

5 Wood: Ping G400 (17.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8x

Hybrid: Ping G400 (22 degrees)
Shaft: Atlus Tour H8

Irons: Ping G400 (4-PW)
Shaft: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 120X

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50-12SS, 54-12SS, 58-10)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping Sigma G Wolverine T
Grip: Ping Pistol

Putter: Ping PLF ZB3
Grip: Super Stroke KJ

Putter: Ping Sigma Vault Anser 2
Grip: Ping Pistol

WITB Notes: We spotted Choi testing a number of clubs at the Valero Texas Open. We will update this post when we have his 14-club setup confirmed. 

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Choi’s clubs. 

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Equipment

Titleist AVX golf balls passed the test, are now available across the United States

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Titleist’s AVX golf balls first came to retail as an experiment in three markets — Arizona, California and Florida — from October 2017 to January 2018. AVX (which stands for “Alternative to the V and X”) are three-piece golf balls made with urethane covers, and they’re made with a softer feel for more distance than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.

After proving their worth to consumers, Titleist’s AVX golf balls are now available across the U.S. as of April 23, and they will sell for 47.99 per dozen (the same as Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls) in both white and optic yellow.

According to Michael Mahoney, the Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing for Titleist, the AVX is a member of the Pro V1 family. Here’s a basic understanding of the lineup:

  • AVX: Softest, lowest trajectory, lowest spinning, less greenside spin and longest
  • Pro V1x: Firmer than the Pro V1, highest spinning and highest trajectory
  • Pro V1: Sits between the V1x and the AVX in terms of feel, spin and trajectory, and will appeal to most golfers

Different from the Pro V1 or Pro V1x, the AVX golf balls have a new GRN41 thermoset cast urethane cover to help the golf balls achieve the softer feel. Also, they have high speed, low compression cores, a new high-flex casing layer, and a new dimple design/pattern.

For in-depth tech info on the new AVX golf balls, how they performed in the test markets, and who should play the AVX golf balls, listen to our podcast below with Michael Mahoney, or click here to listen on iTunes.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the AVX golf balls

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