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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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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

In-hand photos of prototype Ping “Blueprint” irons

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Our Johnny Wunder paid a visit to Ping HQ in Phoenix, and in addition to getting to step inside to company’s legendary gold putter vault, The Gear Dive host got an exclusive in-hand look at Ping’s new prototype Blueprint irons.

While we can’t provide any additional details at present, we do have these photos of a 6-iron for your viewing pleasure.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the irons in the forums. 

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Bargain Challenge: Putting together a set of clubs for $500

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You have a golf trip planned in two weeks. One day after work, you head to your car to hit the range and get some grinding in for the trip. As you walk to your car you notice your car has been broken into and your clubs are gone. Not good. You need new clubs for the trip but aren’t in a position to shell out the $2,000-$3,000 for a brand new set. What are your options? I recommend hitting the used market.

Every year, thousands of used golf clubs go on the market. Some of the clubs had a rough life and some have barely been hit. As an exercise to see what you can get for your dollar, I browsed one of the web’s largest used golf equipment sites (3balls.com) with a budget of $500 for a full set of clubs in my specs. What I found was really interesting.

Rules: 14 clubs for under $500 shipped. As close to my specs as possible.

Driver

Since I play a low loft driver with a low launch, low spin shaft, I knew I was in for a challenge with finding a driver. Once I took a minute to search, I found this beauty of a driver. I remember hitting the Ping G10 back in the day, and it was one of the most forgiving drivers at the time. Plus, it was very close to my specs at standard length, 7.5 degrees, and a mid-launch Grafalloy shaft.

Wood

While searching for a 3-wood, I had two things in mind, I needed a X-stiff shaft, and I needed it to be heavy. After about five minutes, I found this great Titleist 913 with a heavier X-stiff shaft. Normally I play a 13-degree 3-wood, and this 3-wood would allow me to loft it down to get the desired flight. Really a solid deal for $50.

Hybrid

In an ideal world, I’d be hitting a 2-iron or a driving iron here. The problem is that driving irons can sell for $100-plus fairly easily, so that was out of budget. After searching, I found a nice 17-degree hybrid from Ping with an X-stiff shaft. The shaft is a little lighter than I would like, but it is not a bad pick up for 80 bucks.

Irons

I knew I would want to spend the majority of my money on some solid irons. After searching, with the parameters being a 3-PW set with X100 shafts, I found this great Titleist combo set. I current play a MB/CB combo from another company, so this set fits well with what I am looking for if I was to replace my current set. All of this for $200.

Wedges

Wedge shopping was hard because I needed a lob wedge with good grooves and a gap wedge that wasn’t trash. I got really lucky with the Ping lob wedge. It is in very good condition which is really what matters for the grooves since I will be using it greenside. Since it is blue dot, I can get it sent to ping to be adjusted for my specs. For the gap wedge, I picked up a heavily used 52-degree. Ideally, I would have more money for a slightly better grooved GW.

Putter

Can’t go wrong with a White Hot in my preferred length. Not much more to say.

Total

 

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Is it easier to hit players irons?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day was created by lazyjc4, who asks fellow GolfWRX members for their opinion on what they feel are some of the easiest to hit players irons on the market. Our members have mentioned a multitude of players irons, with plenty of detailed reasoning behind their choices.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • thewral: “New Level 902. Single piece forging, feel great, smallish head, low offset, distance lofts.”
  • naj959: “I went through a couple of sets of irons this year which included 765s, flyz+, and finally settled on the…..Bridgestone J15 DPF. There are some great reviews of these irons. The 765s are forgiving, but the j15s are even more so. They have a very thin top line, are workable, and are lonnnng.”
  • Casper_golf: “Take a good look at the Wilson V6, or if you are looking for something older, guys really like the V4’s that can be found as a steal.  Way underrated irons. Soft feel forgiving and long for the weaker lofts they have. No offset.”
  • Sonja Henie: “Very interested in the comment about the 745s being similar to the 545s in forgiveness.  I’ve been very tempted by the 565s but might do better with the 765s.”

Entire Thread: “Easier to hit players irons?”

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