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WRX Insider: Top 5 equipment stories at the PGA Championship

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This week at Harding Park had a few key stories to track from a WITB standpoint. Some were huge, some were subtle. All are interesting.

Here are the top five equipment stories from the PGA Championship.

#5. Fleetwood goes to Ventus

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 07: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on August 07, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Tommy Fleetwood has one of the most eclectic bags on Tour. The Englishman is the epitome of finding the right 14 sticks no matter what. This week at Harding Park, he made what I would call a pretty substantial change to his driver set up. Being a player that has trusted the Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 TX for a while now, Tommy not only switched shafts but switched companies going into the ever-popular Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X.

According to my source, Tommy was fighting a left miss with the normal setup and was searching for a way to stabilize the head a bit. The Ventus not only helped that but also kicked up the ball speed a touch. Obviously it helped, at the time this article was written he was two back of the leaders having put on a ballstriking display with a Friday 64.

#4. Fleetwood swaps in TM Proto 4 and 5-irons

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 07: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot on the tenth hole during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on August 07, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Tommy also swapped out his Srixon Z785 4 and 5-irons for two TaylorMade prototypes. The switch was in an effort to bridge the gap between his 5-wood and 4-iron. In past weeks, he had tested a TaylorMade SIM Max 4 Rescue. The switch required him to strengthen his 5-iron to gap properly, but ultimately that recipe wasn’t the right fit.

#3. Koepka goes back to his M5

If anything has been holding Brooks Koepka back this year, it has been his driver. Notoriously an intimidating player off the tee (especially on tough golf courses), Koepka had been struggling in 2020.

He started the season with SIM Max and quickly swapped that for the Callaway Mavrik he used up until early this week. According to my source, BK liked the ball speed and feel from the Callaway but felt going back to the M5 he used in 2019 put him back in a comfortable pocket, and as you can see, he is right at the top of the leaderboard again.

Another interesting nugget is the M5 switch required no tweaks, straight into the bag. When no wrenching is needed, you know that club is dialed.

Koepka has also gone back to his trusty Nike Vapor Pro 3-iron. Previously, BK had the TaylorMade P790 UDI in play, but this return comes as no surprise—that particular club draws strong affections from certain players, namely Koepka and Tony Finau.

#2. DJ lands on a 7-wood

Height, spin, and gapping have become a huge theme in the past weeks—especially in that no man’s land between 3-wood and 5-iron. Dustin Johnson is a player who is not afraid to experiment, and he has checked off every possible box.

At any given point this year he has had a 3-iron, 4-hybrid, utility, and now a 7-wood. Although these changes will be course-specific, the trend I’m seeing is players are looking for spin and versatility wherever they can find it. Most clubs in that range tend to be low spin, so if there is a way to find 400-500 RPMs flying out of the same window, its a bonus.

#1. Tiger ditches the “Elder Wand” (it won’t last)

At this point, I think the story even made it to CNN. When Tiger switches anything its world news, especially his trusty Scotty Cameron. In this case, he moved into a Scotty Cameron “Timeless Prototype,” which is a lead into the 2020 Studio Select collection at retail.

Two things going on here

  1. Ability to manipulate head weight to match up with green speed. Tiger’s gamer is, by today’s standards light at 327 grams. This experiment allows him to add subtract weight out of the head via weight ports in the sole.
  2. Added length to take the pressure off his back. Not the first time a player has done this. Freddy Couples, Rocco Mediate, and many others have gone to longer putters to encourage more upright posture.

At posting time, Tiger putted it all over the place on Friday, so although this switch is newsworthy, it won’t last. He’s just putting the Elder Wand in the reflection chair as I do with my kids.

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  1. RJH

    Aug 9, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Tommy changed from z785 long irons not z765.

  2. Micela Simpliciano Medina

    Aug 9, 2020 at 11:01 am

    You put the Elder wand in your kids?

  3. Benny

    Aug 8, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Seriously Tiger comes into 2020’s first major with a new Tour Scotty and says its his back?
    Give me a break. This is all about marketing and for the best thing that ever happenned to Scotty Cameron…. Tiger Woods!

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Equipment

A visit to Golf Pride’s new Pinehurst Headquarters

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Golf Pride has been making golf grips since 1949 and is now the No. 1 grip brand in golf. Rubber grips were rare back when Thomas L. Fawick figured out that rubber could be superior substitute to leather. Fast forward 73 years and the Golf Pride team, including president Jamie Ledford, are welcoming in a new era in golf grips as well as a new headquarters in North Carolina. The new building is located in the iconic Pinehurst Resort, one of the iconic destinations for golf in the United States. Jamie explained how Pinehurst was such an easy choice since the golf world revolves around the community here.

The new Golf Pride building was designed to fit into the Pinehurst Resort with its style and location. Jamie explained how they went to great lengths, including working with the people at Pinehurst, in order to create a timeless look. If the Golf Pride logo wasn’t on the outside of the building you would think you were pulling up to the clubhouse of a private club. The off-white brick, large windows, and dark brown timbers welcome you in to the front door and reception lobby.

The building looks small and quaint from the front, but what you don’t see is what Ledford is so proud ofL a retail store, expansive office space, and a whole prototype facility behind the facade. I was lucky enough to get the full tour and what you don’t see is very impressive. From the large employee lounge to the 9-hole putting course that is built into the floor, it is modern and exciting to be in.

Bringing golfers into the world of Golf Pride is one of Ledford biggest opportunities and you can see his excitement when he showed off the new Golf Pride Retail Lab. This part of the building is where a regular golfer like you and I can walk in and get a new set of grips installed while you wait. The Retail Lab will have all the Golf Pride grips on display as well as full-time employees to educate you on anything you would like to know about grips. As a person who has installed a lot of grips in his day, the new Retail Lab doesn’t have the lingering smell of grip solvent yet! A large counter with stools surrounds a gripping station where you can take a seat and watch your favorite clubs get paired with your favorite Golf Pride grips.

Ledford was also very excited to show off another room near the front of the building that is dedicated to a new endeavor for Golf Pride, data collection. Golf Pride has brought in a new engineer to specifically start collecting data on grips. Ledford explained that this process is in its infancy and they don’t yet have many details they can share. Collecting this data will of course influence future products and also provide more opportunity to educate golfers on their grip and regripping needs.

Speaking of new products, the new CPX grip is the first grip to be released in the new headquarters. We got a tour of the prototype facility in the rear of the building and Golf Pride has diverse collection of machinery there. They have some cutting edge machines, that I can’t talk about, working on some of the latest ideas and designs. Right next to those are machines that have been producing grips for decades. It is here were they are creating brand new designs in small batches as well as mimic the high capacity manufacturing methods to ensure that each grip will meet their high quality standards.

Golf Pride knows that being the No. 1 grip in golf isn’t something that just happens by accident and keeping that title takes evolution. Ledford and his team are committed to making the best grips for golfers on all levels and their new headquarters is offering them a place to take that to a new level.

 

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Whats in the Bag

Martin Trainer WITB 2022 (June)

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Driver: Wilson Staff Staff Model (6.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kai’Li Blue 70 TX

3-wood: Wilson Staff WLabs Prototype (13 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 80 TX

Irons: Wilson Staff Staff Model (2, 4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Wilson Staff Staff Model (52-12, 56, 60)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T Prototype Phantom T12
Grip: Pure Grips

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Whats in the Bag

Brandon Wu WITB 2022 (June)

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Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees, 1.5 degree upright lie)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD GP 7 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR2 (15 degrees, 0.75 degrees upright)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD GP 8 TX

5-wood: Titleist TSi2 (18 degrees @ 18.75 degrees, 0.75 degree upright lie)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 X

Irons: Titleist T200 (4-5), Titleist T100 (5-9)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 52-12F, 56-12D), WedgeWorks Proto (60-T)
Shafts:  Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 130 X (46-56), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron
Grip: Scotty Cameron

Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Grips: Lamkin

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