Well, the Masters is over. I know it hurts to say goodbye, but as the countdown already begins for next year’s event, the PGA Tour rolls right into the elevated 2023 RBC Heritage Classic this week where the players will compete for a $20 million prize, with a $3.6 million first place check going to the winner. For those counting, the RBC actually has a larger purse than the $18 million dollar Masters purse and $3.24 million winner’s cut. Big bucks on the line.
The venue is Harbour Town Golf Links, arguably the most narrow golf course on the PGA Tour rotation.
Ahead of the event, GolfWRX took a look at what the PGA Tour’s top players are using this week.
Most notably, we got a look at 2023 Masters Champion Jon Rahm’s Masters-winning gear setup, and we spoke to his fitters. But way more on that later.
In other gear news from the week, we got a look at the WITBs of two active legends: Davis Love III and Ernie Els. We also saw Tom Kim’s new putter, Tommy Fleetwood’s new TaylorMade “BRNR Mini Driver,” Adam Scott’s new iron shafts (yes, he changed again!), Joel Dahmen’s “new” putter, and Jimmy Walker’s new AutoFlex shafts.
Let’s get into this week’s Tour Report from the 2023 RBC Heritage.
Jon Rahm’s post-Masters WITB
If Jon Rahm would have withdrawn from the RBC Heritage this week, I don’t think anyone would have blamed him. But, in great form and good faith, he’s fulfilling his commitment to play. Much respect.
As an up-close observer myself, it was a king’s welcome to Harbour Town for Rahm. He was getting much due love from the fans, from his playing peers, from caddies…from everyone.
Plus, all of us gearheads owe Rahm a big “thank you,” because his appearance in the event allowed us to get a look at his Masters-winning gear, just days following the victory.
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Check out photos of the clubs he brought to the RBC Heritage this week below, and check out GolfWRX/PGA Tour collaborative video of his clubs in the Instagram video above (he changed out the actual Masters-green, limited-edition Callaway staff bag from last week, and went into the new Odyssey staff bag):
The only changes that Rahm’s looking at making this week are adding in a Callaway Apex UT 21-degree driving iron (which is a course dependent club already) in place of his Paradym Triple Diamond T-model 5-wood, and also adding in a fresh 60-degree wedge.
Aside from that, Rahm almost never changes his equipment, so it’s no surprise that he didn’t do any post-Masters tinkering at Harbour Town.
Why does Rahm have the number 10 stamped on his wedges? According to Callaway, the answer is simple: he’s a big soccer fan (or futbol, if you prefer), and a soccer/futbol team’s main striker or captain typically wears No. 10.
This week over on PGATOUR.com, I dove deep into Rahm’s unique irons, and what makes them different than standard. Here’s a snippet, as explained by Callaway Tour rep Kellen Watson:
“When he came over [to Callaway], we found out quickly that we needed to have soft-stepped 6.5s in his irons,” Watson told GolfWRX.com on Tuesday at the 2023 RBC Heritage. “Usually what we do with all our guys is do a performance combine. We do about 60 shots using clubs throughout the bag and never two of the same shots in a row. So, it could go 4-iron to 9-iron, 9-iron to 5-iron, 5-iron to 6-iron, 6-iron to wedge. We capture all that data and it’ll give us pretty much everything we need to know. During that process, when he first came over, we did that, compiled the data, we ate lunch, then we went back after bending all the irons loft and lie wise, and we got to the numbers that are his current loft and lie. They might appear like they’re a half-degree weak from standard, but there is no standard on the PGA TOUR. Spin-wise, he’s going to be right around 6,000-6,300 in spin [with the 6 iron], and that pretty much stays the same at whatever launch angle he hits it.”
Tom Kim explains his putter switch
Kim has been using mostly Scotty Cameron custom blade putters since coming onto the PGA Tour, but he switched into a T5.5 mallet head at the Masters. The putter was custom built with a plumbers neck to match the neck style of his usual blade putters, and also, the three white alignment lines were placed to match up with an older Scotty Cameron mallet that he used while in Korea, and in his early days on Tour.
Here’s what Kim had to say about making the switch:
“I used a mallet head a few years back before I switched to a blade – I was always a blade putter, then went to a mallet for a year, and went back to the blade,” Kim told GolfWRX.com on Tuesday at the RBC Heritage. “I just wasn’t feeling comfortable all the sudden. I wanted to go back to something bigger and more comfortable. Obviously they’ve helped a bunch with the neck, because I didn’t want to go too far off what I was using with the blade, because I was putting well. It’s the exact same look and shape [that I used before]. I practiced with it, putted great, and made the switch. It’s looking good. It’s what I’ve used before with the lines. It feels like I’ve gone back to an old friend.”
Familiarity and comfort can help a lot, especially with the putter.
Jimmy Walker puts AutoFlex shafts in his driver and 3-wood
Over the past several years, Walker has run the gamut of shaft options in his drivers, using everything from a stiff steel shaft to the new ultra-whippy AutoFlex, and everything in between. He said his club pro back home recently built up the heads with AutoFlex XX shafts, and he’s been using them for the last several weeks. Walker told GolfWRX on Tuesday that the AutoFlex shafts are different than anything he’s ever tried, and he loves them so far.
Walker has AutoFlex XX shafts in his Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond 9-degree driver head, and in his Paradym 15-degree fairway wood.
And just like that, Adam Scott switches iron shafts again
As a reminder, just days before the start of the 2023 Masters last week, Adam Scott said he was “winging it,” with a number of last-minute equipment changes.
So, he changed his golf ball to a new 2023 Pro V1x golf ball (after using the 2015 Pro V1 previously). He then changed his driver shaft to a Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 7 X in his TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver, and he changed into new Project X LZ 6.5 iron shafts in his entire Miura AS-1 iron set.
Fast forward to this week ahead of the 2023 RBC Heritage Classic, and Scott is continuing to switch things up. This week, he switched out of the Project X LZ 6.5 shafts he used at Augusta National, and he’s switching into True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts.
Scott isn’t letting up on the equipment switches, and personally, I’m finding it extremely entertaining. The GolfWRX members are weighing in with their similar opinions here.
It’s seriously pretty cool, and informative, to follow along. We’re seeing the equipment fitting process happen in real time. He’s changing a number of variables on the fly and trying to figure out what works exactly right.
Making a golf ball switch can be a big change for PGA Tour players who rely on their precision. In their minds, it’s not just a “golf ball.” It needs to hit certain spin and launch windows. That’s how these guys get so dialed in on their targets, while also maximizing distance off the tee.
Here’s what Scott said himself about all the changes, following his opening round 68 at the Masters (he ultimately finished T39):
“I did some pretty major overhauling of my equipment, actually, that may not be a hundred percent comfortable, but certainly I saw some benefit from doing that. I changed some shafts in my irons and my driver, and my golf ball, so I’m kind of winging it a little bit out there. But it all feels pretty good. I putted very nicely today and that’s always helpful around here.”
“Things change and evolve, and a couple pieces of equipment in my bag have changed over the last year or so, and it’s having some influence as well as me swinging the club maybe slightly differently on my impact conditions. And with a shaft change and the (2023) Pro V1x, it’s balancing out really nicely and keeping that new ball in the window I like. Whereas before it was a little bit higher window and this is now sitting in a window that I feel much more comfortable with, which is nice. It’s very tight on the iron spin. I’m getting a really tight performance there, which is a good feeling for me. And also I get the added benefit of a higher ceiling with the driver. I’m gaining without doing anything by just using this ball off the tee. So hopefully I can make a few little gains here and there by using the Pro V1x without having to change anything else in my game, just putting it in play.”
My takeaway is that we as amateurs should pay attention to what the pros say about changes like this, and apply it to our own games. The best way to go about picking a golf ball for yourself is to get with a professional fitter or your local pro, tell them you’re trying to pick a golf ball and you want a proper fitting, and they’ll surely be willing to help – possibly for $free.99, possibly for a fee, it just depends where you go. Some companies do free fittings in your area if you don’t have a local simulator or outdoor range fitting access, so in that case, Google is your friend there to find a deal. But either way, it’d probably cost less than a dozen golf balls to get a fitting. Then, going forward, you’ll know which golf ball is truly best for you. There are real benefits to be found, like distance, spin and forgiveness, and all companies make slightly different balls designed to do different things. Test everything!
Then, hopefully you use the same golf ball for eight years like Scott has until you find something truly better.
Davis Love III WITB
Davis Love III, a five-time winner of the event, has a bag full of Titleist equipment in the bag this year, including a new TSR3 driver, an older TS3 fairway wood, a T200 driving iron, a set of T100 irons, new SM9 wedges, and a Scotty Cameron TourType Masterful blade-style putter with a dot for the alignment aid.
Ernie Els WITB
GolfWRX took a look into another legendary golfer’s bag this week, too: Ernie Els.
Els is currently using a XXIO driver and 3-wood, Srixon ZK7 Mk II irons, Cleveland RTX-6 Tour Rack wedges (the rust game is strong), and an Odyssey O-Works putter that’s loaded up with lead tape on the sole.
Tommy Fleetwood is expected to give the new Mini Driver a go
A number of players tested and used a new TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver model at the Masters (including Freddie Couples!), and it’s expected that Fleetwood will join the list of mini users this week.
Although TaylorMade is staying quiet for now about the technology and design, the BRNR appears to feature TaylorMade’s old school logos, nostalgic colorways, and it has a hint of burnt orange/bronze coloring on the crown in the sunlight, as pictured above. According to Fleetwood’s caddie Ian Finnis, Fleetwood “smashes” the new 13.5-degree club, and it’s going into the bag this week along with a driver, 5-wood, 3-iron setup configuration at the top end.
Joel Dahmen’s “new” Scotty Cameron putter
Dahmen was already a fan-favorite before he was featured in Netflix’s new Full Swing series, and his star power has only grown since. And, if he continues to use awesome custom putters like this Scotty Cameron Round Back proto, he may just win over all the gearheads, too.
The sole of the putter may appear to feature green paintfill (look where it says “Round Back” and “Proto”), but it’s actually a result of the torching process on the bronze putter. GolfWRX Equipment Expert Brian Knudson already went in-depth on Dahmen’s putter, so click here if you want more information.
And, with that, we unfortunately say goodbye to Harbour Town and the 2023 RBC Heritage. We’ll be back in action next week for the 2023 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which is a 2-man team event.
Enjoy the weekend of golf, and don’t forget to get out there on the course yourself (and don’t forget to talk to a local fitter or club pro about a golf ball fitting!). Happy testing.
Ruixin Liu WITB 2023 (October)
- Ruixin Liu what’s in the bag accurate as of the Walmart NW Arkansas LPGA Championship.
Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (9 degrees @8)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana
3-wood: Titleist TSR1 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw White 55 S
Hybrid: Ping G430 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 75 R
Hybrid: Ping G430 (22 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 75 R
Hybrid: Ping G430 (26 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 75 R
Irons: Titleist T200 (6-PW), Titleist T150 (7-PW)
Shafts: AeroTech SteelFiber i95
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (48-10F), WedgeWorks Proto (54-M), Miura MG-R01 (58)
Shafts: AeroTech SteelFiber i95 cw (48, 54), UST Mamiya Recoil 95 (58)
Grips: Golf Pride MCC, Grip Master
Will McGirt WITB 2023 (October)
- Will McGirt what’s in the bag accurate as of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Driver: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond (8.5 degrees @9.5)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Red 6 X
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X
3-wood: Ping G430 Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X
5-wood: Ping G430 Max (18 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X
Irons: Srixon ZX5 Mk II (4, 5), Srixon ZX7 Mk II (6-PW)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 120 X
Wedges: Cleveland RTX6 Tour Rack (50-10 Mid, 54-12 Full, 58-09 Full)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Tour 125 Wedge
Putter: Scotty Cameron prototype
Grips: Golf Pride Victory Cord
Club Junkie Review: Graphite Design Tour AD VF wood shaft
Graphite Design has been a legendary brand in the world of premium golf shafts since the company was founded in 1989. Graphite Design has had some popular shafts over the years, but they are probably most well known for the Tour AD DI that was released in 2010. Today we are talking about the newest shaft in the Graphite Design lineup, the new VF. The letters do stand for something, Victory Force, and according to Graphite Design every victory requires force! For a more in-depth review, please check out the Club Junkie podcast below or on any streaming platform. Just search “GolfWRX Radio.”
Out of the box, the VF has a very familiar look with a red handle section and a black tip section that are separated with the traditional 10 silver rings. The color combination is definitely more subtle than some of the other Tour AD shaft combinations. Graphite Design doesn’t make too many low-launching shafts, so the VF is filling that need. The VF will suit players looking for low/,id launch and low spin shaft to put in their driver or fairway wood.
The shaft profile is a firm+ handle section, it matches the stiffest handles Graphite Design shafts, with a stiff midsection, and finally a very stiff tip. Exotic materials are used along with MSI Design to maintain stability and consistency. Graphite Design uses Torayca M40X carbon fiber in the handle section to make it stiffer and enhance control of the shaft. Ultra-high modulus Torayca T1100G is used in the middle and tip section for added stability without losing that smooth feel.
I built up the VF shaft using a universal tip system that allows me to use the shaft in any driver head. The building went extremely smoothly as every Graphite Design shaft I have ever installed has a consistent tip diameter and I have never had any issues with a sloppy fit. Once the VF was cut to length and installed, the shaft has a great look that doesn’t jump out as distracting or eye-catching. If you are playing a TaylorMade Stealth 2, then the shaft blends in naturally and they look to visually be great partners!
You would expect a smooth and responsive feel from any Graphite Design shaft and you will get just that with the VF. For me the shaft was exactly as Graphite Design describes, being mid/low launch and offering a very penetrating ball flight. The Tour AD XC might launch a touch lower, but I like the feel and consistency I get from the VF just a little bit more. No matter what driver head I used, the VF seemed to offer ball flight in a similar window, slightly lower than the Fujikura Ventus TR Blue I was using. Even shots into the wind showed no real signs of rising or ballooning. Spin was also lower than I expected with the VF shaft. On the course, I noticed a penetrating, boring flight no matter where I hit the ball on the driver face. Shots struck low on the face held a good amount of distance and even the low heel strike seemed to launch lower and carry further.
I even took a couple of driver heads out to the range with a launch monitor and noticed that I rarely saw a spin number with a “3” in front of it. Almost every shot, good and not so good, seemed to spin around that 2,600 RPM number. With many fittings and shaft tinkering, that is usually on the lower end of what I find with my swing. As I said with the shaft being mid/low launch I was seeing an average of around 11 degrees while using a couple of 10.5-degree driver heads. On course, the VF was very straight and consistent and while it seemed easier to square up than I expected, it did not want to go left as easily as some other shafts. I would consider the flight just slightly fade biased but if you release the club properly you will be rewarded with a straight shot down the fairway.
Overall, the Graphite Design Tour AD VF is a really solid mid/low launch and low spin option with a smooth feel. It is starting to gain some traction on the professional tours and could be a great shaft for your swing as well.
Graphite Design Tour AD VF Specs
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Ruixin Liu WITB 2023 (October)
Ruixin Liu what’s in the bag accurate as of the Walmart NW Arkansas LPGA Championship. Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub...
Will McGirt WITB 2023 (October)
Will McGirt what’s in the bag accurate as of the Sanderson Farms Championship. Driver: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond (8.5 degrees...
Su Oh WITB 2023 (October)
Su Oh WITB accurate as of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Driver: Callaway Epic Max LS (10.5 degrees @9.5) Shaft:...
Marina Alex WITB 2023 (October)
Marina Alex WITB accurate as of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees) Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR...
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