Wall-to-Wall Equipment: How 1 gear change took Garrick Higgo’s game to new heights
Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday morning gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
Shaking it up
Basking in the glow of his first PGA Tour title at Congaree, Garrick Higgo was asked what he was most proud of following a chaotic back nine that saw the South African grab a share of the lead (and win) while he signed his scorecard.
“I’m just proud of the way I hung in there,” he said. “It was tough all the way from the start. Definitely didn’t have my A game in terms of off the tee, but I like that sometimes. I like not having to play perfect golf. I enjoy scrambling and making a couple putts, which I did, which was awesome.”
Higgo’s success on approach shots and around the green can be attributed to a ball change he made back in March at the Qatar Masters. The switch from Titleist’s Pro V1 to the Pro V1x just happened to coincide with a stretch of golf that included two wins on the European Tour in less than a month.
“I used to play the Pro V1, but my weakness was around the greens,” Higgo told GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast. “I wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t there in terms of strokes gained around the greens. I tried the [Pro V1x] and it’s amazing how much better my confidence is around the green, because I know the [Pro V1x] is going to stop.”
What Higgo found in the V1x was a level of shot-stopping spin around the green that led to a higher percentage of makable putts during each round.
“I did some testing at home and found the Pro V1x consistently stopped about three feet shorter than the Pro V1 for me. So the Pro V1 was rolling out an extra three feet, and that’s exactly what I was seeing on the course. It was good but still released. Now I’m hitting shots around the green and having shorter putts, which obviously makes a big difference.”
While the greenside spin ultimately led Higgo to change balls mid-season, a lack of significant changes in other aspects of his game sealed the switch.
“There was a slight uptick in long game spin, but I was willing to do it for better feel and more spin around the green,” he said. “And driver spin was exactly the same from the Pro V1.”
Back to black
Dustin Johnson’s run with a TaylorMade TP Bandon 1 putter (and multi-material LAGP shaft) came to an end at the Palmetto Championship, where the two-time major winner returned to his trusty TaylorMade Spider Itsy Bitsy and a stepped steel shaft.
Johnson finished T28 in SG: Putting with the old wand en route to a T10 finish in his home state.
Prior to last week, Bo Van Pelt’s last runner-up showing came nine years ago at the now-defunct AT&T National. Erik Compton’s first top-20 finish in six years occurred two weeks ago at Colonial.
What the two share in common is a putter that’s trending upward on Tour — Axis1 Golf’s Rose mallet.
Dating back to the PGA Championship, Justin Rose, Compton and Van Pelt have been near the top in SG: Putting during their strong finishes. Rose led the field at Kiawah and ranked 6th in the statistical category at Colonial, while Compton and Van Pelt ranked 3rd during their recent strong finishes with the same Rose mallet.
Quick-hitters: Tommy Fleetwood made a mid-tournament putter change, replacing his TaylorMade TP Bandon 1 with an Odyssey White Hot OG #1 (LAGP putter shaft). … College golf’s top-ranked player, John Pak, signed a multi-year equipment deal with TaylorMade. … Former Oklahoma State standout, Austin Eckroat, signed a multi-year gear deal with Ping. … 19-year-old Akshay Bhatia qualified for the U.S. Open with a full bag of Callaway gear, including an Epic Max LS driver, Apex TCB irons, Odyssey 2-Ball Ten putter and Chrome Soft X golf ball.