It’s in the bag: Adam Scott’s equipment journey is unlike any other

golfer adam scott

Scott was a bastion of equipment consistency for years. But now? He's felt a need for change.

Oisin Keniry

It’s a bit unnerving asking Adam Scott questions, partly because he’s such a good listener. Most Tour pros aren’t. But Scotty listens and he listens well. He squints at you without an inkling of emotion, taking it all in, waiting for you to finish. Only then does he jump in and respond. And that response tells you everything.

In mid-January, as we stand in the Dubai morning sun, I get lucky. I’ve chosen the right topic: equipment. And, in particular, his equipment — perhaps the most interesting set of equipment in the game today. And even more in particular, one piece of equipment: the TaylorMade Mini Driver he adores.

“Tommy Fleetwood basically won the Ryder Cup with that thing,” I say, curious to know if Scott, an Aussie, who will never play in a Ryder Cup, is even aware.

“Yeah, f—in’ awesome,” he says with a little zest in his voice. “It’s unbelievable, because so many holes pinch, turn, end at 310 [yards] and 320 now, because they’ve geared the courses for us. And that’s right where the driver [dispersion] is. It’s tight. If you go back to 3-wood, you’re at 270 yards, you’re aways back. But the Mini goes 300 and still in the wide part on a lot of the courses we play. That’s what I look for.”

Those words — what I look for — are perfect for this moment in Scott’s career. As a newly liberated equipment free agent, it’s clear the man has been doing some searching.

IT’S FITTING THAT WE’RE AT THE DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC, standing before this global city’s famous marina skyline, an image that exists in a state of perpetual expansion and change. Kind of like how pro golfers need to be. But Scott was a bastion of consistency for decades. Not just with his fundamentally perfect golf swing but with the tools of his trade. A longtime Titleist player, he reckons he went five straight years without swapping clubs in or out of his bag. Didn’t even change the grind on his wedges when the Tour would visit the bouncy links courses of the UK. In the mid-2000s, when almost all of his contemporaries transitioned from steel to graphite-shafted drivers, Scott held out as long as anyone. Why? Because Tiger Woods was holding out too. And why, if you could help it, would you do anything different from Tiger Woods?

The funny thing is, that stubbornness worked. Scott’s unwavering focus and skill set has made him a 14-time PGA Tour winner and the seventh highest earner in Tour history. In 2013, he became the first Australian to win the Masters, and he’s contended in a dozen other majors, even reaching World No. 1 in 2014. But now, at age 43 — 24 years into his pro career — his mood has changed.

“At this point, for me, it’s kind of adapt or die,” he says. “That wasn’t the decision to be a free agent, but that was definitely a decision last March, after the Bay Hill tournament. I’m like, ‘I gotta get over playing golf the way Adam has always played golf and move with the times a little bit.’”

An untrained eye wouldn’t have noticed any issues. Last spring, Scott was ranked 35th in the world and making plenty of cuts, occasionally lighting up the leaderboard. Exactly what you’d expect from an accomplished and conspicuously fit veteran. But his surroundings were changing. He was now playing alongside the youthful likes of Sahith Theegala, Nick Hardy, Sungjae Im and Matt Fitzpatrick — the future of the PGA Tour.

“It wasn’t one guy in particular; it was everyone I played with,” Scott recalls. “I’m not playing like they are, and I think I’m better than a lot of these guys. But I’m not getting the results.”

That realization kick-started an overhaul of the bag. Nothing was sacred anymore. He switched out a mid-2010s version of the Titleist Pro V1 ball for the 2023 Pro V1x. He figured he was handicapping himself with the older, spinnier model. (He has since moved on to the latest Pro V1.) A new ball begat a new driver, new shafts and even a new set of irons, Miura AS-1s — and, yes, you know what the AS stands for. Scott flew all the way to Japan to tour Miura’s facility, meet with the Miura family and learn everything he could about the brand he was tying his name to. But, for all that progress, he was spotted in May 2023 with three different utility irons in his bag, the surest sign of someone who knows what he wants but isn’t sure he’s found it yet.

Scott received an up-close and personal look at the Miura plant in Japan. Nate Gardner, Miura Golf
Adam Scott visits Miura Golf
Nate Gardner, Miura Golf

Scott’s equipment odyssey has been expedited, of course, because Tour pros are impatient when it comes to results. And the odyssey is ongoing. In Dubai, Scott’s bag looked like this: TaylorMade woods (including that “f—ing awesome” Mini Driver), PING irons, a Srixon 3-iron, rusted-out Vokey wedges and a broomstick L.A.B. putter that looks like a prop from MythBusters. You can bet there’ll be more shuffling. (He tested his way into TaylorMade’s newest driver on the practice range at Riviera two weeks ago.)

Scott smirks when you finger through the clubheads, counting up what must be a Tour-leading five different manufacturers — six if you count his Titleist ball, the only equipment sponsorship deal he currently has. He’s committed to playing cavity-back long irons while continuing to work with Miura on a different set of blades for the top end of the bag. He no longer plays a 3-wood. Rather, he decides each week between a 5-wood and 7-wood, depending on the course and conditions.

This degree of equipment fluidity would make 28-year-old Adam Scott cringe, but here we are. The son of Phil Scott, an amateur clubmaker and PGA professional, he is more curious about his bats than ever before. There was the time in early 2021 when AutoFlex shafts were all the rage. (They still are, to some extent. Crazy demand and low supply sent Rory McIlroy to eBay to buy one for his father.) They became infinitely more popular because Scott put one of the superlight, incredibly whippy shafts into his driver that year.

“AutoFlex shafts — it’s such a crazy thing,” Scott says. “But I’m like, ‘Okay, let’s have a look at this.’ I did some testing with it and got my fastest speeds ever. ‘Okay, let’s play it at the Farmers Insurance Open and let’s see what happens.’ I drove it great that week. I was playing with Jon Rahm, and he was like, ‘What is going on here? Why are you hitting it so far?’”

Scott was the envy of the driving range for a few weeks as the only pro who tapped into secretive Korean tech. But just as quickly as his launch and carry numbers jumped, his overall driving dipped. He had two bad weeks with the new shaft, a trend that ultimately led to the worst driving season of his career. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say — but curiosity can kill the cat.

Scott happily admits his gear testing is “a bit random,” but he struggles to think of another way forward. With the next generation of players grooving scientific swings on launch monitors since childhood, the battle to stay relevant, Scott says, is only getting more difficult. (Six days later, 20-year-old amateur Nick Dunlap stunned the golf world with a victory at the American Express Championship at La Quinta.) But that’s what keeps him tinkering. Being open-minded is the only way, even if that means going to school on pro surfers.

Scott watched with envy during the 2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am as surfing legend Kelly Slater took 22 putts around Spyglass Hill. Before the round was even over, Scott demanded to know more about the L.A.B. putter Slater was playing. He then spent the next few years working with the little-known golf start-up — L.A.B. stands for Lie Angle Balance — to create a broomstick-style putter with two grips, 16 different weights and a blue, glossy finish. Its name: the Mezz.1 MAX. Yank the headcovers off Scott’s clubs and that long putter soars above the rest, and with its pointed corners — Scott’s shins have occasionally taken a beating — it just looks… angry. But the result is a happy Aussie. The Mezz.1 MAX has helped him take a faulty — Scott prefers the word temperamental — element of his game and turn it into a strength. He’s gone from being a consistently below-average putter to steadily placing among the 30 best on Tour.

Unsurprisingly, this caught the attention of his Tour brethren. Take Lucas Glover, who went to L.A.B. and simply asked for “the Adam Scott specs.” PGA Tour fans know the rest of the story. Glover’s entire game was revitalized, with consecutive wins in the summer of 2023.

Will Zalatoris, another wickedly talented ball striker who battles a yippy stroke, returned from back surgery in December 2023 sporting the Scott specs too. “How Adam does it is so clean looking,” Zalatoris said two weeks ago, during a T2 finish in LA. Camilo Villegas, lost in the putting wilderness for years, also joined the ranks of L.A.B disciples because of Scott.

“I’ve got to thank Adam in a way,” Villegas said in November. “We did a little trip to Quail Hollow before the [2022] Presidents Cup, and I was watching Adam putt with a broom. He kept rolling it so good and he kept telling me how confident he was feeling. At one point I’m like, ‘Okay, man, let me try it.’”

Fast-forward 14 months, and Villegas, through Scott-like tinkering, had found the L.A.B. wand that worked for him. During a practice round at the 2023 Butterfield Bermuda Championship, he even sought out Scott to let him know how great the putter felt. A few days later, the 42-year-old Colombian, winless for more than nine years, was holding the trophy.

THE MILD-MANNERED SCOTT DOESN’T MIND being a trendsetter in this sense. It’s never a bad thing when the decisions you make inspire wins for others. But as the success piles up for those around him, it’s fair to wonder where this equipment journey will take Scott himself. He doesn’t want to say he’s underachieved because he knows there’s plenty of time left. He certainly won’t say he’s overachieved either, because he’s always dreamed of being a multiple-major winner, and when he looks at his trophy collection — at home in Switzerland, where he relocated several years ago with his wife, Marie, and their three young children — he sees just the one. Later this year, he badly wants to lead a Presidents Cup victory over the Americans in Montreal, and the recipe for that team success, he says, is Adam Scott the individual playing like Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm did at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

After an hour, we’ve reached the introspective portion of our talk, but that’s because asking Adam Scott questions gets easier over time. My final one is simple: If 2024 is a great year in Adam Scott’s golfing career, what does Adam Scott think it will look like?

As usual, he lets me get all the words out — and even allows for six seconds of pondering silence. “You know,” he says, “I’d really like to win a couple tournaments. It’s the only thing I really want to do. I’d like to win and show my kids I can win some trophies. They don’t understand why I don’t bring the trophy home ever.”

With that, he was off to the driving range for his first practice session of the year. And maybe to get a peek or two at the gear everyone else was using.

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.