New clubs, gear trends for 2024? Snooping on PGA Tour reveals hints | Wall-to-Wall
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. This week’s Wall-to-Wall is brought to you by Jonathan’s partner in gear nerdiness, GOLF senior equipment editor Ryan Barath, who was on the ground in Las Vegas last week for the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin.
Tom Kim took home the Shriners Children’s Open with a dazzling final-round 66, and you can learn all about his winning clubs here. But for all the other top equipment stories, strap on in, because we have much to cover.
Fresh Odyssey Putters
The easiest spot of the week in Vegas was a new putter line from Odyssey, featuring two distinct inserts that both utilize artificial intelligence in their designs.
Although we couldn’t get any much detail on the impact of A.I. on the putter’s performance, the Odyssey team did confirm the new putter uses A.I. as part of the face design. Also, based on the putter’s Tour debut this week, which included full-line branding, you might not have to wait much longer to learn more.
Long putters picking up steam
If you thought the end of the last PGA Tour season would mark the end of the long-putter trend, think again. In Vegas, many golfers were seeking to reduce their risk on the greens (just as you do at the tables) by doubling down with long-shafted wands.
Several putter-brand reps, including from the likes of Ping, PXG and Odyssey, told me they had been working hard behind the scenes to get new heads built for players who had asked to test broom-style putting. From what I observed, though, L.A.B. Golf still seems to have the strongest hold on the Tour-pro market.
L.A.B. Golf MEZZ.1
New Ping irons
Last week was my first chance to get my hands on Ping’s newest Blueprint S and T irons, and all I can say is, “Wow.” The new S model draws much inspiration from previous “S” model irons — including the last generation S55 — but this iteration is forged. They come with a sharper and more squared toe and use a CTP insert in the longer irons to help boost MOI and consistency.
The Blueprint S irons have already been a huge success, with one Ping rep telling me the new irons have one of the fastest adoption rates they have ever seen with a new iron, especially from players who were using older S model irons. One of those players is Matt Fitzpatrick, who won this past week, at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, in Scotland.
More Callaway TCB irons
Since the release of Callaway’s newest Apex line, some golfers have been asking if the popular TCB iron would get an upgrade. Although there is nothing to report on the retail front, it appears Callaway is making a new version available to its tour staff.
We spotted the new TCB irons in the bag of Akshay Bhatia, and they came with some extra stamping for good measure (the star stamp has no extra meaning in regards to the model or technology, it’s just on there for fun). From what I have gathered from listening to players talk about this new TCB, it just has a slightly more compact look compared to the now-released Apex CB. But largely, it’s more of a cosmetic upgrade from the previous model than any sort of performance upgrade. (Still, we all like shiny new things, right?)
Callaway Apex CB Custom Irons
Speaking of shiny new things, Wilson had its newest Staff CB and MB models on hand for any players looking to test. If you like sharp-looking chrome irons, you’re in the right place!
Because we are talking about single one-piece forged irons, once again there isn’t a whole bunch to report from a technology perspective. But there is in the looks department. The cavities of the irons, especially the blade model, uses CNC milling to get down to the final spec.
Unreleased New Level irons
For those looking in a more boutique direction, New Level Golf has a nice selection of direct-to-consumer irons and wedges that offer great value and performance — so much so that they have caught the eye of a number of Tour players in recent years, including Chez Reavie, Ryan Moore and reigning Charles Schwab Cup winner Steven Alker.
Reavie had a new set of unreleased New Level 480-MC irons in the bag in Vegas, and even from a distance they looked sharp. We were unable to get any additional information on this unreleased club, and it’s difficult to tell whether the screw in the back leads to a hidden cavity or the iron is a one-piece forged club and the screw is simply used to fine tune the final head weight.
If I was a betting man, and I’ve been known to dabble from time to time, the space where the screw goes into the head appears to be relatively wide, which could mean there is a cavity in some, if not all, of the irons. Again, this is speculation and lucky for me, I don’t have any chips on the table for this hand. (Fret not, I’m not done yet with the gambling puns.)
With new Apex irons just released after an extended wait, many oberservers have been starting to wonder what Callaway might have in store for new wedges in 2024. Thanks to the bag of Will Gordon, Callaway might be starting to show its hand (see what I did there?).
Gordon’s wedge, marked with “Proto-NC,” doesn’t give us much to work with, beyond the fact that it’s a fully raw wedge and the NC could mean something as simple as “no chrome.” The initials could also relate to the shape of the grind on the sole or a groove type being tested for spin and long-term wear, because it’s obvious from inspection this club has been in play for quite some time.
Callaway was unwilling to provide any more information on the wedge, but I can confirm that this wasn’t the only version of the club in Vegas, so Callaway seemingly is hard at work on something.
TaylorMade Spider stays hot
Not all the long ago it felt like TaylorMade was all about metal woods and everything else was a bit of an afterthought, but those times are long gone. TaylorMade has become a major player when it comes to flat sticks, thanks in large part to the Spider and new Spider Tour putters.
TaylorMade staffers and non-staffers alike were keeping putter rep Bucky Coe busy on the putting green in Vegas, with many players looking at the available assortment of Spider Tour putters.
This full embracing of the previous core line of the Spider putters with new technology and an updated look is proving to be a hit on Tour, and I expect that success will continue with consumers.
TaylorMade Spider Tour X Putter
New shafts on their way
Both Fujikura and Mitsubishi Chemical had new driver shafts out for testing this week on the range, and first up was Mitsubishi bringing out its newest generation of the WB.
The Fujikura shafts were a bit more under wraps and still going through prototype testing with the code name Nautilus Neo. We don’t have any other info beyond what was written on the shafts, but from my discussions, it doesn’t sound like any sort of replacement for the popular Ventus.
Old stuff is still kicking
As a gear junkie and someone who loves to find hidden gems in used club bins, finding older gear on Tour is just as fun as spotting new stuff, and the field in Vegas did not disappoint, unlike my luck at the roulette table. From old irons to a utility that dates to 2013, the pictures below showcase some of the older gear that continues to show up week to week.
Want to overhaul your bag? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf. And for more gear news you can check out the latest episode of the Fully Equipped podcast below.