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.
No driver has been hotter than Callaway’s Paradym since it debuted on Tour at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Jon Rahm’s win at the American Express was Paradym’s third consecutive win to start the year, continuing a perfect start for the driver that’s made many stand up and notice, including Rahm.
It’s a certified fact Rahm has an edge with driver in his hands. He led the Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee last season and remains atop the statistical category this season. When asked to describe what makes Paradym such a good fit for his game, Rahm picked out an aspect that’s difficult to quantify.
“I can’t help myself but talk about how good it feels at impact,” Rahm said. “I don’t get caught up on the sound or other things, assuming the performance is good. The impact through the ball even when I mishit it is such a good feeling and I don’t know why. I wouldn’t know how to explain it. But that is something that it’s a positive added to the driver on top of obviously all the great things.
“It just almost feels like, with the impact being so good, the only logical conclusion to me is that the sweet spot is getting bigger and bigger. Therefore your average distance is going to be higher and you’re going to be a little bit straighter. That’s all I can say. But besides being an aesthetically really beautiful driver I don’t know what it is with the impact. I don’t know what the hell they have done, but it feels amazing.”
No one, not even Jon Rahm, is going to complain about a larger sweet spot, especially when it comes with improved feel.
To reinforce Rahm’s insights, we saw similar numbers from Paradym during robotic testing for GOLF’s 2023 ClubTest. A tighter overall dispersion is going to make the driver more consistent by reducing the carry distance dropoff on mishits. In other words, even golfers of Rahm’s caliber can get away with a bad ball on occasion.
Claiming the sweet spot is getting bigger might feel like marketing-speaking. But in this case, Rahm’s insights are bang-on.
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Callaway Paradym, Paradym X and Paradym Triple Diamond Drivers
Caddies have been known to influence an equipment switch or two. When Viktor Hovland’s clubs went missing prior to the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions, he wound up using some of his caddie’s (Shay Knight) clubs while he figured things out. But something happened along the way: the Norwegian got attached to Knight’s TaylorMade SIM Ti 3-wood and wound up keeping it in his bag.
Rickie Fowler didn’t swipe caddie Ricky Romano’s putter, but it did influence his most recent putter change. After trying out Romano’s putter, he asked Odyssey Tour rep Joe Toulon if he could build something similar. The end result was an O-Works Versa Jailbird with a Microhinge fast insert that was blacked out. Fowler also concealed the sole with more than 20 grams of lead tape to help counterbalance the build.
On Wednesday morning, Fowler spent well over an hour working with the putter, alongside a Scotty Cameron mallet that also received a hard look. In the end, Fowler tapped the Odyssey, which featured a longer SuperStroke Tour 3.0 handle that he used with a conventional-style grip and stroke.
During the two days where his ShotLink data was logged (Saturday and Sunday), Fowler ranked 48th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting with the new stick.
Patrick Cantlay remains untethered to an equipment manufacturer, but so far his setup hasn’t changed — yet. The “yet” is important because Cantlay is very much in the throes of club testing. On his return to the mainland, Cantlay was spotted testing new Ping G430 gear, including a 10.5-degree LST head with a Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60TX shaft.
Cantlay also stopped by the Callaway truck during the week to pick up a Paradym driver to try it out. Adam Scott, another club free agent, tested both Ping and Callaway two weeks ago but opted to stay with TaylorMade Stealth Plus. Cantlay wound up following the same script at PGA West, sticking with Titleist TS3 when it came time to make a decision on Thursday.
It’s possible Cantlay changes gear at some point this season. Just don’t expect him to rush the process.
TaylorMade signed two of the LPGA’s elite last week, as Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda were unveiled as new staffers. On Sunday, it was Henderson who managed to make good on her lucrative agreement by finding the winner’s circle in her first event with a full bag of TaylorMade gear.
Henderson didn’t offer many details about testing but did confirm the window to get acclimated to new clubs was small. In fact, she admitted the switch to a set of TaylorMade P790 irons came down to the wire. So, too, did a few other changes that needed to be made in advance of the event.
“The irons we just put in the weekend before we came here, like Sunday,” Henderson said. “Yeah, so I was using 790s but we adjusted a few things about them. Loft on the irons. So the adjustments were happening like right up to this week. My 3-wood I adjusted really recently, too. So lots of things.”
According to Henderson, she delofted her irons to get the carry yardages just right for the event. It was a minor adjustment that paid off in a big way. What’s interesting is Henderson might not be done making tweaks. In the aftermath of the win, she confirmed a few other adjustments might be needed.
“I think even with the victory I might adjust a few more things to make it a little bit better,” she said. “But I couldn’t be happier with how things went with them.”
Ping, Scotty Cameron and Bettinardi all debuted new putters at the American Express. If you had to pick one that stood out from the pack, it was an updated Ping PLD Anser. According to Ping Tour rep Tony Serrano, the putter is made from aluminum bronze and features a sound slot in the sole to give it the distinctive “ping” sound.
It’s a total throwback with new-age tungsten slugs in the bumpers to increase overall head weight. The putter didn’t have an owner at the time pictures were captured, but it should soon.
Worth a listen
In case you missed it, Tour winner Will Zalatoris joined GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast to detail the latest ball switch (2019 Pro V1 to 2023 Pro V1x), his favorite Scotty Cameron putter growing up, driver testing and so much more.
Zalatoris also gave the backstory on why he cut down his driver by 1.25 inches to start the year. Going shorter usually comes with a noticeable dip in distance, but Zalatoris was able to keep the drop to a minimum with added impact consistency.
“The beauty is I’m actually only a mile per hour slower because I’m more efficient,” Zalatoris said. “That’s going back to working with [Dr. Greg Rose] on everything.”
Quick-hitters: Major winner Jimmy Walker switched to an Axis1 prototype putter. … Titleist swept every major equipment category for the second time in three weeks. … Speaking of Titleist, Chris Kirk logged his second consecutive top-3 finish since switching to the 2023 Pro V1x. … Nelly Korda used an unreleased Mitsubishi Vanquish shaft in her TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD driver.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out Fully Equipped podcast below.