Drivers

Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Major winner becomes the first to use this piece of gear on Tour

Louis Oosthuizen W2W

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.

Louis Oosthuizen was intrigued. Like almost every gearhead on the planet, the former major winner watched in anticipation as Adam Scott put a mysterious $790 AutoFlex driver in play at Torrey Pines for the very first time. With one of the smoothest swings on Tour, Oosthuizen wondered if the shaft might benefit his syrupy action.

So he texted Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates to inquire about testing the shaft the following week in Phoenix. Instead of simply giving Oosthuizen what he thought he wanted, Oates offered up a contrarian choice: Ping’s counter-balanced Altra CB Slate shaft. Better known as the stock shaft offering that was specifically designed for the G425.

“Our stock shaft we make for the [G425] is designed to go with that head,” Oates told GOLF.com. “It’s really high quality. It’s lightweight. I told Louis, ‘Let’s start there in a stiff flex.’ It’s pretty soft when you compare it to what guys are using on Tour.”

Several days later, Oosthuizen met Oates on the range in Phoenix to take Ping’s Alta CB Slate 55 stiff flex for a test drive. Initial testing produced promising results. The South African liked the feel and how it didn’t allow him to draw it.

“That might sound counterintuitive,” Oates said. “But when Louis was swinging smooth, he never felt like he was flipping it. The only problem with the initial build was it launched about 1 degree lower with about 300 RPMs more spin when compared to his G400 game, which is always the baseline.”

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With an additional 8 grams of weight in the butt end of the shaft, Ping’s Tour team was able to rectify the launch and spin issue by altering the internal weight setup, placing more glue towards the face. The extreme counter-balanced shaft also allowed for more glue to help tune the overall sound at impact.

“Of all of our guys, Louis is extremely sensitive to sound and feel,” said Oates. “If it doesn’t sound right or feel right, he will not play it. That’s probably been our biggest hurdle with the G425 with him. It wasn’t performance but matching that slightly deeper sound of his G400 head.”

It didn’t take Oosthuizen more than one ball to notice the sound and performance improvements.

“Right away, I could tell after the first ball he hit that we were onto something,” Oates said.

Working with Ping’s retail stiff flex shaft, Oosthuizen began launching the ball 1 degree higher with 2,200 to 2,300 RPMs of spin — an improvement that led him to give G425 the green light.

With practically every player on Tour using a Tour-level shaft, Oosthuizen was an anomaly with Altra CB Slate at Concession. In fact, Oates confirmed Oosthuizen is the first Tour pro to use the stiff flex product on Tour.

The closest Ping had ever gotten to a stiff flex retail product going into play before last week was when Hunter Mahan played an extra stiff Alta proto version in the company’s G10.

“Our engineering team was fired up,” Oates said. “I don’t think they ever thought they’d design their stock stiff product and have Louis Oosthuizen play it at a WGC event. That shaft is literally designed for that head. It matches perfectly.”

Aim small

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If you want to feel even worse about your game, Collin Morikawa recently broke up his set of TaylorMade P7MC irons and returned to a split composition featuring P730 short irons (7-PW). The reason? He noticed the strike on the face was more consistent with the smaller P730. His dispersion was slightly tighter and he seemed to miss out of the center less often during testing. In other words: aim small, miss small.

Don’t forget Morikawa went through a TrackMan testing combine during his time at the University of California, Berkeley that revealed his dispersion pattern with a 6-iron was as good as most elite players with a pitching wedge. This is nothing new for one of the best ball strikers on Tour.

Familiar feel

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Cameron Champ went to a noticeably shorter club setup at the end of 2019 that included a 44.25-inch driver to hit low cuts on command. Since then, Champ’s added three-quarters-of-an-inch to the driver to get to 45 inches. Hoping to get things back to where they were in 2019, Champ returned to 44.25 inches on his Ping G425 LST driver. It’s possible he could shorten the rest of the setup in the coming weeks.

Free to choose

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Equipment free agent Justin Rose became the latest former major winner to give Titleist’s TSi3 driver (Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Orange 75TX shaft) a shot. Rose noticed an almost immediate improvement after switching to a more neutral setup (A1 SureFit setting); he also picked up roughly 2 mph ball speed with the new 8-degree head.

“He had been hearing a lot of good things about TSi and had been in touch with Liam McDougall (Titleist European Tour Rep), but given all the restrictions in Europe hadn’t been able to get in a real testing session with him,” said Titleist Tour rep J.J. VanWezenbeeck. “We did a little work on Tuesday and found that his current gamer may have been enhancing his misses because of its off-center CG properties. We put him in the TSi3 with a much more neutral setting which resulted in more consistent performance with the additional speed and distance that players are talking about.”

Optimized

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Jon Rahm worked with Callaway Tour reps at Concession to dial-in the launch on his Mavrik Sub Zero 5-wood. Testing resulted in Rahm strengthening the actual loft to 16.4 degrees and moving the lie angle from 59.8 to 58.9 degrees. The weight configuration in the sole was also modified with 10 grams placed in the back of the head (as opposed to 12 grams) and 6 grams in the front to strengthen launch. The same Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8X shaft was retained.

Quick-hitters: Collin Morikawa replaced his 2-iron with a TaylorMade SIM2 5-wood (19-degrees; Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 80TX shaft) due to the higher flight and control it provided at Concession. … Bryson DeChambeau switched to an LA Golf Axis Blue 6X shaft in his Cobra Radspeed driver. … Rory McIlroy was spotted with an older model TaylorMade TP Juno putter. … Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day and Matt Kuchar all played Bridgestone balls with “Tiger” stamped on the side during the final round. … Dustin Johnson reinserted TaylorMade’s SIM2 driver (10.5 degrees) for the first round before going back to SIM for the last 54 holes. … Tour winner Keith Mitchell and Mizuno Golf announced a new three-year gear extension. … Branden Grace won in Puerto Rico with Odyssey’s popular 2-Ball Ten putter — the most-played model at the event. … Callaway led the way at the LPGA’s first full-field event of 2021 with 33 Epic drivers in play. … Abraham Ancer tested a LA Golf Trono 60X shaft in his Ping G425 LST driver. … Eventual winner Nelly Korda (TSi1), Jessica Korda (TSi4) and Danielle Kang (TSi3) all switched to Titleist TSi driver for the first time. … Tommy Fleetwood returned to a familiar Vokey wedge setup (SM5 TVD 52M and 56M degrees; SM8 60T degrees). … Justin Thomas gave Titleist’s TSi3 driver (9 degrees; Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60TX shaft) another try.

Want to overhaul your own bag for 2021? Visit the expert fitters at our sister company, True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.

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