Why this major winner opted for a ‘game-improvement’ driver | Wall-to-Wall

taylormade qi10 max morikawa

Morikawa opted for TaylorMade's Qi10 Max driver over the LS model.

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Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the weekly gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.

To the Max

Collin Morikawa’s love affair with TaylorMade’s SIM driver dates back to the 2020 FedEx St. Jude — a tournament that fell a week before his first major victory at the PGA Championship. In fact, both of Morikawa’s major titles have come with the same 8-degree SIM head and Mitsubishi Diamana D-Plus Limited shaft in the bag.

In recent years, Morikawa attempted to bump the driver for a new TaylorMade offering, only to come back to the old low-spin head when things didn’t work out. Even as recently as the 2023 Hero World Challenge, Morikawa still relied on SIM to get the ball in play.

Everything seemed to point to Morikawa starting the year with SIM, but when he arrived on-site at the Sentry, only one driver was in the bag: TaylorMade’s Qi10 Max. Indeed, one of the best strikers of the golf ball on the planet is playing what’s commonly referred to as TaylorMade’s “game-improvement” model.

According to Ryan Ressa, TaylorMade’s senior tour manager, Morikawa was busy behind the scenes conducting driver testing at home following the Hero World Challenge. For someone who’s accustomed to playing a low-spin driver head to match his go-to cut shot off the tee, Ressa figured Qi10 LS would be the best place to start. But Morikawa had another idea he wanted to vet following a brief session with Qi10 Max at a TaylorMade shoot.

taylormade qi10 max morikawa
Morikawa saw consistent spin rates with Qi10 Max, even on mishits. TaylorMade

“We started fitting Collin in the Qi10 LS head as a low spinning driver is traditionally what he’s played in the past,” said Ressa. “He wanted to try something that was more consistent on the misses and had better feel on the misses. At our TaylorMade content shoot in Florida, Collin hit a few Qi10 Max heads on his own and was intrigued by the shape. It was more shallow to his eye which is something he has always looked for. We sent some heads back with him to Vegas and then tested with him after the Hero World Challenge.”

While the 9-degree Max head (set on lower) isn’t exactly the first model a Tour pro might opt for, Ressa hinted that could be changing due to the combination of consistent spin rates — around 2,300 RPMs on center strikes and 2,500-2,600 RPMs on a slight miss — and forgiveness Morikawa saw on mishits during testing.

TaylorMade Qi10 Max Custom Driver

$599.99
The higher the inertia the more forgiving the driver. Introducing the Qi10 Max driver, experience TaylorMade speed with the forgiveness of 10K inertia. BUILT FOR FORGIVENESS & STABILITY The Qi10 Max features a shallower head shape that extends from front-to-back and significantly increases inertia by allowing mass to be placed further away from the center of the clubhead. NEW INFINITY CARBON CROWN An Infinity Carbon Crown covers 97% of the total crown area, creating a strategic advantage for mass redistribution and enhanced forgiveness. At address, it delivers a sleek and clean view that pairs with subtle alignment cues, setting the stage for confidence and success.
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“He liked the feel across the face and that the Qi10 Max was much more forgiving and we went down the road of trying a few different weighting options,” Ressa said. “The Max head we landed on was producing the natural cut he was looking for and combined with the forgiveness he immediately loved it.

“I just think it’s one of those eye-opening clubs that a tour pro hits and says, ‘Actually this is really good,'” Ressa said. “It will naturally draw so for someone that wants to see it straighter or go right you need to manufacture a straighter shot, but I think now we are going to have more players asking about it. Some of our top amateur players have asked to hit it and put it in play. I think it’s pretty simple. It’s going to give you more forgiveness and if you get the speed and launch conditions where you want it’s a really playable driver for a professional. That’s what Nelly Korda, who has the Qi10 Max in the bag, sees out of it. She could cut it really easy if she wanted to, even though she likes to draw it all the time. It’s really versatile and the forgiveness is going to be something that players gravitate towards.”

rory taylormade qi10 driver
Rory McIlroy teases mystery TaylorMade Qi10 driver
By: Jonathan Wall

Along with switching heads, Morikawa swapped the Diamana D-Plus shaft for a lighter and longer Diamana GT 50TX, at 45 inches, that matched up with the Qi10 Max head.

“Late last year Collin was intrigued in testing driver shafts and we just tried to match up feel with a little more speed,” said Ressa. “He tested some lighter shafts after seeing a few of his peers doing so. We tried something lighter and longer and this one syncs up better and feels better on impact with the Qi10 Max head.”

Splitsville

After weeks of wondering if Tiger Woods and Nike Golf were going to part ways, we now have a definitive answer: the 27-year partnership is officially over. In statements on social media, Woods and Nike announced a parting of ways ahead of a likely start for the 15-time major winner at the Genesis Invitational. (If you’re reading the tea leaves.)

With Woods hinting at “another chapter,” it’s natural to wonder what’s next on the apparel front. Instead of stoking the fire around rumored landing spots, let’s keep it to the facts. The current “TW” logo found on all current Nike apparel is a trademark owned by Woods, meaning he could conceivably find a new suitor and repurpose the existing logo on Day 1.

Even at 48, Woods remains the most marketable golfer in the sport, as evidenced by the FootJoys he debuted at the 2022 Masters and “mystery shoes” he wore recently during the Hero World Challenge. No one generates social media buzz around an apparel change like Woods.

Taking all of that into account, it’s all but guaranteed Woods will remain relevant in the soft goods space wherever he ends up, whether that’s as a sub-brand with an existing manufacturer or as the face of his own from-scratch apparel brand. The bigger question is how much time and effort Woods wants to put into the next venture with other irons in the fire.

We won’t have to wait long to find out.

Finding time

jordan spieth vokey sm10
Spieth added a 60.5-degree Vokey SM10 lob wedge. Titleist

First, let’s start with the numbers: the first week Titleist’s Vokey Design SM10 wedges were made available on Tour, a whopping 59 went in play at the Sentry. That number comes out to 25.8 percent of the wedges in the field — more than any other brand’s total number of wedges for the event. It’s a substantial number.

One of the newest SM10 users is Jordan Spieth, who wasted little time putting a full set of SM10 in the bag (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S and 60-04T). Now a proud father of two, Spieth still found time to break in the new wedges at home during the brief offseason.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of difference in my ability to hit low spinners,” Spieth said. “I flight my wedges really low. As I got to the gap and pitching wedge, I saw some more consistency in my flight, especially in the draw intent shots holding a little straighter. That’s always a benefit when you’re looking at these left pins and trying to attack them. They’re doing for me what they always do. I’m not having to think about any distractions as I hit a shot. When you step back, then you notice that shot became a little bit easier.”

Titleist T100 Custom Irons

$199.99
The preferred iron for more touring pros now rewards players with an even more solid feel, along with subtle refinements that continue to make T100 the standard for modern Tour iron performance. Feel is essential for the best players in the game. The refined, fully forged dual-cavity construction of Titleist T100 produces a more solid feel at impact, while the precision CNC face milling process leads to more consistent contact for greater control. ENHANCED FEEL The latest evolution of the T100 dual-cavity forged construction features an enhanced back bar to produce a more solid feel at impact. Informed by modal testing and Tour input, T100 irons are tuned to provide the exact stability and sensation the world’s best players desire from a well-struck shot. REFINED FOR GREATER CONTROL In addition to the improvements made to the body construction, T100 benefits from a new precision CNC face milling process. Combined with a subtle shift in CG the result is more control and consistent ball flight, especially when moving from fairway to first cut. EFFORTLESS TURF INTERACTION Working with Tour Pros and the grind experts at Vokey Design, our engineers were able to further improve our Variable Bounce Sole by smoothing and softening the trailing edge to allow the club to flow faster through the turf, even after contact. A simple but surprisingly meaningful improvement. BETTER TUNGSTEN FOR BETTER FLIGHT By utilizing dense D18 tungsten and a 2000º aerospace brazing process, Titleist engineers can eliminate weld points and be more precise with CG placement to give you the benefit of modern engineered performance with a solid forged feel.
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Something else that flew under the radar was Spieth’s recent switch to a new set of Titleist T100 irons. With scant free time to test the irons earlier in the year, Spieth waited until December to make the swap official after noticing a tighter spin consistency across the board during his practice sessions at home in Dallas.

“Jordan is a precise iron player and very knowledgeable on all his launch, spin and speed numbers on a variety of shots,” said Titleist Tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck. “With everything going on in his personal life he didn’t have time to fully vet the new irons until late this fall. During early testing, he loved the look and feel but wanted to give them a thorough testing to make sure all the different varieties of shapes and flights hit his numbers. He has been very happy with them.”

New deals

With little in the way of notable movement on the gear contract front to start the year, Scottie Scheffler and Tommy Fleetwood re-upping with TaylorMade turned out to be the biggest news from the Sentry. Both players chose to ink multi-year extensions after enjoying strong seasons with TaylorMade. Financial terms of the extensions were not disclosed.

Both Scheffler and Fleetwood noted their strong relationships with TaylorMade’s Tour team played a role in their decision to stay on board.

“Working with such a great team had a huge impact on the decision,” Fleetwood said. “Adrian (Rietveld) has become so important in my life, and along with Keith (Sbarbaro) and the rest of the team I know they do everything to support us on Tour.”

Scheffler echoed Fleetwood’s comments with similar feelings regarding TaylorMade’s Tour team.

“My relationship with TaylorMade goes well beyond just the equipment. I’ve been able to build trustworthy connections with their team knowing that they are always doing what is best for me to accomplish my goals of winning on the PGA Tour,” he said. “TaylorMade equipment has always been the industry standard in my eyes and I couldn’t be happier to continue this great partnership.”

Something big

Jason Day’s week in Maui started with a surprise move from Nike to Malbon Golf, but it wasn’t the only gear headline involving the Aussie. Stamped on the side of Day’s Bridgestone Tour B X is a multicolored design that was developed by Day and his mental coach Jason Goldsmith. 

With pros constantly seeking an edge on the course, it’s natural to wonder if Day’s ball might remain a Tour-only offering. The good news for weekend golfers is that won’t be the case. Expect the visual technology to land on Bridgestone’s forthcoming Tour B lineup in the not-too-distant future.

“My ’24 Tour B X includes a new visual technology that helps me optimize my performance,” Day said. “I’ve been working on this for a long time and I’m excited Bridgestone will be making this available to consumers very soon.”

New wands

It wouldn’t be a new year without a few fresh wands to start the 2024 season. Tom Kim and Cameron Young both debuted new Scotty Cameron putters at Sentry that stood out on the green. Kim opted for a Newport 2 GSS prototype with a red, blue and white “Cherry Bomb” for his native South Korea, along with a Cameron “Xperimental Prototype” shaft created by UST Mamiya.

Young’s Scotty Cameron T-5 mallet received a serious makeover during the winter break. In place of the old mallet was a fresh version with new cosmetics, a more compact shape and sharper angles. Cameron has been known to tease new putters on Tour leading up to a retail release, but it’s unclear if Young’s Tour wand is a sign of things to come or simply something new for the young bomber.

Quick-hitters: Xander Schauffele, Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim, Emiliano Grillo and Erik van Rooyen switched to Callaway’s Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond driver the first week it was made available on Tour. … Chris Kirk won the Sentry with a combo set of ’24 Callaway Apex Pro/CB irons and an Odyssey Ai-One Milled 6T putter. … Foresight’s yet-to-be-released QuadMax launch monitor surfaced in Hawaii.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

JWall

Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.