Tommy Fleetwood’s not-so-secret weapon is raising eyebrows | Wall-to-Wall

tommy fleetwood taylormade qi10 ls driver

Fleetwood notched TaylorMade Qi10's first win of the season in Dubai.

Getty Images

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.

New gear

Mention the name Tommy Fleetwood and one thing immediately comes to mind: otherworldly ball-striking. Possessing one of the most coveted swings on the planet, Fleetwood can flush it with the best of them.

After last week’s win in Dubai, Fleetwood might be able to add the word “bomber” to his resume following an impressive showing off the tee with TaylorMade’s Qi10 LS driver. In just his second start with TaylorMade’s latest big stick, Fleetwood averaged 313.5 yards and hit 57 percent of the fairways en route to an impressive two-shot win over Rory McIlroy and Thirston Lawrence.

tommy fleetwood taylormade qi10 ls driver
Fleetwood averaged 313 yards off the tee en route to a win in Dubai. Jonathan Wall/GOLF

For someone who hasn’t ranked higher than 56th on the PGA Tour in driving distance in the past three seasons — he averaged 283.9 yards last season — the noticeable uptick in distance raised some eyebrows. While many of Fleetwood’s colleagues have embraced speed training, the Englishman was able to stretch his driver by tightening one all-important characteristic.

“The biggest gains for Tommy with the Qi10 comes with really tight spin rates, especially on misses,” Adrian Rietveld, TaylorMade’s senior Tour rep, told the company’s website. “On misses, Tommy would normally get 3100-3200 spin, on this one, he’s getting 2700, which is huge for him because it means the distance is there. He’s still getting a little bit of roll out of it.”

TaylorMade Qi10 LS Custom Driver

$629.99
Qi10 LS delivers a lower spin and lower launch that is engineered to optimize performance for fast swing speed players. With a deep face and a more compact overall head shape, it is the preferred driver for Team TaylorMade Tour athletes including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. 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. REIMAGINED SLIDING WEIGHT DESIGN A new, more efficient moveable weight features an 18g steel sliding weight housed by an innovative track system. The redesigned structure allows the adjustable weight to move farther forward and lower compared to Stealth 2 Plus, resulting in a more forgiving low-spin experience. 
View Product

Dropping roughly 400 RPMs is a significant number for an elite tour pro who’s used to optimizing the driver to squeeze every ounce of distance out of the build. And that’s just on misses. For centered strikes, Rietveld confirmed Fleetwood also saw an improvement that led to improved launch and spin conditions.

“On the flush shots, he’s gone from 10.5 or 11 degrees launch at 2,600 spin, to now at 12 degrees launch at 2,400 spin,” he said. “When you add that up, that’s a real game changer for him.”

A game-changer, indeed. Fleetwood has the hardware to prove it.

Chomping at the bit

Nearly four months after doctors removed a lesion that was found on his brain, Gary Woodland returned to the competition at the Sony Open in Hawaii with the same drive, determination and positive outlook that helped him triumph at the 2019 U.S. Open.

“[T]here was a time when I didn’t know if [my name] was going to be called again, so it got me a little more than I thought it was going to,” Woodland said of hearing his name announced on the first tee.

Woodland’s week was always going to be a success, regardless of the result. After missing out on the weekend, he’ll tee it up next week at Torrey Pines and get another opportunity to see how Cobra’s Darkspeed LS driver and fairway wood perform in a competitive environment.

gary woodland cobra darkspeed
Woodland added Cobra’s Darkspeed LS driver and fairway wood to the bag in his return. Getty Images

In the months leading up to the Sony Open, Woodland reached out to Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin to see if they could conduct testing in November at the Floridian with the Darkspeed lineup. As Schomin recounted to GOLF.com, he prefers to bring a compliment of heads and shafts along instead of leaving pros to tinker on their own. But Woodland couldn’t wait.

“I normally don’t send guys their stuff in advance if I’m going to see them in a week or so,” Schomin said. “I’d prefer to get feedback from them as they test for the first time and go from there. But he was jonesing to see it in person, so I sent it along in advance. As soon as he could hit full shots, he was taking cuts with Darkspeed.”

By the time Schomin arrived, Woodland was already well versed on his new driver and fairway wood.

Cobra DarkSpeed LS Custom Driver

$549.99
The LS model features a Tour inspired shape for better players that demandlow spin and low launch for maximum workability and control. REFINED AERODYNAMIC DESIGN An improved aero shape features a streamlined face to topline radius, a highercrown peak, raised skirt and reduced clubface surface area to maximize speed. TOUR INSPIRED SHAPING A refined clubhead shape features a reduced visual footprint at address thatpromotes workability and control.
View Product

“He was already a fan of Darkspeed when I showed up,” he said. “We made a few tweaks to the shaft, going from [Fujikura Ventus Blue TR] to the new Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73 and 83 in the driver and fairway, but that was about it.”

For someone who tends to live just toeward of center with impact location, Woodland was able to center it up easier with Darkspeed LS. He also saw the common high-toe miss become more playable.

“The spin deltas were tight on misses, low and high on the face,” Schomin said. “Low ones don’t spin as high, and the high ones don’t spin as low. The high-toe miss that tends to snap and knuckle, those are staying in the air. We’ve been seeing that over and over from guys who’ve been testing [Darkspeed]. On those toe misses, the flight and spin is a lot more playable for him.”

Callaway’s Paradym Ai Smoke drivers continued to make an impression on Tour at the season-opening event on the DP World Tour, as 20 of the 60 players in the field (33.3 percent) used one of the four new models in the lineup. Callaway also confirmed it topped the field in fairway wood, irons and wedge usage at the event.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke TD Custom Driver

$599.99
Ai SMOKE TD DRIVER The new Paradym Ai Smoke driver represents a quantum leap forward in Callaway’s Ai journey. This new family of drivers feature the most sophisticated driver face in Callaway history, the Ai Smart Face. World’s First Ai Smart Face™ The all-new Ai Smart Face optimizes driver performance using swing dynamics from thousands of real golfers. This promotes optimal launch conditions and tight downrange dispersion. Workable Shape for Better Players Shaped with a neutral-to-fade biased face progression and a compact overall head size, Triple Diamond model will suit better players looking for workability off the tee. For players looking to increase ball speed and lower spin, a 14g weight can easily be repositioned from the rear to the front.
View Product

At the Sony Open, Carl Yuan, who finished 2nd in driving distance (323.9 yards), and 12 other pros in the field put a Paradym Ai Smoke driver in the bag.

Retail preview

After pondering whether Cameron Young’s latest Scotty Cameron T-5 prototype was a true one-off or a sign of things to come on the retail front, the putter manufacturer provided confirmation — in the form of several putter images from the Sony Open.

Cameron launched four distinct models in Hawaii and confirmed six additional offerings would be unveiled by Tour reps Drew Page and Brad Cloke in the coming weeks.

“That Phantom shape, for one, helps my alignment,” Young said. “And then also just the forgiveness of a mallet is important. I feel like anything that you can do to make the off-center hits just a little better is always a good thing.”

With an array of shapes available on Tour, it’s all but assured a retail release is on the horizon.

Quick-hitters: Rory McIlroy swapped a 44-inch TaylorMade Qi10 LS driver for a 45-inch TaylorMade Qi10. The more generous head profile allowed him to go back to standard length to gain some extra speed … Odyssey won the putter count at the Sony Open (more putters than the No. 2 and No. 3 brands combined) and Dubai Invitational (65 percent of putters in play). … 17 players transitioned into Vokey’s SM10 wedges in Dubai. …  Grayson Murray’s win at the Sony Open was his third professional title (the previous two on the Korn Ferry Tour) since making the move to Titleist’s 2023 Pro V1 last May.

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.