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, that includes Dustin Johnson’s two drivers at the Masters, Bryson DeChambeau’s iron search, Justin Thomas’ special Vokey wedges and much more.
Back in 2006, Phil Mickelson became the first player to ever win the Masters with two drivers in his possession. The goal was simple: Employ a driver with a left-to-right ball flight and vice versa to handle every conceivable tee shot at Augusta National.
Dustin Johnson didn’t employ Mickelson’s exact strategy at the Masters, but he did give TaylorMade M5 and M6 drivers a shot in competition, using the M5 at the beginning of the week before switching to M6 on the weekend.
Johnson logged wins with both drivers early in the year before settling on M5 as he prepared for the year’s first major championship. What’s unclear is why he chose to use both drivers during the year’s first major championship.
Was it because the face on his M5 cracked? Was it a strategic change? In recent years, Johnson has used the more forgiving driver in TaylorMade’s lineup (M4, M6) to produce a straight ball flight with a slightly more penetrating trajectory. The adjustable-weight version (M3 and M5) was given the nod when Johnson wanted to add some workability to his shot shape off the tee.
There’s a good chance it’s likely the latter, due to the Fujikura Ventus shaft that was part of the M6 driver build. Johnson tested Ventus earlier this year at the Genesis Open but had continued on with his Speeder 661 Evolution 2.0 Tour Spec. It’s possible he wanted a different feel and decided to pull the trigger on Ventus at the Masters.
Whatever the reasoning was behind DJ’s decision to use both clubs, the fact he was able to come within one of forcing a playoff with Tiger Woods shows you he’s more than comfortable with either driver in the bag.
Fresh wedges are a common sight at a major championship. With extra zip being a common request, it’s up to Tour reps like Vokey’s Aaron Dill to ensure players like Justin Thomas have what they need. But instead of making his usual wedge request, Thomas asked Dill to create something unique for the Masters that not only honored the tournament but Bob Vokey himself.
With almost a month to come up with something special, Dill delivered four fresh Vokey SM7 wedges to Thomas replete with yellow and green paintfill and some special stamping, including Vokey’s signature on the toe. The stamping ranged from Thomas’ jacket size (38 Regular) and a Koepka call-out to his affection for Pimento Cheese sandwiches. Dill even got creative with the lofts on the sole, spelling out a portion of the number.
Thomas used the wedges in competition at Augusta National and based on how ridiculously cool they look, no one would blame him if he decided to use them until the next set.
Not quite there
Bryson DeChambeau spent 14 hours on the range prior to the Masters working through issues with his wedges before settling on new True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts in not only his Cobra wedges but Forged One Length irons (6-PW) as well.
DeChambeau fired out of the gates and looked to be well on his way to contending for the coveted green jacket at the Masters before fading into the background on the weekend (T29). His Sunady hole-in-one at the 16th aside, DeChambeau departed Augusta National with more questions than answers about not only his irons — he spent 14 hours working on irons and wedges prior to departing for Augusta — but putter as well.
“I learned that we haven’t figured out the irons yet, there’s still some more to be done and then putting I struggled really bad with putting,” he said. “I’ve done it the past couple years, so I really have to iron out what happened. I have an idea of what happened. It’s not just reading greens, reading greens I’m fine, but there’s something with the putting, I can’t necessarily start on my line as effectively as I want to, which is amazing with the way I set up, so we just got to work on that more.”
As for the irons, DeChambeau foresees minor tweaks to the set in the not-too-distant future.
“It’s moving in the right direction, I can tell you that, it’s not like it was a total setback again,” he said. “It’s more of just there are certain situations that I still can’t figure out yet.”
Xander Schauffele’s successful history with Odyssey’s Works Big-T #5 putter led him back to the mallet shape just prior to the Masters. Schauffele benched the O-Works Red #7CH putter he put in play during last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs for a custom milled Toulon JETDYR Proto (34-3/8 inches; Stroke Lab shaft) with a 30-gram counterweight in the butt end of the grip. The JETDYR shaping closely mimics Schauffele’s old Works Big-T #5.
Schauffele had reportedly been wanting to switch to the putter but was rolling it so well on the greens that he didn’t want to make a change. He finally made the switch official a few weeks before the Masters.
Schauffele also received a couple Toulon Las Vegas (similar shaping to the #7) putters with Stroke Lab shafts to test recently.
Need for speed
Ball speed wouldn’t be the first thing you’d look at when selecting a new putter. However, in Bubba Watson’s case, it was a combination of ball speed and consistency that led him to bench his Ping Sigma 2 Arna for a milled PLD version of the putter. During testing, Watson noticed the milled Arna (303 stainless steel) produced a slightly faster (0.6 mph), more consistent roll compared to the putter he was using previously that featured an insert with two different material firmnesses.
Next man up
Jordan Spieth was slowed by a crack in the face of his Titleist TS3 driver during the opening round but continued to hit the club on the back nine. He received a replacement head on Friday and proceeded to find 10 fairways during the second round, an improvement of three from the first day.
“It was weird,” Spieth said of the crack in the club. “But it happens with drivers, like it’s just the same little spot. So I just went to a backup that Titleist was able to bring in and I drove the ball well with it today.”
Man of his word
Phil Mickelson was adamant he wouldn’t change drivers before the Masters after using Callaway’s Rogue Sub Zero to win at Pebble Beach. That promise lasted all of two weeks. Mickelson returned to Epic Flash at the WGC-Mexico Championship but eventually made his way back to Rogue Sub Zero for the Masters, using the driver to finish T18 in his 27th Masters start.
Quick-hitters: Justin Thomas returned to his Scotty Cameron X5 Flow Neck prototype putter following a brief run with a Newport 2 blade. … Bryson DeChambeau has company. Kevin Na followed DeChambeau’s lead, adding a graphite LA Golf OZIK TP putter shaft (34 inches; 135 grams) to his Toulon Design blade. The shaft is designed to reduce head twisting at impact for improved consistency. … Haotong Li went back to his Bettinardi Carbon Studio Stock 3 mallet (Raw Texas Tea finish) with a welded crescent neck and catamaran sole for ideal weighting at 364 grams. … Zach Johnson replaced his trusty Seemore FGP blade with a TaylorMade Spider X putter. … Brandt Snedeker returned to Bridgestone’s Tour B X golf ball after trying Srixon’s Z Star XV and Titleist’s Pro V1 in competition. … Mizuno built 1987 Masters winner Larry Mize a set of MP-18 SC irons for the tournament. … Matt Kuchar received a fresh 52-degree Bridgestone J40 Forged wedge. … Cleveland/Srixon Tour reps made 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam, who’s officially listed as 5 feet, 4 inches, an RTX-4 lob wedge that was five degrees flat. … Keith Mitchell had the loft and lies checked on his entire Mizuno setup. Mitchell gets his specs checked regularly to ensure everything is in good working order … Andrew Landry requested a new Ping Glide 2.0 lob wedge (Standard Sole).
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