Surprising gear changes, eye-catching Tour releases | Wall-to-Wall

collin morikawa taylormade proto 4-iron

Morikawa added a TaylorMade Proto 4-iron to the bag at the RBC Heritage.


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.

Proto surfaces again

TaylorMade’s better-player irons typically run on a two-year cycle, which is important when trying to figure out whether a “Tour prototype” is simply a prototype or a future retail offering.

Over the last few weeks, two high-profile names have added a new cavity-back prototype to the bag. It started with Rory McIlroy adding a Proto 4-iron at the Valero Texas Open and continued last week with Collin Morikawa adding the same 4-iron (above) to his setup at the RBC Heritage.

McIlroy offered some interesting insights a few weeks ago on the better-player profile: “Launch is a little higher, which was surprising,” he said, “and it’s just sometimes I felt like when I hit my 5-iron in the blade and then the 4-iron in the 760 it was such a different feel. To go from a 5-iron now to that (new) 4-iron feels a little closer to what I feel in the 5-iron.”

For the moment, two elite ball-strikers are using the Proto. Expect that number to increase in the coming months. With the iron surfacing on Tour in April and the current P7MC approaching two years — it’s logical to assume this might not be a “Tour proto” for long.

Back in black

sepp straka srixon black zx irons
Straka is using Srixon’s ZX7 MK II irons. Jonathan Wall

Switching irons during the middle of the season can be a cause for concern — unless you’re simply trying to get into a new cosmetic. In Sepp Straka’s case, he made a lateral switch from Srixon’s ZX7 MKII into ZX7 MKII Black Chrome at the RBC Heritage.

The only difference? A new “black chrome” finish that makes the iron head look visually smaller at address. Straka didn’t skip a beat on his way to a T12 finish — even with a fresh set in the bag.

Iron specs: ZX7 MKII Black Chrome | 4-9 | True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts | +1/4″ length | D4 swingweight | Golf Pride Tour Velvet Midsize grips

Long time coming

Patrick Cantlay debuted a new set of Ping Blueprint S irons in recent weeks that have been in the works for five months. According to Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates, Cantlay began testing the irons back in December to get acclimated to the look, sound and performance on the course.

As someone who rarely changes gear, Cantlay was never going to rush an iron switch. Ping reps figured a change might happen at some point, but no one expected Cantlay would actually break them in for the first time at the Masters.

Following a positive first week at Augusta with Blueprint S, the 32-year-old made a few minor adjustments at Harbour Town, including the addition of bounce grind to improve turf interaction. Cantlay also left the event with a fresh set of Blueprint T’s to test at home.

PING Blueprint S Custom Irons

Developed following extensive testing with PING’s top tour pros to meet their “must haves” — control and precision — Blueprint S delivers the score-lowering performance demanded by the best players in the world. COMPACT SHAPE The compact shape fits the discerning eye with a thin top line and minimal offset. The 8620 carbon steel head boasts a clean cavity design, distinguished by an eye-catching forged textured pattern and hydropearl 2.0 chrome finish. PRECISION POCKET FORGING This patented forging technique allows PING to forge a pocket into the cavity of the 3, 4 and 5 irons. The pocket saves 10 grams of weight, which is re-allocated to increase the MOI and optimize the center of gravity position for more distance and trajectory control.
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One and done?

There’s a chance Rory McIlroy could follow Tommy Fleetwood’s lead and keep TaylorMade’s BRNR Mini in the bag for the long haul. But we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath. Teeing it up on arguably the tightest layout on the PGA Tour — outside of maybe Colonial Country Club — McIlroy chose to add a 13.5-degree BRNR Mini Copper to find the tightest landing spots.

“It’s a great club, it’s versatile,” McIlroy said.

The club didn’t see much action during the opening round — McIlroy said he hit it three times, due to the wind being out of the south — but McIlroy still managed to produce some impressive shots over the next three days with Mini, including a drive that went well over 300 yards.

TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver Copper

Drawing inspiration from the iconic late-90s Burner™ drivers, the all new BRNR Mini Copper offers a contemporary twist on a timeless design. Its distinctive copper styling, retro logos, and meticulously crafted components blends heritage and modern innovation. FORGIVENESS & ADJUSTABILITY A combination of carbon fiber, titanium and steel creates the foundation for BRNR Mini’s incredible sound, feel and performance. Split weights allow golfers to switch between the standard setting (13g in the back) for easy launch, and the low spin setting (13g in the front) for a piercing trajectory. PRECISE TURF INTERACTION The K-SOLE design helps the club glide smoothly through the turf while reducing resistance and promoting a consistent strike. This enables golfers to have “driver off the deck” distance with the consistency of higher lofted fairway woods. TOUR PROVEN TECHNOLOGIES Twist Face®, Thru-Slot Speed Pocket™ and the four-degree Loft Sleeve provide the ultimate suite of technologies. Twist Face helps golfers overcome inherent mis-hit tendencies for straighter shots, while the Speed Pocket is engineered to maximize ball speeds and add forgiveness on low-face strikes. The four-degree Loft Sleeve allows golfers to fine tune loft and face angle for optimum flight.
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Dream week

miles russell equipment
Miles Russell’s equipment setup features new Qi10 product. TaylorMade

TaylorMade staffers have been on a roll this season. Nelly Korda and Scottie Scheffler made it five straight titles and four out of five with wins at the Chevron Championship and RBC Heritage. And then there’s 15-year-old Miles Russell, who signed an NIL agreement with TaylorMade last week.

The AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year made noise of his own at the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic, becoming the youngest player to make the cut on the Korn Ferry Tour at 15 years and five months old. 

“I have had a great relationship with the team at TaylorMade for years now and couldn’t be more excited to continue to work with them in the future,” Russell. “TaylorMade has a history of developing the top junior talent in the world to help reach their goals of becoming PGA TOUR and major championship winners. I am looking forward to working with the team to reach those and other goals I have laid out for my career.”

Quick-hitters: TaylorMade’s UDI prototype (2-iron) was spotted in Nick Dunlap’s bag at Harbour Town. … Sixteen of the 18 events played this season on the PGA Tour have been won with a Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball. The impressive run has also seen 70 percent of all competitors use a Titleist model during the stretch.

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Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and’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