Mystery hybrid plus new wedges, irons and drivers at AmEx | Wall-to-Wall
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’s Wall-to-Wall is brought to you by Jonathan’s partner in gear nerdiness, GOLF senior equipment editor Ryan Barath, who was on the ground in the desert to bring you all the news from the American Express.
New Vokey wedges everywhere
There is nothing quite like a Vokey wedge launch, and with almost half the players on the PGA Tour using at least one Vokey-designed wedge, you can bet that it’s a hectic week for tour reps. We got to witness firsthand just how much detail goes into launching this many clubs on Tour at once, and it’s an impressively synchronized ballet of feedback, adjustments and lots of golf balls being hit.
Even Mr. Vokey was on hand talking to players about the wedges and working with the tour team to get players dialed in.
Rickie Fowler testing Darkspeed and 3D-printed wedge
We spotted Rickie Fowler testing an all-new Cobra Darkspeed LS on the range against his gamer Aerojet, and we took note of the unique vertical markings made to the face of the driver.
When asked about the lines, Fowler said he was using them as a visual aid to help align the face at address — and based on the tee marks he didn’t seem to be having many issues.
Based on images during tournament play, it looks like Rickie put the new LS into play at the AmEx, and we’ll have to check back in during his next event to see if it has earned a permanent spot.
(Be sure to check out our latest fully equipped robotic insights video below to find out how the all-new Darkspeed stacks up.)
Speaking of permanent, another cool piece of gear Fowler had in the bag was a new 3D-printed lob wedge designed to replicate the exact sole geometry of his previous favorite custom grind Cobra wedge. Beyond the manufacturing method, the wedge itself is nothing overly different than previous wedges he’s used, it’s just that it helps make sure Rickie gets a wedge that performs exactly how he expects anytime he needs to replace it.
Cobra DarkSpeed X Custom Driver
Maverick McNealy using TaylorMade irons
Several players on the PGA Tour have a reputation for really getting into the weeds when it comes to clubs, and although his name might not jump right to the top of golf fans’ minds, Maverick McNealy sure does love to tinker with iron sets.
His newest irons are a set of TaylorMade P7TWs 3-PW loaded up with lead tape, and considering the fact that Maverick played with heavily influenced by Tiger Woods Nike VR blades before joining Callaway’s staff, these are the next logical step from a design perspective.
The only thing that makes this a little unusual is that Callaway has made several prototype sets in the past and it had looked like he had found a winner.
Old clubs in play
Even though there were a lot of new clubs in play this week in Palm Springs, several players had older clubs in the bag, with the standouts belonging to James Hahn with his 15-year-old Adams Idea Pro Black MB irons.
Other sets include Brandt Snedeker’s J15CBs, Chad Ramey’s original P750s and Daniel Berger’s 2010 TaylorMade MC irons, which were some of the oldest on tour until Hahn broke out the Adams set. We should also mention that Jason Day continues to use a full set of TaylorMade P760s, which is the same model iron that Rory rotates in and out of the long iron spot in his bag.
White Mizuno drivers
It was only last week that Grayson Murray won in Hawaii using a Mizuno ST-X 230 driver, and this week on the range we spotted the tour reps carrying around a white version of the driver. We can’t be certain, but considering that Mizuno has done limited edition paint jobs in the past, and the yearly PGA Show is coming up this week in Orlando, the head we spotted on the range could be a precursor to an upcoming limited release.
Even Mizuno ST-Z user Keith Mitchell was giving it a try on the range Tuesday.
Not too many of these UW’s kicking around
As a gear nerd inside the ropes, one of the questions I get most often is “Do tour players get different clubs than regular golfers?” and in most cases, the answer is a simple no. But sometimes it’s true, especially when it comes to custom putters, or something like this Callaway Ai Smoke triple diamond U (utility wood).
The biggest differentiator for this model compared to the retail option is the adjustable hosel that takes a loft sleeve so the club can be custom fit using a traditional adjustable wrench, rather than having to manually bend the hosel, which can result in breakage.
As of right now, there are no plans to release this club to the public, and considering the smaller head and low loft option, it’s probably best that it’s kept that way.
New Scotty Cameron putters debut
The Vokey Wedge team wasn’t the only part of the Titleist crew keeping busy at the AmEx, because Scotty Cameron also debuted their full line of new Phantom putters featuring resigned geometry and alignment aids.
Beyond the alignment and geometry updates, one of the biggest pieces of feedback I heard from the Scotty Cameron reps was that the new Phantom mallets have a softer sound and impact feel than previous generations, without reducing the required amount of feedback. Considering how many putters were there at the end of Wednesday compared to the beginning of the week, you should expect to see a lot more of these in players’ golf bags.
Notes and report from Dubai
This week was the first Rolex Series event on the DP World Tour, and to kick off 2024 where he started 2023, Rory McIlroy won by one shot over Adrian Meronk to notch back-to-back wins for TaylorMade Qi10 models on the DP World Tour.
It should also be noted that The Hero Dubai Desert Classic is only the second week that McIlroy has put TaylorMade’s new TP5X golf ball into play. It’s pretty hard to argue with the results.
Here are the rest of the TaylorMade clubs in Rory’s bag:
Driver: Qi10 9 degree
Fairway woods: Qi10 15 & 18 degree
Irons: P760 (4-iron), Rors’ Protos (5-9 iron)
Wedges: MG4 46, 50, 54, 60
Putter: Spider Tour X
Ball: 2024 Prototype TP5x
TaylorMade Qi10 Custom Driver
This was Rory’s fourth time winning the event and it led to a funny moment with his mom and dad when taking photos with the trophy.
In other news from Dubai, Adam Scott put a Callaway Paradym AI Smoke driver into play and had a top 10, and last week’s winner Tommy Fleetwood put a new TaylorMade Qi10 9-wood into play as well and finished T-14.
On the PGA Tour, Project X was showing off and testing their newest Denali shaft profile, the black that offers a stiffer profile in the butt and tip sections of the shaft to help create a more stable feeling for golfers that have a more aggressive transition. The Ping team was kept busy with requests to test the new G430 Max 10K driver thanks in part to its increased ball speed and stability on off-center hits. Last but not least, Bettinardi had several new putters on the practice green for testing, including this prototype with a dark blue finish.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a True Spec fitting location near you.