Why Patrick Cantlay is leaving Titleist for equipment free agency

Cantlay still play a Titleist TS3 driver that was first released in 2018.

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The all-black, blank staff bag situated on the practice green at Kapalua was a dead giveaway that Patrick Cantlay made some equipment changes during the winter break. The Titleist logo on the side panels of the bag? No more. Hugo Boss and FootJoy were also noticeably absent from his shirt and hat.

Indeed, Cantlay is a free agent in every sense of the word. How long he remains on the open market, however, remains to be seen. (Similar to Adam Scott, who parted ways with Titleist last year, Cantlay plans to retain a ball, shoe and glove deal with Titleist.)

“I’m looking for a couple different partners,” Cantlay told GOLF’s Drop Zone podcast in a forthcoming interview that will release later this week. “It’s the beginning of the year, so hopefully I’ll figure that out relatively soon and put that behind me and play some golf.”

Cantlay still plans to rely on a Titleist-heavy equipment setup for the PGA Tour’s opening event of 2023, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but he’ll now have the freedom to test different equipment on his own schedule. Unlike most pros who become disenchanted with their equipment brand and opt to make a change, Cantlay is making the move to free agency on the heels of the best golf of his professional career. During the three-year stretch, Cantlay won six times and moved to as high as No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

The move also ends a decade-long run with Titleist that dates back to his decision to sign a full-bag deal shortly after turning pro in 2012. But even with his recent success on the course, Cantlay felt the timing was right to blaze his own trail and see what else was out there.

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“For me, I want to play the best equipment out there,” he said. “If I think it’s going to be able to help my golf, I’d like to be able to play it. That maybe involves a little more testing than I’d like. But I’m not going to change my game to fit the equipment. With the current situation, I’m in right now, it gives me that freedom. It’s an interesting process to see if I can find any better clubs or equipment.”

For the most part, Cantlay has been reticent to gear changes in recent years. His win last season at the BMW Championship came with a Titleist TS3 driver, 915F and TS2 fairway woods, 718 AP2 and Vokey SM7 wedges. Outside of two Vokey SM9 wedges and a Scotty Cameron Phantom X T5 putter, the rest of the setup could be categorized as “old gear” for a Tour pro.

It should be noted Cantlay isn’t the only high-profile name to test out gear free agency in recent years. Following Nike’s departure from the equipment space, in 2016, a myriad of big names, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Tommy Fleetwood, all played without clubs deals for a stretch — with many of them enjoying career years on the course.

The 2018 season will always be remembered as the year all four majors were claimed by golfers without equipment deals (Koepka, Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari). But eventually, all three chose to sign formal deals with new brands.

Even with more freedom to test equipment, Cantlay isn’t completely sure how much his setup will change based on his recent play. It could change a lot if certain clubs perform better during testing. Just don’t expect him to spend endless time on the range searching for answers in the dirt.

“The problem is I might hit a club once and know it’s not for me,” he said. “I’m not going to spend too much time trying to get a club in my bag. But if I think a potential club is better, I’d like to be able to put it in right away.”

Without a deal tying him to one brand, Cantlay now has that luxury.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.

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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.