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 rarely makes its way onto Tour without someone noticing. But for a brief moment last week, Jon Rahm’s Odyssey prototype putter hid in plain sight. Blame it on the dark finish or the fact that most of golf’s big names were playing abroad at the Wentworth Club, in Surrey, England, ahead of the Ryder Cup.
Rahm didn’t call the putter out by name, but he did mention things were looking up on the greens a few times during the tournament.
“Feels good to be putting well,” he said after the third round.
Unlike Scottie Scheffler, who made numerous changes to the putter over the last few months, Rahm’s didn’t suffer from a balky putter last season. He ranked 37th in SG: Putting during the 2022-23 PGA Tour season but couldn’t seem to get things going during the playoffs.
Whether that late-season stretch prompted the change remains to be seen, but there’s no question Rahm is using something other than his usual Odyssey White Hot OG Rossie S. (It’s important to point out Sam Burns was also spotted using a new Odyssey Seven with similar cosmetics to Rahm’s putter during the Tour Championship.)
Based on footage from the tournament, Rahm’s prototype has the same Rossie shape, slant neck and adjustable heel-toe weights as his gamer. That’s the carryover.
So what’s new? For starters, there appears to be an oblong-shaped material sandwiched between the heel-toe weights, just behind the face. It could be additional weight to push the CG forward. Or maybe it’s a way to improve sound and feel. It’s pure conjecture at this point, but it’s without question one of the most intriguing additions to the putter head.
And speaking of intriguing, the name on the sole is sure to generate some interest: AI One.
Callaway has been a major player in the Artificial Intelligence space since the introduction of Epic Flash, so it’s very possible they could be expanding beyond woods and irons in the not-too-distant future.
Based on Rahm’s strong performance on the greens, expect to see more of the new putter next week during the biennial matches in Rome.
When Justin Thomas revealed he’d been working on a longer-length TSR3 driver with Titleist Tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck, he said it wasn’t meant to be a permanent fixture in the bag.
“I wanted something to where maybe I travel with it every week and it’s like maybe I use it five times a year, maybe I use it once.”
But after last week, he might never go back to the old build.
According to Thomas, the testing with Van Wezenbeeck began as a way to add a “longer driver option” to the bag for courses where additional length was needed. An easy way to add speed without making major swing modifications is to add a longer shaft. For Thomas, that meant going from 44.75 inches to 45.5 inches with the same TSR3 head.
Thomas also swapped out the Mitsubishi Diamana 60ZF shaft — a model he’s used for four years — for a lighter Graphite Design VF-5X.
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Titleist TSR3 Custom Driver
“It’s an instant 2 or 3 [mph] club speed and it goes quite a bit further,” he said. “It was just something I wanted to have. I felt like — we kind of screwed around and he sent me some stuff in the mail, but hadn’t done a proper fitting for one, because I know my driver’s great, it works how I want it to.”
While the gamer looked to be a lock for Napa, Thomas brought both along to see how they performed. The gamer received the nod on Thursday, but something didn’t feel right during the round. Instead of continuing on with the gamer, Thomas chose to make a mid-tournament switch and put the longer TSR3 build in play.
“I could tell in one video I was getting stuck underneath it,” he said. “I could feel it some out there, and I feel like the adjustment I made on the fly yesterday to at least get it in the house, and so I had a good thought just from a little 10-minute range session yesterday afternoon that I felt like could get me through today, and it worked pretty well.”
Thomas finished the tournament 3rd in driving distance and seemed pleased with how the longer build performed over 54 holes. Whether it gets another start at the Ryder Cup remains to be seen.
Work during the brief offseason with Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates paid off for Sahith Theegala, who grabbed his first-career victory in his first-ever start with the new Blueprint S irons. Coming off another strong PGA Tour season, Theegala didn’t see the need to shake things up — until he tested Blueprint S.
The 25-year-old saw similar launch and spin numbers during testing, but improvements in mishit protection over his previous gamers pushed the Blueprint S into the conversation. In addition to producing a tighter dispersion, Theegala noticed he was coming close to hitting his “stock distance” on slight misses — something he wasn’t able to do with his current set.
In the end, the head-to-head test did more than enough to seal the deal.
Theegala notched his first Tour win and ranked 18th in SG: Approach (plus-3.322) with the new irons.
“I’ve played a combo set of iBlades and Blueprints for seven years probably now, seven or eight years maybe even,” he said. “But [the Blueprint S] irons felt incredible just off the get-go. They feel just like my other irons. If anything, a little better, so that’s why I decided to make the switch. And I usually don’t switch, but they feel really good and it’s nice to have some validation right off the bat.”
Counterbalanced putters have been all the rage in the professional ranks. Aaron Rai recently joined the club when he put a counterbalanced Axis1 Tour-HM mallet in the bag. The switch just happened to coincide with a runner-up showing — his best finish of the year — at the BMW Championship.
The highly technical head design used by Rai places the center of gravity directly on the center of the face and aligned with the axis of the shaft. The goal is to keep the face square at impact more consistently. In layman’s terms, Axis1’s technology mitigates misses and increases directional consistency.
Quick-hitters: Titleist golf ball users finished in the top 6 positions in Napa, while nine of the top 10 played a Pro V1 or Pro V1x. … TaylorMade’s Stealth 2 Teams Edition drivers are Ryder Cup-ready. … A tour pro shared the inner workings of equipment deals.
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