Wall-to-Wall Equipment: This NFL superstar has a special tour putter
Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
I’ve spent more than a decade covering the equipment beat on the PGA Tour and abroad, but last week marked the first time I’ve ever attended the American Century Championship — better known as celebrity golf’s major championship.
Needless to say, the event wasn’t hurting for star power with Steph Curry, Patrick Mahomes, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, and other luminaries in the field. The same could be said for the number of interesting gear stories I happened upon while hanging out in Tahoe.
Of all the clubs I saw last week, Josh Allen’s Scotty Cameron putter had one of the more interesting backstories. As I quickly found out, the Buffalo Bills quarterback is a serious gearhead, which made our brief conversation even more enjoyable.
“I’ve got three sets of irons, six putters,” Allen said, before highlighting the current putter in his bag.
Allen’s blue and red Scotty Cameron Newport 2 TourType SSS isn’t your standard off-the-rack putter. The custom stamping is something you’d expect to see on a putter belonging to one of the NFL’s rising stars. But what makes it extra special to Allen is how he obtained the putter.
“Kevin Steelman is awesome,” Allen said. “We played together at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and he hooked me up with a Circle T putter. It’s been awesome, and I’m probably going to keep that one in the bag for a very long time.”
After posting photos of Allen’s putter on social media, Streelman, a 2-time Tour winner, chimed in to clarify how the gunslinger wound up with the wand. With a big assist from Dan Eaton, a product manager at Scotty Cameron, Allen was gifted a fully customized putter befitting a football superstar.
Streelman may be a Chicago Bears fan, but he’s still willing to help out the competition.
Viktor Hovland is a cornerstone of Ping’s Tour staff. He’ll remain a priority for the foreseeable future after coming to term on a multi-year extension with the equipment manufacturer.
“Since turning professional and joining Ping, I’ve felt very much a part of their golf family,” Hovland said. “The Norwegian connection is really cool and one of the many things that makes our relationship so special. Their team is out there every week on tour, working with me, fine-tuning my clubs but also just listening to me, watching me hit shots and helping determine what I need to elevate my game. I like that it’s a collaboration. We talk through everything, whether that’s at tour events or at the Ping Proving Grounds. I’ve always learned a lot from our discussions, which makes me a smarter golfer.
Hovland has been a part of Ping since the 2019 Travelers Championship and logged three PGA Tour wins during his time on staff. As part of the extension, Hovland will continue to play Ping clubs, carry a Ping staff bag and wear Ping-branded headwear (front of hat) — a key part of the deal Ping brass pushed for during initial negotiations.
With the Tour shifting to Scotland, TaylorMade released its new Stealth UDI and DHY utility irons and saw Kurt Kitayama (UDI 3) and Rasmus Hojgaard (UDI 2) insert them the first week. Rory McIlroy was also seen testing a UDI at the Old Course in preparation for the firm turf conditions that will greet players this week. If there’s a week on the calendar where long irons (and utility irons) reign supreme, it’s Open Championship week.
The Stealth UDI many pros are considering offers a traditional long iron look from the address position with a square topline and leading edge to make it easy to aim and blend into any set. A rear position weight centers and raises mass to offer low launch performance.
Tyrrell Hatton isn’t the only Ping staffer with new i-Series prototype irons in the bag. Brandon Hagy (long irons), David Lingmerth (full set) and Stewart Cink (full set) all made the jump in the last week. Many of the players who’ve tested the irons have mentioned the combination of a cleaner look in the long irons with the forgiveness of previous i-Series models.
Improved visuals have also positively impacted the set gapping — due in part to better launch conditions — for a number of players who’ve made the switch. Hovland, a current i210 user, has been testing them as well.
Titleist’s new TSR drivers continued to gain momentum at the Scottish Open. Max Homa (10-degree TSR3) was one of 21 players in the field who used either a TSR2 or TSR3 driver. Even more impressive, Homa became the third straight player to lead the field in SG: Off-the-tee with TSR since it was introduced at the Travelers Championship.
“I did notice that the spin didn’t change as much when you mishit it,” Homa said. “The heel and toe strikes kept the spin a little closer to your good ones. That’s obviously something I think everybody would be happy to have.”
“It’s a mile an hour faster for me, just ball speed. So, yeah. It just doesn’t feel like any reason not to use it. I hit basically only two types of golf shots with my driver, and they both are still flying very similar. So it feels like a no brainer.”
In addition to Homa, Cameron Smith (10-degrees TSR2), Will Zalatoris (8-degree TSR3, 13-degree TSR2+) and Matt Fitzpatrick (9-degree TSR4) also transitioned into the driver and/or fairway wood.
Quick-hitters: Tiger Woods made a tweak to his Scotty Cameron putter for the Open. … Justin Thomas’ caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, has an intriguing wedge suggestion for St. Andrews. … Thomas is also testing a Titleist T200 2-iron. … Mizuno unveiled limited edition blue Mizuno Pro 221 irons. … With 39 Rogue ST drivers in play, Callaway won the driver brand count at the Scottish Open. … Tommy Fleetwood had two TaylorMade P7TW 3-irons in Scotland. One, however, was strengthened to 2-iron loft with a “2” stamped on the head, so as not to get them confused.
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