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.
Putt for dough
Not all club changes pan out, but it’s fair to say Scottie Scheffler hit the jackpot (quite literally) when he changed putters at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. With a win on Sunday over Kevin Kisner, the 25-year-old moved to No. 1 in the world for the first time in his career.
The victory continued a torrid stretch for Scheffler who won for the third time in his last five starts. From a monetary standpoint, that kind of stretch is beyond lucrative — to the tune of $6.173 million in just six weeks. Outside of a fairway wood change (more on that in a moment), the only gear adjustment to occur during that period was the putter switch.
It’s impossible to pin a run like Scheffler’s on one club, but there’s something about the new putter that’s certainly clicked for Scheffler since it went into play.
While Scheffler waited until Phoenix to make the change official, he started working with Scotty Cameron Tour rep Brad Cloke on the new wand in December during a trip to Cameron’s putter studio. Unlike most pros who change putters due to prolonged struggles, Scheffler merely wanted a fresh look.
“He just wanted to switch things up a little bit and give himself a slightly different look heading into 2022,” Cloke said. “Prior to visiting us in the Studio, he’d been messing around with an older Newport 2 Timeless he had at home. He’d added bunch of lead tape to the sole to try and get it to a similar swingweight as his Super Rat. He really liked the profile but the feel wasn’t exactly where he wanted it, so we went to work on building him a new setup with adjustable weighting.”
Scheffler chose to go from a Super Rat 1 to a 36.25-inch Newport 2-style head with sharper edges and two 25-gram adjustable weights in the sole. He also made a slight refinement to the alignment aid, shifting the black line from the topline to the flange.
As the saying goes, “driver for show, putt for dough.” Scottie can attest.
Adam Scott continued to take advantage of equipment free agency by adding another piece of fresh gear to the bag in Austin, Texas. After adding TaylorMade Stealth woods at the Players Championship and a L.A.B Golf putter ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Scott inserted a Mizuno Pro Fli-Hi 3-iron (KBS Tour 130X shaft) in a dark finish that was easy to spot in a sea of satin chrome Titleist irons and Vokey wedges.
Known for their better-player cavity-back irons and blades, Mizuno has quietly gained a following as a viable long iron alternative for several big names.
Prior to adding a Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero 7-wood, Xander Schauffele played a Mizuno MP-20 HMB 3-iron. Scott’s Fli-Hi is a glorified long iron replacement that’s designed around a 431 stainless steel body and springy MAS1C face.
So long, partner
A lot of ink was spilled last week on Scottie Scheffler’s discarded Nike VR Pro Limited 3-wood. It looks like I should’ve worried more about his new addition (TaylorMade Stealth) than the predecessor.
Scheffler didn’t skip a beat with the 16.5-degree Stealth 3-wood as he rolled to his third Tour title in Austin. According to TaylorMade Tour rep Todd Chew, Scheffler originally tested a 15-degree Stealth as a Nike replacement during the preseason, but the club exceeded his usual 3-wood carry distance.
“Scottie could actually do more with the Stealth 15.0-degree head, but it would go too far,” Chew said. “With the titanium Stealth Plus head he could hit it even further, but that’s not what he needs from this club.”
To solve the problem, TaylorMade suggested Scheffler try a 16.5-degree Stealth 3HL (the HL stands for “high loft”) at a shorter length to see if it produced a similar carry distance to his gamer.
“[I]n Palm Springs we built him a Stealth 3HL 16.5-degree with a Fujikura Ventus Black 8X shaft,” Chew said. “His previous 3-wood was about 12.5 degrees of loft and in order to match launch conditions and distance with Stealth, we had to go to the Stealth 3HL, make it an inch shorter and finish the loft at 16 degrees.
“We were really close with matching launch conditions which was important to Scottie. It was coming out of a different window because of the difference in loft in the heads and he has since been able to figure out how to flight it the way he wants to flight it. The benefits of the 16.5-degree head are that he can hit it much higher and farther if he wants to but also match previous conditions, which were lower and feature more spin.”
For a majority of his peers, Xander Schauffele’s issues with the putter wouldn’t be categorized as a full-on problem. Ranked 70th in SG: Putting entering the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Schauffele hadn’t finished outside the Top 70 in SG: Putting since he joined the PGA Tour in 2016. While he wasn’t ready to make a wholesale change to his putter, Schauffele was open to the idea of seeing what else was out there.
“He still wanted to stay in the same head shape,” said Odyssey Tour rep Joe Toulon. “It was more about changing up the visuals a bit and seeing if that helped.”
Instead of shaking up the alignment lines affixed to the top of the head, Schauffele chose to change the color of the paint, going from a bright white to a black that popped against the silver finish. In the end, the black paint on one line, in particular, sold Schauffele on the White Hot OG #7CH.
“It was that small line on the topline,” said Toulon. “He was already using a black line on the sidestamp of the ball, so the addition of a black alignment line on top made him feel like that line extended from the putter to the ball. For him, it was all about helping with alignment.”
Since he made the change, Schauffele has logged two top-15 finishes in his last three starts. With the Masters on deck, the return of Schauffele’s ever-reliable putter couldn’t have come at a better time.
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