Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Bryson DeChambeau’s ‘secret’ wedges have a Tiger Woods connection
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.
Secret wedges, anyone?
Bryson DeChambeau’s Twitch — just go ahead and Google it — is appointment viewing these days. In a sport where few players show their personality off the course, DeChambeau has opened the doors and let the entire world in on a regular basis when he fires up Twitch and streams himself playing Fortnite. (Go ahead and Google “Fortnite,” too.)
DeChambeau will talk about anything on his stream. There was the story he told about buying a Tesla with his first winner’s check. And did you know he has a fondness for chili? But I digress. If you’re a gearhead, you should probably be paying attention to the stream for a few reasons.
On occasion, he’ll offer insight into recent gear changes and what’s trending in the pro ranks — like the “secret” wedge company he was working with recently on a groove configuration to help with his newfound length off the tee.
It’s possible the wedge company could be Artisan Golf, after DeChambeau was observed with the Fort Worth, Texas-based equipment manufacturer’s wedges in the bag in Dubai. Artisan burst onto the scene in 2018 when Patrick Reed won the Masters with two wedges in the bag. Other tour pros have followed Reed’s lead in recent years, including Abraham Ancer.
While Artisan might not be a household name, it’s run by one of the most respected clubmakers in the industry: Mike Taylor. Taylor worked on Tiger Woods’ clubs during his time at Nike Golf — helped in a consulting role when Woods transitioned to TaylorMade — and started up Artisan Golf in 2017, which currently makes custom wedges and putters.
DeChambeau has tinkered around with different wedges and designs over the last year from Cobra and PXG, so this is nothing new. But the connection to Taylor’s startup is an intriguing one nonetheless.
In addition to the wedges, DeChambeau also went back to Cobra’s King LTD driver.
Justin Rose has a specific look when it comes to his irons, starting with a “pinched” toe that’s been a part of his head profile for years. So when Honma started rolling out versions of its Tour-only TR20B iron for Rose to test, they assumed he’d probably land on the one that resembled his current set of Rose Proto blades.
Instead of sticking with his standard profile, Rose threw them a curveball, opting for something that’ll closely resemble the retail version slated to be released this summer.
“There were a few models,” Rose told GOLF.com. “There was a 001, 002 and a 003 — so subtle toe designs — and I kind of landed on their standard production shape. I looked at it and kind of took what I thought were my preferences, like the pinched toe that I was playing in the Rose Proto and said, actually, I kind of like what you guys have done.”
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Of course, not everything on Rose’s set is stock.
“A blade is a blade, but there are subtle differences,” he said. “The bounce is ever-so-slightly different. I’ve also been much smarter about how we set it up — really working with the tour team, them getting to know me, me getting to know them. We’ve been a lot more diligent in dialing the clubs in with lie angle. We’ll use TrackMan in much more sensible ways, in terms of looking at dispersion, start line, and making sure the club is dialed into my swing.”
Tiger’s new driver
Tiger Woods started the week unsure if he’d use TaylorMade’s SIM driver at Torrey Pines. Two days later, Woods trotted the club out and pumped a drive with it for his opening tee shot of 2020.
“I want to be able to draw it and then hit my little slap cut up there kind of shortening the fairway,” Woods said of his SIM wish list. “Trying to find both, meanwhile giving me more distance with both shots, would be ideal.”
Woods picked up 6-7 yards during testing with the 2020 Bridgestone Tour B XS golf ball he paired with SIM.
Tracking Triple Track
Initially designed for Callaway’s ERC Soft golf ball, Triple Track technology has taken off on Tour since its inclusion on Chrome Soft. The blue and red lines on the side are designed to improve alignment, compared to the regular side stamp found on many of today’s golf balls, particularly when it comes to putting accuracy.
A total of seven players employed Triple Track on their Chrome Soft golf ball, including Phil Mickelson, Xander Schauffele, Francesco Molinari, Dylan Frittelli and J.J. Spaun.
Rory McIlroy waited until 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon to make a change to his driver. He has Jason Day to thank for the last-minute tweak. McIlroy tried out Day’s 10.5-degree driver head — with the loft sleeve cranked down two degrees — on the range and immediately noticed the face didn’t look visually shut at address, something he noticed when he put his 9-degree TaylorMade SIM head down on the turf.
“On the range it was going good and stuff and I was sort of thinking I can maybe get used to that look,” McIlroy said. “But as I went and played a few holes, I just — the face just looked a little bit left to me. So I ended up going to a new head, [10.5-degree]. I’ve never played a [10.5-degree] driver, but I put a 2-degree sleeve in it and it’s actually playing around 8.5 but it’s opened it up two degrees so the toe is not in, it’s more out and it’s more how I like to see it. Just visually it gives me a little bit more confidence.”
Going up in loft to 10.5 degrees allowed McIlroy to throw in a two-degree adjustable sleeve and move the loft down to around 8.5, ensuring the face didn’t look shut.
Three weeks ago, PXG unveiled a 0811 prototype that timed up perfectly with the signing of Chez Reavie, who put the driver in play at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Since then, the driver has proliferated on Tour — to the point that every member of PXG’s tour staff in the field at Torrey Pines had the prototype in play.
The driver has reportedly been a boon in the ball speed department, with every player seeing somewhere in the neighborhood of an extra 2-3 miles per hour during testing.
Be like Tiger
Jon Rahm isn’t the only big name using Tiger Woods’ special grind on his TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 wedge. Reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland has one as well. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s two of the top 15 players in the world with Woods’ lob wedge in the bag.
As for the specifics on Wood’s lob wedge grind, it’s designed for extreme flop shots with 34 degrees of bounce in the leading edge. The overall bounce is 11 degrees with a shaved heel that measures just four degrees, making it possible open the face and launch the ball high into the air.
Does you smell bacon?
Collin Morikawa is a fan of breakfast. And breakfast-themed wedges. It’s enough to make anyone hungry early in the morning. Vokey Tour rep Aaron Dill kept the breakfast train going at Torrey with an SM8 “bacon” wedge that looks good enough to eat.
Keegan Bradley made one of the more interesting changes of the week, employing TaylorMade’s draw-biased SIM Max D driver (10.5 degrees) — a product normally used for recreational golfers to help eliminate a slice — with a Fujikura Ventus Black 6X shaft. Bradley not only picked up roughly 8 yards off the tee but a higher launch with it set in the standard loft sleeve setting. The Max D model also has a deep face that Bradley prefers. TaylorMade reps confirmed the Max D moves an additional seven yards left, on average, when compared to SIM Max.
Because Bradley tends to find the high toe on a more consistent basis, TaylorMade Tour reps also positioned hot melt on the strike location to keep the left miss out of the picture.
Quick-hitters: Justin Rose signed a putter-only deal with Axis1 Golf. … Due to his familiarity and past success with the product, Rose also returned Mitsubishi’s Diamana D+ 70TX shaft in his Honma TR20 460 driver. … There’s a specific reason why Tiger Woods juggles a ball on his wedge during testing. … Sebastian Cappelen, who rarely carries a 3-wood, added a Callaway Mavrik to the bag for the par 5s on the South Course at Torrey Pines. The course-dependent club is almost specifically used from the fairway. … Fujikura’s new Motore X driver shaft was played by Rhein Gibson (F1 6X) and Xinjun Zhang (F3 6X).