Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Kuchar’s driver/ball tweaks pay off, gear rumor season and more

November 12, 2018

Recent product testing paid off for Matt Kuchar with his first PGA Tour title in over four years at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Not one to make changes on a whim, Kuchar began working on multiple driver heads before settling on Bridgestone’s Tour B JGR model and noticing an increase in ball speed, which has translated to more distance in recent starts. While it’s a small sample size, Kuchar averaged 289 yards during the 2017-18 Tour season compared to 294 yards in his first two starts of the new campaign.

The driver swap coincided with a ball change for Kuchar, who spent time undergoing an extensive fitting process with Bridgestone Tour reps. Recent testing revealed that Bridgestone’s Tour B X offered a lower driver trajectory and spin rate when compared to the higher spinning Tour B XS model Kuchar played most recently.

According to Bridgestone reps, Kuchar felt the low spin and launch would lead to better accuracy off the tee. He ranked third in driving accuracy in Mexico while hitting 80 percent of the fairways at El Camaleon Golf Club.

It’s worth noting Kuchar has never had trouble producing low spin, ranking 162nd out of 193 players in spin rate (2,447.8 RPMs) last season on the PGA Tour. Through two events, he’s actually seen his spin rate increase with the new driver/ball combination (2,337 RPMs).

Westwood notches win with Fetch

Putter changes have a tendency to be hit or miss in professional golf. For every flat stick that earns a longterm spot in the bag, there are countless failed experiments along the way.

Lee Westwood’s recent switch to Ping’s new Sigma 2 Fetch at the European Tour’s Andalucia Valderrama Masters would have to be labeled a rousing success. The new mallet produced a top-five finish in his first start before hitting pay dirt two weeks later in South Africa at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Westwood has relied on a mallet shape in recent years, but Sigma 2 Fetch is likely the first he’s used featuring a hole in the center of the flange that serves another purpose beyond assisting with alignment and boosting perimeter weighting.

With a hole the size of a ball, the design allows the putter to fit inside the cup and pick up the ball without requiring the golfer to bend down. The feature might not be a high priority design item for professionals, but there’s an abundance of recreational golfer who will no doubt benefit from the golf-ball-size hole.

Westwood’s 35-inch putter has a lie angle of 18 degrees, four degrees of loft and a black PP58 midsize grip.

Lee Westwood holds up his putter during a stellar final round on Sunday.
Lee Westwood lifts his putter during a stellar final round on Sunday.

Spieth goes back to 915

One week after Jordan Spieth lamented his new Titleist TS2 driver and 3-wood weren’t spinning enough to stay in the bag, the 25-year-old went back to his 915D2 and 915F2 fairway wood but still wound up missing the cut in Mexico.

Returning to his usual driver and 3-wood didn’t seem to help Spieth, who hit just 42 percent of his fairways while averaging 278 yards. Based on comments from his only start with TS2, Spieth said he need would need to “optimize” both clubs before considering them again.

Equipment rumors

Justin Rose was linked with a move away from TaylorMade to Honma Golf last week — a sign that we’re nearing the winter lull in the schedule where the equipment industry tends to produce some of the biggest headlines.

Rose’s move would rank as the biggest of the signing period, but there’s another name worth tracking. Paul Casey is reportedly considering signing a staff deal, ending a two-year stretch where he refrained from inking a full bag agreement after Nike exited the hard-goods industry.

Danny Lee logs runner-up with Titleist prototype

The same week Tatsunori Nukaga recorded the first win for Titleist’s Pro V1x prototype on the Japan Golf Tour, Danny Lee logged the ball’s highest finish on the PGA Tour with a runner-up showing at Mayakoba.

Lee switched to the new Pro V1x in Mexico; he’s one of six players on Tour currently playing the ball. James Hahn, Hudson Swafford and Chez Reavie are a few of the notables playing the Pro V1 model.

Titleist began the Tour seeding and validation process for Pro V1 and Pro V1x last week in Las Vegas. Both balls are slated to hit retail in January.

Callaway wins count

Led by the company’s Rogue driver, Callaway won the driver count at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. History tells us this will likely be one of the last count wins for the original Rogue as Callaway transitions into a new 2019 driver product that should be unveiled in January.