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December 6 2013

1:44 PM

Mailbag: Who's making changes?

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Dustin Johnson went from 9.5 to 10.5 degrees when he started using TaylorMade's SLDR driver.

In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall talks about TaylorMade Tour Preferred irons, equipment switches and more.

Have a question about the latest golf equipment or what the pros are playing? Send a tweet to @jonathanrwall.

What's the deal with TaylorMade's Tour Preferred line? Is it coming out next year? Will it have the TP Badge? — Austin Crawford

TaylorMade's still planning to release a Tour Preferred line in the near future. I actually had a long-winded response to this question, but Justin Rose forced me to revise it at the last minute when he tweeted a photo from the Nedbank Golf Challenge of a combo set of Tour Preferred CB and MC irons.

I posted the photo of his bag that clearly shows the words "Tour Preferred" in the cavity, so you know these are the real deal. TaylorMade has yet to comment on the release date, but I know TaylorMade Japan's website already has the Tour Preferred line up on its site.

The good news is the irons are now out in the open. I think it's only a matter of time before TaylorMade makes an official announcement.

I saw you tweeted that TaylorMade is going to release a 14-degree SLDR driver in the near future. Is this a fad or an actual trend? — Josh Humphreys

I think the increase in loft is here to stay. Do I think you'll see players switching to 14-degree drivers in waves next season? Probably not.

I had the chance to spend some time with TaylorMade executive vice president Sean Toulon recently on a trip to Las Vegas for the JetSpeed launch, and he mentioned that a low and forward CG was the way toward "that mythical land of ideal launch conditions, 1700 rpm's and 17 degrees of launch angle."

We've seen players like Carl Pettersson use drivers with as much as 11.5 degrees of loft recently. But Pettersson preferred the additional loft because he believed it worked with a longer-than-average shaft for increased carry and more spin.

The increase in loft this time around has more to do with the low and forward CG position. Solid-core balls that spin less and launch monitors that help optimize launch angle for increased carry have also played a part in the new loft trend.

But we're talking about going from 9.5 degrees to 10.5 degrees — in Dustin Johnson's case when he started using TaylorMade's SLDR driver — which doesn't seem like a massive a jump.

So who could benefit from a 14-degree driver? It really depends on your swing speed and launch angle. With the modern driver and ball, there's reason to believe more loft could be your friend. If the pros are going up in loft, you should at least consider testing out a driver with extra loft to see if it benefits your game.

Any big names switching equipment during the off-season? — Larry Pedersen

This is the number one question I get asked on Twitter. As far as switches go, Carl Pettersson moved from Nike to TaylorMade at the Frys.com Open, but that's really been the extent of the news.

The reason for the silence is that most players are still under contract through the end of 2013, which means you likely won't hear anything official until the beginning of the year.

However, that doesn't mean rumors aren't floating around in cyberspace. Barry Havenga, Golf Digest South Africa's deputy editor, tweeted this week that Ernie Els will depart Callaway at the end of the year for a new destination in 2014.

That's big news. Also, I've heard that a couple big names will be playing new equipment next season. I'm talking names that will raise some eyebrows.

Keep an eye on the Equipment Report and I'll let you know when the signings become official.

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