Ernie Els raised some eyebrows at the Northern Trust Open when he switched from Adams' XTD Forged irons into a set of XTD Tour prototypes that were built just for the four-time major winner.
What few people knew at the time was that Els made two other equipment changes that same week. Along with a new TaylorMade JetSpeed driver (10.5 degrees), Els put a Yes! Golf Cali Mid counter balanced putter in play on the weekend at Riviera.
The putter played a big role in Els' run to the semifinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championshp. According to Blair Philip, Yes! Golf's Director of Research & Development, the Cali Mid he built was based on an educated guess he made on Els' measurements, stroke and face-balanced Yes! Sandy mallet he was using at the time.
"I built this on an educated guess based on the measurements we took in Jupiter at the Bears Club when we visited him a couple months ago," Philip said. "The face-balanced putter had some cut spin so I made the toe-heavy Callie and gave it to him to play knowing the face would square better (statistically)."
Els' putter measures 37 inches — according to CBS Sports' Ian Baker-Finch, Els cut the putter down two inches from its original length of 39 inches — with a 220-gram counter balanced grip, 2.5 degrees of loft and a 72-degree lie angle. The putter head weighs 402 grams.
Louis Oosthuizen makes driver, putter switch: Louis Oosthuizen made it to the quarterfinals with two new PING clubs in the bag — a 9.5-degree i25 driver and Ketsch putter.
Oosthuizen had been using a PING Anser driver but decided to test i25 at the Northern Trust Open. According to PING Tour reps, Oosthuizen saw immediate distance gains and liked how he could turn the ball over with i25; but he ultimately stuck with Anser for the tournament.
After testing i25 again at Dove Mountain, Oosthuizen put the driver in play with the same Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 6.2 Tour Spec (S-Flex) he had been using in his Anser driver.
Oosthuizen also switched to PING's new Ketsch putter — a model was unveiled at the PGA Merchandise Show. Made from C805-aluminum, the putter features a 17-4 stainless steel weight in the sole that boosts MOI by moving the CG low and back in the head, enhancing forgiveness.
Three white, contrasting lines were also added to the crown that work hand-and-hand with the mallet-style head to promote consistent alignment.
Dustin Johnson gets new irons: Dustin Johnson finished runner-up in his last two starts, but that didn't stop him from putting a fresh set of TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB irons in play.
According to TaylorMade reps, Johnson wanted a set with a softer leading edge for the desert conditions at Dove Mountain.
Branden Grace using Alpha: Branden Grace became the latest Callaway staffer to switch to the company's new Big Bertha Alpha driver. The South African worked with a 9-degree Big Bertha Alpha and put it in play after moving the Gravity Core to the down position — a change that yielded more ball speed and carry distance.
“What we did change was the (Gravity Core) position,” said Callaway Tour Rep, Mike Sposa. “It was in an up position which increases spin and lowers the launch. So we flipped it to the down position and really, really dialed in the numbers.
“We kept it at the COG position Draw (directional bias) -1 (loft adjustability). And at the end of the day, he ended up picking up 3 ½ to 4 mph ball speed over (his old driver) with the Big Bertha Alpha. And that translates into 6 to 8 carry yards.
"The best part of it all was that the dispersion was really tight. He plays a fade primarily and…he didn’t hit one (drive) left that I saw in a day and a half and was just really stoked about it."
Martin Kaymer's iron change: Never one to make a quick equipment switch, Martin Kaymer surprised TaylorMade Tour reps when put a new set of Tour Preferred MC irons in play after doing comparative testing on the range. Kaymer was pleased with the numbers he was seeing on Trackman and made the change.
Divots: Victor Dubuisson added a 21-degree Titleist 913H hybrid to the bag. ... Ernie Els switched to a 77-gram Fujikura Motore Speeder 757 shaft in his TaylorMade SLDR fairway woods (15 and 19 degrees). ... Due to the tight layout at Dove Mountain, Justin Rose put a TaylorMade Tour Preferred 3-iron in play. ... Callaway Tour reps made a few changes to Jim Furyk's Callaway Big Bertha driver, cutting the driver to 44 3/8 inches, with 1-inch total tipping, and setting the adjustable sleeve in the Neutral position. The slide weight was set to the 1/Fade setting (slightly toward the toe side). ... Stephen Gallacher made his first PGA TOUR start of the season with TaylorMade's new Tour Preferred X ball. ... George Coetzee carried three new Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (52, 56, 60 degrees) wedges.