Equipment roundup: QBE Shootout
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Written by Andrew Tursky @AndrewTursky
While some may call it the offseason, it was a busy and entertaining week in golf equipment. Let’s get right into everything you may have missed on the gear front.
Gary Woodland switches to a Ping driver
Woodland has made equipment news recently by gaming Wilson’s new blade prototype irons, and he’s back in the news this week for his driver switch. Previously playing a TaylorMade M3 driver, Woodland switched to a Ping G400 LST driver (8.5 degrees) at the 2018 QBE Shootout, where he and partner Charley Hoffman finished T3.
Callaway Epic Flash spotted in the wild
We saw Callaway Epic Flash drivers hit the USGA conforming list on Monday, and we spotted an Epic Flash driver, as well as an Epic Flash Sub Zero fairway wood, on the range at the 2018 QBE Shootout. While neither club made it into competition last week, the range testing was enough to confirm the green-and-yellow color scheme of the new Epic Flash metalwoods line.
Kevin Na, a recent ex-Titleist staffer, who was testing the Epic Flash Sub Zero fairway ahead of the QBE Shootout, made a number of changes to his competition setup. New in the bag last week was a Callaway X Forged UT iron, Callaway Apex Pro irons, a Callaway Mack Daddy 4 wedge, and an Odyssey Stroke Lab Tuttle putter, equipped with an Odyssey prototype shaft. He also has had Callaway GBB Epic fairway woods in the bag, which he kept in play at the QBE. Does this shift to Callaway/Odyssey equipment mean a new equipment contract is on the horizon for Na? We’ll keep a close eye on this.
Eddie Pepperell signs with Bettinardi
Pepperell is now getting paid to play a putter that he paid for. As the story goes, Pepperell purchased multiple putters at Core Golf in Oxfordshire in 2017. One of those putters was a Bettinardi Studio Stock No. 8 putter, which he ended up using to win the British Masters in October. Bettinardi recently signed Pepperell to its putter staff, which also includes Matt Kuchar and Francesco Molinari. Currently, Pepperell is ranked No. 35 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Graeme McDowell with a proto ball
McDowell, who made the switch to Srixon’s new Z-785 driver “a few months ago,” according to a Srixon rep, also made the switch to a new Srixon Z-Star XV prototype golf ball a few months ago, as well. The latter of those changes went under the radar at the time, but he made the announcement on Twitter as photos of the new prototypes made their rounds on social media. McDowell and his teammate Emiliano Grillo finished second in the QBE Shootout.
Harold Varner III tests Wilson
Equipment free agent HVIII was spotted on the range at the QBE Shootout testing Wilson Staff blade prototypes, with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 Tour Issue shafts, and Wilson’s new Cortex “Driver vs. Driver 2” driver at 9 degrees with a Fujikura Atmos Black 7TX shaft. While he didn’t put the irons or driver in play during competition, we’ll be keeping a close eye on his 14-club competition setup next time he tees it up.
Greg Norman goes old school
QBE Shootout tournament host Greg Norman showed up at Thursday’s pro-am with the same Ping Anser 2 putter that he used to win the 1993 Open Championship. Talk about a blast from the past.
He also had Cobra’s new King F9 Speedback driver (9 degrees), with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke shaft, in play for his round at Tiburon.
More on Norman’s putter here.
Luke Donald’s new driver
We didn’t see Luke Donald play on the PGA TOUR since April’s RBC Heritage, and when he showed up at the 2018 QBE Shootout, he had Mizuno’s new ST190G driver in the bag, equipped with a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue shaft. He also was wearing some show-stopping custom Jordan golf shoes.
Louis Oosthuizen wins with the Blueprints
Ping’s Blueprint Forged irons have recently popped up in the bags of Bubba Watson and Tony Finau, and now, the new prototypes have gotten their first victory. Louis Oosthuizen won the 2018 South African Open with the Blueprint irons (3-PW) equipped with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts.
Ping has yet to comment on the new irons, but we’ll release any more information as it becomes available.