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Equipment Report

    Equipment mailbag: Mickelson's new driver

  • Phil Mickelson hits a tee shot during Round 1 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)Phil Mickelson hits a tee shot during Round 1 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall discusses a handful of gear topics, including the Phil Mickelson's new driver, SuperStroke's club grips and do-it-yourself groove sharpening.

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

What do you know about Phil Mickelson's new driver? — @danwmeyer

It feels like we're always talking about a new metalwood in Phil's bag at the beginning of the year. In the past it was 3Deep and Phrankenwood. This year it's a Callaway XR 16 Sub Zero Prototype driver that was first spotted in his hands at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

The driver looks nearly identical to XR 16 Pro at first glance, but a closer look reveals a second weight port closer to the face. According to Callaway, the additional port dials in launch and spin even more than the Pro head. Adding more weight to the front of the club repositions the CG and makes it possible for the driver to cater to players that benefit from really low spin.

Phil has never had any trouble generating spin and used Big Bertha Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond for a good portion of last season, so the switch to a lower spinning XR 16 model should come as no surprise.

Jason Gore was actually the first to put the driver in play at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and based on how he and Phil have been playing, I wouldn't be surprised to see others try it out this season.

If you're hoping the driver comes to retail — don't hold your breath. I was told it's a TOUR-only model. However, if Phil posts a win with it in the bag, all bets are off.

How are the guys using the SuperStroke club grips liking them? — @BryceThompson6

I talked to the folks at SuperStroke during the PGA Merchandise Show and all signs point to the company making some noise in the club grip market this season. SuperStroke actually released the TX1 half cord last year, but it seems like things really took off when Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth started using the new S-Tech club grip.

In total, SuperStroke has four players currently using club grips: Spieth (S-Tech), Garcia (S-Tech), Jason Dufner (S-Tech prototype cord) and Victor Dubuisson (TX1 half cord).

I've been told that players really like the feel of the new grips, which is the most important factor when you're switching from something familiar to a new model. 

Having a stable of four players using your club grips might not seem like a big deal, but when all four have wins in the last three months, it means you're onto something. 

Golf groove sharpeners worth the money? If so do you have a recommendation? — @hoover_lucas

Wedges are very personal. Once you find a particular grind and look, you're going to do everything in your power to keep that wedge in the bag. I get that. However, instead of forking over money to have your old wedge regrooved or sharpened — or doing it yourself — you may want to consider buying a new one.

Sure, it may cost a little more, but you'll no doubt benefit from some fresh grooves in the long run. For those that might not know, regrooving the wedge incorrectly can make the grooves non-conforming.

Not only that, regrooving multiple times can make the face thinner and lighter, reducing head weight in the process. And the tolerances might not be the same.

That being said, you're more than welcome to sharpen your own grooves. I just think it's worth the money to pick up a new wedge and avoid the headache that comes with doing it yourself.

Any players having second thoughts on the equipment changes they made in the offseason? — @JamieArtkin

Even if a player wasn't completely happy with his new equipment deal, you'd never hear him voice his displeasure in public. Plus, it's too early to say if a player might regret his decision to play a different set of sticks.

It's easy to place a majority of the blame on the clubs when things go awry. Just remember Rory McIlroy took a lot of heat at the start of the 2013 season when he got off to a rocky start. I think it's safe to say things turned out just fine for him.

Any chance Sergio Garcia goes to Titleist after this year? — @dmac1003

Sergio played Titleist clubs before joining TaylorMade over six years ago, so you can't rule anything out. However, he's still under contract with TaylorMade and all signs point to him staying put.

Based on the absurd equipment rumors that were floating around during the winter break, I'd prefer to wait until things are finalized. We have 11 months to go before new deals are announced. A lot can happen in a year.