In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall takes a look at Rory's McIlroy's next equipment change and offers insight on some of the prototype shafts currently on TOUR.
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With Rory McIlroy adding TaylorMade M2 woods in China, do you think he adds anything else anytime soon? — Philip Records
I'll be the first to admit I was surprised to see Rory make any changes before the end of the year.
After stating during his press conference at The Barclays that there "no reason to start changing just because I can," I assumed he would wait until the winter break to officially add a new club or two to the bag.
However, I can understand his decision for putting new TaylorMade M2 woods in play so soon. McIlroy viewed the events following the FedExCup/Ryder Cup as an opportunity to test equipment in a competitive setting before the calendar turns and he sets his sights on the major championships. In other words, he's looking for the best possible bag setup before things get serious.
As far as the next possible change, he did mention during a recent interview with Chris Solomon from No Laying Up that his top priority was testing new golf balls during the break. That doesn't mean he'll put something in play right away -- he has a three-year supply of Nike RZN Tour Platinum balls at his disposal -- but it's clear he's trying to work his way through the bag to see if there's anything out there that benefits his game.
Have you seen any new shafts on TOUR recently? — Rich Price
It feels like there's at least one new shaft on TOUR ever week. That's partly because it's easier to produce a handful of prototypes that offer a slightly different bend profile or weight at a moment's notice.
True Temper brought a Project X HZRDUS T1100 (read about it here) to the Safeway Open that had a slightly softer tip section than the original for players that needed additional launch. The interesting thing about the shaft was that it was a blank -- meaning it didn't have any graphics. That's essentially blind testing with driver shafts.
KBS had a new S-Taper shaft out last week in Las Vegas that has a similar launch angle to the company's Tour offering with step patterns that have been lengthened to lower spin. It could be a good option for players currently playing KBS Tour that need slightly less spin.
Nippon released a N.S. Pro Modus3 LSL prototype that's built on the N.S. Pro Modus3 125 platform and produces a more penetrating flight and low spin characteristics in a similar bend profile.
I've also seen Aldila's X-Torsion shaft make some noise in the last few weeks. The shaft has a feel and profile that's comparable to the company's popular RIP but employs a new MAMBA technology (Multi-Axial Material Bias Angle) in the tip end. The woven graphite material is placed in a +/- 45-degree fiber orientation that improves torsional stability in the lower half of the shaft where twisting typically occurs at impact.
Are we going to see any equipment changes when Tiger Woods plays the [Hero World Challenge]? — Max Afliccio
This is by far the most asked question in my social media feed at the moment. I'm not sure anyone knows for sure at the moment -- aside from Tiger -- but the photos that surfaced from Spyglass of a golf bag with his old Nike VR Pro Blade irons and VR Forged wedges in view leads me to believe he'll have a similar setup to what he's used in the past when we see him in the Bahamas.
If he does decide to make a change, I think the obvious choices would be driver, putter and golf ball.
Are you surprised Nike players have made so many equipment changes? — Tee N.
Not at all. Without an equipment contract tethering them to Nike, I predict you'll see most of the Nike staffers sign new deals at the beginning of the year. I think that's why you've seen players like Patrick Rodgers, Russell Henley and Nick Watney overhaul their entire bag setup. Rarely do you have the opportunity to test whatever you want on the course in competition before signing a new equipment deal.
This is a golden opportunity to not only feel completely comfortable with your setup before signing on the dotted line, but potentially eliminate the learning curve that usually comes with breaking in a new set of sticks on the course in a pressure situation.