Spieth switches it up: Switching driver shafts rarely registers on the equipment meter during most tournament weeks — except when the player in question making the change happens to be a two-time major winner and one of the favorites heading into the Masters Tournament.
Following a three-year run with Aldila's Rogue driver shaft, Jordan Spieth used the year's first major championship to break in something new from the shaft manufacturer, replacing his Rogue with an NV 2KXV Blue 70X shaft.
Jordan Spieth put Aldila's NV 2KXV Blue shaft in Titleist 915 driver this week. First time he's had something other than Rogue in a while. pic.twitter.com/2K5Q8HMcUT— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) April 8, 2017
According to Rusty Estes, Aldila's Tour rep, Spieth noticed a lack of spin with his go-to high draw shot at the Shell Houston Open, and requested new shafts to test in the run-up to the Masters.
Spieth went through different Rogue and NV 2KXV parts before ultimately settling on NV 2KXV Blue — a shaft that has a similar profile to Rogue with a counterbalance feel, but produces anywhere from 200-500 RPMs of additional spin.
With the new shaft setup in his Titleist 915D2 driver, Spieth averaged 281 yards and hit 54 percent of the fairways at Augusta National.
Rory's irons get a fresh look: For the gearheads still holding out hope that Callaway will eventually offer a muscleback iron in a raw finish, Rory McIlroy's decision to swap his raw Apex MB prototype heads for a chrome version likely put the kibosh on those dreams.
Other than the finish change and the addition of "Rors" stamped on each head — the previous set had "RM" — the irons looked to be an identical setup to what he was playing previously.
Charl Schwartzel's Spider: For the eighth consecutive week, TaylorMade's Spider Tour putter was the most played model on the PGA TOUR. Sergio Garcia's Spider Tour Red was front and center during his Masters win. However, he wasn't the only player in the field who found success with the mallet.
Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel recently replaced his PING TR 1966 with the popular putter and found himself in contention on the weekend, thanks in part to back-to-back 68's that left him three shots out of a playoff in third place.
Schwartzel's putter has the same look as the updated Spider Tour, but based on the sole graphics, it's an original Ghost Spider Itsy Bitsy, the same putter Jason Day had in the bag before he made the switch to Spider Tour Red at the 2016 RBC Heritage.
Mickelson adds hybrid: When you've played as many competitive rounds at Augusta National as Phil Mickelson, it becomes easier to optimize your bag setup for particular holes and course conditions.
Recognizing that he'd need a club to reach the long par-3 fourth hole — it stretched to 240 yards during the tournament week — Mickelson took out his 5-wood and inserted an 18-degree Apex hybrid that's been part of his setup at various tournaments since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.
In addition to giving him something for the fourth, Mickelson told Callaway Tour reps that the versatility of the course dependent club made it an obvious choice for the year's first major.
Bubba's samurai sword putter: Bubba Watson likely became the first player in Masters history to use a putter made from the same metal as samurai swords at Augusta National. Even though he failed to make the cut for the first time in nine starts, the putter was still a topic of conversation during the tournament week.
During a recent trip to Ping headquarters, Watson eyed a Damascus steel putter and liked the unique look enough to have Ping make him one in the PLD Anser head shape that he currently uses.
According to Ping, the creation process was time-consuming. To make the putter, approximately 160 sheets of 302 Stainless Steel and AEB-L Stainless Steel were stacked together and then heated to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. When the metal reached the necessary temperature, it was forged together by a Nazel Power Hammer — the hammer weighs nearly 19 tons and stand 11 feet high — that bonded the layers together.
The Damascus block was then sent to PING where the head was 100 percent milled. It was then heat treated to match the hardness (76.5 Rockwell "B" Scale) of Watson's current PLD putter, giving it an identical sound and feel. One of the final steps included an acid etching process that created the contrasting colors between the two metals.
Scott's Vokey K-Grind: Soft course conditions kept many players from making changes to their wedges, but a few tinkered with various bounce options ahead of the tournament, including Adam Scott.
While the former Masters winner normally plays a Vokey SM6 K Grind lob wedge with six degrees of bounce — the lowest amount of bounce offered in the K Grind — he had Vokey wedge rep Aaron Dill build him a SM6 K Grind with 10 degrees of bounce.
"Years ago when Adam won the Masters, he did so with 10 degrees [of bounce]," Dill said at the Shell Houston Open. "He did bring the [wedge] back out to test this week just a little bit. We did make him a new wedge with SM6, so he has those two options to test based on the course conditions."
Despite the success Scott enjoyed with his old K Grind lob wedge during the 2013 edition, he ultimately stuck with his standard setup.