Nike's exit from the golf equipment game has sent Fleetwood searching for a new set of clubs
August 04, 2018
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
Tommy Fleetwood on irons before PGA Championship
Tommy Fleetwood has a potential equipment problem on his hands in the not-so-distant future. As a former Nike Golf equipment staffer, Fleetwood chose to stick with a set of VR Pro Blade irons when the Swoosh exited the hard-goods industry in 2016.
For one of the best ball-strikers in the world, the irons have played a part in Fleetwood's meteoric rise over the last year or so that's seen him record three worldwide victories and rise to 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Before this season, Fleetwood replaced his well-worn VR Pro Blades with a fresh set. Having access to new equipment normally isn't a problem for the best players in the world. For Fleetwood, though, the set just happened to be the one and only set left in his possession.
With Nike no longer in the equipment business, things could get interesting for Fleetwood when his current set bites the dust.
"It stops me from breaking any, that's for sure," Fleetwood said. "Eventually, I'm going to have find a new set, but I've been using these for a long time and they're still going."
With fresh sets in limited supply, Fleetwood learned that fellow Englishman, and former Swoosh staffer, Paul Casey had a brand new set at home. Fleetwood initially thought he hit the jackpot, but there was one problem: Casey didn't have any interest in parting with them.
Not even when Fleetwood offered to pay Casey for the irons.
"They are as rare as rocking horse poo," Casey said with a laugh. "And I will not sell them to him. Or put it this way, he hasn't offered me enough money. They look beautiful, by the way, and I haven't used them. They're the kind of clubs you could hang on the wall."
"I love the fact that [Tommy's] running around telling everybody. I haven't found any gifts in my locker or handwritten notes. He's gotta try harder."
Casey picked up the set when Nike shifted from VR Pro Blade to Vapor Pro in 2015 because he was still using the irons at the time and wanted to have a backup set, just in case.
Casey, who remains a free agent with his irons, opted to go with Mizuno after the Nike news broke. While he admitted he likely won't ever use the set in competition, he's been holding onto them due to the scarcity of the iron that was popularized by Tiger Woods.
"He's got a brand new set and he won't give them to me," Fleetwood said. "Shame on Paul. He's pretty set in his ways, so I don't think I'll be getting those."
If Fleetwood can't obtain a new set, he's ready to consider life without his trusty blades.
"Honestly, changing might make life easier if something went wrong with a set from another manufacturer," Fleetwood said. "I could get them fixed and it wouldn't be a struggle."
Or Fleetwood could just pull for Casey to make the Ryder Cup. At this point, it might be the only way Fleetwood gets his hands on Casey's irons — if only for a week.
"If I hopefully make the Ryder Cup team, and he's my partner, maybe I'd loan them out to him for the week because I want him to play well," Casey said. "But I'll have them right back at the end of the week."
Ben Everill contributed to this report