November 30, 2018
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Aaron Rai used iron covers at the Hong Kong Open. (Photos by Getty Images)
Although major OEMs are expected to release new golf clubs sometime soon – and equipment fans are eagerly anticipating spotting the unreleased gear on TOUR – it was unexpected equipment stories, from some unlikely names, that owned golf headlines this past week.
Here’s a recap of everything noteworthy you may have missed.
To win the Hong Kong Open, Aaron Rai used equipment typically reserved for amateur golfers at the butt-end of a joke: iron covers. Rai’s TaylorMade P770 (2 and 3) and Tour Preferred MB (4-9) irons got protection from old school TaylorMade iron covers at Hong Kong Golf Club. Sure, social media made its jokes, but it was a big win for Aaron Rai – his first European Tour victory – and a big win for iron cover nation.
Additionally, Rai had a Frankenstein head cover protecting his TaylorMade M4 driver, and a putter cover that’s seen better years on his Heavy Putter BM-3. He also wears two Glenmuir MacWet gloves, on his left and right hand.
A broken shaft
I don’t think it’s supposed to do that 🧐 pic.twitter.com/uX67c7uglW— Andrew Tursky (@AndrewTursky) November 29, 2018
John Senden made equipment news in the worst way at the Australian PGA Championship when his driver shaft snapped mid-swing, causing him to miss the ball entirely. Not only did the incident jam his finger and leave him without a driver with 10 more holes to play, but the rules officials said the stroke counts! With “intent to hit the ball,” according to the officials, Senden had to count the stroke and play his next shot from the teeing ground – he used an iron for his “second” shot. He went onto bogey the hole and shoot even par with 13 clubs.
Bubba switches Ping drivers, but it’s not what you think
With the entire equipment world waiting to see new product from major OEMs, Bubba Watson made a driver switch … from his longtime Ping G400 LST driver to a G400. In the age of chasing lower spin on drives to maximize distance, Bubba switched to a driver that offered him more backspin off the tee.
I asked a Ping representative for more answers on the specs, and why Bubba made the switch. Here’s what Ping had to say:
Bubba did, however, give equipment fans something new to look at it… kind of.
Back in October, Bubba unveiled an unreleased Ping “Blueprint” iron to his social media followers, and he finally put those irons in play this week at the Hero. While we’ve seen the irons before, Ping has yet to speak on the designs of the new irons.
Woodland plays Wilson prototypes
As an equipment free agent, Woodland can test and play with any irons he chooses. This week at the Hero World Challenge, Woodland decided to play unreleased Wilson Staff prototype blade irons.
No big switches yet
Disappointingly, there were no other huge debuts or switches at the Hero World Challenge. Tiger didn’t change into a new driver. Justin Rose, amid rumors of a switch to Honma, came to the Bahamas with a bag full of TaylorMade equipment. When, if at all, will Rose make a switch? When will we see TOUR players using new OEM releases? Stay tuned.
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