December 26, 2018
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods made some notable equipment changes en route to his 80th PGA TOUR win. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
As the calendar turns the page on 2018, many golfers are looking ahead to the new 2019 rules changes, the PGA TOUR event schedule switch-up, and new equipment releases. But first, let’s take a look back on 2018, and the crazy, funny, shocking and ground-breaking equipment stories from the past year.
Below are my top-8 favorite equipment stories from 2018. Enjoy the trip down memory lane.
Bryson DeChambeau sprays golf balls with water
Simulating moisture on the ball.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 18, 2018
Bryson being Bryson. ⚛ pic.twitter.com/uXNadkxTOP
If we’ve learned one thing since Bryson DeChambeau came onto the PGA TOUR swinging one-length irons, it’s that Bryson does Bryson things. He says things like “barometric pressure” and he studies the coefficient of restitution of flagsticks. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon. On the contrary, if you listen close enough to what he says and study what he does, it’s possible you may actually learn something.
In classic Bryson fashion, he was spotted on the range ahead of the 2018 TOUR Championship spraying range balls with water. “What the heck is he doing now?” thought the golfing world.
His longtime coach Mike Schy later explained that he was simulating morning dew and how it effects the flight of a golf ball. Fascinating.
It’s undeniable that whatever he’s doing, outlandish as it may seem, is working. He’s already notched five PGA TOUR victories, including three wins in 2018 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide and the first two legs of the FedExCup Playoffs.
The year of free agents
Professional golfers, especially those on the PGA TOUR, are known for having huge equipment contracts to play clubs from certain companies. There are different variations of equipment contracts, such as full bag clubs deals, 13/14 club deals, or specific golf club deals, such as a driver. For some big name players, these contracts can get up into the millions.
But in 2018, each of the major champions – Patrick Reed, Francesco Molinari, and Brooks Koepka twice – did not have equipment contracts. Each of those golfers are part of the now growing trend of golfers being “equipment free agents,” and playing whatever clubs they want to. Often times, that leads to mixed bags with players using clubs from multiple manufacturers. For equipment fans, this trend is exciting. The perception is that we now get to see what clubs those equipment free agents actually want to play, instead of what their contract tells them to play.
With equipment contracts reportedly shrinking overall, it’s likely that non-marquee golfers will opt to play clubs they’re most comfortable with instead of opting for contracts, with the hope they can earn enough on the course to make up the difference. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2019, and whether the equipment free agent list continues to grow and succeed.
Tommy Fleetwood offers to buy Paul Casey’s Nike irons
As the story goes, Fleetwood is down to his last set of Nike VR Pro blades, and he’s having a difficult time finding a new set because Nike no longer manufactures golf clubs. He knew, however, that Paul Casey had an extra set of the unique irons that he wasn’t using. Knowing the clubs’ rarity, however, Casey wasn’t willing to part ways his blades.
Fleetwood continued to play his last set of VR Pro blade irons, and the once-viral story died down a bit. Just before this holiday season, though, Casey poked the bear one more time with an Instagram post showing off his VR Pro blade irons, and he tagged Fleetwood in the post. Ouch.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Fleetwood’s irons of choice in 2019. It’s inevitable he’ll have to switch into new irons at some point, and we’ll be here to report it if and when he does.
It was such an interesting year in equipment for Tiger Woods, he gets his own category altogether.
Here’s a recap of the notable Tiger equipment stories from the year.
- His backup Scotty Cameron Newport 2 sold at auction for $44 grand. His backup!
- He switched from TGR blades -- confirmed to have been made at Nike’s “The Oven” before shutting down its operation – into TaylorMade TW Phase 1 irons that remain shrouded in mystery. Hopefully we get more answers about these irons in 2019. And is there a “Phase 2” on the way?
- His putter saga saw a happy ending at the TOUR Championship. Woods has won 13-of-14 major championships using the same Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter, but his relationship with it hit a rocky road in 2018. He switched into a TaylorMade Ardmore 3 putter and then a TP Black Copper Juno putter in the second half of the year. He finished second in the PGA Championship using the Ardmore 3 mallet. But at the TOUR Championship, it was the familiar Scotty he had in the bag to capture his 80th PGA TOUR victory at the TOUR Championship. A fairytale ending for the duo.
- Woods, like many of his contemporaries in 2018, used a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange driver shaft throughout most of the year. But as the season drew to a close, he switched into a Diamana D+ White 70TX driver shaft. Woods has been known throughout the years to use Diamana shafts, most notably a Blue Board in his prime; it’s only right he won No. 80 with a Diamana shaft in his driver.
Cody Blick overcomes club robbery to qualify
Before the final round of the Web.com Tour qualifying event, with guaranteed Web.com Tour 2019 starts on the line and needing to mount a comeback, Cody Blick’s golf clubs were stolen. Q-School is enough pressure as it is; then add in the headache of being robbed, coupled with playing the final round without your own clubs! The odds were stacked against him, and his Instagram post offering a $5k reward for information on the whereabouts of his clubs was fruitless.
Amazingly, Blick pieced together a set with the help of Titleist, and he actually played well enough in the final round, shooting a 9-under 63, to move up 49 spots and capture eight guaranteed starts.
Cameron Champ cracks driver before teeing off on Sunday
Before the final round of the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship, the fast-swinging Cameron Champ, who was sitting on a four-stroke lead, cracked the crown of his Ping G400 Max driver. The problem is, the Ping Tour Truck had already left for the week.
So, Champ was forced to use a different model driver that he played previously, but he still went onto win the Sanderson Farms and capture his first PGA TOUR victory.
This is the driver of Cameron Champ 20 minutes before his final round tee time with a 4 shot lead. He had a backup in the car, and was able to hit a few on the range. pic.twitter.com/QfnvStHFqW— Justin Leonard (@jlmountainman) October 28, 2018
Kyle Thompson films man stealing golf bags
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure indeed.
PGA TOUR pro Kyle Thompson put three Srixon staff bags out with his trash. That night, in true detective fashion, Thompson filmed a man taking the golf bags and putting them into his getaway vehicle. He then posted the incident on Instagram that went viral throughout the online golf community. Detective Thompson then found the staff bags listed on Craigslist selling for $175.
Shaft breaks mid-swing, player gets penalized
Equipment mishaps happen often, but a driver shaft snapping at the handle mid-swing is unheard of. Except that’s exactly what happened to John Senden; and it not only cost him physically, but on his scorecard too.
Teeing off on the ninth hole during the 2018 Australian PGA Championship, Senden’s shaft snapped mid-swing, causing him to miss the ball completely. The shaft casualty also caused Senden to jam his finger. To make matters worse, after a long while with the rules official, it was deemed that the stroke counts. So, not only did Senden hurt his hand and lose his driver for the round, but it cost him a stroke, too!