Equipment Report
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    Rory McIlroy switches wedges after testing session

  • Rory McIlroy performed a system update on his wedges ahead of the DP World Tour Championship two weeks ago. (Warren Little/Getty Images)Rory McIlroy performed a system update on his wedges ahead of the DP World Tour Championship two weeks ago. (Warren Little/Getty Images)

After ranking 71st in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green last season, Rory McIlroy performed a system update on his wedges ahead of the DP World Tour Championship two weeks ago. He switched his two highest-lofted clubs to TaylorMade’s MG3 model, which he’d already been using in his 46-degree wedge.

McIlroy had been using the MG2 model in his 54- and 58-degree wedges before making the change for the European Tour’s season finale in Dubai. He has the same setup in the bag for this week’s Hero World Challenge.

While it’s always interesting to see a player switch equipment, what’s notable in McIlroy’s case is the nuance behind the move. The two-time FedExCup champion opted for high-bounce varieties of the wedges.

TaylorMade’s MG3 line comes in LB (low bounce), SB (standard bounce), and HB (high bounce) variations for each wedge. The 56-degree MG3, for example, features 8, 12, and 14 degrees of bounce in the three configurations.

As a refresher, “bounce” refers to the angle of the leading edge of an iron or wedge and the lowest part of the sole. The sole of the club “bounces” through the turf, hence the name. The higher the leading edge of a club is off the ground at address, the greater the bounce. Generally, speaking more bounce means more forgiveness and, all things being equal, better performance from the rough, longer grasses, and softer turf.

McIlroy most recently had 8 degrees of bounce on his highest-lofted wedge (58 degrees). He now has 14 degrees of bounce in that club. TaylorMade's Adrian Rietveld said he likes players to use as much bounce as they are comfortable with. "Most of the time, the more bounce you have the better because bounce gets the club out of the ground," Rietveld said. "Bounce is your friend. 

McIlroy indicated adding bounce will benefit him at Albany, which has many closely-mown areas surrounding its greens.

“Bounce is certainly your friend,” he said. “I mean especially a course like this week, really grainy, it's helped a lot around the greens. I just have more trust in it, just more trust it's not going to dig, it's going to get out of the ground a little bit easier.”

Regarding ball flight on mid-range and full shots, McIlroy said the new clubs help him better control his trajectory.

“The ball doesn't get up as much so when you're able to control your trajectory better, you're able to control your distance better and I've sort of found that with them,” he said.

Keith Sbarbaro, TaylorMade’s VP of TOUR Operations, said McIlroy recently went through a fitting with the TaylorMade team.

“We presented him with all bounce options — low, standard and high. We started with 50-75 yard shots and he immediately noticed a lower and more controlled flight with the high bounce,” Sbarbaro said. “He also noticed how much better the club was sliding through the turf. The club was never getting stuck, whereas with low bounce he noticed it occasionally sticking.”

As McIlroy mentioned at his Hero World Challenge press conference, improved performance was apparent around the green as well.

“We then moved to the chipping green and once again he felt it was much easier to get the club through the turf,” Sbarbaro said. “The extra bounce allows him to be more aggressive without the club digging and the ball coming up short. Rory felt as if he could slam the club behind the ball or even hit a bit behind it and still not get the club stuck. The one shot that really showed this was uphill pitches into the grain and once he saw the performance he was sold. The high bounce sole has now progressed into being Rory’s first choice of bounce moving forward.”