HOYLAKE, England -- There was something about Rory McIlroy that was lost in the glare of the glitzy unveiling of his mega deal with Nike last year in Abu Dhabi.
When it comes to equipment, he's a bit of a gear head.
The fact was evident during a sitdown with him last month to discuss his Nike clubs.
"I was really into different shafts and everything," McIlroy said. "I guess now I've got a little more to think about and worry about than just being focused on new equipment. So I let the guys that know more about it than I do help me on that. I let them put the stuff in my hands that they think is going to work, and then we go forward from there."
Not that McIlroy doesn't provide valuable input into the process. "This is really the first time I've worked with a manufacturer where I've been so involved," he said. "We might discuss something, and the guys will come back a couple of weeks later and right away we're working on how does this look, how does it feel, is it what you imagined it to be like. I've worked really hard with the guys on developing stuff that's going to work for me."
Those clubs worked quite well for the newly crowned British Open champion at Royal Liverpool, specifically his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver.
"I remember having a conversation at the Barclays last year at dinner," McIlroy said. "We talked a lot about Covert 2.0 and what it was going to be like and what I'd like to see in the driver and what sort of things I'd like to change from the current model."
And what did McIlroy want to alter? "Everything is related to the details," he said. "I want it to look a certain way. I want the face to sort of look a little longer so I can square it up at impact. Then there's the technical: Why they do certain things like a cavity back in the driver. It all makes sense to me now."
Enough sense to get the third major win of his career. Here's the clubs and ball McIlroy had in his bag at Royal Liverpool.
Ball: Nike RZN Black
Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
Irons (2): Nike MM Proto (3-9): Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006
The saying on the bags -- "Respice et Prospice" -- translates to "Remember the past, look to the future." It's the same phrase featured on Hoylake's coat of arms.
HOYLAKE, England -- Justin Rose's opening round at the British Open on Thursday got off to what he called "a comedic start" when he discovered upon arriving at Royal Liverpool G.C. that the TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver in his bag wasn't actually his.
"My driver was misplaced," Rose said with a mischievous grin after shooting an even-par 72. "It was in a car heading to Bedford, but was returned promptly."
Rose went on to explain that his caddie, Mark Fulcher, had two drivers built for friends and placed them in Rose's bag. When Fulcher gave his friends the clubs Wednesday night, he mistakenly kept one of theirs and handed over his boss' big stick.
"I noticed it wasn't my shaft," said Rose upon he pulled the driver from his bag this morning and discovering the issue.
Rose started his round with just 13 clubs, allowing him to put the missing driver into his bag after it was retrieved and returned while he was on the third hole. The hiccup didn't appear to throw him off at all.
"I saw the humor in it," said Rose, shown above hitting the driver on the 16th hole. "I knew the club was on its way back and that I didn't need it until the seventh hole. I knew it would be back before that. It didn't affect the game plan at all."
Which likely was lucky for his caddie.
If there is one thing Scotty Cameron has been good at -- in addition to designing putters tour players and everyday golfers alike drool over -- it's his ability to create mystique. Not a small part of that has been the exclusivity of his putting studio in San Marcos, Calif., which has been off limits to all except tour pros, leaving everyday players wanting the Cameron fitting experience with their noses pressed up against the glass.
That now changes with the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., that is open to the public combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.
"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told Golf World. "But since the studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."
That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day (a fitting takes two hours and costs $350). Before the doors even opened, more than 300 fittings had been scheduled. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and to open seven days a week in the coming months.
Those coming in for a fitting can expect the same experience Cameron offers in his studio. "We have the same cameras, flooring and force plates so it mimics exactly what we do for the tour pros," Cameron says. "But we also felt people who came to get fit want to be able to leave with something too. So it's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors. So you cannot only get fit, but actually walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."
The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is not only a fitting studio, but also a boutique shop, one where classic Beatles and Eagles music plays and everything in the shop -- including display cases (some weighing as much as 1,000 pounds), shelving, doors, doorknobs, etc. -- was created by Cameron's team.
On the product side, visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sportcoats, ties and alligator shoes. For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO -- made only to order. In essence, these are stock putters with custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with its own certificate of authenticity as to which tour it came from. And for those wondering what a surfboard is doing there, it's a one-of-a-kind creation from surfing legend Rob Machado -- fitting for the beach-town setting.
If this seems out of the ordinary for a puttermaker, it's not -- at least not for Cameron, whose aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything in golf. People pay north of $1,000 for one of his . . . headcovers. Ball markers often fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters often bring in tens of thousands of dollars.
Cameron's passion for retail shows when he speaks of the Gallery. "I've always liked the East Coast way of retail, where there are manners and people are dressed sharply," he says. "I hired a retail expert to come in and train my staff on proper etiquette. So it's not like a surf shop where they have flip-flops and swim trunks. This is much more proper. It's unique because it doesn't feel like golf. It's more elegant."
It's also a place Cameron plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery, Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."
And now it's public as well.
JEFF SLUMAN // A bad break
After a tee shot on the seventh hole at Oak Tree National Saturday at the U.S. Senior Open, Jeff Sluman and his playing companion, Doug Garwood, knew something wasn't right. "[It had a] way different sound, little different feel," said Sluman. The reason was the head on Sluman's TaylorMade R11S had cracked, a situation Sluman took in stride. "You know, all drivers eventually will crack," he said. "Unfortunately, mine cracked right there, and it was a big gash. So it was unusable. My backup is in Chicago. Really not doing me much good right now. I guess that's kind of my fault. It was 3-wood the rest of the day."
Although players such as Billy Andrade and Fred Funk attempted to come to Sluman's rescue by offering their backup drivers, they weren't the same model and the adjustable cog wouldn't allow Sluman to put his driver shaft in them. Although Sluman went to a local golf store and found a replacement, he was prepared to go with just his 3-wood in the final round. "I think it's a better 3-wood course than driver course," he said of the layout in Edmond, Okla. "You know, there are a few holes you'd like to have the driver, but it's really not a huge deal."
TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI
PRICE: $199 (Lofts: 16, 18, 20 degrees)
A 455 Carpenter Steel face and a slot in the sole boost ball speed in this driving iron-type club. Justin Rose had one in the bag for both of his recent wins.
Colin Montgomerie changed putters after 36 holes of the U.S. Senior Open, using an Odyssey Versa 90 #7 for the weekend. The counterbalanced putter had a standard SuperStroke grip. . . . Rory McIlroy unveiled an addition to his bag via social media, posting a photo on Instagram prior to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open of a Nike prototype iron stamped "MMPROTO" with the comment, "A little something new this week." McIlroy was expected to use the club at the British Open. . . . Inbee Park had a one-of-a-kind Ping putter in the bag at the Ricoh Women's British Open. The putter was a Serene Craz-E Too model that borrowed technological attributes from other Ping putters. The 33-inch club had a face insert used in the company's Scottsdale line, and its alignment plate was from the Scottsdale TR line.Follow @EMichaelGW
Scotty Cameron's new California gallery just opened and more than 300 putter-fittings have already been booked
Scotty Cameron aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything else in golf. People will pay north of $1,000 for one of his wait for it headcovers. Ball markers can fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters bring in tens of thousands of dollars. But the one thing Cameron-ites couldn't buy was a fitting from Team Cameron.
With the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., the public can now enjoy the same kind of fitting treatment Cameron has offered tour pros combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.
"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told GolfDigest.com. "But since the Studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."
That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day from Cameron's staff (each fitting is two hours long at a cost of $350). Before the doors even opened more than 300 fittings had been booked. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and be open seven days a week in the coming months.
"It's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors," Cameron says. "So you can not only get fit, but walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."
The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is a boutique shop as well where visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sports coats, ties and alligator shoes.
For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO—made only to order -- in essence a stock putter that has custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with their own certificate of authenticity as to what tour it came from.
It's also a place Cameron himself plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."And now, it's public as well. Follow @EMichaelGW
By Keely Levins
Sun Mountain recently announced the roll out of the Combo Cart, an all- in-one golf bag/pushcart. If this sounds familiar, it's because the company made a similar reveal in early 2013, anticipating the Combo Cart would hit the market later that year. Design tweaks delayed the launch, but its summer 2014 introduction works well given the emerging category of hybrid golf bag/pushcarts.
Sun Mountain's version has three wheels, an aluminum-frame cart with a foot braking system and a built-in seat that folds flat when not in use. The bag has full-length individual club dividers and eight pockets for clothing and other accessories. It connects to the cart via velcro straps and can be replaced with another Combo Cart bag (one of the changes made from the original design). The Combo Cart comes in four colors with a retail price of $469.Follow @kalevins
* Cabrera used a Ping S55 7-iron when he jarred his approach from 175 yards on the par-4 13th hole to help stretch his lead.
* The two-time major winner also was one of eight Ping staff players to use the company’s G30 driver, a club the company debuted just this week. Cabrera was 11th in driving distance at 307.1 yards and was fourth in driving accuracy, hitting 82.14 percent of his fairways.
Here's a look at the rest of the bag of the Argentine:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Ping G30 (Aldila Rogue 80X), 9 degrees
3-wood: Ping G30, 13.5 degreesIrons (2): Ping i25; (3-PW): Ping S55
Wedges: Ping Anser (54 degrees); Ping Tour Gorge TS (60 degrees)
Putter: Ping Scottsdale TR Anser 2B
Photos: Getty Images