The Biggest Equipment Stories of 2013

SUBSCRIBE

The Biggest Equipment Stories of 2013

December 14, 2013

Photo By: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Photo By: Courtesy of the USGA

Photo By: David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: Dom Furore

Photo By: J.D. Cuban

Photo By: Jay LaPrete/AP Photo

Photo By: Charles Laberge

Photo By: Darren Carroll

Photo By: J.D. Cuban

Rory McIlroy to Nike

The announcement in Abu Dhabi was borderline anticlimactic, but Nike's official proclamation Jan. 14 that Rory McIlroy was joining the swoosh still was watched carefully. For his part, McIlroy played company man right away, praising the equipment. McIlroy also said he would begin his tenure with Nike using 14 Nike clubs (including the new VR_S Covert driver and Nike Method prototype 006 putter) as well as a Nike ball, footwear and apparel. When McIlroy struggled, naysayers such as Nick Faldo were in full voice but a win at the Australian Open has the critics quiet -- for now.

Photo By: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Anchor ban/Counterbalanced putters

In 2012, golf's ruling bodies proposed a ban on anchored putting -- and after receiving close to 3,000 comments from around the globe -- the USGA and R&A announced on May 21, 2103 that while they appreciated the comments, they were enacting the rule without changing a single word. Despite much posturing from the PGA Tour, some of its players (who retained legal counsel) and the PGA of America, by mid year everyone had gotten on board. Now it's up to the players who use an anchored stroke to get on with it, at least by the Jan. 1 2016 implementation date. Helping has been the advent of counterbalanced putters, implements that provide the benefits of anchoring without the club being attached to the body.

Photo By: Courtesy of the USGA

Phil Mickelson wins the British Open with no driver

Say one thing about Phil Mickelson, he's always thinking about his equipment. Earlier this year Mickelson asked Callaway for a 3-wood he could hit both off the tee and off the turf. The result was a 43.25-inch Callaway X Hot 3Deep 3-wood (with a finished loft slightly stronger than its listed 13 degrees), a club with a face height 10 percent larger than the X Hot Pro, thus raising the center of gravity more in line with Mickelson's impact spot. After working with the club at Doral, Mickelson's caddie, Jim Mackay, called it, "The most meaningful club Phil has ever put in the bag in my 20 years caddying for him." Those words had extra meaning at the British Open as Lefty ditched his driver and used the 3-wood to tee off with. Then, on the 71st hole, Mickelson hit Muirfield's par-5 17th in two blows -- both struck with the 3-wood, to set up what was effectively the clinching birdie. Most meaningful club, indeed.

Photo By: David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Adam Scott wins the Masters with a long putter

When you hole a 25-foot putt on the 72nd hole that turns out to be the one you need to get into a playoff and then make a 12-footer to win your first major title, there's little doubt what club in the bag was the game-changer for Masters champion Adam Scott -- his Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X prototype long putter. The Aussie has used a long putter for a little more than two years now, but changed to this club earlier in 2013 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. The clubhead of the Futura X is made from aluminum and has 3 degrees of loft while the length checks in at 49 inches. What made Scott's use of the club all the more memorable is that in the midst of the debate over whether or not to ban anchoring he became the first player to win one of the men's four majors with a long putter.

Photo By: Dom Furore

Mickelson experiments with a TaylorMade SLDR

Leave it to Phil Mickelson to bring an equipment story to the Presidents Cup. Lefty -- who may be the most vocal player when it comes to supporting his equipment sponsor, Callaway -- did the golf equipment equivalent of sleeping with the enemy by using TaylorMade's new SLDR driver. At the time the move was viewed by some as either a massive blow to Callaway or no big deal. Although the move certainly helped validate TaylorMade's low forward center of gravity technology, Callaway was unconcerned, stating, "We are aware this creates a conversation and wish the circumstances were different, but we also understand the uniqueness of our relationship with Phil. We are 100 percent confident the driver we have coming will dramatically outperform the competitive driver he's playing and will be in Phil's bag when it's ready to come to market." That driver, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha, was just recently introduced. Stay tuned.

Photo By: J.D. Cuban

K.J. Choi buys Mizuno irons at Golf Galaxy

Tour players purchasing clubs is rare, but not unheard of (remember Jim Furyk buying a used Yes! Sophia putter before the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship and going on to win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup with it?). On Monday of the Memorial, employees at Golf Galaxy in Dublin, Ohio (about six minutes from Muirfield Village GC), had a surprise customer: eight-time PGA Tour winner K.J. Choi, who was looking for a set of irons. "There are no tour vans here to help me out so there's no other choice than to go to Golf Galaxy to pick up a new set," Choi said about his reasoning. Choi, who brought his Miura 7-iron with him as a baseline for swingweight, tried Mizuno's MP-59 and MP-64 models as well as Titleist's CB irons, eventually settling on the MP-64s. For the week, Choi finished T-21, ranking 33rd in greens in regulation. That was good enough to win $58,202.50 -- money that helped since Choi didn't get a break on the price. "Well, he didn't want the 3-iron so we did prorate the price to seven clubs," said store manager Jay Chiles.

Photo By: Jay LaPrete/AP Photo

Woody Austin carries a 15th club at the PGA Championship

Woody Austin was a bit unhappy about the bogey he made on second hole during the second round of the PGA Championship. Standing on the third tee, however, he felt nothing but shock. That's because Austin -- who stood at even par at the time and well within the cut line -- dug into his bag for his 3-iron on the par 3 and experienced one of the biggest nightmares a professional golfer can have: he had a 15th club in his bag. The offending weapon was a 21-degree Adams DHy hybrid, a club Austin said he had tried on the range prior to the round thinking he might put it into play in place of his 3-iron on the rain-soaked course. The penalty for having it in the bag is the second-most severe in golf after disqualification -- a two-shot penalty for each hole the club is in the bag, with a maximum penalty of four shots. That's what Austin received. "I think after 20 years, you do one stupid thing of each, and that's the first time I've ever done something like that," said Austin, who ended up missing the cut by one shot. "I could be even par and in the tournament, but instead I'm down the road. So I'm real disappointed."

Photo By: Charles Laberge

Al Geiberger's "59" clubs sold at auction

When Al Geiberger auctioned off several mementos from his playing career, including the clubs he shot 59 with, in late April, Ping chairman and CEO John A. Solheim ponied up $7,222 to purchase the Ping Pal putter Geiberger used to hole 166 feet of birdie putts with during his historic round at Colonial CC in Memphis during the second round of the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. Solheim put the putter on display outside his office in a trophy case. The other 13 sticks were purchased by Lee Brandenburg, a well-known golf course developer and avid golf collector, who will put them on display at the Brandenburg Historical Golf Museum at Cinnabar Hills GC in San Jose, Calif.

D.A. Points wins with old Ping putter taken from his mother's garage

At the Shell Houston Open D.A. Points returned to a Ping Anser putter made in the 1980s that Points took out of his mother's golf bag when he was 11 or 12. According to Ping, Points sent the putter to them seven or eight years ago to be refurbished, including the addition of tungsten weights in the heel and sole areas to add weight and make the club more balanced. Points hauled it out of the garage at the Shell Houston Open and used the club to hole a 13-footer for par on the final hole of the tournament for a one-stroke win over Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson. "I thought, maybe I'll pull this old putter out of the garage and maybe it will have some magic in it," said Points. Magic indeed.

Photo By: Darren Carroll

Ian Poulter takes to Twitter to look for a putter

Ian Poulter took an unconventional route when he sought a putter for the British Open: he went on Twitter and asked companies to send him putters to try. The flat sticks flowed in and the Englishman chose one of the more unusual offerings -- a specially-made Odyssey White Damascus iX #1. The putter, which was introduced in Japan earlier in 2013, has an insert made with Damascus steel -- the same steel used to make samurai swords for centuries. The company's Metal-X pattern was then milled into the face and a tungsten flange helped lower the center of gravity. Poulter used the putter to finish third at Muirfield.

Photo By: J.D. Cuban

Shop This Look