7 tour players in desperate need of an equipment makeover
Professional golfers are a pampered bunch. Between equipment manufacturers and tour trailers, players have access to every club imaginable—often before equipment is even available at retail. Some players, however, are perfectly content to stay away from the latest and greatest, opting instead for familiarity over technological superiority.
Here are seven players who might that philosophy a little too close to heart.
It's hard to knock a former major winner who also sits at No. 31 in the world ranking, but it’s time for Henrik Stenson to retire some clubs in his bag, notably the Callaway Legacy irons and Callaway Diablo Octane 3-wood (above). We know he has the strongest level of comfort with that fairway wood. But it dates back more than a decade (it debuted in 2008), and the Grafalloy Blue shaft in it goes back another five years to 2003. It’s one thing to have a “trusty” club in the bag. It’s another to have something that leads people to believe you might have stolen it from the USGA Golf House Museum. As for the irons, Stenson used this model to win the FedEx Cup … in 2013. We applaud loyalty, just not this much.
“I hate changing equipment,” Bubba Watson told Golf Digest in 2013. When it comes to his irons, that’s a bit of an understatement. The two-time Masters champion has used his Ping S55 irons since the 2012 BMW Championship (save for a few weeks with a different set). This after using the company’s S59 irons since 2004. So change comes slowly for Bubba. There are reasons, however. For starters, Watson is the ultimate “feel player,” noticing the slightest of differences. His specs are also not typical. His S55s are a half-inch longer in length with an extreme heel grind on the 3- through 5-irons. They’re also one degree upright, and the grips are massively oversized with 10 wraps of tape on the top and 12 wraps on the bottom. Still, having the same irons for seven seasons would seem to indicate it’s time for a change—even if you don’t like it.
OK, it’s fairly difficult to find a player on the PGA Tour using badly outdated equipment. Matt Jones, however, is the exception. While the majority of players are using a new supersonic driver or the latest iteration of irons, Jones steadfastly plays Titleist’s 917D2 driver and fairway wood (three-year-old models in woods is a lifetime in pro golf) and the venerable 712 MB irons, which were first introduced in 2011. In other words, back when Prince William married Kate Middleton, or when President Obama was serving his first term in office. We know a lot of players prefer the old-school muscle-back style of irons, but that doesn’t mean they have be old, old-school irons.
Normally 24-year-olds are all in when it comes to technology. Lexi Thompson, though, at least when it comes to her irons, is not exactly a typical youngster. Her Cobra S2 Forged irons are from 2009, or about the time Thompson would have normally been thinking about high school. The irons have been in the bag for all of her 11 LPGA wins and when Cobra tried to make her a set with more current technology, it was a short-lived experiment.
The 1992 Masters champ has always been a bit different when it comes to his equipment. He eschews launch monitors when getting fit, and he used a women’s driver that he found in Tom Watson’s garage as his 3-wood for a number of years. So it's not entirely shocking that Couples uses four-year-old Bridgestone J15 irons. An eight-year-old TaylorMade Rescue 11 hybrid, though, is a little more concerning. Then there’s his 3-wood, the square-headed Callaway FT-i Tour that’s more than a decade old (it debuted in 2008). We draw the line here. Even if your nickname is Boom-Boom, you still need some modern tech to live up to it.
We’re all for clubs that have a lot of good memories in them. We’re even OK with Stricker uses his well-worn Odyssey putter that he’s had in the bag for the better part of 17 seasons. But irons that date back to 2006 are where we draw the line. Back then the Titleist 755 Forged irons were one of the company’s better efforts in irons. Technology has come a long way since. Still, there was Stricker putting the venerable sticks back in play at this year’s Memorial. The change came about as a result of Stricker not being able to replace some prototype KBS iron shafts he had been using, so he opted for his old friends, which have Project X Rifle shafts he felt comfortable with. Time to get comfortable with something else, my friend. Like modern technology.
We know … our favorite announcer that we love to disagree with isn’t a tour pro anymore. But the clubs he had in play at this year’s Senior British Open were too good to pass up for this list. They looked more like something bought at a garage sale than something to be used in a major championship. Chamblee’s bag housed such relics as a Cleveland Hi-Bore XL driver—a model introduced in 2007; a Callaway Diablo Edge Tour 3-wood (who does he think he is, Henrik Stenson?); and a TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 hybrid from 2013. The TaylorMade ATV wedge is also a beauty, dating to 2012. But there’s hope for our man, Brandel. At the Senior British Open Chamblee did use TaylorMade’s newer P760 irons, replacing the TaylorMade RocketBladez Tour model he had in the bag. Let's cycle all those equipment artifacts out of that bag, Brandel.