Even though the PGA Tour is now played over a split season, January is still the month when most players make equipment changes. This year's marquee signing was World No. 1 Justin Rose making the move from TaylorMade to Japanese equipment-maker Honma. However there were a number of other significant inkings and a few more either rumored to be in the making or at least plausible, given the equipment they used at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Gary Woodland signed a multi-year pact with Wilson to play 10 clubs and wear the company's hat. Woodland made the mode look like a smart one by finishing runner-up at the Sentry, providing his new company plenty of airtime with a large Wilson logo on the front of his hat.
Callaway bolstered its staff by signing former Titleist player Kevin Na, while Titleist formally added former PXG staffer Charles Howell III. Although not announced, it was of note that former Wilson staff player Troy Merritt was using Titleist equipment.
At the Sentry, Paul Casey, who has been rumored to be a target of Honma’s, used one of the company’s utility irons. And though major winners Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed continue to be equipment free agents, it will be interesting to see if British Open champion Francesco Molinari—currently without an equipment deal—ends up signing with Callaway. At the Sentry, the Italian star coming off a breakthrough season had a full bag of Callaway clubs, including the company’s new Epic Flash Sub Zero driver.
Then there are players no longer with companies. Scouring manufacturers websites can often offer such clues. Bridgestone confirmed it no longer has an agreement with Brandt Snedeker, who played Bridgestone irons and ball at the Sentry but was sporting a new Workday hat. There’s also no sign of Rickie Fowler on Titleist’s website, suggesting that Fowler might be playing a new ball when he starts his 2019 season.
On balance, this year was relatively tame in terms of equipment changes, perhaps driven by an equipment endorsement landscape that has companies spending a little less freely. Add in the astronomical purses available to players on the course, and the result seems to be an environment that has kept both companies and players from taking chances in the equipment game.