The most interesting equipment changes at the Masters: Inside the bag of some of the leading contenders at Augusta
With the Masters being the first major of the year, many players often do their equipment prep work way ahead of time. For some that meant adding a high-lofted club at prior week's events. For others, such as Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas, it meant a return at Augusta National to a trusted club for golf's biggest stage. And for two-time champ Bubba Watson, the Masters saw the debut of a putter made just for him.
The 5-wood (and 7-wood and high-lofted hybrids) proved fashionable at the Masters, and why not? With the par-3 fourth hole measuring 340 yards and the second shots into par 5s about the same, with some height needed to hold them, these clubs were out in full force at Augusta National. More than 50 5-woods, 7-woods (five of them!) and hybrids of 20 degrees loft or more were in play, including more than 10 put into play just this week. Among those were Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade M5 5-wood); Gary Woodland (Ping G410 5-wood); Keith Mitchell (Titleist TS2 7-wood); Henrik Stenson (Callaway Rogue Sub Zero 5-wood) and Jon Rahm (TaylorMade M5 5-wood).
There are few players who are more of a company man when it comes to their equipment sponsors than Phil Mickelson is with Callaway. So Lefty can be forgiven if he went back to a driver he felt more comfortable with at the Masters, the company’s Rogue Sub Zero model from last year. Mickelson had tried the company’s Epic Flash earlier in the year then went back to the Rogue at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, saying, “I went back to the driver I played well with in Palm Springs and I'll stay with that all the way through Augusta.” He didn’t quite do that, playing the Epic Flash again in some events leading up to the Masters, but it was indeed in the bag at Augusta National.
Justin Thomas’ feedback was one of the driving forces in the creation of the Scotty Cameron Phantom X5 putter, but the 2017 PGA champion went back to the putter he won his lone major with—a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X5, a mallet with wings incredibly similar to the Phantom X5 in shape—at the 2019 Masters. As for how Thomas originally came to use the putter, it was pretty simple. “I was struggling a little bit with my stroke and I wanted to try something different,” he told Golf DIgest at the time. “I just kind of picked that putter up and it felt kinda good.”
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson made a putter switch for the Masters. Watson had been using Ping’s Sigma 2 Arna, but opted for a PLD Arna at the Masters. The PLD (which stands for Putting Lab Design) was put in play because Watson requested an Arna-style putter but without an insert. The PLD Arna, which is 100-percent milled, has a slightly smaller head to achieve the proper swingweight, according to Ping engineer Tony Serrano. The head is 360 grams and milled from carbon steel with the company’s True Roll grooves. The putter, which is 43 inches in length, has a loft of 5 degrees.