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What will be in Anthony Kim's bag this week? His old clubs offer an old-school preview

February 29, 2024
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After having spent more than a decade away from the game, many things in golf are different for Anthony Kim. For starters, there weren’t professional golf tournaments being played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia back in 2012, the last year Kim posted rounds on the PGA Tour. But for all the change in his profession, one thing that might have changed the least for a player of his style are the clubs he puts in his bag.

We’re still waiting to confirm what the 38-year-old Kim will be playing this week in his return at the LIV Golf Jeddah event—a report on Thursday says he's ready to use Miura irons, Titleist woods and wedges and a Scotty Cameron putter—but it seems likely his clubs and setup will stay old school as he begins anew. See, Kim was one of those tour players who as a youngster idolized Tiger Woods, and when he signed to endorse the same brand as his hero, the Nike clubs Kim put in his bag tended toward matching the throwback preferences of his idol.

Back in 2012, much of Kim’s bag was full of the same type of Nike clubs Tiger carried. Those included Nike VR Pro (“Victory Red”) forged muscleback blades in the 4-iron through pitching wedge slots, along with a forged single-piece cavity-back 3-iron slot. In technical terms, that would be Nike VR Pro blades in the 4-iron through pitching wedge, supplemented by a more forgiving cavity-back Nike VR Pro Split 3-iron. The irons he used back then reflected Kim’s primary desire to avoid shots that went left. Specifically, the lie angles were bent two degrees flat. These were narrow-soled butter knives, the kind of clubs that would terrify most amateur golfers and probably would look off-putting to most young pros these days, too.

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Anthony Kim hits his Nike driver during the first round of the 2012 Valero Texas Open, the second to last PGA Tour event he would play in before stepping away from the game.

Darren Carroll

The anti-hook, fade-bias was a trend that dominated Kim’s driver and fairway woods a decade ago, too. His 5-wood (17 degrees), 3-wood (15 degrees) and driver (10 degrees) were all Nike VR Pro Limited models and each was bent with an open face angle (three degrees on the driver and 3-wood and four degrees on the 5-wood). Remember, Kim was a fan, like Tiger, of woods that were still glued in, not the adjustable hosels that are commonplace today. It was not easy work getting that kind of an open face angle, and technicians in the Nike truck often had to go through more than a few heads just to get clubs that were still playable after all that bending.

Kim played a 54-degree and 59-degree Nike VR Pro forged wedge that was custom ground by Mike Taylor, the legendary club man that handled all of Woods particular specs back in the day, too. Kim’s putter was just as classic as the rest of his gear, a heel-toe weighted cavity blade with a plumber’s neck that mirrored the original Ping Anser 2 design (and Tiger’s legendary Scotty, as well). Kim gravitated between a milled Scotty Cameron Newport 2 model or occasionally a similar-looking Nike Method, which had polymer filled face grooves to improve roll.

Looking ahead to this week, the woods may be the biggest adjustment Kim will make in his return to the game. Woods with that kind of face progression and extreme fade bias aren't readily available these days, and most certainly there aren’t drivers being played on any professional tour that don’t feature adjustable hosels anymore. Kim also played a pretty compact 420-cc driver 12 years ago. There aren’t 2024 models that small anymore so he might have to make some adjustments in his address preferences, too. Nevertheless, expect Kim will be playing some highly customized gear in Jeddah. Just like he did back then.