Wall-to-Wall Equipment: Brooks Koepka’s last Nike club finally bites the dust
Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday morning gear wrap-up in which GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall takes you through the latest trends, rumors and breaking news.
See ya, Swoosh
Brooks Koepka hasn’t been under a club contract with Nike — or any manufacturer for that matter — since the end of 2016. That still didn’t stop him from stockpiling duplicates of the Swoosh’s Vapor Fly Pro in the event he needed a backup. The all-black 3-iron was the last remnant from his gear days with Nike and slowly started to generate a cult following in recent years as Koepka continued to rack up major wins with the club still in the bag.
It got to the point you almost assumed it was in play each week Koepka teed it up. Maybe that’s why so many were thrown for a loop when the four-time major winner returned to the course in Abu Dhabi with something other than Vapor Fly Pro near the top of the set.
In its place, Koepka added TaylorMade’s P790 3-iron — a popular option for a number of tour players, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. The iron features the company’s SpeedFoam inside a hollow cavity; the material provides support to the face while acting as a dampener to improve sound. Due to its low density properties, SpeedFoam is beneficial for center of gravity, as it doesn’t add weight to the middle of the head.
Koepka briefly contemplated pulling the plug on Vapor Fly Pro last season at Bay Hill before performing an about-face and returning to the iron. This time around, the change looks to be for real.
Torrid start for SIM
TaylorMade’s new SIM and SIM Max drivers continue to pick up new converts at an impressive clip. Of the 33 players in the field in Abu Dhabi without a driver contract, 20 chose to use one of the SIM products. The list includes current gear free agents Brooks Koepka (SIM Max) and Tommy Fleetwood (SIM).
“[The driver] works,” Koepka said matter-of-factly. “When they hand it to me and it works; we had a long session on Tuesday trying to figure out — we couldn’t get it quite right but we got it dialed in and it worked, so I’m very pleased with it.”
Berger a free agent?
Former PGA Tour winner Daniel Berger appears to have parted ways with Callaway. Berger was spotted with a nondescript staff bag and his old set of TaylorMade Tour Preferred irons from 2011. In his second start of 2020 as a free agent, Berger followed up a T38 in Hawaii with a T29 at PGA West.
“I have put a lot of work in that I wasn’t able to do before,” Berger said. “And that has already been the big difference in the five events I have played this season. I just need to continue to put the work in.”
Sergio goes it alone
In case you missed it, Sergio Garcia and Callaway split after two years. As first reported by GOLF.com, Callaway confirmed the two sides agreed to part ways after last season, making the 2017 Masters champion a free agent.
“I can confirm Callaway did not renew its agreement with Sergio for the 2020 season,” a Callaway representative told GOLF.com. “We parted on great terms and the option for Sergio to carry Callaway equipment in the future remains.”
Garcia’s setup in Abu Dhabi consisted mostly of Ping gear he acquired during the holidays to test: a G410 driver, Blueprint irons, Glide 3.0 wedges, and PLD Anser putter. The rest of the bag consisted of TaylorMade’s SIM fairway wood and Titleist Pro V1 golf ball. Garcia started playing the ball last season during the Northern Trust and went on to win the KLM Open in just his third start after the transition.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable enough with the golf ball, and they needed me to play it,” Garcia said. “We decided to kind of part ways…”
Something new for PXG
Lost in the introduction of PXG’s 0311 Gen3 irons was the release of new 0311 Sugar Daddy Milled wedges that have slowly started to make their way out on tour. The wedge’s CNC-milled grooves are designed to generate ample spin around the green.
The Sugar Daddy grind has served as a “one-size-fits-all” option for players who consistently see different course conditions. The wedge incorporates a moderate initial angle with a blended sole design that makes it possible to use it from a variety of turfs and sands. The wedge is now available at retail for $650 per club.
One of Fujikura’s most popular shafts is getting a makeover. The Tour-only Motore X was designed using the company’s Enso high-speed motion capture system, with a focus on speed and impact stability. The shaft reportedly has an “accelerated taper” that allows energy to be transferred more efficiently through the shaft. It’s very likely the new X version will get a serious look early in the Tour season.
Quick-hitters: Ping swept the board on Sunday, picking up wins on the PGA Tour (Andrew Landry), European Tour (Lee Westwood) and Champions Tour (Miguel Angel Jimenez). … American Express champion Andrew Landry inserted two new Titleist Vokey Design SM8 wedges (56 and 60 degrees) at the beginning of the week. … Odyssey’s Stroke Lab Black Ten mallet continues to gain momentum with nine in play in California. … Callaway staffer Chase Seiffert became one of the first to employ Odyssey’s Triple Track 2-Ball Blade putter.