NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
BROUGHT TO YOU BY GOLF PRIDE, THE #1 GRIP ON TOUR
With the RSM Classic being the last full-field PGA Tour event of the year, it was no surprise to see a slew of new equipment being unveiled. It was an important week for companies to gather feedback for next year.
Among the biggest products to get into players’ hands last week, the new Titleist Vokey SM8 wedges have slight differences when compared to the SM7 generation. It appears the SM8s have added face texture with milling marks out on the toe, while the back cavities feature a different design.
Another product that had people talking were the Callaway Apex MB prototype short irons. These are early prototypes, but Aaron Wise was spotted trying out the irons, which feature raw faces, milled cavity backs and a conspicuous weight sitting behind the face in the cavity.
In other prototype news, Matt Kuchar switched to the new Bridgestone Tour B X prototype golf ball before his T14 finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Kuchar has been impressed with the added distance, a noticeable increase.
“It’s kind of fun to go out and have two different balls marked up, and try them,” Kuchar told PGATour.com. “Everybody loves that extra 5-10 yards off the tee. If you get that, and you can actually physically see it, that’s a big bonus.”
It’s not only the distance, however. Kuchar said he takes new balls through a rigorous testing regimen that includes how they perform around the greens.
“There’s ball speed off the driver, chipping/wedging, and then there’s the land angle with the irons, which is important,” Kuchar said. “Those are the three things where I’ll check out the numbers, but then, for me, it’s a bit visual. And more than visual, it’s going out and hitting five drives off the tee with one ball, then five drives off the tee with the other, and comparing. Then chip shots around the green and comparing. I guess I’d be a bit more trial-and-error than going strictly off the numbers. But the beauty about what we do today is you can do it all.”
For some players, getting new equipment can provide a spark. For others, going back to a familiar brand is what can do it. Recent Korn Ferry Tour graduate Rhein Gibson was a free agent but just signed with Mizuno – he previously used the brand’s irons to reach the PGA Tour in 2015.
“I was with Wilson for three years and that relationship ended, so I started the year on the Korn Ferry Tour trying the best equipment – trying everything and seeing what was best for me,” Gibson told PGATour.com. “I had a lot of success with Mizuno irons before; it’s actually the set I used to graduate to the PGA Tour the first time. I called the Mizuno reps and had them build me a set of the JPX 919 Tour irons. As soon as I got them, I could tell they were awesome.”
Gibson also has the Mizuno ST 200 driver in the bag, which he said was providing him with 175-177 mph ball speed.