NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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To the question of whether Bryson DeChambeau is inspiring other top players to push the envelope with their equipment, the answer appears to be yes.
Take Rory McIlroy, who was seen experimenting with driver shafts and reaching an absurd 191 mph ball speed and 349-yard carry in the lead-up to this past week’s CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada. McIlroy switched from a Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 75 TX shaft to a Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X and hinted that he looked to take a more aggressive approach off the tee going forward.
“The last couple weeks it’s the fastest I’ve ever moved the club, the fastest my body’s ever moved,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy has played mostly with Mitsubishi shafts in recent years, although he is no stranger to Fujikura. He used the company’s Rombax shaft in his fairway woods for many years, ending in 2016.
Early numbers suggest McIlroy has found more success off the tee. Through three rounds of the CJ Cup, he averaged 338 yards a drive (first in the field) and gained 5.559 strokes off the tee (also first in the field) while largely ignoring accuracy (tied for 36th). That approach is far from new on the PGA Tour, but the degree to which players like DeChambeau and McIlroy are taking it has continued to grow.
Speaking of DeChambeau, while we all await the results of his 48-inch driver testing that could be unveiled at next month’s Masters, there is yet another experiment the scientist has underway: a square putter shaft.
DeChambeau has been in discussions with the LA Golf company to create a putter shaft with a higher moment of inertia and less twisting at impact. One way to add stability is to change the shaft’s geometry. While unconventional, it does meet USGA rules – the shaft just has to have the same twisting properties in any direction and all the walls of the shaft must be the same thickness.
He’s tried a square putter shaft in the past, but only during a brief stint where he putted sidesaddle. It remains to be seen how long testing will take and whether using a square-putter shaft in competition will be worth it, but it’s safe to assume DeChambeau will be pushing this angle just like every other one.
Remember, he was the first major champion to use custom graphite clubs throughout the bag, his putter shaft being among the more unique in the game as it currently stands. In addition to being graphite, his putter shaft has a diameter between 0.580 and 0.6 inches the entire length of the shaft, making it extremely stiff. A square putter shaft may create even more stiffness and stability.