NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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Do all PGA Tour players use custom-made equipment? It depends on your definition of custom.
Virtually every piece of gear is custom fit, meaning players go through rigorous testing to ensure the clubs, balls, apparel and various items they use are providing maximum benefit.
But when a player is fit, the puzzle pieces being put together are generally standardized products available at retail. A set of irons, for example, is a certain model clubhead with a certain model shaft with a certain model grip. They will come with personal specs (short for specifications) such as length, weight, loft and lie angle – everything is matched together to produce the desired end result.
In some rare cases, however, a manufacturer will build custom clubs for a player. This means a new model – a “one-of-one” club or set – is produced.
Take the case of Justin Thomas. The Titleist irons built for him in 2021 (621.JT blades) were a custom set taking significant manual labor to produce. Thomas likes his irons with zero offset, meaning the leading edge of the hosel runs directly into the hosel. To accomplish that, Titleist reps had to bend each iron head 8-10 degrees and grind away excess material, hand polishing the whole clubhead. The process takes three weeks and requires incredible attention to detail.
Adam Scott has a set of custom Titleist irons as well. In his case, he wanted more offset in a blade profile he likes. As with Thomas, the modification is so significant that it is an entirely new model of club.
There have been plenty of players over the years who are recipients of custom clubs. Tiger Woods was among the first and most famous in this regard, getting his own set with Nike. And some players, including Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau, have enjoyed leading roles in prototype creation – in some situations, custom sets are universal enough to be used as a model for other players.
This all leads us to Cameron Young, a player who just put custom Titleist 631.CY prototype irons into his bag this fall.
Young’s custom set is one of the easiest Titleist reps have built. It all started in 2021 when Young, who is a high-speed player with a lot of shaft lean at impact, asked for help with turf interaction. His irons were getting “stuck” after contact, creating a feeling of digging too far into the ground.
To fix this, the Titleist team decided to add pre-wear to Young’s irons so the sole would go through the turf easier. That eventually got the conversation started for whether Young could benefit from a one-of-one set.
Fast forward to April 2023, when the Titleist team gave Young a prototype. It was a similar profile to the 620MB but had a few unique modifications to improve turf interaction. Mainly, there was additional bounce on the leading edge.
Young loved the prototype and had little feedback besides wanting his 6-iron to launch slightly higher to complement his T100 long irons. Titleist ended up widening the sole on the 6- to 8-irons to keep the center of gravity and launch consistent throughout the set. It took about two weeks to produce the set.
After a lengthy testing period, Young put the irons in play at the World Wide Technology Championship. In his first round, he went 18-for-18 in greens in regulation.
So why doesn’t everyone have custom-made clubs? Well, not everyone wants that.
Titleist points out that Jordan Spieth and Tom Kim are two players who enjoy the T100 set without any modifications. Not every pro needs a custom set to be successful. In fact, most don’t have one.
Sometimes, in the right conditions, it is exactly what a player needs.