NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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There was considerable action on the USGA conforming list last week.
The Range Rat noticed multiple drivers on the list, giving us all a preview of what will be promoted and put into competition over the next few months.
A new creation, the TaylorMade Qi10 LS driver, has come online. The driver went right into the bag of Rory McIlroy, who used the DP World Tour Championship as an in-tournament proving ground. He already had won the Race to Dubai before the tournament started, so there was no risk in losing that title.
“It’s just a new driver I’ve been playing around with,” McIlroy said in a social-media video. “So seeing that this week is, you know, I still want to go out there and try to win the golf tournament, but it could be a good time to test [the driver] out.”
We will have to wait to learn more details about the driver, but we do know that the label of carbon is included on the face. That seems to indicate the continuation of TaylorMade’s “Carbonwood” era – meaning the face is constructed with carbon fiber – that began in 2022.
The Ping G430 Max 10K prototype driver landed on the list as well. Cameron Champ is championing the new club, which has more of a matte crown.
“I’ve been pounding balls with it,” Champ told Golf.com. “I was excited about it and wanted to keep hitting it to be sure. The feel is different than any driver I’ve hit. To me, it feels very soft coming off the face; you can really feel it. I’d go so far as to say it’s the softest driver I’ve ever hit. Different sound, too.”
Champ also said the Max 10K was a blend of the LST and Max within the G430 family.
“Even within the first few balls, I noticed the spin numbers weren’t jumping,” he said. “With the misses, it was pretty interesting to see. For me, an ideal drive is around 2,500 to 2,800 [RPM]. Even with a miss, the max for me was still around 2,800. It felt like the misses weren’t as bad and still felt like solid contact. And for them to be able to hold spin was huge. When you miss, you either get a bunch more spin or hit it off the toe and it has nothing. With all the balls I hit with it, it was impressive to see how the spin stayed pretty damn close to a good shot.”
Rickie Fowler used the Cobra Darkspeed LS driver in Las Vegas for the Netflix Cup exhibition. There is also a Darkspeed Max edition, but the weight port is closer to the heel – in the Darkspeed LS version, the weight port is closer to the middle of the face. The face has a circular imprint that looks like a target in the middle. Both are distinct all-black clubheads.
Eric Cole put the new PXG 0311 prototype driver in play at the RSM Classic. He said there was a 2-3-mph bump in ball speed and some additional forgiveness.
New clubs typically hit the USGA conforming list in January, but sometimes that timeline is pushed up if there are players wanting to use a new club in competition before the new year.
We probably will have to wait for a couple of months to get all the details of these new clubs, but it is fun to get a sneak preview before everything is officially unveiled.