Every year, I volunteer and caddie at The Players Cup, my local stop on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada. I'm always intrigued by what's in the players' bags and the trends among the pros.
The Mackenzie Tour is a good barometer to what trends will take hold as the players make the ranks up toward the PGA Tour. The mix of clubs varies greatly depending on contracts and contacts the players, some spending time on the Web.com Tour, have with tour reps for each of major equipment manufacturers. However, there are some common threads I noticed:
- There were three driver shafts that came up time and again: the Aldila Rogue (110 & 125MSI), Fujikura's XLR8 models and the Project X HZRDUS series. There was more variety with the fairway woods, however, with some players playing the same shaft in the driver as well as the 3 wood.
- There were several Titleist 917 drivers spotted, particularly Web.com Tour regulars who snagged one when the driver was released a couple of weeks ago. The sound of the driver is classic Titleist with a nice muted thwack, compared to a higher pitched “ting” other companies produce. In talking with the players, the biggest improvement over the 915 series was an average of 3-4 mph increase in ball speed.
- The number of players carrying driving irons compared to hybrids is way up this year. The new technology in the driving irons give hybrid ball speed but with the workability of an iron. Interestingly enough, most had heavier (105-130 gm) graphite shafts installed and played them the same length as a normal iron.
- More players also are dropping their 3-iron in favor of carrying a fourth wedge. From the players I talked to, the emphasis appears to be shifting to having more choices from inside 125 yards. The extra wedge was usually 50 or 52 degrees in loft.
- The Pro V1X seems to be used by every player whose equipment deal doesn't include a ball model. It's amazing to see the dominance the ball has on tour.
- As for training aids, there were two I saw most often: the Orange Whip and the DST Compressor. In fact, several players used both while practicing. It was near impossible to miss the Orange Whip. A few spectators were puzzled about what it did.
- In irons, True Temper's DG X100 is the overwhelming favorite, but there were definitely more Nippon Modus in play than last year. KBS usage was mixed with similar numbers between C-Taper and Tour models. It should be noted that the winner, Dan McCarthy, uses C-Taper X in his irons for his third win this season.