Rory’s Golf Equipment

Hi Frank
I just read about Rory parting ways with Titleist. Do you think this is a good idea for Rory and from a technical standpoint can manufacturers truly replicate the feel and performance of another manufacturers clubs?
Thanks
Aaron

Aaron,
Thank you for your question.

Let me say at the outset that I have no inside information about Rory’s switch but do have a concern that money may be the motivating force for the change, at the expense of affecting his potential performance.

We have too often seen golfers – in most cases instigated and negotiated by their agent – try to squeeze more money from their sponsor once they become fairly successful.

There is nothing blatantly wrong with this, as it is indicative of the commercialized world we live in. However, there is something to be said for loyalty and respect for those who supported you when you first arrived.

I say YES to good faith renegotiation of a contract with a sponsor — in this case a very well respected manufacturer with the highest quality products — but when money becomes the prime consideration resulting in significant equipment changes, it may not be in the golfers best interest in the long term.

Because golf equipment technology has reached its peak and innovations of consequence are rare, it is possible to replicate fairly closely, the performance properties of the clubs of one manufacturer by another.

However, the consequences of this change go beyond the physics involved, and because the game is so dependent on self belief and ones mental approach, that as soon as any faltering in performance occurs, this will be correlated with the notable tangible changes and a loss in confidence.

Aaron, it is not a good idea to switch from proven equipment unless there are other extenuating circumstances we are not privy to and know nothing about.
Frank

What do you think? Share your thoughts on Rory’s equipment change below:

22 thoughts on “Rory’s Golf Equipment

  1. Seems strange since Rory and Tiger have buddied up and Nike is Tiger’s sponsor, that the decision to make the change is happening now. Just a coincidence or influence from you know who??

  2. Rory has an excellent practice facility in the privacy of his backyard and one would suspect that he has already extensively tested several other brands of clubs prior to making his decision.

    In the video I have linked here, Rory describes each club in his bag as of March 2012. He indicates he has tried other Titleist models and chosen the ones in the bag because of head style, shaft, trajectory, spin, etc. His current clubs have many minor technical improvements to match his swing. He knows a lot about club design and tweeking the shaft or face to give himself better results.

    http://www.titleist.com/teamtitleist/b/tourblog/archive/2012/03/05/video-what-s-in-rory-mcilroy-s-titleist-bag.aspx

    I think he may have more difficulty with the ball change. His Titleist Pro V1x likely has given him more confidence around the green than he will have with a Nike, Srixon or Callaway.

    http://www.golfcentraldaily.com/2012/02/whats-in-bag-2012-rory-mcilroy.html

    http://www.titleist.com/players/1352/Rory-McIlroy.aspx

    Frank & Valerie, put a reminder on your calendar for the July 22, 2013 issue to re-discuss the topic after the 2013 Open Championship in Muirfield, Scotland. By then Rory will have competed in 3 majors with his new equipment.

  3. Don’t they all change equipment every couple of years as the manufacturer puts out a new line of clubs that they want to sell us? How different is that from changing brands? Are they really that sensitive to a change in the brand of clubs? Or is it that when they get to the point of cashing in on an equipment change, they are no longer as hungry as they were?

    • No kidding, as if a 10* Nike driver head is that different to a 10* Titleist/Callaway/Mizuno/TWGT/etc, so long as the rest of the club is the same.

  4. Usually a players Driver and Putter is not covered by contract i.e. they can use whatever they want. Since golf is a fleeting game, I agree with Rory..Show me the money!( If this is the case)

  5. Tiger did not do anything for a year after his first equipment change; I don’t know about his second change. Many other professional golfers have changed club manufacturers and their games went into the tank. I can’t think of a single one that continued to play at their previous high level and win.

  6. I have enjoyed reading this article and the comments posted. Very good/valid points. I personally feel that since these guys are professionals, everything regarding loyalty is contractual. By that I mean, Titleist benefited from Rory as much as Rory benefited from Titleist. Think about this, no one paid him as an amateur. In good faith, he probably signed with Titleist because that is what he played as an amateur. I said probably, I don’t know for sure. Once he began his professional career, the good faith became contractual. He honored his contract and thus has the freedom to choose his path regarding equipment one the contract(s) is up. And lets be honest here, all major OEM’s can custom grind and shaft nearly identical (caveat, patented stuff). I also think its more life-style/more money that is the downfall when a lot of guys change to bigger paying contracts. They don’t put the hours in on the range, they socialize, spend less time preparing naturally (IE the way that works for them/that got them to a certain point), they diversify their business (IE course design, other time consuming business ventures), etc. Rory will be fine as long as he keeps things in perspective that got him to number one in the world. I doubt the brand of irons he stikes will contribute to a downfall. Everyone loves to blame the equipment as that is the visible change, but there is more to it nine times out of ten.

    • Hit the nail on the head, BR… but as Frank says in the article, it’s the tangible aspect that most people see. We’d hear about LeBron James, Tom Brady, or Miguel Cabrrera’s miss-steps on ESPN LONG before we’d hear of any golfers not named Tiger or John Daly (maybe Rory from here on out, though…).

  7. Tiger left Titleist for Nike. I think with the level they play at – they play the really small sweet spot muscle back irons – he should be okay. Examples that have not faired well inititally – Tiger, Phil, Ernie, George McNeil. Tiger – Nike, Ernie – Callaway, Phil – Callaway, and George Srixon – Cleveland from Titleist.

  8. I think all equipment is good equipment since there are pros winning with every brand of clubs. Every brand has clubs that can be made to fit the professional swing and I am sure that is true for Nike also. Tiger proves that idea.

    The only real issue is how well equiped his BRAIN is to deal with different clubs. If he can develop confidence in the new gear and keep his swing the same, he will do fine.

  9. I remember Ian Woosnan who won the Masters and then changed clubs to a Japanese brand with disasterous results. I know there have been others. Those extra few dollars don’t always pay off.

  10. Human beings are the most impatient creatures on earth. Even when we’re blessed with the greatest successes, we believe there is something better. We always believe we’re still on the journey and will NEVER arrive at the destination (on this earth). That is why we keep changing drivers, balls, shoes, or whatever because we’re seeking something better than what we presently have. Why else would Tiger change the swing that won all those majors?

  11. While I agree with virtually everything you have stated, I would remind you that Tiger switched from Mizuno to Nike. Although, I believe Nike basically duplicated the Mizuno irons. Worked OK for him.

    Dale

    • Actually his original clubs were Titleist, not Mizuno. The year he won 4 majors in a row has never been close to being duplicated after he switched his clubs. Almost everyone that I’ve heard about having a major equipment change to another Brand has suffered in short term after the equipment change. These guys are so good that they can play well with any decent club fitted to them but just like when we get new sticks, there are minor things that aren’t the same and it will effect few shots here and there. Unfortunately, difference in 1 or 2 shots a round for them is a difference between making a cut or not so there will be some growing pains IMO for Rory in short term.

      • Sorry, Tiger went from a mixed bag of Mizunos MP 14 & MP 29 irons to Titleist “T” irons —- modified Titleist 681 irons, then to Nike blades.
        He won the “Tiger Slam” with a full bag of Titleist equipment.

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