7 cool equipment finds inside Rory McIlroy’s golf bag | Bag Spy

by 24USATVMay 12, 2024, 9 p.m. 19
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The gear crew at GOLF.com spends a lot of time at Tour events snapping photographs of the tools used by the best players in the world. Posting club images online without context sometimes works, but it doesn’t help the weekend golfer understand the why behind a pro’s setup.

In a new GOLF.com series, equipment editors Jonathan Wall and Ryan Barath answer those questions by highlighting interesting clubs in players’ bags, unique weighting, loft sleeve settings and more. Welcome to “Bay Spy.”

What’s in a number? If you’re Rory McIlroy, not much after this week. Starting at the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy replaced the play number on his TaylorMade TP5x golf ball with “Rors.” The creative idea is part of TaylorMade’s MySymbol program that allows golfers to make their own TP5 and TP5x with a myriad of logos, symbols and colors that have never been offered at the retail level.

Before TaylorMade started the program, they had to submit every logo color — 12 in total between TP5 and TP5x — to the USGA for approval. Even when the ball construction doesn’t change, a different color requires a separate submission. While the process is tedious, it made TaylorMade look closely at a part of the ball that doesn’t require USGA approval: the play number.

Instead of simply offering different custom numbers, TaylorMade now gives golfers the ability to choose from four characters or different logos that can be used in lieu of the tried and true play number found below the TaylorMade logo.

With more than 100 options to choose from, even the pros have started to embrace the idea of using something different, including Rors.

McIlroy already has a set of TaylorMade Rors Proto blades in the bag. It seems fitting his 4-iron is a prototype as well. During the Valero Texas Open, McIlroy replaced his P760s with a Proto that’s also being used by Collin Morikawa.

“Launch is a little higher, which was surprising,” McIlroy said of the 4-iron, “and it’s just sometimes I felt like when I hit my 5-iron in the blade and then the 4-iron in the 760 it was such a different feel. To go from a 5-iron now to that (new) 4-iron feels a little closer to what I feel in the 5-iron.”

In other words, it’s a cavity-back with a similar feel to his blades. If you’re a better player, those are words that make you perk up. If Rory’s giving the iron a thumbs-up, that’s always a good thing. Now how about bringing them to retail?

Go back and look at photos of McIlroy’s eight-shot win at the 2011 U.S. Open and you’ll find yellow-and-black Golf Pride New Decade MultiCompound handles on his clubs. This was back when “MCC,” as golfers commonly refer to it, was gaining traction on Tour and retail.

Designed with a brushed cotton cord in the upper hand for stability, and rubber in the lower hand for control, MCC was one of the first grips to blend two feels and textures. With McIlroy lapping the field, MCC quickly became the hot grip. Golf shops couldn’t keep them in stock, partly due to McIlroy’s exposure.

McIlroy has continued to play MCC due to the feel and familiarity it provides on the course.

“There are certain feels you try to maintain even when changing equipment,” McIlroy told GOLF.com. “The grip is one of those I don’t like to change.”

It doesn’t seem fair that McIlroy got even longer when he switched to TaylorMade’s Qi10 core head. But in this case, the rich did, indeed, get richer this season. McIlroy, along with Scottie Scheffler, moved into the Qi10 “core” (standard model) driver head and saw an increase in ball speed and distance, particularly on off-center misses.

The generous profile Qi10 provides also allowed McIlroy to use a longer shaft, at 45 inches, without negatively impacting dispersion. Again, the rich get richer.

“With the slightly larger profile of the core head, it looked great to me at address and I found the middle of the face easier,” McIlroy said. “I think sometimes when I played the longer shaft, I’ve struggled to find the middle of the face, and when I went to the shorter shaft, I found the middle a bit easier. With this Qi10 driver, I felt I was finding the middle of the face way easier so I thought why not try a longer shaft to see if I can get more distance?”

Go through the bags of the top players in the world and you’ll find many use a slightly softer shaft flex in their wedges versus the irons. For example, McIlroy plays Project X 7.0 in his TaylorMade irons but prefers the softer Project X 6.5 in his wedges.

While it varies from player to player, most notice a slightly lower ball flight and more feel in the hands with a softer flex. For some, it can also help maintain spin compared to using the same shaft across the board. Considering many Tour players prioritize feel, consistency and control on shorter approach shots, it’s easy to see why so many drop down in flex with the wedges.

The many layers of Rory’s headcover

The blue and gray putter cover protecting McIlroy’s TaylorMade Spider Tour X mallet isn’t something you’d be able to find at your local pro shop. The onion logo belongs to Ohoopee Match Club, an ultra-exclusive hideaway designed by Gil Hanse in Cobbtown, Georgia.

The course opened in 2018 and was built on a former onion farm. It includes 22 holes — a traditional 18 plus four extra holes for creative alternate routings — and was built for match play, with risk-reward holes crisscrossing the property. McIlroy is a founding member.

Bonded fairway woods remain the top choice for Tour pros, McIlroy included. The benefits include a fade bias with less weight toward the heel, and the ability to bend the hosel for any conceivable lie angle adjustment. Removing the adjustable hosel also allows designers to utilize the weight in other places within the head to improve MOI and speed, or change the spin properties.

Distance is important, but pros generally place more of an emphasis on impact location and hitting a specific number with the fairway wood.

Most bonded products are lasered to ensure the loft is precisely what the pro needs, so there’s no need for an adjustable hosel anyway. For someone slow to change fairway woods over his career, the sight of McIlroy with a Qi10 3- and 5-wood is a good sign for the overall performance of TaylorMade’s current fairways.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

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