UPDATE 1/15/19: Addition of Tommy Fleetwood info
In recent years, there has been a significant drop in the amount of PGA Tour players who are full staff members of one manufacturer. With so many options on the market, players are finding it advantageous to piecemeal their sets together as versus being forced to update to the brand-new manufacturer-specific clubs every year.
It can take as little as one top ten finish for players to cover the cost of an annual sponsorship deal, therefore even some of the top players are opting to pick and choose what they play.
For example, last season Brooks Koepka played a TaylorMade driver and fairway wood, a Nike Vapor Fly Pro 3-iron, Mizuno JPX 900 Tour irons, a Titleist Vokey SM4 wedge, two Titleist Vokey SM7 wedges a Scotty Cameron T10 Newport 2 putter and a Pro V1x ball. He won 2 majors.
From a manufacturer’s perspective, there is a lot of benefit to having the top players game their sticks, however it also comes at a heavy cost.
A brand like Mizuno spends far less on advertising and promotions because their stable of Tour players is minimal compared to a company like Titleist or TaylorMade. By spending less on Tour players, Mizuno in turn is able to offer no upcharges on any custom club to the general public.
Since so many players are signing one or two club deals, or an apparel deal, with a manufacturer it is fairly big news when someone signs a 10 club or a full bag deal. Recently a few players have ditched their current sponsors and signed on with some surprising manufacturers.
Gary Woodland had been wearing a folds of Honor hat throughout the end of 2018 and beginning portion of 2019. Without a deal with a manufacturer he had been free to wear or play which clubs he chose.
That changed at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where Woodland was seen sporting a Wilson hat. Woodland had already been playing the Wilson FG Tour irons recently, so his newly inked deal with Wilson was simply making him an official brand ambassador.
The deal is reportedly for 10 clubs and there are incentives for him to play a full bag, including the driver vs. Driver 2 Cortex driver. We will have to wait and see if the bomber changes his driver, but with his current performance it would be hard to tell him to hit something different.
Justin Rose, the World Number One golfer, made waves in the brief offseason by announcing he would no longer play TaylorMade clubs. He is instead opting to signed with club manufacturer Honma.
For those who are unaware of who Houma is, they are a high-end manufacturer from the country of Japan and are wildly popular in Asia.
Rose’s contract is for 10 clubs including the driver, 3 wood and irons. He is the latest in a run of successful players to sign a sponsorship deal with an Asian club manufacturer, joining the likes of Ernie Els, who is the brand ambassador xxio, and Luke Donald who has represented Mizuno for quite a while.
Longtime PGA pro Stwart Cink has inked a new deal as well. It has been reported that the veteran of the PGA Tour has signed a deal with PING. In a time when it seems like manufacturers are paring down the number of sponsored players, PING seems to be picking players up.
Two players who have not signed deals as of yet, but have been are currently testing out new equipment are Paul Casey and Francesco Molinari. Paul Casey has been seen testing out Honma clubs, and early in 2019, Molinari has put a full bag of Callaway clubs in play.
The (humorous) saga surrounding Tommy Fleetwood’s fabled Nike VR Pro blades is well documented. Facing a dwindling stock of replacements, Tommy faced a harsh reality, the ride was over.
Photos have surfaced this week with a set of TaylorMade P7TW irons in his bag. We’ll see if he sticks with the prototype TaylorMade irons, but it is fitting that Tommy would gravitate towards Tiger’s prototypes, seeing as Nike originally designed the irons Fleetwood played around Tiger’s specifications.
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