“It was pretty amazing. I was on the range in Dubai and I had just about every type of golf club and ball in the world laid out in front of me.”
It’s the kind of thing most golfers dream about but for World Number Two Rory McIlroy, it was part of his off-season.
With McIlroy’s 2016 club provider Nike announcing they would no longer be making golf clubs in August last year, the door was open for the 27 year old to make some new club and ball choices ahead of 2017.
He started by adding new TaylorMade woods to his bag at the WGC-HSBC Champions in October. McIlroy finished the event in the top five, averaging over 300 yards whilst finding more than 60 per cent of the fairways.
In the weeks following, he would go on to win the PGA Tour FedEx Cup with victories at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship, win three of his five matches at the Ryder Cup and finish in the top ten at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Then came the off-season.
"I spent a week in Dubai before Christmas testing a lot of equipment and hitting a lot of balls and training.”
Living life as a “free-agent” in the equipment market, McIlroy hit thousands of balls in the Middle East, using TrackMan data and advice from his coach and team, to assess the best equipment for him to start his 2017 campaign.
“I used TrackMan a lot. As much as I can sense the ball flight and shape of the shots, seeing the spin and distance numbers is so important and getting that immediate feedback helps so much.”
Fast-forward four weeks and McIlroy and his golf bag arrive at Glendower Golf Club with fans and media awaiting the reveal of his set make-up. And here it is:
Driver: Callaway Epic Sub Zero
Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2
Irons: Custom Callaway Apex MB
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6
Ball: 2017 Titleist Pro V1x
“They are the clubs for this week but that could change week to week. This is my first event with this set-up so we will see how it goes this week. You never really know until you have a card in your hand and at the end of the day the person swinging the club is more important than the club itself.”
Many fans will remember the last time McIlroy made an equipment switch of this scale. Having signed with Nike in 2013, on the back of a year with nine top five finishes and a win on the European Tour, the Northern Irishman struggled throughout the season with just one top five.
It didn’t take him long to adjust however, bouncing back in 2014 with two Major victories in addition to a WGC title and the BMW PGA.
How will the new clubs work out? Tune in Thursday at 7.10am South African time to see how the World Number Two gets on in his first round of 2017.
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