By Michael Johnson
By Patrick Smith
Week in and week out, the equipment scene shifts on the PGA Tour. At the 2021 RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, that meant a couple of notable putter changes and a successful change back to an iron set from a company that no longer makes clubs for Maverick McNealy.
McNealy relies on Nike irons
Maverick McNealy came into the RBC Heritage ranked 184th in strokes gained/approach. That’s tough when you’re losing nearly half a shot per round to the field, so McNealy made an iron change, going back to Nike VR Pro irons (4-iron through pitching wedge) that he used in college.
The irons, which have True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts, also have some lead tape on the back.
Although interesting to use irons from a company that stopped making clubs in August 2016, McNealy told Golf Digest a few years ago that he is quite particular when it comes to his irons. “I’m a stickler for trajectory and flight control,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons I like the muscle-back blade style of iron. I also like the lack of offset. I prefer seeing the leading edge right up against the front of the shaft and hosel. It helps me be a little steeper and creates crisper contact.”
McNealy created enough crisp contact to finish with rounds of 67-66-67 over the last 54 holes to finish T-4.
Fleetwood, D.J. change flat sticks
Most players at some point in their career experience trouble on the greens. However, when you go from 26th in strokes gained/putting to 154th, it might be time to consider shaking things up.
That describes Tommy Fleetwood, whose putting struggles prompted a switch to a TaylorMade TP Bandon 1 at the RBC Heritage. The putter—a mallet with wings reminiscent of several other models, promotes a higher moment of inertia for stability, particularly on shorter putts.
Fleetwood had mixed results with the new putter, missing the cut but posting a 1.708 strokes gained/putting mark during a bogey-free second-round 66.
The results were better for Dustin Johnson, who switched to the same putter model with an LA Golf shaft for the final round. Johnson shot 66 while posting a 3.014 strokes gained/putting mark on Sunday.
Cantlay moves to a mallet
From late October through the Genesis Invitational in late February, Patrick Cantlay played in six events, winning the Zozo Championship, posting two other top-three finishes and having nothing worse than a T-17.
Since then, Cantlay missed the cut in his last two stroke-play events—the Players and the Masters. Cantlay came to the RBC Heritage ranked a respectable 52nd in strokes gained/putting, but that’s a slide from ranking as high as 32nd earlier in the year. As such Cantlay made a fairly drastic putter change, moving from his Scotty Cameron by Titleist blade-style putter to an Odyssey White Hot OG 2-Ball mallet.
Unfortunately for Cantlay, the results were not as hoped as he ranked T-127 in putts per GIR and 78th in strokes gained/putting at the Heritage, missing his third stroke-play cut in a row.