By Joel Beall
After Nike exited the equipment business this season, Rory McIlroy mentioned that he had no intentions to sign a new deal. Rather, he planned on spending time experimenting with different selections on the market, waiting to find the right comfort level. It appears the four-time major winner’s search is over.
Though McIlroy has not agreed to new endorsements, he will flaunt new sticks in 2017. According to a report from NoLayingUp.com, McIlroy is switching to Callaway woods (the new GBB Epic Sub Zero) and irons (Apex MB), an Odyssey putter and Titleist ball (Pro V1x) and wedges (Titleist Vokey).
“I want to play the new ProV1x ball and I know the Callaway driver works the best with it,” McIlroy told the site. “I also know my Nike irons don’t work as well with the Titleist ball because of the groove format. Too spinny, and a loss of distance.”
While the equipment change is not a shock — McIlroy had tested a TaylorMade M2 in the fall — the switch to Titleist is somewhat intriguing. McIlroy was extremely comfortable with the Nike RZN Tour Platinum ball.
“No reason to start changing just because I can. I’m comfortable with everything,” McIlroy said at Bethpage Black. “I’ve got them to save me three years’ worth of golf balls, so at least I’ve got a golf ball that I like and that I know that I can play well with.”
Speaking with Golf Digest’s Mike Johnson, McIlroy elaborated on his relationship with the Nike ball.
“The feel of the ball is everything. It all starts with feel with a golf ball. Sound is a big deal for me in golf balls,” McIlroy explained. “A ball can be soft but if it sounds high-pitched coming off the club it can almost feel hard. The feel and the sound need to go hand in hand. It needs to feel good on all shots, even putts. And that comes from the cover and mantle layer.”
But, as McIlroy pointed out, it doesn’t take long to get use to a new ball.
“Need to recalibrate after making a ball change: It doesn’t take much time at all,” McIlroy said. “It’s more spending time on the course and gaining trust. You get used to a certain flight and feel. When you can see the improvements it’s easier to gain the confidence and comfort.”
Per NoLayingUp.com, McIlroy is expected to debut his new tools at the BMW South African Open on January 12. – Joel Beall is an Assistant Editor for GolfDigest.com