What’s In The Bag: Rory McIlroy

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What golf clubs and ball does Rory McIlroy use? Our in-depth review of what’s in the bag of the Northern Irishman for 2022.

After finishing third in the Dubai Desert Classic and 12th in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Rory Mcilroy is back inside the top five players in the world rankings and looking to build his form ahead of his latest bid to complete the Career Grand Slam at The Masters in April.

JUMP TO: How TaylorMade fit Rory’s equipment

The 32-year-old had looked miles off his best during Europe’s Ryder Cup defeat in the summer, but is now looking to refine his game after a period of soul-searching.

Rory McIlroy won his 20th PGA Tour title at The Cj Cup @Summit in Las Vegas.

‘There was a lot of reflection in the last couple of weeks,” the four-time Major champion said. “This is what I need to do. I need to play golf, I need to simplify it. I need to just be me. I think for the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try and get better.

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‘I realised that being me is enough, and being me I can do things like this.’

Let’s take a closer look at what’s in the bag of Rory McIlroy. And, if you’re in the market for some new equipment, find out how all of Rory’s clubs performed in our tests of the year’s best equipment, including driversfairway woods, and putters.

Rory McIlroy uses the TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver.

Driver

TaylorMade Stealth Plus (9º, Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X shaft) | VIEW OFFER 

Rory McIlroy uses the TaylorMade Stealth Plus fairway woods.

Fairway Woods

TaylorMade Stealth Plus (15º, Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X) | VIEW OFFER

TaylorMade Stealth Plus (19º, Fujikura Ventus Black 9 X) | VIEW OFFER

Rory McIlroy uses TaylorMade P730 Rors Proto irons.

Irons

TaylorMade P770 (3, Project X Rifle 7.0 shafts) | VIEW OFFER

TaylorMade P730 Rors Proto (4-PW, Project X Rifle 7.0 shafts) | VIEW OFFER

Rory McIlroy uses TaylorMade MG and MG2 TW wedges.

Wedges

TaylorMade MG3 (54º-HB13, 58º-HB12, Project X Rifle 6.5 shaft) | VIEW OFFER

Rory McIlroy uses the TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast putter.

Putter

TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast (Superstroke Pistol GT Tour grip) | VIEW OFFER

Rory McIlroy uses the TaylorMade TP5X golf ball.

Golf ball

2021 TaylorMade TP5X | VIEW OFFER

Golf grips

Golf  Pride MCC | VIEW OFFER

Rory McIlroy wears Nike Golf clothing and shoes.

Shoes and apparel

Nike | VIEW OFFERS

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How does a brand like TaylorMade go about dialling Rory McIlroy into their latest clubs? We find out from Adrian Rietveld.

Every golfer wants to hit it further off the tee. Whether you’re a 20-handicapper trying to carry it 200 yards, or Rory McIlroy averaging more than 300 yards, bombing it is one of golf’s biggest draws, one that’s worth billions to club manufacturers.

Every year, manufacturers unveil new clubs that claim to go further and, over the last few months, TaylorMade’s Senior Tour Manager, Adrian Rietveld, has had the job of convincing McIlroy and the brands other staff players such as Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood, that the time has come to ditch the titanium drivers they’ve won millions of dollars with and switch to the carbon-fibre Stealth.

We caught up with Rietveld to find out how he sold and fitted Stealth to McIlroy. 

Adrain Rietveld dials in Rory McIlroy's Stealth Plus driver.

We did something different because we had something different. We’d normally not reveal new products to players until we do our marketing shoot in Florida in November. It’s a way we can create buzz for the players, as it’s something new and they know nothing about what’s coming until they arrive. Because Stealth is so different, and because we wanted players fully onboard, we had our elite athletes visit The Kingdom (at TaylorMade HQ in Carlsbad, California) around the US Open (at Torrey Pines) in June last year, so they got an early test and feedback session. 

This was not marketing spin, it was a performance reveal. Our elite athletes only saw the final product colours and branding at the marketing shoot, until then they’d been hitting prototype heads. The potential the product holds is immediate; some players’ first reaction was simply, “I can’t believe it”. Normally, we’re trying to find potential with each individual player, but with Stealth the potential of more ball speed was there from shot one. The fitting process was much more about getting the players’ feedback, then getting the adjustability to a point where for them it’s a no-brainer.  

Rory, Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia could all have played the driver the following week. The fitting process just didn’t take that long. Remember, these are the best players in the world and their golf clubs are already dialled in, so you need something special to surpass what’s already in their bag. And the club still has to be conforming, too. The potential for more ball speed just became a given. I’ve not seen anything like it before, and I’ve been doing this for 10 years now.

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We’ve seen a ball speed breakthrough. We’ve worked with all our icon athletes, from Rory to Sergio, plus a whole host of uncontracted players, too. It’s player-dependent, of course, but we’ve seen anywhere between 1-4mph of ball speed gain. And the most impressive thing is how ball speed is maintained across the face. With a titanium driver a centre strike might give 175mph ball speed, but miss it on the toe or heel, while launch characteristics don’t change too much, the ball speed will drop by 2-3mph. We’re seeing Stealth give more consistent ball speed retention, across the whole face.

Players want to see speed and good spin characteristics. Any driver that doesn’t have those two things won’t last long with tour players. The potential with Stealth is that we don’t need to worry about those two, so the buy-in from players is amazing. When the player sees that potential, so it’s faster and more impressive when mishit, things get serious. Players then want to be a bit more specific and start looking at start lines, shot shape and height, and can they hit the shots they rely on, but it’s really cool when they discover Stealth is performing better for them. Everyone we’ve seen has been longer with Stealth.

Rory McIlroy in action at the Dubai Desert Classic.

How TaylorMade fitted Rory McIlroy’s golf clubs

You’ll see a lot of Stealth Plus drivers in tour players’ hands this year, as its sliding sole weight adjustability allows us to dial the driver in for each player. We use the 10g sole weight to dial in the shot shape players prefer, which is really important when you realise Rory (like Tommy and Sergio) likes to draw it, whereas DJ and Collin Morikawa like to fade the driver. The Plus spins about 300rpm less than the standard Stealth, which is often a better fit for players at high speeds.

Rory’s driver is a 9º head, with the hosel adaptor set a notch lower so the loft plays more like 8.5º. The sliding sole weight is in a pretty neutral position, and the shaft is a Fujikura Ventus Black 6X tipped one inch (to make it play stiffer). We work with our tour players a lot more than consumers might realise; it’s not uncommon to work through 10, 15 or even 20 iterations of a driver for a player to feel comfortable and ready to hit the golf course. 

We’ve seen Rory six times over the winter and he’s still using the same first Stealth Plus driver we originally fitted him into; that’s a really good sign. What Rory really likes is the forgiveness off-centre. He’s starting to hit driver where a cut (fade) will spin at 2,400rpm, a draw will spin at 2,100rpm and his high, straight bomb is at 2,200rpm. That’s a really tight spin tolerance for any driver. We’ve been surprised by the impressive numbers, so much so we’re asking our R&D guys if they can explain how we’re getting them.

Rory McIlroy hitting his TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver in Abu Dhabi.

For Rory it was a straight head swap. He liked the Ventus shaft he was already playing, so there was no reason to explore other shafts. From the Olympics (2021) onwards he drove the ball well, so he’s been getting his form back. Out on tour you only start looking at new shafts when there’s a reason too, that’s called searching – there just wasn’t a reason to search for anything switching to the Stealth Plus for Rory.

Rory lives between 185 and 190mph ball speed with his driver, but with Stealth Plus he’s now consistently in the high 180s, without forcing it. To get the previous product (SIM2) to spin as Rory wanted, we needed to take weight out of the back of the head and move it closer to the face, which meant losing forgiveness on heel and toe strikes. We haven’t needed to do that with Stealth Plus. Though Rory has gained ball speed – out on tour all players want that – he’s also gained the ability to miss better.

He’s gained on forgiveness without sacrificing performance. If Rory is at 186mph ball speed on average, he’s at 186 all over the face. You could lose 4-5mph with previous and competitor products, but the ball speeds with Stealth stay consistently high. We’re not even selling the driver on forgiveness, for us it’s about ball speed gains.

The big thing for Rory, who we often need to create multiple iterations of a new product for him to feel comfortable, was him turning up to Abu Dhabi with exactly the same driver he was hitting 350 yards bombs with at our marketing shoot in November.

My boss Keith Sbarbaro deserves so much credit for his work with Rory, we have a great system in place to make sure Rory can play his best.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Today's Golfer Equipment Editor Simon Daddow.

Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk

Simon has worked in the golf industry for 30 years. Starting out as trainee professional at Downes Crediton GC where he learned the art of golf club making, before going onto work for Clubhaus Plc and Tony Charles Ltd as a golf club maker, and running Product Development at Benross Golf.

Joining EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) in 2006 as Equipment Editor Simon has worked for Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines and the Today’s Golfer website.

Simon is 46 years old, he’s played golf for 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.

You can contact Simon here.

Rob Jerram is Today's Golfer's Digital Editor.


Rob Jerram is the Digital Editor of todaysgolfer.co.uk

He has been a journalist for more than 20 years, starting his career with Johnston Press where he covered local and regional news and sport in a variety of editorial roles across ten years.

Rob joined Bauer Media in 2010 and worked as the Senior Production Editor of Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines for ten years before moving into the Digital Editor’s role in July 2020.

He has been playing golf for almost three decades and has been a member at Greetham Valley Golf Club in Rutland for eight years, playing off 12.

You can contact Rob here.

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