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What’s trending on tour? This social media post offers a few insights.
Each week, equipment manufacturers trumpet their latest “win” in the professional ranks. It could be anything from winning the driver head and iron shaft count to coming out on top as the most-used putter grip or rangefinder (during practice rounds, of course).
If an OEM is leading the pack in a respective gear category, they’ll let you know about.
But what happens if you want to look for equipment trends beyond, say, a specific driver brand? Thanks to Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS) — the group keeps tabs on who’s using what on the DP World Tour — we have a better idea of what’s trending upward from a set makeup standpoint.
In a recent social media post, SMS revealed some interesting club stats from the Porsche European Open. For example, the average pro in the field carried almost 1.5 fairways in the bag, which makes sense for elite players.
Most pros have a secondary option to use off the tee, but the numbers go to show you that carrying a driver and two fairway woods isn’t a foregone conclusion at the highest level of professional golf, especially with hybrids and utility irons increasing in popularity.
A post shared by Sports Marketing Surveys (@sms_on_tour)
Which brings us to alternatives at the top of the set. Gone are the days of carrying traditional long irons, even if it’s a game-improvement version. The sample size is only one event, but it’s telling that nearly three-quarters of the field didn’t have a 3-iron in the bag but instead chose to carry a hybrid or utility iron in its place. As you’ve likely heard us say before, hybrids and utility irons possess a rare blend of forgiveness, high launch and speed that make them a versatile option.
While the 3-iron was almost non-existent at the event, many pros still chose to carry a 4-iron, which tells you there’s a defined cutoff for where pros are comfortable adding a hybrid or utility iron.
Something else that stood out? The abundance of four-wedge setups. We constantly get asked if there’s an advantage to using three or four wedges. For the best players in the world who likely have a bit more distance (and accuracy) off the tee than the average mid-handicapper, keeping the wedge loft gaps tight is going to make it easier to have a full swing inside 130 yards.
For a recreational golfer, it might make more sense to add another fairway wood or hybrid instead of going with four wedges. It just depends on needs and the course setup you play. You don’t need to follow these tour trends to find success on the course. That being said, it’s always fun to see what the best and brightest are wielding each week.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.
Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.
GOLF.com and GOLF Magazine are published by EB GOLF MEDIA LLC, a division of 8AM GOLF