Touring professionals are the ultimate club testers. They often play with prototype clubs and other equipment that has not yet been released to consumers.
The best book that deals with touring pros and their golf equipment? It’s the new “2004 Golf Equipment Almanac” from the Darrell Survey.
Since the 1930s, the Darrell Survey has been tabulating golf equipment usage on the PGA Tour.
It also chronicles the LPGA, Champions and Nationwide Tours, as well as the Japan Golf Tour.
What’s more, the Darrell Survey has conducted consumer surveys among average American golfers for more than 20 years. Looking at amateurs and pros, here are a few tidbits from the 2004 Golf Equipment Almanac:
Golf balls: Among consumers surveyed in 2003, nearly 45 percent used Titleist golf balls. Top-Flite, with about 12 percent, was the only other brand higher than 10 percent.
The three most popular consumer models, in order, were the Pro V1, NXT and Pro V1x. All are made by Titleist.
On the PGA Tour, the Pro V1x and Pro V1 combined for more than 70 percent of Tour victories.
For measured drives on the PGA Tour, the longer and firmer Pro V1x averaged 289 yards. This was impressive, but still was not as much as the Nike One TW, which averaged 290.3 (albeit with a smaller number of users).
On the LPGA, the Callaway HX Red was the winningest ball.
Drivers: Callaway was the brand with the largest overall number of drivers in play among consumers. Regardless, the old Titleist 975J was the most used individual model.
On the PGA Tour, the Titleist 983J won more tournaments than any other driver. The TaylorMade R510 was second.
The Adams Redline Tour had more Champions Tour victories than any other driver model.
Two Japanese companies, Fujikura and Graphite Design, finished 1-2 in driver shaft usage on the PGA Tour.
The most popular driver grip on the PGA Tour? The Golf Pride Tour Velvet.
Fairway woods: Adams Tight Lies was still the most used fairway wood among consumers, although Cleveland and Cobra joined Callaway in dominating the category for fairway woods less than a year old.
True Temper Dynamic Gold easily was the most popular fairway wood shaft on the PGA Tour. This steel shaft has been around for more than 50 years.
On the Champions Tour, LPGA and Japan Golf Tour, graphite shafts far outpaced steel shafts in usage.
Irons: Among consumers, Callaway and Ping were the most popular brands of irons. The Ping i3 was the top model in consumers’ bags, edging the venerable Ping Eye2. Some 20 years after its introduction, the Eye2 is still available to cosumers.
How about the Mizuno MP-33? This forged blade was the No. 1 iron in the U.S. Junior, No. 2 in the U.S. Amateur and No. 3 in the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship.
While 59.8 percent of players on the PGA Tour carried 3 through 9 irons, the corresponding percentage on the LPGA was 14.7. Those carrying 4 through 9 irons totaled 12.1 percent on the PGA Tour and 49.8 percent on the LPGA.