Which Golf Clubs Are Really Worthy of the Pros?

By Todd Mrowice

Three golf bags on ground at tournament

If you’re an avid golfer as well as an equipment junkie, you likely keep an eye on what professional golfers have in their bags. With so many brands and contract details, it's difficult to keep up with who’s playing what on the PGA and LPGA tours. Let’s take a look at the club brands that are the most popular as well as some surprises to determine which golf clubs are really worthy of the pros.

Professional Equipment Contracts

The top golfers in the world are highly sought after by equipment manufacturers. The prospect of being able to market touring pros that have won majors and other events with its clubs in hand is what drives the equipment business more than anything else. From the player’s perspective, equipment contracts can be highly lucrative if you’re in the top 50 and the absolute best can use their world ranking as financial leverage when negotiating.

The best players in the world will typically sign multi-year agreements, with the financials being determined by a combination of their current status as well as a projection of where they’re headed. Players that are further down the world ranking typically sign shorter endorsement deals and occasionally go year-to-year with contracts.

Golf equipment contracts can be structured in numerous ways. Here are three of the most popular:

  • Full bag agreement: This is when a player agrees to play an entire bag of equipment from a single manufacturer.
  • Full bag agreement with 1-2 exceptions: This type of agreement allows the player to use most of one manufacturer’s equipment, but can play one or two clubs from another. Usually, this involves the player using a putter and/or a driver, fairway wood, or hybrid of another company.
  • Partial bag: A player can agree to play, for example, only irons from a manufacturer while playing woods and a putter from another.

Not all PGA and LPGA professionals have equipment contracts. Depending on the opinion of each professional, equipment contracts might not be lucrative enough to sway the individual player from choosing which clubs make up their bag.
 

Professional Equipment vs Amateur Equipment

With all of this equipment talk, you might be wondering what the difference is between the clubs that amateurs use and the ones that professionals use. Here’s a quick breakdown of what makes them different.
 

Amateur Clubs

The average amateur golfer uses irons that have a game improvement element to them. This usually means larger heads on irons with more offset. Drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and wedges, are more likely to be the same models used by tour professionals, but without the exact dialed-in specs that a tour pro demands.

Another big difference is that amateur players are more likely to have a stock shaft in their clubs. These are shafts that are provided by the manufacturer as the main option at retail.
 

Professional Clubs

Golf clubs that are in a professional’s bag are typically looked over one-by-one to ensure that each club has a precise loft, lie, and length, and is free of any potential imperfections. All manufacturers have trailers on-site at professional events to ensure its sponsored players have everything they need to succeed.

Professional golfers usually play blade and muscle back irons with little to no offset, because their skill set doesn't require the additional forgiveness that amateurs need. Professionals also play lower spinning drivers and sometimes will have special one-off putters that are not available to the public.
 

Top Brands on PGA Tour

Scottie Scheffler with golf bag at tournament

We looked at the top 50 PGA Tour players according to the Official World Golf Ranking (as of August 1, 2022) and found out which companies are at the top for sponsorship deals.

Titleist

% of Top 50 34
Clubs Used

TSi drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, U 505 and T200 utility irons, T100, T200, MB, CB irons, and T-MB irons, Vokey wedges, Scotty Cameron putters

Top Titleist Players (ranking)

  • Cameron Smith (2)
  • Patrick Cantlay (4)
  • Justin Thomas (7)
  • Jordan Spieth (12)
  • Will Zalatoris (13)
     

PING

% of Top 50 20
Clubs Used G425 and G410 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, G425 utility irons, i210, Blueprint, and i500 irons, Glide wedges, PLD Milled and Sigma 2 putters

Top PING Players (ranking)

  • Viktor Hovland (9)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick (10)
  • Tony Finau (16)
  • Joaquin Niemann (18)
     

TaylorMade

% of Top 50 16
Clubs Used Stealth drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, SIM2 fairway woods, M5 fairway woods, Stealth UDI utility irons, P790, P770, P7MB, and P7MC irons, Mille Grind wedges, Spider putters

Top TaylorMade Players (ranking)

  • Scottie Scheffler (1)
  • Rory McIlroy (3)
  • Jon Rahm (5)
  • Collin Morikawa (8)
  • Dustin Johnson (17)
     

Callaway

% of Top 50 12
Clubs Used Rogue ST drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, UW fairway woods, Rogue ST Pro, Apex Pro irons, Jaws wedges, Odyssey putters
 

Top Callaway Players (ranking)

  • Xander Schauffele (6)
  • Sam Burns (11)
  • Abraham Ancer (22)
  • Kevin Kisner (27)
     

Srixon/Cleveland

% of Top 50 10
Clubs Used ZX drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, ZX utility irons, Z-Forged, ZX5, and ZX7 irons, RTX wedges

Top Srixon/Cleveland Players (ranking)

  • Hideki Matsuyama (15)
  • Brooks Koepka (23)
  • Shane Lowry (24)
     

PXG

% of Top 50 4
Clubs Used 0811 GEN4 X driver, 00311T GEN4 irons

Top PXG Players (ranking)

  • Jason Kokrak (36)
  • Patrick Reed (45)
     

Cobra

% of Top 50 2
Clubs Used LTDx drivers, RadSpeed and SpeedZone fairway woods, King utility irons, King Tour irons.

Top Cobra Players (ranking)

  • Bryson DeChambeau (30)

PGA Notes

  • Despite being a more boutique company, Bettinardi has two staff players in Matt Fitzpatrick and Jason Kokrak
  • Hideki Matsuyama often mixes in clubs from TaylorMade, Wilson, and Cobra to go along with his Srixon contract
  • Shane Lowry plays TaylorMade fairway woods and an Odyssey putter along with his Srixon contract
  • Despite splitting with PXG, Patrick Reed continues to play some of its clubs along with irons from specialty manufacturer, grindworks USA
     

Top Brands on LPGA Tour

Jin Young Ko hits driver at tournament

We looked at the top 50 LPGA Tour players according to the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings (as of August 1, 2022) and found out which companies have the most clubs in play.

Titleist

% of Top 50 24
Clubs Used TSi drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, T100, T200, T100S, and CB irons, Vokey wedges, Scotty Cameron putters

Top Titleist Players (ranking)

  • Jin Young Ko (1)
  • Nelly Korda (3)
  • Hyo-Joo Kim (8)
  • Jessica Korda (14)
  • Min Ji Park (15)
     

Callaway

% of Top 50 18
Clubs Used Rogue ST drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, EPIC Flash drivers and fairway woods, Rogue ST and Apex irons, Jaws wedges, Odyssey putters

Top Callaway Players (ranking)

  • Jin Young Ko (1)
  • Atthaya Thitikul (6)
  • Mone Inami (23)
  • Yula Saso (26)
  • Georgia Hall (27)
     

PING

% of Top 50 16
Clubs Used G425 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, G410 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, G425, i525, i500, and i210 irons, Glide wedges, PLD and Heppler putters

Top PING Players (ranking)

  • Jin Young Ko (1)
  • Brooke Henderson (5)
  • Jennifer Kupcho (10)
  • In-Gee Chun (11)
     

PXG

% of Top 50 10
Clubs Used 0811 GEN 4 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, 0341 GEN 2 fairway woods, 0211 and 0311 irons, 0311 wedges, Battle Ready putters

Top PXG Players (ranking)

  • Lydia Ko (4)
  • Celine Boutier (17)
  • Mina Harigae (29)
     

Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO

% of Top 50 10
Clubs Used ZX drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, X drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, ZX and X irons, RTX wedges

Top Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO Players (ranking)

  • Minjee Lee (2)
  • Nasa Hataoka (9)
  • In Bee Park (13)
  • Hannah Green (19)
     

TaylorMade

% of Top 50 6
Clubs Used Stealth drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, SIM2 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, P770 and P790 irons, Milled Grind wedges, Spider putters

Top TaylorMade Players (ranking)

  • Charley Hull (28)
  • He Jeong Lim (39)
     

Mizuno

% of Top 50 6
Clubs Used ST drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, Pro and JPX irons, T-22 wedges

Top Mizuno Players (ranking)

  • Sei-Young Kim (12)
  • Mao Saigo (20)
     

LPGA Notes

  • Jun Young Ko, despite being the top ranked player, does not have an equipment contract. She uses clubs from Titleist, Callaway, Bridgestone, and PING
  • Cobra’s only sponsored player in the top 50 is Lexi Thompson (7)
  • Lydia Ko parted ways with PXG but still used numerous clubs from the manufacturer
  • In Bee Park uses a mix of Srixon, Cleveland, and XXIO clubs which are all under the same ownership of Dunlop

Conclusion

It should come as no surprise that the top 50 players on both the men’s and women’s side of golf are playing brands that are very familiar. Titleist, PING, Callaway, TaylorMade, and others are well-represented. What might be surprising is that professional players take advantage of having a bag setup that suits their games while also abiding by their equipment contracts. As time goes on, will equipment contracts become less common? As long as manufacturers continue making clubs worthy of the pros, there will be plenty of room for negotiation.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.