Jamie Kennedy
By Jamie Kennedy

With four majors, 14 career PGA and European Tour titles and more than £30m in earnings, Rory McIlroy may not be your typical custom-fitting customer. However, he was the first to use Nike's first ever Performance Fitting Centre based in Archerfield Links in East Lothian.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

There to officially open the new centre, McIlroy also had time to talk those on hand through his bag and his current set make-up.

Having switched to Nike early last year, McIlroy changed every club in his bag and whilst he struggled to match the form he produced in 2012, he spoke to us at Archerfield on the back of a good run of form that included an impressive, come-from-behind win at the BMW Championship at Wentworth.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

Whilst Rory says he tends to travel with around 16 to 18 clubs and tinker with his set based on conditions and course set-up, here is what he has in the bag currently:

Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour Driver - 8.5°
Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Fairway Wood - 14.5°
Nike MM Prototype 2-Iron
Nike VR Pro Blade Irons - 3 to 9 iron
Nike VR Pro Wedges - 46° and 54°
Nike VR X3X Wedge - 60°
Nike Method 006 Putter
Nike RZN Black Ball

Alongside Nike Golf Field Rep, Brad Simpson, his swing coach, Michael Bannon, and ex-Ryder Cup and European Tour player, Andrew Coltart, Rory spoke about his equipment changes, each club in his bag and what it is he looks for and demands from his equipment.

On Life At Nike Golf

It's been awesome. I've never had an experience where I've been so involved in the clubs, or a shoe, or any piece of equipment. The great thing about Nike is they really value the athlete's opinion and feedback about how things feel, what you'd like to see, what you'd maybe not like to see. Ultimately, it's been a great process and one I've really enjoyed being a part of.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

On The Nike Oven

My first trip to the Oven was right after the Ryder Cup in 2012. The first I noticed was how passionate everyone was there. Everyone is so into what they're doing and making the best products. In my first trip I was excited to see what Nike had to offer. I felt I got into most of the stuff pretty easily. We worked a lot on the things I like to see in a golf club and things I like to see in my ball flight, and there was so many guys working with me make it all so easy.

On His Driver

The one thing I liked about the Covert 2.0 Tour driver compared to the previous model was the shape, the longer face design. I felt like it was easier to square the face up. Sometimes with the last one I left the face a little open, the toe didn't catch up with the heel so I'd leave a few to the right.

I like that its a bigger head size as well. I think guys in my generation are used to a 460cc head and as soon as put it down I liked it.

I have it at 8.5 degrees and neutral. Which is good as I've always been used to playing a driver at around that loft and with the previous model, it was very low spinning, I had to put it up to 10.5 and I just wasn't used to looking down on a club where I could see so much of the clubface.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

I remember the first time I hit this one at a photoshoot in L.A. last September and it actually got damaged in transit and there is a little chip on the top of it. I told the guys I don't want another one, this one's perfect, and I've kept the same one ever since. It's a little banged up and has a little character but ever since I started using it it's been awesome.

Rory's numbers with his driver: 329 yards total, 297 yards carry, 116.5 mph clubhead speed. 176 mph ball speed. 10.9-degree launch.

On Fairway Woods

I think fairway woods have to be pretty versatile. They have to be good off the tee, they have to be good off the fairway and as well they slide through the rough a little bit easier than irons.

My 3-wood is a club I sometimes hit into par-5s but it is also like a second driver so it has to be versatile. Going to into a par-5 if I have to carry it about 275 to get the front, I know I can get it there.

I think 3-woods and fairway woods in general are very individual clubs. You see guys on Tour that have one in their bag for six or seven years. I tend to chop and change my 3-wood if its not doing what I want it to or perhaps based on a course, I might need it launch a little higher.

Rory's numbers with his 3-wood: 310 yards total, 281 yards carry, 112 mph clubhead speed, 9-degrees of launch, 2,400 RPM spin.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

My 5-wood goes about 255 or 260 and I want to be able to hit low, hit it high, hit both both ways, hit off the tee hit it soft into a par-5. I've been really comfortable with my fairway woods now for the last 18 months and they've helped me hit some pretty good shots.

On 'That 5-Wood' At The Honda Classic

It was a shot that I needed to hit. It was that or lose the tournament.

It was an awkward yardage, it was 243 or so. My 4-iron wasn't going to carry over the bunker and a 5-wood would typically go too long so I needed to hit a big cut and take some yardage off it and try and stop it on the green.

It was one of those shots where I was thinking "if I hit it and I hit right, I have putt for eagle and chance to maybe win the tournament and if it doesn't come off then it's fine, I'm not going to win anyway", so I just stood up and committed to it and hit one of the best shots I've ever hit.

Rory took out that same 5-wood and tried to recreate the shot, cutting it 20 to 30 yards and landing it 243 yards. His first attempted launched high, cut about 30 yards and TrackMan told us it carried 246 yards.

On Hybrids

I've never played hybrids but I think they've made the game so much easier for so many players. Even guys on Tour, courses are getting longer and instead of them having to go in with long irons they can get a hybrid in the air and get them to land soft, and their so good out of the rough as well.

For me, I've never been comfortable looking down on a club that sort of looks like a wood but is the length of an iron. I've always sort of struggled with them and I've always been comfortable hitting long irons and getting them up in the air so that's why I've never really needed a hybrid in the bag.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

On Iron Design

If someone is playing regularly than blades might be for them, but if you're a recreational golfer that plays once a week or once a month, a more forgiving head is definitely a better option. Even us pros don't hit out of the middle every time and if you could minimise your misses with some forgiveness that will definitely help. Instead of losing 25 yards, if you can only lose 10 yards, or instead of missing 20 yards right, you only miss it 10 yards right, it all makes a difference.

On What He Likes In An Iron

I've always played a traditional blade iron and I like the more traditional look. What you're looking for in an iron is, obviously getting the loft and lie right, but one of the big things for top players is how the sole gets through the turf. I've always liked a thin sole so it gets through the turf quite quickly but some players like a bit of a wider sole so it feels like it slides through the grass. I like to 'trap' the ball so that's why I have quite a sharp leading edge and a thin sole.

On His 2-Iron

I've taken out the 5-wood and put the 2-iron in play this week. It's the sort of club for me that carries around 240 yards and runs out to about 260 or 270, so it works well off the tee on the links ground.

On Lie Angle

One thing people don't realise is whatever set-up position you are in, the lie angle is going to be a little different. Whether you come in quite low with your hands at impact or like me, I actually raise my hands up. So even though I'm a pretty short guy, just 5'9", I have my irons one-degree upright to allow for my hands coming up a touch at impact.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

On Ball Flight

For me, I'm not a guy who struggles with distance so I like to see a little bit of spin on my iron shots and see it come out quite penetrating. Some guys like to have a high launch and low spin trajectory to get the most out of the ball flight, but I like to see it almost going the other way. I do tend to hit the ball fairly high but it the way it reaches its apex maybe a little different to some other players.

On His Wedges

With wedges I've always been a guy that likes not a lot of bounce, so quite a sharp leading edge. I like to see the ball coming out quite low and with quite a lot of spin because I feel like the lower you can keep the trajectory the easier it is to control the distance.

I think on links courses, it's all about control your ball flight. So I've been working a few things with my swing and my wedge set-up to see what we can really do. I don't really like to hit a wedge more than about 80 or 85%, so I've been working on a lot of half shots and shots where I can control things more with my body than my arms and hands.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

I've had a 59-degree Toe Sweep Wedge in my bag recently, and on a course like Wentworth it was perfect. It makes it easier to hit shots out of the rough. Mike [Taylor] and his team created added more weight in the toe and take a little bit of the sole away at the heel which made it easier to slide through the rough.

The last few weeks I haven't needed it as much as much as the rough hasn't been as thick and also coming into this part of the season and links courses you want something with a little less bounce. The Toe Sweep is definitely a good option though and perhaps later in the season when you're going into those parkland courses in America with thick rough around the greens, I'll put it back in.

On Mike Taylor, Nike's Master Model Maker

It's been great to work with Mike. He is so passionate and he works so hard. You know he grinds the wedges and he's got so much knowledge and so many years of experience. Working around the green with him has been really good for my game. Even the way the sole interacts with the turf or the sound of a chip, he knows what it is you need.

On His Ball

I tested the RZN Black ball for the first time about this time last year and I really like it. Compared to the previous ball, the 20XI, it just felt a little softer which I really liked.

Since putting the new driver and ball in play at the same time last October or so, it's been great. My game in general is built on how I drive the ball and I've driven the ball so well since last year. I definitely put that down to the combination of the driver and the new RZN Black ball.

Around the greens as well, that soft feel has definitely made a difference. Being able to control the ball flight and the distance a little bit better and more consistently with the spin rate as well. It's all really helped.

Even before I was with Nike, and I heard they were bringing out the RZN golf ball, I remember thinking I like the sound of this. If you make a core that is lighter and faster in the middle, you can make the perimeter heavier and more stable, it sounded it like it made sense to me.

The thing I really loved about the Nike ball when I first played it was how good it was in the wind, how stable it was. And this new ball is just another improvement on that design.

Rory McIlroy At Archerfield

On TrackMan

I travel everywhere with a TrackMan. I think it's a very valuable piece of equipment for the top guys. In the past I used it more for tracking the ball and numbers such as ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and that sort of stuff, or maybe doing some wedge distance control. But in about August last year we started to look at numbers like attack angle, path and club direction to see if what I was feeling or what we were seeing was actually happening. Sometimes TrackMan can tell you things that the eye can't see and that makes it a really useful tool. If you go on any PGA Tour range, there's at least 10 or 15 guys that have their TrackMan behind them, analysing their shots and swings.

On V1 Swing Video Software

We started using V1 in 2004 when I was 15. Now we have a library of swings, you know every session I have we have on video. I can go back and see how I was swinging at 16, or 17, or 18 and see how my swing has progressed. There some parts of my golf swings back then that I would love to have in my swing now and it's amazing to be able to go back and look at that time and analyse it and see how my swing has developed and evolved over time.

To see more of the new Nike Performance Fitting Centre that Rory was opening, check out our exclusive inside look.


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