How Gary Woodland's strong U.S. Open game gets really strong with his unique equipment specs
Gary Woodland, gentleman that he is, is not like us. Given what he did down the stretch at Pebble Beach Golf Links during the final round of the U.S. Open, this is hardly a revelation. The 263-yard 3-wood to 14, the already legendary nipped chip from one side of the 17th green to kick-in distance on the other side, the shut-the-front-door 30-footer for birdie on the closing hole. Yes, yes and yes.
But where Woodland really separates himself from you and me are his equipment specs. In short, he swings sticks from the country-strong Paul Bunyan collection.
His Wilson Staff blades are all muscle and very little back. And in a rarity when it comes to tour players trying out new irons, they were the first set that Wilson sent him late last year. Making them extra extraordinary are the KBS C-Taper shafts at an X flex that weigh 130 grams. That’s about 25 percent heavier than the iron shafts you’re probably playing.
It’s in the woods where Woodland gets particularly lumberjack-like. His Ping G410 Plus driver is a 9-degree head that actually measures out at 7 degrees. Only Bubba Watson on Ping’s staff plays with less loft. Woodland’s driver shaft is an Accra RPG 472 with the company’s M5 rating, which equates to extra-stiff, and it weighs 76 grams, again probably 25 percent or more heavier than your driver shaft. But that’s not enough for Woodland. The shaft is “tipped” approximately two inches, which makes it play at a stiffness like a triple-X shaft.
Woodland was fit for the Accra shaft almost three years ago at the RBC Canadian Open, and he’s used the same specs through multiple heads ever since. According to Accra’s Gawain Robertson, on the range Woodland “hits it farther probably than anyone in the world,” but in a tournament he wants to play a controlled fade. Like most pros, he hates the hook, so by choosing to play a fade, Woodland’s also bringing more spin into the equation. So he is doing everything equipment-wise to drop that spin. Hence the stoutness of the stiffness of the shaft on his driver and the extra-low loft.
“I think we started out at about an inch and a quarter tipping and he eventually ended up settling in at about two inches,” Robertson said. “That’s pretty amazing for that shaft, which already is pretty tip stiff.”
But Woodland doesn’t always choose the stiffest, heaviest shafts for his clubs—although a few years back he did play a steel shaft in his 3-wood. Actually, his fairway woods are relatively normal by tour player standards. Sure his Ping G410 LST is delofted to 13.6 degrees, which might be close to the loft on your driver. But contrary to his driver, Woodland wants a little more spin on his fairway woods for the most logical reason: his G410 LST features an Accra Tour Zx shaft to control spin, which can come in handy when you’re taking on a 263-yard carry over a menacing front bunker like he did on the 14th hole on Sunday. Woodland’s solution for his fairway wood wasn’t about getting shots to go farther, though. No, his fairway woods were going too far. So the extra spin reels in some of that distance he doesn’t need.
In other words, totally unlike us.