Matthew Wolff enjoyed a standout collegiate and amateur career, but when he turned professional at last month’s Travelers Championship, he was perhaps known more for his funky swing than for his playing prowess. That changed abruptly at the 3M Open in Minnesota, where the 20-year-old shot 62-65 on the weekend, culminated by a 26-foot eagle putt on the final hole to win his first PGA Tour event in just his third start as a professional. Golf Digest’s equipment editor, E. Michael Johnson, caught up with Wolff to talk about his approach to equipment, why he uses shorter-than-standard clubs and the switch back to a familiar driver and fairway wood that helped propel him to victory in Minnesota.
A couple of changes to the wood lineup at the 3M Open, going to the M5 driver and 3-wood from the M6. What was the impetus for that change?
It was actually a change back. I used both the M5 driver and 3-wood in college and it brought me a lot of success and I felt really confident with both of them. I took a little bit of time off after college to get ready for the transition from amateur to pro, and I wasn’t hitting my driver very well because I hadn’t been practicing much. I switched to the M6 driver and 3-wood because they’re more forgiving and I was hitting them better. But once I got under pressure, I didn’t have the confidence because it was a new driver to me and I didn’t know what my tendencies were going to be with it. I went back to the same driver I used in college as well as the 3-wood and it made me feel more comfortable out there at the 3M and it definitely helped me get that win.
The M5 has a number of adjustable options with the weights and the hosel. Do you use any of that or keep it pretty much standard?
I keep it pretty standard. Like I said, I’ve had it for a while now. But I do use an 8-degree head which helps take down the spin a little bit and allows me to hit a cut when I want to. Both of those things are important to me. It just sets up well and I feel I can move it both ways when I want to. That consistency and feel are crucial.
At the Travelers, you mentioned turning pro brings lots of changes, and one thing you could control was your equipment and staying with TaylorMade was important. How comforting is it to not have to make wholesale equipment changes?
It’s huge. It’s one of the reasons Justin Suh didn’t sign an equipment deal. He had multiple equipment brands in his bag and he knew that’s what got him here. I felt the same way. I’ve used TaylorMade equipment since the seventh grade and didn’t want to switch. It’s not just the brand, it’s the clubs. It’s a familiarity with how they feel and react. It’s being able to trust them and not being pressured to always use the latest stuff. I knew I didn’t have to change equipment to play out here and it’s worked out pretty well so far.
Do you remember your first set of TaylorMade clubs?
I think it was a mix of the muscleback blades and the CB irons. I use the P750 irons right now. I’ve used those since my senior year of high school. I’ve had them for about three years and they just work very well for me.
Is there anything unique about your equipment?
The lofts are standard and the lie angles are 1-degree flat, but the one thing that’s a little different is they’re shorter than standard. My clubs are about a half-inch shorter than standard through the bag. Compare my pitching wedge to anyone else’s on tour and it looks really short. I’ve done that for a long time and it just feels comfortable to me. I’d rather have them shorter than longer. Same thing with the driver and 3-wood. It just provides a bit more control. You actually see on tour a lot of players going to shorter drivers. It’s just something I’ve stuck with.
One non-TaylorMade piece of equipment is the ball. How long have you been in the Titleist Pro V1 and might you test the TaylorMade balls going forward?
I played the Pro V1 when I got to college. I had played the TP5x before that in junior golf. I had never had a ball fitting before and once I got to college, I got fit into the Pro V1 and it worked well. That said, once I finish this season I fully intend to switch to a TaylorMade ball. I’m looking forward to the fitting process and seeing how it can elevate my game even more.
Being out on tour every week, there’s the opportunity to look in the vans and guys bring clubs out to try. How difficult is it to resist that temptation, and are you more of a numbers guy or feel/look guy when it comes to your equipment?
I’m a feel player so if I like how it feels and the numbers are correct, I can get comfortable with my clubs pretty quickly and put it in my bag. If it feels good and flies good and looks good it has a lot better chance of going into the bag than if the numbers are great and I don’t like the look or how it sounds. That’s the most important thing. But that said, I know there’s a lot of new things that come out every year and I know they’re probably better, so I’ll look at it. But it’s tough to move away from clubs you’ve been successful with. It’s like the Spider X putter that I’ve used since the fall of my sophomore year. I’ve used that for about six months now with a lot of success. So I don’t plan on changing anything unless I’m improving something by a significant margin.