The biggest golf-equipment mistake amateurs make, according to major winner

Gary Woodland spoke to GOLF.com about recent changes to his Cobra Darkspeed driver, Rickie Fowler’s influence, amateur gaffes and more.

The post The biggest golf-equipment mistake amateurs make, according to major winner appeared first on Golf.

Gary Woodland spoke to GOLF.com about recent changes to his Cobra Darkspeed driver, Rickie Fowler’s influence, amateur gaffes and more.

The post The biggest golf-equipment mistake amateurs make, according to major winner appeared first on Golf.

Before Gary Woodland made his return to competitive golf at the Sony Open, after brain surgery in September, Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin received a call from a stir-crazy Woodland who was itching to get his hands on new Cobra product to test. The green light to practice had been lit.

Schomin prefers to do testing in person with Cobra staffers to get a better handle on the situation, but Woodland couldn’t wait. He needed a club in his hands as soon as possible. By the time Woodland and Schomin connected at The Floridian for a proper testing session, the former U.S. Open champion already had a handle on the new Darkspeed driver.

When it comes to his gear, Woodland knows what he likes.

During a recent conversation in Phoenix, the 2018 WM Phoenix Open winner discussed how newfound speed changed the driver build, Rickie Fowler’s influence on the lob wedge, gear mistakes amateurs make and the whereabouts of his U.S. Open-winning equipment.

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I heard you picked up some serious clubhead speed since your return. Did that require any shaft or spec changes to your Cobra Darkspeed driver?

Gary Woodland: The best thing for me with the Darkspeed is the adjustability. We’ve been able to adjust the weighting in the bottom with the three weights down there you can move around now. So we’re able to get the ball flight we want. It looks phenomenal. It’s clean on top, which is nice. But I’ve gone up in loft. My whole career, I’ve lived right around 7 to 7.5 degrees of loft. I’m at 8.5 degrees, the most I’ve ever been in my career.

And my speed’s up, which is crazy to think I can go up in loft and my speed’s still up. My spin’s down. It’s been amazing to hit. With my speed going up we gotta find the right shaft. Because as my speed has gone down, we’ve changed shafts and changed tippings.

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Now I’m going back to a shaft that I played when I was playing really well in 2017, ’18, ’19. It’s a shaft I’ve had success with. And we’re going back to it this week, which I’m excited about.

When my speed gets up, the adrenaline gets going — and I get a little bit more lag. So we’re trying to find something that’s a little stiffer throughout the shaft.

I know you and Rickie Fowler are using 3D-printed Cobra King wedges at the moment. How’s it been performing?

Woodland: My process was really easy. I saw Rickie chipping with it, and I went and said, “Let me hit a couple chips.” [chuckles] I’m, like, “I need this.” That was my process, literally. I think from a club standpoint, anybody I’ve met or anybody out here on Tour, I think Rickie knows more than anybody. I really do. And so he had a lot of input into this wedge. And now you talk about 3D printing. I change lob wedges a lot. I like to get fresh grooves. About once a month I’m putting a new lob wedge in.

So now that they’re 3D printed, they’re the same every time. I don’t have to worry about going and grinding the heel. It’s already done. So that’s been a huge part for me, not having to do anything to them. They just come how I like them. So that part’s been really cool.

I see you’re still using a traditional muscleback Cobra King MB 4-iron. Is that a bag staple or something you change out depending on the course setup?

I do put a 7-wood in depending on the week. But for me it’s the feel. I love the feel of a 4-iron and I have the speed to get it up in the air. You know, there are some times when having a little something more cavity back or something bigger down there has helped with some mishits when it gets cold out and my body’s not moving as well. But I just like the traditional look of looking down and seeing that blade. I’ve played it my whole life and fortunately, I have the speed to get it back up in the air.

How do you weight the numbers on a launch monitor versus what you’re seeing and feeling when determining if a club is worth putting in the bag?

For me, I like to get on the golf course. With the crazy launch monitors now you can bring them out there with you. But for me, standing on a range that’s so wide, I can sit there, you give me five balls, I’m gonna figure it out.

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Get me on a golf course when you only have one shot, now, okay, is my speed still up when I have to hit this shot? And if it’s not, what is it doing? And then we can make some adjustments. [Schomin, the Cobra tour rep] has been amazing with that. I’ve worked with Ben for a long time, even before I was with Cobra.

He knows what I like to see. So he’s walking with me this week and we have a launch monitor out there. And looking to what we’re seeing is adding up to what the numbers are. And that’s been — that’s been a big adjustment.

What’s the biggest gear mistake amateurs make?

Club up. Quit trying to club down. Quit trying to hit it so far. But that’s the big and, you know, for the most part, they aren’t getting fitted. So the equipment doesn’t match what they’re doing. It doesn’t match their golf swing. So that would be the big deal I’d say, is to get fit and go find something that matches how you’re swinging.

Do you still have any of the gear from your U.S. Open win?

Gary Woodland winning putt at 2019 U.S. Open
Gary Woodland celebrates winning the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. NBC

I have the clubs. And the lob wedge I hit on 17 off the green still has a big red mark from the ball. It still has the mark on the club, and I haven’t hit it since. So I have that in a bag at home.

I have the irons at home. I have the 3-wood. I still played the 3-wood and I smashed the face at the British Open that year. Ball went through the face and cracked. But I still have the head. And I have the bag all the stuff that was in the bag at that time, it’s still in the bag, which is cool.  

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.

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