Seven woods are making a return! Titleist Tour Rep JJ Van Wezenbeeck offers up some fascinating insight as to why the world's best players are adding them to their bags...
The Club That Titleist Players Are Using To Defeat Augusta
Augusta National is playing firmer than we’ve seen in a number of years, and players have had to make equipment changes to try and tame the long, undulating and fast beast that they’re presented with this week at The Masters.
Four of Titleist’s staff players have a 7 wood in the bag for the added height the club offers.
In fact, two of them, Adam Scott and Max Homa, have actually been using 7 woods for some time now in what seems to be a growing trend on tour.
Why is that then? We spoke to Titleist Tour Rep JJ Van Wezenbeeck, who has been on-site at Augusta this week.
JJ said that players knew Augusta was firm from playing practice rounds over the past few weeks and it became clear that it was going to be a firm and fast Masters after seeing the weather forecasts over the last week or so.
“We have four players playing a 7 wood in Max Homa, CT Pan, Matt Jones and Adam Scott, and in Matt Jones’ and CT’s scenario they normally play a 2 iron but they knew going into a week like this they would need a higher launching option,” JJ told Golf Monthly.
“So along those lines they worked on 7 woods weeks and months ago knowing that they would need a club like that for a golf course like this.
“We joke with a few of the guys that we call it a 6 wood because they don’t want to be 7 wood users.
“A perfect example is Houston in 2020 the week before Augusta and Adam and I worked on the TSi2 21 degree fairway wood there with him knowing that he wanted it for Augusta.
“He thought he might use it just that one week and go back to his 3 iron and he just finds it so versatile because he can launch it so high but he can also flight it and turn it and it’s not a one dimensional golf club.”
JJ says that added ball speeds on the modern day fairway woods mean that going up in loft is becoming more common with the world’s best players.
“Especially as we’ve gone to TSi fairway woods is we’ve added so much ball speed to it that you can afford to add some loft and when you add loft you often add versatility,” he said.
“Adam played it at Kapalua, which is historically a very windy golf course, where players are trying to keep it down but again with the elevation changes he found that fairway wood to provide him versatility off downhill lies and uphill holes so it’s a club that’s stayed in the bag for him.
“Max Homa was the same way.
“He ended up putting it in at Torrey Pines [Farmers Insurance Open, January] for something out of the rough and was going to go back to his U500 [utility iron] but again on the same thing he found it so versatile on par 5s and to be able to flight and turn it that it’s a club that hasn’t left his bag since.”
We’ve seen tour players use hybrids for years now, but the 7 woods certainly do seem to be making a return.
Partly that’s because of the increased ball speeds but it’s also due to the higher launch on offer too, which is perfect for when coming into Augusta National’s greens.
“The fairway wood is going to be a little bit of a larger head and when we get that larger size we’re able to get the CG a bit further back which will increase launch a little bit,” JJ says.
“So some of our players have a little scar tissue from their youth with hybrids when they didn’t have the versatility they have today.
“Hybrids today, with TSi2 and TSi3 specifically in TSi3, we have CG adjustments and we can do a lot of work but a lot of players just have in their head.
“A player like Max hits a hybrid really well but he wants maximum height and so a fairway wood for most people is going to provide a higher launch angle than a hybrid.
“So on a course like Augusta where the greens are so firm and undulating that you have to land it in the right spot at the right descent angle, they want ‘Give me maximum height at that distance.'”
One player who remains faithful to his hybrids is 2012 US Open champion and World No.9 Webb Simpson, who has two hybrids in his bag as well as two fairway woods.
“He has two hybrids. He carries five headcovers he has driver, 3 wood, 5 wood, hybrid, hybrid,” JJ said of Simpson.
“I think that’s the big thing for amateur golfers is everybody’s afraid of a headcover because of judgement and you look at top players in the world that they play for a living so you have somebody like Webb, he doesn’t mind that he’s carrying headcovers, he minds how the ball performs.
“When we work though a fitting with Webb, that performance trumps a lot of things so Webb is able to utilise that.
“His second hybrid, we actually put steel in it because it replaces a long iron for him and it’s an extension of his irons.
“I think that’s the thing for amateur golfers is you shouldn’t be nervous about a 7 wood.
“When we started seeing tour players play it, I went and put one in my bag and it’s one of my favourite clubs because you can just hit it from everywhere.”