Last season, Golf Digest asked 66 PGA Tour players this question: Who is the best athlete on tour?
The majority chose Titleist Brand Ambassador Gary Woodland, also considered by many to be the longest hitter on tour.
Newsflash: As the result of changes in swing mechanics and equipment, including a move from the Titleist Pro V1 to Pro V1x golf ball, Gary's gotten even longer.
Late in 2011, Gary began working on his swing with Butch Harmon, a key member of the Titleist Leadership Advisory Staff. One thing Butch emphasized during their sessions was the importance of Gary using his skill and athleticism to shape shots.
“We’re getting him to move the ball around, change his trajectory a little, change the setup and the path of his swing and get more of a variety of shots, which he needs to have," Harmon told the Associated Press last week.
As a result, a few equipment tweaks and changes followed.
Gary adjusted the SureFit Tour hosel setting on his Titleist 910 7.5º driver from C•1 (6.75º loft, 57.75º lie) to A•1 (standard; 7.5º loft, 58.5º lie), adding roughly one degree of effective loft. He made the same change to his Titleist 910Fd 13.5º fairway metal (C•1 to A•1).
After a testing session with Fordie Pitts of Titleist Golf Ball R&D on the range early last week at TPC Scottsdale, Gary also switched golf ball models from Pro V1 to Pro V1x.
Gary initially sought out Fordie having noticed an increase of spin off of his irons.
He wanted to make sure he was playing the best Titleist golf ball for his new swing.
On Monday, Fordie had Gary test the lower-spin Pro V1x in front of a TrackMan launch monitor. With Gary's short and mid irons, the data showed a reduction of about 150-200 rpm in spin as well as a slight increase (1-1.5 mph) in ball speed. With his driver, Gary's ball speed increased about 4 mph with very similar spin (2,593 rpm).
Gary was pleased with the numbers, and took the Pro V1x out on the course for more testing.
Off the irons, the Pro V1x launched a little higher and longer (3 to 7 yards), hitting and stopping faster on the greens and giving him the control he needed on his scoring shots. He had the same confidence around the greens, as well.
Off the driver, his carry yardage increased about 14 yards, to the point where the other players in his practice round group couldn't help but laugh and shake their heads. (These are extremely rare numbers, to be sure.)
On Thursday, Gary walked to the first tee with a Pro V1x in his pocket, confident he was playing the ball that best suited his game.
He would go to finish T-4 for the week in Greens in Regulation (76.4 percent), closing out the tournament with a 5-under 66 Sunday at TPC Scottsdale.
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