With his win at the Masters, Danny Willett became the first Callaway Golf staffer to slip on the Green Jacket since Phil Mickelson in 2011. The win was the biggest of Willett's career, but over the course of the last five-plus years since he joined Callaway in 2011, he's won a major and four European Tour titles.
"The clubs give me a lot of confidence," Willett said. "Obviously, I'm the one executing them, but you need to have trust in your equipment to hit those key shots during the course of a tournament. I feel like Callaway has been a fantastic fit for me."
Following his dramatic win, Willett took time to chat with PGATOUR.COM about the equipment change he made for the year's first major, what he looks for in a driver and why he still uses Callaway's SR3 golf ball.
Was there one club that you felt helped you win the Masters?
I'm not sure if I can narrow it down to one club. I'd say it was probably a combination of three that helped me win. I drove it great all week, which is very important on that golf course. My putting and chipping was also very good, and down there, having a good short game is key. So I'd say my [Callaway XR16] driver, [Odyssey Versa #1W] putter and [Callaway Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind] lob wedge were the most important clubs in the bag.
When did you first test Callaway's XR16 driver?
I started testing the driver the end of last year and put it in play in Dubai. What put it over the top was the ball speed was better and I was able to control my ball flight. I did a lot of testing with it, but it really didn't take me too long to realize it was going to be my new driver for the season.
What do you look for when choosing a new driver?
I'm big on look and feel when it comes to the driver. It needs to look a little bit flat and a little bit open at address. I've always liked a slightly open face for as long as I can remember. It's more of a confidence thing for me. The feel also needs to be solid. There's a certain sound and feel I look for when the ball comes off the face. It's difficult to describe, but I can usually tell within the first few balls if it fits the bill.
As far as the testing process, I'm looking at spin rates and launch angles when I'm testing it on the range. But ultimately the numbers don't mean much unless you can hit some golf shots on the course with it. You need to feel confident that if you hit a fade, it's going to fade. If you play for a draw, it's going to draw. That's the real key test. If the numbers are good but the club doesn't perform on the course, then it doesn't work.
I noticed you swapped the Callaway Apex UT 3-iron for a Callaway XR16 5-wood at Augusta. Was the change made for the course setup?
For me, the 5-wood is the easiest club to hit a draw with, and there are a few holes around Augusta National where I needed that shot shape. It's more of a course dependent club, to be honest. I still think my 3-iron would have been OK around there with the winds, but because the course plays into the grain on the fairways, I just didn't think I was going to get a lot out of the iron. A lot of the par 5's you also need to come in from a good height to hold the greens.
You carry two or three Callaway Apex UT irons in the bag on a weekly basis. Have you always gone with a utility iron over a hybrid?
I've always preferred a 2-iron and 3-iron over a hybrid. I've never quite found one that works as good as an iron. And then there's the added benefit that they look kind of in between with a slightly thicker topline but still with a traditional look to them. The flight gives me an extra bit of trajectory and apex. It's basically the look and feel of a long iron with the flight of a hybrid. That's perfect for me.
Using extra stiff iron shafts is fairly common for TOUR players, but you actually use the Superlite version.
I've been using [True Temper's Dynamic Gold] X100 Superlite shafts for some time now. It's quite a stiff shaft but it enables me to swing hard at them. But because they're stepped once and very stiff, I never feel like I lose control. I like the same weight and feel with all of my iron and wedge shafts so I play them throughout the set.
What is it about Odyssey's #1W that's kept you from switching or tinkering with the putter?
More than anything, it's the horizontal lines on the putter that work for me. It gives it a tremendous setup that looks really square at address. Then, obviously, the white right angle on top lining up with the black line on my ball — there's a lot of definition going on there. I just feel like it makes it easier to line up my ball.
You still use an older model Callaway SR3 golf ball. Any reason in particular why you've stuck with that ball?
The spin rates are good and the feel around the green is a bit firmer, which I quite like. I don't like a ball that feels too soft. Once I started playing this ball, I stuck with it. I'll always give something new a try to see if it's better, but at least for my game, [SR3] works.