April 07, 2022
By GolfWRX, PGATOUR.COM
- Hideki Matsuyama during a practice round prior to the 2022 Masters. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Hideki Matsuyama is never complacent, especially when it comes to equipment. The defending Masters champion is constantly testing and tweaking his gear to find the perfect fit for his game.
As a Cleveland/Srixon staffer, Matsuyama works closely with the company’s fitters, builders and designers to refine head shapes, dial in launch parameters, and get the right setup.
“Hideki is always looking for a way to be better, even after winning the Masters,” a Srixon representative told GolfWRX. “There is a purpose for the processes, such as finding a solution for a current issue or preparing for an upcoming major tournament. Hideki is not afraid to change his specs, even if they have been successful for him. There is always room for growth.”
MORE THE MERRIER
Matsuyama’s passion for experimentation is illustrated by the fact that he regularly has 20-plus clubs in his bag during practice days, exceeding the 14 he’s limited to in competition. Aside from making the bag very heavy during practice rounds, the extra clubs and shaft options make it easy for Matsuyama to test equipment every week. When GolfWRX took photos of Matsuyama’s clubs at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open, he had 20 clubs in his bag, including extra wedges and shafts.
SWITCH IT UP
Matsuyama also had two different Srixon ZX7 drivers in the bag at the Farmers. If you look closely near the hosel of the driver pictured on the left below, you can see that it has different labeling than the other version; this likely means the driver has different loft or internal weighting for slightly different launch and spin than the driver pictured on the right.
Matsuyama isn’t afraid to make changes, even if a club helped him win a major. He’s using a Srixon ZX7 driver this week after winning last year’s Masters with a ZX5. The ZX5 may create a bit more ball speed, but the ZX7 is slightly more forgiving and thus provides more accuracy, according to Srixon.
A NOTCH ABOVE
Matsuyama is one of the top iron players on TOUR. His average ranking in Strokes Gained: Approach over his eight seasons is 6.6. One interesting characteristic of his Srixon Z-Forged irons are the small notches on the heel and toe sections of the sole. Back in 2021, Srixon told GolfWRX that Matsuyama is a strong believer in the benefits of these notches.
“Hideki is one of the leaders in developing the toe and heel notches,” Srixon said. “He strongly believes the toe and heel notch creates a more consistent, smooth turf interaction. Hideki has always had these notches in his irons, and he was a huge part of bringing the notches back in the ZX line.”
Matsuyama also is very particular about offset, which is the space between the leading edge on the face of the iron and the hosel. More offset gives players more time to square the club because the clubface is behind the hosel. The clubs for your everyday player have more offset than those used by TOUR players.
“With regards to offset, Hideki prefers some offset over zero offset in his irons,” Srixon told GolfWRX. “He has the most specific eye, and he loves to tinker and test all products. The key areas for Hideki when it comes to irons are the general hosel shape and taper consistency, the blend between the face flat and hosel, and most importantly the smooth transitions from the hosel into the leading edge – there needs to be offset as he wants the transition to be smooth and almost straight.”
When it comes to his wedges, Matsuyama is especially discerning about the sole grinds and how they match up with specific course conditions.
“Hideki doesn’t change his 52-degree sole often, but he is constantly tinkering with his 56 and 60,” Srixon told GolfWRX. “All three soles have a subtle C-grind shape. The 56- and 60-degree have an aggressive heel relief. Hideki also utilizes a similar subtle leading-edge grind to the one that is in his irons. Hideki will vary the width and bounce angles of the three (soles) depending on the conditions and shots that he is looking to hit. These three tiers as well as the sole radius (the sole curvature from heel to toe) allow us to manipulate the sole design to achieve the turf interaction and versatility that he may be asking for without changing the address shape. In the 56 and 60, Hideki plays a very straight leading edge with little-to-no offset. He plays his 60 and 56 weaker to help remove the offset and maintain a very straight, smooth transition from the hosel to leading-edge.”
ON THE GREEN
Matsuyama is also constantly testing new Scotty Cameron putters, mostly opting for a Newport-style blade head made of GSS (German Stainless Steel) material, with a single line on the black flange, a red-and-black color scheme, and a smooth milled face.
While the particulars of Matsuyama’s gear setup are always changing, and he keeps plenty different options around during practice days, below is Matsuyama’s expected WITB setup come competition time on Thursday at the Masters.
Driver: Srixon ZX7 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8TX
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 9TX
5-wood: Cobra RadSpeed (17.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 10TX
Irons: Srixon Z-Forged (4-9 iron)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue
Wedges: Cleveland RTX 4 Forged (52, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS prototype
Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV