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19th Hole

10 insights from an account of a Tiger Woods equipment testing session



Oh to be a fly buzzing around Medalist’s driving range for a Tiger Woods equipment testing session! Golf Digest’s longtime equipment scribe, E. Michael Johnson had that honor, and he filed a treasure-laden report for GD.

If only we could have been along for the cart ride! But alas, we’re left not with FOMO, but rather, SAHMO: sadness at having missed out.

Needless to say, you’ll want to read the full piece. However, we’ve pulled 10 insights from the article that will be of particular interest to GolfWRX members.

1. Tiger Woods has played the same iron specs since he was a kid

2. Woods has also tested equipment in much the same manner for his whole career

3. TaylorMade is developing a TW prototype muscle back iron

…and Mike Taylor, who worked on Woods’ irons at Nike, is helping with the effort.

4. At one point, he said this about the prototype 6-iron

“The look is sweet, but the window is different. But it feels great going through the ground; feels fantastic. Everything is right, we just need to bring that flight down.”

5. Tiger’s preferred iron profile is…

Woods likes “an iron with a longer blade length, thin sole and slightly squared off toe,” according to Johnson.

6.  He’s all about “how the ball flies”

In 2003 Woods told Johnson, “I’m all about how the ball flies, how it looks shortly after it leaves the club…If I look up and don’t see the ball right there—I mean, right where I expect it to be—then we have a serious, serious problem.”

7. “Cheating” with Trackman doesn’t give the full picture, according to Tiger

“It’s nice that we can cheat out here and use Trackman, but ultimately I need to see how it fits on the course,” said Woods. “Can it hit a low cut, can it hit a low draw? I want to ride the wind. I want to challenge this corner. I want to take it over that bunker. Things of that nature.” 

“For instance, right before the Hero, I had a 3-wood I was using last year before I stopped playing. On the range I hit it fantastic. On the course, I couldn’t hit it. It had too much toe droop right before impact. When I tried to turn it over, I’d hit this toe-pop-up. The golf course showed that. I had to hit golf shots. It’s not just about making it look good [on the range].”

8. Tiger was hitting drivers incredibly well

Johnson writes, “His launch conditions habitually included ball speeds of 180 miles per hour, spin rates in the 2,200 to 2,400 range with launch angle between 11 and 13 degrees…His carry distance routinely reached 315 yards.”

9. Tiger knows if a driver will work for him before he swings it

Johnson writes, “As with his irons, look with the driver is vitally important to the 14-time major champion. “I know when I’m waggling it,” he said. “If I feel it matches up to me, then it frees up my swing.”

10. The driver that he seemed to like the most was a 9-degree M3 440

Needless to say this only takes us a few steps into the goldmine that is any first-hand account of a Tiger Woods’ equipment testing session. You should absolutely head on over to Golf Digest and read Johnson’s piece to journey deeper.


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  1. Sean

    Jan 8, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    why even bother posting a word for word copy from golf digest. stfu

  2. RG

    Jan 4, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Eldrick!!! You have equipment that is working RIGHT NOW! Leave it alone!! That is all…

  3. CB

    Jan 3, 2018 at 3:10 am

    Eldrick is an idiot if he is thinking about playing the M3 440 9 degree. He needs to stick to forgiving clubs that finds fairways, not a hammer that he can bash left and right even though that’s how he wants to swing. I thought he went to see some shrinks to shrink his ego? I guess it didn’t work

  4. OB

    Jan 2, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    “… I had a 3-wood I was using last year before I stopped playing. On the range I hit it fantastic. On the course, I couldn’t hit it. It had too much toe droop right before impact. When I tried to turn it over, I’d hit this toe-pop-up.”
    If the shaft tip had too much “toe droop” why not stiffen up the shaft tip? That’s the correct solution, not blaming it on the 3-wood driver head.

  5. Joel R

    Jan 2, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Was he testing shafts too?

  6. jack

    Jan 2, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    amazingly he just happens to love the new M3 … MARKETING $$$$$$$ ..that’s all this article was about…

    • OB

      Jan 2, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      …. particularly if your take is 10% for each M3 driver !!!!!

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19th Hole

Junior golfer penalized for using rangefinder in tournament…from 40 yards



Unlike most junior competitions, rangefinder use is not permitted at this week’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Akshay Bhatia forgot this and paid the price.

Facing a pitch shot from short of the green at Sage Valley’s par-5 fourth hole, Bhatia busted out his rangefinder and shot the pin, determining that he was 40 yards away. His next determination: He just made a big mistake, forgetting that the devices were not permitted at the Invitational.

Kids these days! Too reliant on technology and all that. 40 yards away, come on! But really, it’s an unfortunate error. The pro move, obviously, is not to even have the rangefinder in the bag. Bhatia, just 16, received this wisdom the hard way.

“I knew I couldn’t use a rangefinder, but I decided to take it out for some reason and use it… It’s my fault. I should’ve taken it out of the golf bag (before the round). It sucks, but I’m grateful I’m still in this position and not disqualified.” said Bhatia, per Golfweek.

Bhatia was hit with a two-shot penalty for the violation, carding a double-bogey seven on the hole accordingly. However, he still managed to tally a four-under 68 for his opening round and was tied for the lead after the first day of competition.

Coaches would be better equipped to dive deep into this one, but there are a couple of angles to approach range finder use from 40 yards out in general. However, I’ll say this. While it’s easy to say, “What the hell do you need a rangefinder from 40 yards for?” Here are a few more thoughts.

  1. Bhatia may stick to a fixed pre-shot routine on drives and approaches. The rangefinder use may be part of that. Thus, he erroneously pressed play on his usual routine before realizing his error.
  2. If Bhatia only uses a rangefinder situationally, it’s worth saying that an awkward third-shot yardage at a par-5 is a situation where you may want to get an exact yardage…it’s not like he was 11 yards out or something.
  3. Maybe he’s of the Dave Pelz-ian school and “timed wedges,” in which case he’d want the exact number, rather than merely feeling the distance for a 60-degree wedge shot, etc.

I don’t know, GolfWRXers, what do you think?

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19th Hole

GolfWRX members weigh in on the best swings on the PGA Tour



Who has the best swing on the PGA Tour? On the one hand, the answer is Dustin Johnson, as he’s the No. 1 player in the world, right? Of course, golf fans banter about the “best” swing on the PGA Tour over beers in the grill room, they’re usually talking about technical soundness and aesthetics more than results.

It’s in this vein that GolfWRX members schley started a thread asking the forum faithful for their picks for the three best swings on Tour. For his part, shcley says Ernie Els, Adam Scott, and Louis Oosthuizen.

GatorMD says: Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen

SASSpeeder says: Louis Oosthuizen, Luke List, Ernie Els

Bladehunter says: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson

Oz dee cee says: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen

Bye says: Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas

What do you think of these responses, GolfWRX members? Just a sample from the first 20 or so, obviously, and there are plenty more perspectives in the thread.

Who are your top three, GolfWRXers?


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19th Hole

Study: Amateur golfers are actually hitting it shorter than they were 3 years ago



While the USGA’s distance report found a “concerning” increase in driving distances at the professional level, a new report from Arccos Golf — Mike Stachura of Golf Digest got the exclusive on its study —  identifies a very different trend at the amateur level. The golf GPS and statistics-tracking app found that the average golfer’s average drive decreased from 220.6 yards in 2015 to 217.1 yards in 2018.

Before we go crazy, however, it’s worth pointing out that we’re only four months into 2018 and the golf season hasn’t even started in much of the country. Thus, it probably makes more sense to look at the average golfers’ average drives from 2017, which measured 220.0 yards — a difference of a little more than half of a yard since 2015, rather than more than three yards, as the 2018 number suggests.

Again, maybe the trend for 2018 will continue, but it seems inappropriate to draw far reaching conclusions based on the “220.6” number.

Nevertheless, if we assume Arccos’ data is representative and statistically significant, then it would be, at the very least, a bold check in the “yes” column for bifurcation/not limiting the golf ball at the amateur level.

However (again, assuming data derived from Arccos users is representative of all golfers), the findings beget another question: Why are amateurs, equipped with the latest and greatest technologies that Iron Byron and his robotic colleagues are crushing past previous years’ models, stagnant in the distance department?

Stachura points to a Club Champion study showing that an average increase of 11 yards after fitting, that the drivers of 2018 go an average of six yards farther than the drivers of 2012.

Nick Clearwater, Director of Instruction for Golftec, strikes a similar tone

“It’s likely that many golfers used in the data are still using five-plus-year-old drivers as well and most don’t get fit for their equipment to benefit from the advancements. The average golfer uses too much spin loft with all of their clubs, so increases in tech still show minimal improvement in the quality of the shot. The shots still start to the right, spin too much and are mishit.”

This may be true, but for distances to decrease, golfers would have to be hitting new equipment that’s ill-suited for them, not merely sticking with the same drivers they were hitting in 2015.

Those with skeptical inclinations toward the benefits of new equipment, particularly $400 drivers, will assuredly have a field day with this data, and OEMs will be keen to emphasize the importance of fitting. They’ll also be quick to point out we have no idea what drivers the Arccos sample set is/was playing.

If, again, we assume the data to be accurate and representative, the USGA would look foolish if they advise a rollback of the golf ball for amateurs.

The amateur golfers in question will want to visit a qualified fitter or take part in a demo day with a buffet of options before shelling out for a new big stick, which is the advice we give in conjunction with Gear Trials (and the same reccomendation we’ve offered for years).

What do you think about this data, GolfWRX members?

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19th Hole