At this point, the story of the development of Tiger Woods’ TaylorMade irons has been told and told again. There have been numerous articles, YouTube videos, and even a TV documentary on how they were made—and even a Tour Championship and a Sunday Masters telecast to validate both models.
But I wanted to know the differences and similarities of the two TaylorMade iron models Woods has played since signing with the company in January of 2017: the Phase 1, and the final masterpiece the, P7TW.
Fortunately, in this job, you become friends with a good number of R&D people, so I went to my buddies and TaylorMade Lead Engineers Paul Demkowski and Matt Bovee to fill in some blanks.
This is what they had to say.
Matt Bovee Sr. Manager Product Creation
JW: The Phase 1 iron was based on what previous iron of TW? What inspired it?
MB: The PH1 iron was based off of the set he was playing just prior, the TGR set. Inspiration for the P7TW is really founded in all the years of TW’s career. From the numerous victories, countless hours grinding, and all his majors… the P7TW is really a culmination of what he specifically wants in an iron design after years and years of being the best ball striker in the game.
JW: What was the testing process like going from his TGR into the Phase 1?
MB: The PH1 set was a collaboration between TaylorMade and Mike Taylor with a new cosmetic design we created. We didn’t want to change any significant performance attributes because the immediate goal was to get TW into a TM iron. We partnered with Mike Taylor to help with the creation of PH1 as well as the learning process required for the development of P7TW. For us, it was a learning experience as TW went through his testing protocol for a new set. Making sure everything was dialed in and felt right.
JW: What are the similarities of the two irons, PH1 and P7TW?
MB: There are a lot of similarities between the PH1 and P7TW from a performance perspective. It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again, TW is very, very specific in what he wants. Launch, spin, carry, look, feel…he has every attribute for each iron defined in his head. Nothing more, nothing less. They use the same lofts, lie, scorelines, essentially the same CG, etc.
JW: What kept PH1 from being the “Tiger Iron”?
MB: The PH1 irons were built from an existing forging profile. By using an existing forging he was familiar with it allowed us to minimize variables as we learned and dissected what works best for him. Even after the PH1 iron performance matched what he was looking for, TW requested the MG sole technology for his irons so he could replace them more frequently with much less testing from set to set. We needed to take this into account with a new TM forging design.
*The milled grind sole was designed specifically for this benefit. It has allowed TM to duplicate the sole of irons and wedges which in turn eliminates a number of steps during testing and/or mid season replacement.
JW: The name Phase 1 suggests a new version was to come, was that always a bridge iron into the current?
MB: Yes, we knew designing a TaylorMade iron for him from the ground up would take some time and we needed a “bridge” of sorts while the new design was in development.
JW: When TW began testing irons in the beginning, (knowing the challenge which is well documented) what was the original process like? Who was involved?
- Participants: Tiger, Tomo Bystedt, Brian Bazzel, Keith Sbarbaro, Paul Demkowski, Mike Taylor, and Matt Bovee.
- The development process was a longer road than we anticipated. Much back and forth between TM and Mike Taylor to start. We needed to unpack years of learning as to what works best for the Big Cat and what he likes. From that point, it was a lot of back and forth testing of individual sticks. Starting with the 6i and not moving on from that until we got it perfect. It actually took 7 different CNCs prototypes before we nailed the 6i. From there we added in the 3i and the 9i to serves as bookends for design. After these three SKUs got TW’s blessing we filled out the rest of the set.
JW: How many PH1 sets were made?
MB: As far as we know just the 1 set. Mike Taylor would be the only person who would know differently
JW: What are the differences between P1 and P7TW?
MB: The largest differences are:
- Built from different forgings
- Addition of MG sole—when Tiger needs replacements due to wear, the Milled Grind soles are exactly the geometry that he needs and so any opportunity for slight variations has been removed. That’s why the P7TW is ultimately Tiger’s gamer irons.
- Milled channel along the back bar of the iron. Cosmetic was designed to fit with the PSeries.
- Cosmetic design is different, the back bar geometry is slightly different the milled channel was used in 730 to reposition mass, TWs is a much smaller version of that
JW: Does TW only have input (R&D) on his irons or all the TM irons (forgings of course)
MB: TW’s R&D input on irons has been limited to his P7TWs up to this point…which was extensive. All the way down to a modified font for the sole number making it easier from him to read and therefore more confident he had the right stick. He has provided some input in other categories however, wedges most specifically.
JW: In your opinion is the P7TW the best muscleback TM has ever developed?
MB: “Best” is such a relative term that lies in the eyes of the beholder… It is certainly the most prestigious with the most design iterations and R&D development.
JW: If you could project into the future, what improvements if any could be made to a TW iron?
MB: Because that iron is specific to him and what he wants, there really isn’t any way we could make it better unless his swing or style of play changes. The P7TW is dialed in for TW’s game as it exists today.
Paul Demkowski, Sr. Product Engineer was the person that worked the closest with Mike Taylor in the development of both models and this is what he had to say
JW: Are you still in close contact with Mike Taylor at Artisan? and if so is it more just to verify info or is it also for future R&D?
PD: Yes, I’m still in close contact with Mike T. He continues to build the irons for TW. He verifies all the specs as they are built and records the data.
JW: In regards to the CG placements between P1 and P7TW what is the difference?
PD: CG locations are very close. Couldn’t deviate too much as he would feel the difference and would see it in his ball flight.
JW: Random question but had to ask, did you ever attempt to make TW a specific driving iron?
PD: No, never made a specific TW driving iron. Only thing I did once make a slower P790 UDI for him. He said the standard one went too far. LOL.
It’s also noteworthy that TW’s specs don’t change much but as you can see current set up, the only real shift in his irons is lie angle which will go up one depending on his swing at the time.
Tiger Woods’ Current Iron Specs
All with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100. Irons tipped 1/4 inch, w/wooden dowels and SST Pure (Scott Garrison on Tour) at exactly 130 grams.
All lengths without grips. (Loft. Lie. Length. Swing Weight)
- 3-iron: 22.5, 59.5, 38 13/16, D4
- 4-iron: 25.5, 60, 38 5/16, D4
- 5-iron: 29, 60.5, 37 13/16, D4
- 6-iron: 32.5, 61, 37 5/16, D4
- 7-iron: 36, 61.5, 36 7/8, D4
- 8-iron: 40.5, 62, 36 5/16, D4
- 9-iron: 45, 62.5, 35 11/16, D4
- PW: 49, 63, 35 11/16, D4
Another cool aspect of Tiger’s irons (rarely spoken of) are his shafts. The shafts are True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 with no labels, and they are sorted to exact weights (130 grams) and sent to Scott Garrison (@ScottEGgolf) to SST Pure, then over to David “DR” Richey at Artisan Golf to be built. Lots of cooks in the kitchen, but it’s Tiger, so no doubt totally worth it for all involved!
GolfWRX Classifieds (08/05/20): Titleist TS4, Byron putter, Nike tour driver
At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.
One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.
Low Spin bomber… It’s shafted with a HZRDUS T1100 Prototype/Handcrafted 6.5 75g shaft and a genuine Titleist SureFit adapter. If you play in a lot of wind, this might really help!
To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Titleist TS4
Although he might not be a household name Byron Morgan has been producing great putters for a long time, and here is your chance to pick one up for a great price.
To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Byron DH89
One of the great classic fixed hosel Nike drivers, the VR Tour. This head is in great shape and ready for your mid-2000’s “retro” bag!
To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Nike VR Tour head
Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds
All-new Titleist Tour Speed golf ball builds on EXP•01 lineage
When you are the maker of the number 1 ball in golf, it could be easy to become complacent, but the engineers at Titleist aren’t known for resting on their laurels. Instead, they are constantly looking for ways to innovate and provide performance benefits to golfers across categories, and today Titleist introduces the all-new Titleist Tour Speed golf ball.
Titleist Tour Speed golf ball: The details
Although the Tour Speed is new, many golfers might be familiar with the prototype ball that lead to the Tour Speed becoming a full-blown release—the EXP•01. It was through that extensive testing process, conducted on a scale that Titleist had never done before, that the team—including designers and engineers—had the opportunity to get valuable feedback from golfers of all skill levels. It was that direct feedback, along with controlled player testing, conducted at Titleist’s Manchester Lane R&D facility that lead to the final product.
“Every new Titleist golf ball must exceed our stringent machine and player testing targets in order to advance from the R&D phase,” -Scott Cooper, Titleist Golf Ball R&D’s lead implementation engineer for Tour Speed.
Although the EXP•01 was released only 10 months ago, the Tour Speed has been years on the making as Titleist worked on producing a new proprietary thermoplastic urethane cover to produce the fastest ball in its market segment.
Not only is the cover material different, but the process to create the new ball involved a 4,300 square foot expansion of the Titleist Ball Plant 2, which demonstrates a huge commitment to the new Retractable Pin injection molding process and a belief in the product.
“Our golf ball scientists and engineers have gone to extraordinary lengths in the development of Tour Speed – testing numerous core formulations and aerodynamic patterns, while formulating and analyzing hundreds of TPU cover blends – to deliver on that promise. We have made every investment necessary in these new technologies, including a significant expansion of our manufacturing facility and process.” – Michael Mahoney, Vice President, Titleist Golf Ball Marketing.
Let’s talk about that performance
The Titleist Tour Speed is a three-piece thermoplastic urethane (TPU) covered ball designed to deliver distance and greater green stopping power. Titleist still believes that a cast urethane cover like those found on the Pro-V1 series offers the absolute best short game control and performance, but TPU allows them to combine enhanced distance with precise scoring control. The TPU formula used in the cover is proprietary and was formulated from scratch by Titleist’s internal team of R&D chemists to enhance distance while still maintaining feel.
The last piece of the cover puzzle is the new 346 quadrilateral dipyramid dimple design that provides a lower, more penetrating flight, so the ball is less affected by the wind.
Underneath the TPU cover sits a what Titleist calls its fastest ionomer casing layer ever, designed to create maximum speed leading to more distance.
Availability and price
The Titleist Tour Speed will be available in the U.S. at Titleist accounts beginning Friday, August 7, and they will be priced at $39.99 a dozen.
The Callaway ball plant: A legacy rooted in innovation
A little over two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Callaway golf ball plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts (GolfWRX behind the scenes at the Callaway ball plant). It gave me the chance to take a deep dive into the history of not just the physical structure that is the plant but a look into the people and the machines that work to produce Callaway’s tour line of golf balls.
The one thing that stood out during that visit beyond the massive scale of the operation was the people and the pride they have in producing something in the United States for golfers to enjoy.
Chicopee & Spalding Manufacturing History
The ball plant and surrounding area where it is located is rich in manufacturing history dating back to the American revolutionary war, and the facade of the historical red brick building in Chicopee has remained mostly unchanged since it was the original Spalding manufacturing plant dating all the way back to the late 1800s. It was during this time in history when the plant produced baseballs, gloves, footballs, basketballs, tennis rackets, persimmon woods, irons—and of course golf balls, starting in 1896.
A lot of innovations relating to various sports have occurred inside of these walls and the funny thing is, Callaway’s marketing slogan for Chrome Soft— “The ball that changed the ball” could apply to a multitude of sports including:
- Baseball – since Spalding developed the first Major League ball to become the official baseball of the National League in 1876.
- Football – with Spalding creating the first American football with a material and workmanship guarantee in 1887.
- Basketball – since Dr. James Naismith (Canadian—just wanted to get that in there—Go Raptors!) had the Spalding company develop the official basketball in 1894.
It is now 2020, and in the same building where all of these sporting innovations have taken place, an innovation of a new kind is underway because the ball plant has undergone multiple renovations and upgrades since 2018. Callaway has invested over $50 million in capital upgrades in order to increase quality control—and the ability to manufacture the newest Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls to the highest level.
Investment in innovation
Although the plant has always operated to the highest possible level of quality control when it comes to balls, Callaway has admitted that, before 2018, there were some small holes in the production process that prevented them from reaching their potential as far as production standards go. The biggest consistency issues revolved around polymer compound mixing and the centeredness of the cores in dual-core golf balls. These weren’t wide-sweeping issues but they were enough of a problem, Callaway knew they needed to be addressed as quickly as possible, especially if they wanted to continue to innovate in the competitive golf ball market.
In an effort to not just be equal to the competition but to surpass them, the initial investment was in state-of-the-art machines that could take and process 3D X-Ray to measure ball construction and the core centeredness of every single ball. It is during this automated process, that if any ball shows an issue, then it is removed from the final stages of production and will never find its way into a golfer’s bag.
The biggest investment though came in the form of an all-new synthetic polymer mixer allowing Callaway engineers and plant staff to monitor parts of the process with a level of precision that they never could before. Now, if it wasn’t obvious by the pictures, this is not the type of machine that you can just pick up at a local “golf ball plant supply store”— these types of mixers are multiple stories high and offer the same type of precision you would find in the medical industry.
When it comes to the unassuming red brick building, it’s what’s inside that counts. And speaking of “inside,” Callaway engineers are now able to precisely control all of the compounds that go into producing golf ball cores. With the state-of-the-art mixer now in place on the factory floor, from the very start of production through to the final packaging, every Callaway ball is manufactured to the highest level of quality available in the industry.
The state of the art mixer now in place on the factory floor means that from the very start of production through to the final packaging, every Callaway ball is manufactured to the highest level of quality available in the industry.
Technology on the inside and outside
The other part of the plant that continues to see large investments is the Truvis and Triple Track printing area. As we touched on in the original piece, what was perceived by many to at first be a bit of a gimmick, including some of Callaway’s own employees, has proven to be an absolute slam dunk. The pentagon pattern provides a tangible benefit by creating an optical illusion that makes the ball look bigger and also gives visual feedback for short game shots and putting. If you haven’t tried chipping around a green with a Truvis ball, I highly suggest it—you can actually see how much difference in spin you create hitting various shots.
What started as a toe-dip with one machine has turned into an area of the plant with more than a dozen, with Callaway also producing Truvis balls with custom colors and logos.
What followed Truvis was the development of Callaway Triple Track, which is three high-resolution parallel lines printed onto the golf ball to help with alignment. It would not have been possible to print this alignment tool without the machines that were developed to precisely print the Truvis patterns. Triple Track has been so popular and effective for golfers that this year, Callaway even introduced the alignment tool onto a number of their Stroke Lab putter models.
If history is any indication, this investment will continue to push golf ball innovation for Callaway, as well as continue to build on the strong legacy of proud American manufacturing in Chicopee, Massachusetts. To take an inside look inside of the newly renovated plant, as well as get a deeper understanding of the history and the people behind Callaway golf balls, check out their mini-documentary below.
The Ball that Changed a Town
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