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Opinion & Analysis

The top-10 biggest equipment changes of Tiger Woods’ career

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No golfer’s equipment changes have been followed as closely, or with more scrutiny, than Tiger Woods. For some reason it just matters to us when he makes a change, and it influences the golf equipment world’s buying habits, too.

In his upcoming start in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Woods is expected to make some major equipment changes. After an extended period away from the game, and with Nike exiting the equipment business, Woods’ final decisions on golf equipment have been a frequent topic of conversation. The video below from a Sunday practice round for the event, however, all but confirms he will be using a TaylorMade M2 driver.

Related: Woods to use a Bridgestone B330S golf ball at the Hero

In honor of his return and expected equipment changes this week, we reminisce on the top-10 biggest equipment changes of Woods’ career.

10) A brief experiment

post-94483-12658975850954_thumb

Woods with a TaylorMade R510 driver in 2003.

If Woods tees it up with a TaylorMade M2 driver at the Hero Challenge, it won’t be the first time he’s put a TaylorMade driver in play in competition. At the 2003 Deutsche Bank SAP Open in Germany, he used a TaylorMade R510 driver (7.5 degrees). Being that it lasted for only that week, it’s certainly one of the most surprising equipment changes Tiger ever made.

9) Swoosh in, Titleist “T” out

TigerTitleistIrons

Tiger’s Titleist 681T irons, Vokey 200 Series wedges (58 and 60 degrees) and Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter.

When you think of Tiger in his prime, surely you think of 2000-2001. And here’s a look into his bag during that period. He was bagging Titleist “T” irons (the T stood for Tour, not “Tiger,” which was the cause of much confusion). Woods eventually moved on from the T’s, however, when Nike cooked up these beauties: the Nike Forged Blades.

TigerWoodsBladeIronsTW

Woods’ Nike Forged Blade irons.

Ask GolfWRXers what the best blade iron ever made was (join the discussion here), and someone will eventually mention (as easyyy did) the Nike Forged Blades that replaced Tiger’s Titleist irons. He went on to win a slew of majors with the swoosh-stamped irons, using variations of the Nike Forged Blades until he switched to the VR Forged irons in 2009.

Related: The Top-10 Best Nike Equipment Ever Made

8) Tiger drops the Titleist 975D driver

Tiger Woods of the US watches his tee shot on the

Tiger with a Titleist 975D driver (7.5 degrees) with a True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shaft

Not only was Tiger bagging Titleist irons in 2000-2001, but he also played Titleist’s 975D (7.5 degrees) through his most dominant years. He switched to a Nike driver in 2002, which he used to win the Masters and U.S. Open that year. He returned to the 975D in 2003, searching for more fairways, but like his one-week switch to a TaylorMade driver, it was just a brief experiment.

7) The Victory Reds, made to order

TigerWoodsVRBlades

Tiger’s VR Forged irons. He used them during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Woods was initially reluctant to switch into the VR (Victory Red) Forged irons from the Nike Forged Blades that he used previously, despite the fact the new VR irons were developed with heavy input from Woods himself. He switched following his 14th major victory (and his left knee surgery), although conspiracy theorists claimed he never actually gamed the retail versions of the irons he designed. That would be a bit odd given they were designed for him, but just add it to the swirling conspiracies regarding Tiger and his golf equipment.

6) Tiger goes to Vapor, sends off Nike

Tiger with Nike's VR Forged irons at the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Tiger with Nike’s VR Forged irons at the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

In late 2010, Woods switched from Nike’s VR Forged irons to the company’s VR Pro irons, which are the irons we expect him to use this week at the Hero. He used the VR Pro irons to win five times in 2013, which made his switch to Nike’s Vapor Pro irons in late 2014 all the more shocking.

Tiger Woods' VR Pro Irons.

Woods’ VR Pro Irons He used them from 2010-2014.

The Vapor Pro irons used what Nike called a “Modern Muscle Geometry” that moved weight toward the toe of the irons. According to Nike, it centered the sweet spot of the irons to improve performance… and they had a lime green swoosh.

TigerVaporIrons

The Nike Vapor Pro irons Woods last used on the PGA Tour.

The Vapor Pro irons were the final blade irons Nike released as a hard goods company, and Tiger never won a golf tournament with them in the bag.

5) A step down from steel

PGA TOUR - 2001 Buick Classic

Woods last used Titleist’s 975D driver in 2003.

See all those “steps” in Tiger’s driver shaft in the picture above? He was one of the last professional golfers to switch to a graphite shaft in his driver. The one that stuck was a Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Blueboard shaft, which is likely the first time you ever heard the Diamana name. We bet it’s not the last you’ve heard of Diamana either, as it remains one of the most popular shafts in golf today.

You can thank Tiger, at least in part, for the popularization of ultra-expensive, after-market graphite shafts.

4) Shaft switch-up

PGA Championship - Round Two

Woods used Graphite Design’s Tour AD-DI 7X shaft from 2010 to 2013.

Remember how we established that Tiger has supreme influence on the golf equipment world? Here’s another example. Before Tiger switched to Graphite Design’s Tour AD-DI 6X shaft in 2010, the company was mostly hanging its hat on the YS-series shafts. Today, the Tour AD series is available in more than a dozen models, and one of the most popular aftermarket shaft lines.

3) The putter before “the putter”

tiger-woods-scotty-cameron

Tiger’s Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter.

Arguably golf’s most famous putter is Tiger Woods’ Newport 2 GSS Scotty Cameron, which Tiger used to win 13 of his 14 major championships.

Tiger Woods

Woods used a Scotty Cameron Newport Teryllium TEi3 putter to win the 1997 Masters.

But before that, Tiger employed a Newport Teryllium TEi3 putter from Scotty (a.k.a. “the one with the dots”), which was most notably in his bag to win the 1997 Masters.

2) Tiger tees up the swoosh

2011 Emirates Australian Open - Day 2

Woods’ Nike Tour Accuracy TW golf ball.

Tiger switched from Titleist’s Professional 90 (a wound golf ball) to a Nike Tour Accuracy golf ball in 2000 (a solid-core golf ball), and promptly won his next four majors… no big deal. Then in 2001, Nike released a Nike Tour Accuracy TW (and DD, for “David Duval”), capitalizing on the success of its two biggest stars.

Had he never teed up a Nike golf ball, this moment in sports history would have looked a bit different; and Nike would have been robbed of the ultimate advertisement for a product.

Some believe that Woods’ switch to a solid-core golf ball aided his runaway success in 2000-2001, as most Tour players were still playing wound golf balls at the time (Titleist’s Pro V1 wasn’t released to Tour players until October 2000).

1) The end of an era

PGA Championship - Final Round

Tiger with a Nike Method 001 putter.

After winning nearly every trophy available in the golf world with the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 previously mentioned, Tiger switched a new putter in 2010, the Nike Method 001. Many thought he would never switch, so it was huge news even to casual golf fans.

Tiger hasn’t won a major with the Method, but he did reel off five wins in 2013 to win PGA Player of the Year with it in the bag. Rumor has it, we might see the Scotty back in the bag at the Hero. Does it have any more magic left in it?

Surely we missed something on this list. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Tom

    Dec 1, 2016 at 11:29 am

    puttin a lot of emphasis on one club…. not the guy using it.

  2. Daniel

    Nov 30, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    The 983K and 905R were the best ever. I never understood why top level pros move on from Titelist.

  3. baudi

    Nov 30, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Don’t forget the very short adventure with the Grafalloy steel tip fairway wood shaft.
    And the bent 3 iron (into a 2I) with a Pxi shaft.
    Nike Forged Blades – super solid heads indeed. Although I remember Tiger’s model being named the Nike Proto. What I do know is the Tom Stites and Tiger took ±9 months to come the final result.

  4. Gene

    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    The big omission was his Titleist pro trajectory (PT) 3 wood which he referred to as, “my baby.” Tiger had a bore through shaft in his which was aftermarket? Had a big cult following and Titleist later reissued with bore through shaft. When he switched to graphite shafted driver he said he needed to switch to a 3 wood with a graphite shaft.(Nike, either sq or ignite)

  5. Tony Rich

    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Tiger held onto the Vokeys for a while after the 2002 iron switch. It was a year or so later, word was that Vokey
    forged those wedges and Tiger waited until he could match the feel and spin he had with the Voke’s. Would love to see some prototype Tiger SM6 blacks in his bag.

  6. Azman Long Hamid

    Nov 29, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    The influence that he made to the golf industry is astounding, but I bet you he could actually play with any brand of equipment and still get away with it base on talent and skill that he has.

  7. Markallister

    Nov 29, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    best driver ever: titleist 975j

  8. Tyler Brown

    Nov 29, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    That 58 Vokey was bent to 56* with 6* of bounce. The 260.06/260.08 were great grinds from vokey. I think he won the 1997 Masters playing Cleveland 588 TG’s in 56 and 60.

  9. Chunkie Buck

    Nov 29, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Ahhhhh…..the 975D! Fond memories! That thing resembles a modern day 5 wood!

  10. Yervag

    Nov 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Shoes?

  11. Justwellsy

    Nov 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Great article, really enjoyed this. In my mind, if he regains his confidence with the Cameron back in the bag, everything else will fall into place. He was never an accurate driver of the golf ball and still dominated, so I don’t think he needs that part of his game. Especially since he’ll be nowhere near the top in driving distance these days.

  12. ooffa

    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Did they all fit in his trunk

  13. carlsheen

    Nov 29, 2016 at 10:45 am

    love this. The biggest was his putter change leaving the cameron. It was the last to go and for a reason. He was a monster with that cameron.

    • The Mad Bomber

      Nov 30, 2016 at 1:03 am

      $$$ is right. That was a shocker.

      • FSUBASEBALL21

        Nov 30, 2016 at 3:01 pm

        Everyone knows PXG is making superior equipment. If your not playing PXG’s your at a disadvantage. PERIOD, end of story.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What makes a golf course ‘tough?’

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I found this past weekend’s golf to be some of the most entertaining and thought-provoking of the season. While the men of the PGA Tour found a challenging and tough Muirfield Village, the women of the LPGA were getting a taste of a true championship-caliber layout at Olympic Club, the sight of many historic U.S. Opens.

In both cases, the best players in the world found themselves up against courses that fought back against their extraordinary skills and talents. Though neither course appeared to present fairways that were ridiculously narrow, nor greens that were ultra-fast and diabolical, scoring was nowhere near the norms we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the professional tours.

So, that begs the question – what is it exactly that makes a course tough for these elite players? And is that any different from those things that make a course tough for the rest of us?

From my observation, the big difference for both the ladies and the men was the simple fact that Muirfield Village and Olympic shared the same traits – deep rough alongside each fairway, deep bunkers, and heavy rough around the greens. In other words — unlike most of the venues these pros face each week, those two tracks put up severe penalties for their not-so-good shots — and their awful ones.

Setting aside the unfortunate turn of events for John Rahm – who appeared to be playing a different game for the first three days – only 18 of the best male players in the game managed to finish under par at Muirfield Village. That course offered up measurable penalties for missed fairways and greens, as it was nearly impossible to earn a GIR from the rough, and those magical short games were compromised a lot – Colin Morikawa even whiffed a short chip shot because the gnarly lie forced him to try to get “cute” with his first attempt. If you didn’t see it, he laid a sand wedge wide open and slid it completely under the ball — it didn’t move at all!

On the ladies’ side, these elite players were also challenged at the highest level, with errant drives often totally preventing a shot that had a chance of holding the green — or even reaching it. And the greenside rough and deep bunkers of Olympic Club somewhat neutralized their highly refined greenside scoring skills.

So, the take-away from both tournaments is the same, the way I see it.

If a course is set up to more severely penalize the poor drives and approaches — of which there are many by these players — and to make their magical short game skills more human-like, you will see these elite players struggle more like the rest of us.

So, I suggest all of you think about your last few rounds and see what makes your course(s) play tough. Does it penalize your not-so-good drives by making a GIR almost impossible, or is it too challenging around the greens for your scoring skills? Maybe the greens are so fast and diabolical that you don’t get as much out of your putting as you think you should? Or something else entirely?

My bet is that a thoughtful reflection on your last few rounds will guide you to what you should be working on as you come into the peak of the 2021 golf season.

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Club Junkie: My 3-wood search, Mizuno ST-Z driver, and Srixon divide golf ball review

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I am on the search for a 3-wood this year and talk a little about my top 3 that I have been hitting. Hit on the pros and cons of each option and what might be in the bag next week. The Mizuno ST-Z was on the course and a really good driver for players who want forgiveness but don’t need any draw bias. The Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide is a cool 2-tone ball that makes short game practice more interesting.

 

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Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to turn technical thinking into task-based think in your golf game

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The mind can only be in one place at a time at 40 bits of information per second. To build a golf swing this way would be like an ant building New York City this way: a most impossible task. When you are task-based you are using the human self-preserving system, that works at 40 million bits per second, choose wisely.

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