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Phase 1 vs. P7TW: An inside look at Tiger Woods’ TaylorMade irons

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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?

Tiger Woods matching things up at The Kingdom in Carlsbad

MB:

  • 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.

Tiger Woods and Keith Sbarboro at The Kingdom

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!

TaylorMade’s Keith Sbarbaro and Paul Demkowski look on at The Kingdom

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. gticlay

    Aug 5, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    I know what the TW is, but why are they called P7?

    Can we have any more details on the X100 dowels? I’ve never liked how the X100 feels and maybe the dowels make a big difference in feel.

  2. Benny

    Jul 15, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Aweeome read and great comments guys!

  3. Mower

    Mar 31, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Alright, going to Home Depot for some wooden dowels.
    😛

  4. RayDon

    Mar 31, 2020 at 6:17 am

    Where are the wood dowels positioned?

    • Tiger Fan

      Mar 31, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Wooden dowels would be in the shaft tip like his old Titleist PT fairway woods.

    • Craig McMahon

      Mar 31, 2020 at 1:13 pm

      Down near the tip

  5. Cody

    Mar 30, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Good article.

    There is some good info here. These irons are great for Tiger, specific to him. That does not make them magical or better than anything else. Still a great iron for someone that wants it.

  6. Brandon

    Mar 30, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    What do the wooden dowels do?

    • Craig McMahon

      Mar 30, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      Supposed to just be a dampener I think

  7. Jarnio Bubly

    Mar 30, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    In other words Mike Taylor and TW told Taylormade to get out of the way and we’ll let you know when we’re ready for logo stamping.

  8. 15th Club

    Mar 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    If his X100’s are “tipped 1/4 inch” does that mean that they are parallel tip shaft blanks?!? If so, his irons are all hosel-drilled at .350″ right? That would sure explain the custom build (as if a “custom build” for Tiger Woods would even require explanation).

    I guess I just never imagined Tiger playing PT iron shafts. Gotta make Ralph Maltby and Tom Wishon smile.

    • TG

      Mar 30, 2020 at 6:48 pm

      No they are still taper tip shafts (0.355) by tipping them a quarter inch it is reducing the taper at the hosel making them play just a touch stiffer then a “standard” straight in X100. They just take the tour issue tag to another level and make sure that they are exactly 130 grams. Standard TI Dynamic Golds are +- 2 grams i believe. It may be +- 1 gram but either way its just making sure they are perfect.

    • Mike T

      Mar 30, 2020 at 7:12 pm

      No I think the standard DG tour issue x100 with 1/4″ tipping will still fit into the hosel as is

    • 15th Club

      Mar 31, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      I typed.350, but PT iron shafts would actually be .370. Minor self-correction.

      btw, I also accept the notion that a small bit of tipping like 1/4” is something you could get away with in a taper tip. Appreciate the replies.

  9. stephen hall

    Mar 30, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    GREAT…

  10. Jordan

    Mar 30, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Well looks like I’m ripping all the labels off my shafts now since the boss man does it

  11. Ryan

    Mar 30, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Wish the retail release would have been to his actual specs, would have been cool.

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Equipment

2021 Virtual PGA Show: Things we loved, Day 1

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As promised, we’re checking out all the digital booths at the 2021 Virtual PGA Show for items of intrigue and note, and we’ve found no shortage of interesting items.

Here are a few of our favorites from our first day of browsing.

(More on the 2021 Virtual PGA Show here)

Altaz rangefinder

That’s not a flip screen video camera—it’s an alternative to playing pirate with a telescope to acquire distances. 

Product description: Our rangefinder adds an external 3″ LCD screen which makes it much easier to search the target. No more twitching eye, sunglass in the way, or shakey hand, our rangefinder eliminates all the problems that many golfers experience. It is simple as using similar to digital camcorders, just point, and press. Golf will get the right distance to help them select the right club to improve their scores.

Website: www.altaz.golf

Sik Component Bag

We like this presentation of the buffet of options for Sik putters both for the fitting capabilities and the minimal use of shop square footage for retailers…and of course, if you’re a real gearhead, you just buy the thing for personal use. 

Product description: Become a SIK Golf retailer with SIK Golf’s Component Bag, a complete matrix of interchangeable heads, hosels, and gripped shafts that are ready to assemble into every possible SIK putter combination. The Component Bag also includes multiple standard shaft lengths and Armlock setups for your customers to test drive. Displayed and stored in a classic SIK Golf Staff Bag, featuring organized and compartmentalized drawers.

Website: www.sikgolf.com

Custom Golf Bag Hoods

We’ve seen specialty bag hoods before, but nothing on the level that Custom Golf Bag Hoods is doing.

Company info: Custom Golf Bag Hoods was created so that golfers around the world could dress their bag up from the ugly black rain hood you get when you buy the golf bag which eventually you’ll end up losing or miss placing it. CGBH are made of water-resistant nylon fabric with a 24-inch zipper and vinyl leather piping to keep the hood upright and sturdy, velcro straps to secure it to the bag, and DIY button snaps to make your own buttons in the position of your existing snaps on your bag.

Website: customgolfbaghoods.com

Areso Golf: RW Design Wedge

While we can’t speak to the feel or performance, the materials story is compelling and the aesthetics would definitely earn these wedges a test at a traditional PGA Show Demo Day!

Product info: RW Design Wedges are made from forging carbon steel and milled face for maximum spin around the greens. Grooves and face are machined for spin and face variable thickness controlled for performance.

Ecco: Biom H4 shoe

An enhanced, improved, and even more stylish version of one of the most popular designs on the market. What’s not to love?

Product description: The ECCO BIOM H4 is made in durable ECCO leather with a slick, micro-perforated embossing and GORE-TEX waterproof technology to keep your feet dry even in wet conditions. The new ECCO MTN GRIP outsole features our signature FLUIDFORM™ Technology, as well as an eye-catching PU midsole with TPU inserts on either side that securely hug your foot and offer added stability and support while you’re on the green.

Website: www.us.ecco.com

Puttist Putting Meter 

We may be biased, as our James Chang covered the Puttist back in November, but this is one of the most unique training aids on the market. 

Product description: Puttist Inc. was established in 2009 for “PUTTIST”, the first putting meter in the world. Don’t practice, just have fun with distance-metering game up to 50ft. Your score will go up so naturally and no more suffering from 3-putt. That is why people call “PUTTIST” 3-putt Killer! Rechargeable and Plug-in model available for meter and feet. Just Putt & Win!

Website: www.puttist.com

PuttView: The Book

There are plenty of green book vendors, but Puttview’s stylish presentation of the maximum amount of information allowed under USGA rules definitely caught our eye. 

Product description: PuttView’s “The Book” is the component that brings your indoor and outdoor experience together. Every detail of “The Book” was designed to help you save a shot under the most critical tournament situations. PuttView’s technology and attention to detail results in the most accurate book allowable under the Rules of Golf.

Website: www.puttview.com

Stay tuned tomorrow for more products from the 2021 Virtual PGA Merchandise Show!

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Whats in the Bag

Jimmy Walker WITB 2021 (January)

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Driver: Titleist TSI3 (8 degrees @7.25, D1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM (15 degrees @13.5) 
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X

5-wood: Titleist TSi2 (18 degrees) 
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 9 X

Irons: Titleist T100 (4) Titleist 620 MB (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper AMT Tour White X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (48-10F, 54-M, 60-04L), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (64 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue  X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 2 Custom

Ball: ’21 Titleist Pro V1x

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Whats in the Bag

Akshay Bhatia WITB 2021 (January)

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Akshay Bhatia what’s in the bag accurate as of The American Express.

Driver: Callaway Epic Speed LS  (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Smoke Green 65 6.5 TX

3-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Smoke Green 75 6.5 TX

Irons: Callaway X Forged UT Proto (3), Callaway Apex MB ’21 (4-PW)
Shafts: KBS TG Hybrid Proto 105 X (3), KBS $-Taper Black 125 S+ (4-PW)

Wedges: Callaway MD5 Jaws Raw (50-S, 54-S, 60-C)
Shafts: KBS $-Taper 125S+

Putter: Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Armlock 7

Grips: Iomic Sticky 2.3 Black

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X

 

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