Tiger Woods had been using an 83-gram Mitsubishi Diamana White Board shaft in his drivers for several seasons. But on Thursday morning his Nike SQ Dymo 380 driver was outfitted with an 85-gram Oban Mach 4 prototype shaft.
On Wednesday, during his practice round with Payton Manning at the Quail Hallow Championship in Charlotte, the world's No. 1 player had an 89-gram Aldila Voodoo XPP8 prototype shaft.
According to Rick Nichols, Nike's Tour Field Manager, Woods recently tested eight new shafts at his home in Windermere, Fla., as part of an annual equipment review process with Nike.
"Tiger had been off for nine months," Nichols said. "So there were several shafts out there that he had not had an opportunity to test. We said to him, 'Let's test them and confirm that what you're playing, or if there is something better for you, let's look and see.'"
Using Nike's STR8-Fit system and a TrackMan launch monitor to expedite the process and confirm what Tiger felt in his hands, Woods narrowed the field down to three potential successors — the Oban, the Aldila, and a 76-gram prototype True Temper Project X graphite shaft.
The Nike STR8-Fit system allows golfers to unscrew the head from the driver's shaft, then re-attach it in one of eight different positions to change the loft and lie angle of the club. According to Nichols, Tiger's specs were not changed during the testing. His driver has 8.5° of loft and with a face that is 1.5° open. He also tested all the drivers with the same ball, his Nike One Tour.
The 13-gram weight difference between Tiger's heaviest and lightest test shafts translates to distance. "Tiger probably has another 20 yards in him if we gave him a harder golf ball and a longer, lighter shaft," Nichols said. However, that added distance could sacrifice short-game and iron control, so Tiger, like every other golfer, has to weigh his options and priorities.
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(Photo by Fred Vuich/SI)