When Tiger Woods teed it up this week at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, he had some new irons in the bag: a set of TaylorMade muscleback blades that he posted a photo of on Twitter and Instagram last week.
"Phase 1 of irons development with @taylormadegolf is complete. Looking forward to teeing it up this week!"
Due to Woods’ various injuries, Phase 1 took awhile. When the icon signed with TaylorMade in January of 2017 he noted that he would be collaborating with the company on an iron set. However in December of last year, Woods had a full-blown testing session in which he took his first swings with some prototypes and Golf Digest was on hand to watch.
“That’s a lot higher,” noted Woods on his first swing with a TW proto muscleback blade 6-iron.
For Woods, ball flight is everything. In 2003 he told Golf Digest, "I'm all about how the ball flies, how it looks shortly after it leaves the club," Woods said. "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."
TaylorMade VP of tour operations Keith Sbarbaro noted at the time it could be the center of gravity location and they would measure one of Woods’ old sets to match it up. Additionally, the company had at its disposal former Nike employee Mike Taylor, who worked on Woods’ irons and wedges when he used equipment with a swoosh.
Woods is well-equipped to notice anything amiss with his irons. He has used essentially the same iron specs since he was a kid, saying he only changed the lie angle at times when a swing change called for it. He’s also aware that alterations are easier to make today, recalling that during his early years as a pro he would need to go through eight or nine sets of irons and cherrypick clubs from each set to get the CG’s to match.
His TaylorMade irons do no stray far from the irons he used while at Nike or the TGR model he recently had in play. Classic, muscleback blades with the chrome finish and a somewhat squared off toe. TaylorMade’s logo is located on the back in the high toe area. TaylorMade's Tomo Bystedt also posted a close-up of the irons on Instagram that shows "TW PHASE 1" stamped on the back.
So Phase 1 is complete. Along with wondering how Tiger will perform with the clubs this week, another question to be asked is when we might see Phase 2.
“We have been working closely with Tiger on the development, creation and refinement of a set of TaylorMade irons that meet his precise standards and preferences,” said a TaylorMade spokesperson. “As we continue to develop future iterations of Tiger’s prototype irons, ‘TW·Phase1’ marks Tiger’s initial transition into a TaylorMade set. This set was built to his meticulous specifications. Based on the positive feedback and excitement expressed by Tiger regarding upcoming prototypes, we are encouraged by the ongoing creation process and look forward to what’s in store for the next phase of Tiger’s irons.
“As we work toward finalizing Tiger’s new irons, there will be more information to come, including a release date for golfers everywhere.”