Tiger Woods has an incredible pull when it comes to unreleased gear


Tiger Woods was the first pro to field TaylorMade’s Stealth driver.

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Even when Tiger Woods is not on the pitch, he is still part of the conversation on the Tour. During a recent conversation with Keith Sbarbaro, TaylorMade’s Vice President of Tourism Operations, at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the discussion shifted to the success of the company’s Stealth driver and the rapid transition that ensued. when players began testing the final product earlier this season.

New technology doesn’t always guarantee pluralistic adoption, but with Stealth the move from SIM2 to the red carbon fiber face was noticeable.

“The transition to Stealth this year has been seamless for all of our staff,” Sbarbaro told “Guys loved it. For some reason guys had a little more trouble last season getting into SIM2. It’s not easy to convert all those top players into newbies every year – and it’s like “That’s for all companies. Some guys drive it really well, so it’s hard to want to change. But with Stealth, everyone jumped in without hesitation. That included Tiger.”

Woods gets his own mention because he’s always been slow to embrace new technology. He was one of the last players to drop a steel shaft driver and didn’t fully embrace an adjustable version until 2016. However, when it came to Woods embracing Stealth, things were different from the start. departure.

“I remember he hit it for 10 minutes on the shooting range [at the Father/Son Challenge] and was sold out almost immediately,” Sbarbaro said. “He was banging all his windows and having control. We had sent him a Stealth in advance and he hits it on the range on Monday [at the Father/Son Challenge] and asks: ‘Is this club on the list?’ »

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The “list” Woods was referring to would be the USGA’s list of compliant pilot heads. Before a club is cleared for competition, it must be deemed compliant by golf’s governing body. The process includes shipping the head for testing and then waiting for the green light. Needless to say, the process takes time.

Getting Woods to debut TaylorMade’s new face build with his son, Charlie, at Father/Son was a dream scenario — but there was a problem. The pilot was not expected to be on the conforming list until early January, and the father/son took place in mid-December.

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TaylorMade Stealth

Shop the entire Stealth line from TaylorMade at Fairway Jockey.


Considering who was making the request, Sbarbaro said TaylorMade pulled some strings to ensure the driver was added to the compliant roster for Woods to use.

“We actually had to call the USGA that Monday to put him on Tiger’s roster,” Sbarbaro said. “The R&D guys run these conversations, so I don’t know if it was a one-off thing, because it was Tiger Woods. But they did. »

When it comes to equipment, whatever the GOAT wants, the GOAT gets. And the rest is history. Woods helped launch Stealth in style, which seemed to suit a club with a very different face build.

“It’s so weird that he’s calling and asking,” Sbarbaro said. “We knew the club was really good, but for him he has to check a bunch of boxes before making the switch. It was a great way to launch Stealth.

It’s unclear if Woods will star in father/son again later this year, but if it coincides with the launch of a new TaylorMade product, the company will be ready this time around.

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Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and Editor for Equipment. Before joining the team in late 2018, he spent 6 years covering PGA Tour gear.