The doors had barely opened at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show when TaylorMade officials confirmed what most expected – it was signing Tiger Woods to a multi-year endorsement deal for an unspecified amount. Immediately, gear heads began to pontificate as to which clubs the Big Cat would bag – knowing the driver and metalwoods would likely be a quicker and easier transition, with the wedges and irons lagging behind. TaylorMade indicated as much stating its engineers would be working directly with Tiger to compose a “new and personalized iron model” down the road.
The first glimpse came in the form of TW-Phase 1, a set of irons Tiger used for much of the second half of the 2018 season after recuperating from yet another back surgery, which again brought his competitive golfing future into question. Admittedly, TW-Phase 1 didn’t look altogether different from the various muscle-back irons Tiger had played throughout his career. This included a combo set of Mizuno MP-14/MP-29 he used an amateur, which became the foundation for the 681 “T” blades he used to achieve the Tiger Slam of 2000 while on staff with Titleist. Tiger moved to Nike’s MB irons in 2002 and for the next decade-and-a-half, give or take, each version looked to the casual observer pretty much like the previous one.
After all, a blade is a blade is a blade, right?
Sort of. With that, TaylorMade is making available to the public a limited number of P-7TW (keeping the P7-something naming convention) irons which are the same irons as those in Tiger’s bag, save for a few small details (lie angle and shaft).
Tiger is notoriously picky about his equipment, exhibiting a refined sense of feel largely unparalleled, even within the professional ranks. Most people can tell if they don’t put socks on correctly. Tiger can tell if a pair is missing a couple of threads. To take a mediocre analogy a step further, to say TW is picky about his equipment is like saying I’m fond of hot tubs and ice cream.
Between the TW-Phase 1 and P-7TW TaylorMade engineers worked through nine different rough drafts before landing on a final edition with everything dialed in precisely to Tiger’s liking. The head is forged from 1025 carbon steel, but TaylorMade is showcasing fully milled soles (the first time TaylorMade is using this application on something other than a wedge) to produce the precise turf interaction Tiger desires. Tiger changes iron sets twice a year, and the milling process removes the need for Tiger to hit hundreds upon thousands of golf balls to find a set that’s right. For a guy with a fused back and multiple surgeries, any reduction in superfluous wear and tear is a good thing.
The chief benefit of milled grinds is, because a CNC machine (and not a human) is doing the work, the milling processes (which take about one hour per head) are exact; generating the same grind over and over to precise tolerances, with variances so minuscule it’s likely beyond what even Tiger can discern.
Compared to the P730, the heel-toe length on the P-7TW is a hint longer, and some irons have a shorter hosel length (PW is 3 mm shorter). Additionally, the CG location (courtesy of tungsten slugs) moves toe-ward in the short irons. With Tiger, CG manipulation isn’t strictly to optimize generally accepted performance parameters– it’s about getting each iron to launch through a precise window with an ideal trajectory and spin. Additionally, Tiger likes to generate more spin on iron shots (part of why he uses Bridgestone’s Tour B XS ball), so the grooves are narrower and more aggressive than typical TaylorMade mass market irons.
Other notable, Tiger-specific attributes are fixed offset amounts (4,5 and 6 irons have the same offset as do the 7, 8 and 9 irons) and larger print numbers on each club. The former again has to do with dialing in trajectory, feel, and individual performance while the latter is simply so as not to pull the wrong club in high-pressure tournament scenarios. Tiger’s actual gamers do have flatter lie angles and more loft than the retail version, though loft and lie are easily adjusted if buyers want the full Tiger experience.
The P-7TW irons are further validation that we might be seeing consumer’s preference for high-end equipment shift from handmade, individual one-off pieces to CAD designed, CNC milled equipment. The machines have certain advantages – namely precision, replication, and scalability which, when it comes to golf equipment, is a comparative advantage. No doubt it’s why Cameron replaced the 009 putter with the 009M and why PXG’s line of fully-milled wedges set a new standard for wedge production – and it’s not as if either has decreased in popularity or cost.
At the end of the day, the P-7TW is a limited edition set of clubs built for arguably the best player to ever tee it up. Ostensibly, it’s a set of irons most of the golfing world has no business playing – but that’s the point. These are Tiger’s clubs and the novelty of owning (and possibly playing) his clubs is more than enough reason TaylorMade is likely to sell as many sets of irons as it’s willing to produce.
P-7TW Iron sets are available in right-hand only with pre-sale orders beginning today. Retail availability begins May 1st.
The price is $2000 (3-PW), and each set will come in a special, limited-edition box.
The stock shaft is Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 though a full slate of no-upcharge options is also available.