Tiger Shark Power Pod II Driver Review

The spin numbers produced with the PowerPod II are the lowest we’ve seen this season.

TigerShark PowerPod II Review

Every now and then I come across a golf club that offers something a little bit different from everything else in the industry.  Last year we took a look at less mainstream products like the Solus wedge, the Heavy Wedge, and PowerBilt’s Nitrogen charged AirForce One Driver.  While those clubs aren’t standard fare in the average golf bag, as far as oddities are concerned, they’ve got nothing, and I mean nothing, on the new PowerPod II from TigerShark.

One look at the PowerPod II, and one almost can’t help but think it’s a gimmick that belongs in the same class as “The Hammer”.   Assuming you can get past the looks to dig a little bit deeper, you’ll find that completely oddball appearance aside, there’s a serious golf pedigree behind what quickly became known as simply “The Pod” in our test shop.  Sometimes called the Thomas Edision of Golf, Jim Flood, who founded Aldila and Odyssey Golf (and invented the White Hot insert), as it turns out, is also the inventor of the PowerPod II.  That in an of itself was plenty to pique my curiosity.

The Marketing Angle

So why would one want to consider trying a PowerPod II?  According to TigerShark, there are nearly a dozen reasons.  The quick summary reads not unlike what we’ve heard from just about every other manufacturer: PowerShelf Technology (optimum center of gravity), Anti-Dispersion design (it goes straight), Reduced Toe & Heel Weighting (concentrates the mass behind the hot spot – in fact 99% of the total weight is located directly behind the impact zone), lower spin rates,  and increased smash factor.  As I said, these aren’t ground breaking claims.  We hear similar nearly every day in one form or another from nearly every OEM in the marketplace today.

Of course, what’s a bit more interesting are TigerSharks’s claims that independent testing has shown the PowerPod II to be 5.5 yards longer than Callaway’s Diablo Ocatane, and nearly 4 yards longer than TaylorMade’s R9 SuperTri.  As noted above, TigerShark also claim the PowerPod II produces less spin, and higher smash factors when compared to the Callaway and TaylorMade drivers.

You may have noticed that we don’t take anybody at their word, so when TigerShark offered to send us a few PowerPod IIs to test, we gladly accepted, and quickly began putting these unique looking drivers in our tester’s hands.

 

It almost goes without saying that we find the fact that only a single loft (10.5°) is currently available extremely dissapointing.

How We Tested

The 6 golfers for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf.  As usual, testing was done at Tark’s Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is now viewable in the interactive portion of this review.  This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score.  As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the TigerShark PowerPod II Driver and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, sound,  perceived distance, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase).  This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score.  Testing was done with a selection of 10.5° models in both stiff and regular flex.

PERFORMANCE SCORING

Distance

Shot for shot the PowerPod II proved to be as long, though not meaningfully longer, than just about anything else on the market. A closer look at the numbers shows that both Dan and myself were close to where I’d expect us to be (as far as adjusted averages are concerned).  Mark was probably a bit longer than he is with some of the drivers we’ve tested, while Nick with a few yards shorter.  Both Jeff and Rob told us they were shorter than they usually are.

All things considered, while not filthy long, the TigerShark PowerPod II proved to us that, from a distance perspective, it needs to be taken seriously.

MGS Distance Score: 92.71

Accuracy

To fully comprehend what happened as far as accuracy goes, you really need to take a long look at the interactive portion of this review (which includes graphical representations of each and every shot our testers took).  For some of our testers, the PowerPod failed to totally eliminate significant slices (although it likely did reduce the overall count), while for others, it may have contributed to some of the most massive hooks we’ve seen during testing.  Out of 72 total test shots, 10 missed left by more than 50 yards.  While only 3 missed by similar margins to the right, it’s painfully clear that our testers found it difficult to keep shots as close to the center line as they have with other drivers we’ve tested.

Clearly this club isn’t going to work for somebody who already has a tendency to hook the ball, and it’s also not going to prevent 100% of slices.  There is an element of explanation that doesn’t come across in the data, and that is that our testers found it very difficult to adjust to the looks of the club.  The PowerPod II sits very much upright (or at a minimum looks like it does).  A few of our testers found themselves trying all sorts of weird things (mostly raising their arms) to try and adjust how the club looks at address.  I can’t prove it, but this may have contributed to the less than stellar (the lowest we’ve seen in 2011) accuracy results.

MGS Accuracy Score: 81.79

Consistency

Despite a general lack of accuracy, our testers did achieve fairly consistent results from swing to swing. In fact, the charts show that a high percentage of our testers shots ended up reasonably close to one another.  What this suggests to me is that if users are able to overcome the urge to manipulate the club at address, and more or less play it as it lies, there’s the potential to achieve success.  Overall consistency numbers are strong. In fact, the TigerShark PowerPod II put up the highest consistency score of any driver we’ve tested in 2011.

MGS Consistency Score: 94.26

Overall Performance

I’ll be brutally honest, when I finished testing the TigerShark PowerPod II, I would have sworn that the numbers weren’t that good. I see that kind of thinking from my testers all the time, but I thought I was mostly immune to it.  As it turns out, when I pulled the data off the simulator several days after the test, the results were far better than I expected, and much, much better than I remembered.  I have a feeling most of the testers would say the same thing.

To that end, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the comment we heard most often from our testers was, “It’s better than you would think”.

MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 87.95


SUBJECTIVE SCORING

At this year’s PGA Show Demo Day, we talked to the guys at TigerShark.  What I took away from that conversation is that they really believe they have a revolutionary product on their hands.  In fact, they believe that their product is so good that more than a few golfers aren’t going to care what the club looks like once they find out what a game changer it is.  Of course, for our part of the conversation we wished them all the luck in the world, while at the same time explaining that in our opinion, the design of the club is going to make it a very, very tough sell.  Judging by the results of our subjective surveys, I’m afraid we might be right.

Looks

I can’t remember ever testing a club that incited so many comical responses from our testers.  As you can imagine, there were a few Hammer references, plenty of “what the hell is this thing” questions, and my personal favorite, “It’s the Rocky Dennis of drivers”.

We hate to beat up on the TigerShark guys too much.  They’re trying something very different and that’s to be applauded.  The shape is what it is, and the Power Shelf, strange as it looks, is hidden at address.  Where they went wrong in my opinion is the red crown that steps down as it transitions to black.  Paint it white, paint it glossy black, either would have been fine.  The two-tone (especially where red is involved), goes further than it needs to, even for such a radical design.

When the final scores were tallied, the numbers were almost as ugly as our testers told the club is.

MGS Looks Score: 23.29

Feel

About all our testers could say about the feel of the PowerPod II is that feels better than it looks.  Whether it was “can’t feel the sweet spot”, or “can’t feel where it’s going”, or simply “I’ve got no feel for this”, our testers were near universally displeased with the PowerPod II.  One tester, Mark, rated it an 8, however; not a single other tester rated it above a 5.

Once again, I suspect there are design elements at play (all that mass behind the sweet spot), and my guess is things like feel (and sound), may have been afterthoughts.  While that might help to explain it, it does nothing to change the way our testers felt about it.

MGS Feel Score: 37.63

Sound

Sound and feel are closely linked, no doubt.  Some would even go so far as to tell you they’re basically the same thing.  With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the final sound score was very close to the feel score.  We got there a bit differently (lower high ratings, higher low ratings), but not one of our testers was the least bit enamored with the dull thud at impact.

MGS Sound Score: 39.42

Perceived Distance

Here’s where perception and reality diverge drastically.  Despite putting up distance scores right in line with nearly everything else we’ve tested this season, our testers rated the club much lower than those other drivers.  While Mark gave it a 9 (based on my knowledge of how he’s hit everything else this season, he should have rated it a 10).  I personally gave it an 8.  Our other testers, however, must have thought about the big hooks and mis-hits.

None of this really surprises me.  Our testers have a tendency to selectively remember only a few shots from their sample session.  If they really like the driver, they’ll remember the longest.  If they don’t like it, they’ll remember the shortest of the results.  In this case, the majority chose to remember the shortest of their test shots.

Tester Perceived Distance Score: 53.75

Perceived Accuracy

Similar to the way things often breakdown with distance, our testers are often willing to forget a couple of 50 yard banana hooks if they put one or two balls just a few feet from the centerline.  Of course, 3 or 4 big misses, and they’ll complete forget about anything near the center of the fairway.

Given how far off line some of our test shots flew, it’s not surprising that most rated the PowerPod II low for accuracy.  Mark rated it an 9.  I personally rated it an 8, while none of our other testers were willing to score it better than a 6.

Tester Perceived Accuracy Score:  55.54

Perceived Forgiveness

This almost doesn’t need to be its own category.  Once you know what people think about distance and accuracy, it’s very easy to surmise what they’ll have to say about forgiveness.  If they don’t think it’s long, and they don’t think it’s straight, they’re not about to start writing down 9s and 10s for forgiveness.  While our numbers don’t gel with our tester’s perceptions, we more or less get where they’re coming from.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 53.75

Likelihood of Purchase

There’s something I observe in nearly every test, which I can’t quantify numerically, but I can tell you it’s the best indicator of what the LOP score will be.  In every test session there are clubs that guys want to keep hitting, and hitting, and hitting.  When our testers like a club, they don’t ask how many more shots they have to hit.  I almost always have to tell them to stop.  Of course, the opposite is true as well.  If I guy has to ask me 2 or 3 times how many more shots he has to hit, I know with virtual certainty that the LOP score is going to be low.  When the love the club, they don’t ask.  It’s that simple.

With the PowerPod II, every one of my testers asked me how many more shots they had to hit at least once.  Most telling, self-confessed gear junkie, Nick, actually yelled at me, “dude, get me out of this club”.  It almost goes without saying that none of our testers were itching to bag the PowerPod II.

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 28.67

I’m not going to sugar coat things in the least.  These are the lowest subjective totals we’ve seen for any club test I’ve been apart of.  TigerShark took a shot with something dramatically different than anything on the market today.  Our testers clearly weren’t receptive.  That said, some of these guys have been in on every one of our driver tests, and I’ve got all the data. I know what they’ve done with every club they’ve tested for me.  While the PowerPod II is most certainly not for everyone, one tester, Mark, based on the data we’ve collected, should bag this club, and do it now.  He’s never hit a driver better.

TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 46.63

CONCLUSION

I’ll admit it – this was a tough one for me to write up.  The performance numbers are solid, but our subjective results tell us that TigerShark has a long road ahead of them as far as convincing golfers that they need a PowerPod II in their bag.  The reality is that TigerShark probably knows this club isn’t going to have universal appeal.  I don’t think that’s the point anyway.  If you’ve got a more conventionally shaped driver, and you’re hitting a decent number of fairways, and leaving yourself reasonable distance to the green, there’s very little reason to consider swapping your current gamer for the PowerPod II.

If, however; you’re a high handicap golfer, who struggles with a big slice, the TigerShark PowerPod II offers a glimmer of hope for less than the cost of every other new driver on the market today ($250). It’s also worth noting that, although our tests results don’t support TigerShark’s claims of more distance, the backspin number produced with the PowerPod II are the lowest we’ve seen this season. The PowerPod II also offers hope for guys who struggle to keep their backspin numbers under control.

While it’s safe to assume it won’t be in my bag this season, if you’re either a slicer or a spinner, or just a bit of a non-conformist, the TigerShark PowerPod II may be worth a look.

MGS TOTAL SCORE:  83.68


 

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