Toy Box Mailbag: Tiger's new driver shaft

Tiger Woods plays a shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the Players Championship.

If you have a question about the latest golf clubs and equipment or are wondering what gear PGA Tour players are using, send a Tweet to Golfweek senior writer David Dusek at @DavidDusek.

Some recent inquiries:

• • •

Josh,

As I noted in the Players Championship edition of Winner's Circle, Tiger Woods changed the shaft in his driver before the start of the Players Championship. Tiger had been playing a Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7 X since the 2010 Masters, but after doing some testing in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in the days leading up to the tournament he decided to go with a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X in his Nike VR Tour driver.

Woods had played the Mitsubishi shaft in his Nike Dymo driver throughout the 2009 season.

Technically, the Mitsubishi Diamana White Board's name is the Mitsubishi Diamana D-Series, although even the company's PGA Tour reps refer to it as the White Board. The name comes from the white background behind the "Diamana" printed on the gray shaft. Similarly, the Diamana S-Series is referred to as the Blue Board and the Diamana M-Series is usually called the Red Board.

Woods' Mitsubishi shaft has the lowest torque and stiffest tip section of the three Diamana shafts I just mentioned and is ideal for fast-swinging players who really want to reduce spin off the tee. According to Mitsubishi, in addition to Woods, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia also use the White Board shaft in their drivers.

I spoke with Rick Nichols, Nike Golf's tour field manager and the man who fits Woods into his equipment, and he said Woods' switch had more to do with familiarity than any performance difference between the two shafts. Nichols said that Woods was "messing around at home" with an 8.5 degree Nike VR Tour driver that had a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board shaft in it and liked what he saw. At TPC Sawgrass, Nichols built him a Nike VR Tour with 9.5 degrees of loft and a White Board shaft that was slightly heavier than the Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7. While Woods and Nichols never used Trackman at the Players, Woods liked the way his shots flew and the added loft made it easier for him to draw the ball.

• • •

Jon,

You can compare apples and you can compare oranges, but you can't compare apples and oranges.

The NHL decided to mandate that hockey players wear a helmet in 1979 to increase player safety. However, players who had signed contracts before June 1, 1979, could choose to not wear a helmet if they signed a waiver. With all of those grandfathered players now long-since retired, everyone who plays in an NHL game now has to wear a helmet.

The USGA and R&A have repeatedly stated that banning the use of anchored putting strokes is really about defining a golf stroke and eliminating perceived performance advantages. I say 'perceived' because the USGA and R&A never produced data that show anchored strokes are more effective than traditional putting methods. USGA president Glen Nager said in last week's announcement, "Rule 14-1b eliminates the potential advantages that anchoring creates, potential advantages such as making the stroke simpler and more repeatable, restricting the movement and the rotation of the hands, the arms and the club face, creating a fixed pivot point, and creating extra support and stability that may diminish the effects of nerves and pressure, that anchoring provides these potential advantages is confirmed by those who play, teach and observe the game."

The PGA Tour has not yet officially announced what actions it will take now that the USGA and R&A have decided to ban anchored putting starting Jan. 1, 2016.

• • •

Hadleigh,

I don't have to think because I know the biggest mistake amateurs make in selecting equipment is not getting custom fit. There are different levels of sophistication when it comes to custom fitting, and some can be very expensive, but too many golfers still walk into a store or a pro shop and buy clubs off the rack.

Instant gratification is difficult to resist. We all like shiny new things and opening boxes on Father's Day and other holidays, but working with a club fitter and, ideally, a PGA of America professional, ensure that your equipment matches your swing and your game, thus providing the opportunity to achieve your best results.

Maybe it's just me, but I think waiting a day or two and knowing my new gear is perfect for me is a good idea.

When it comes to set make-up, I like the idea of working with a club fitter and blending iron sets and hybrids. Many professional players mix one or two utility irons or hybrids with their shot-shaping mid- and short irons because they're easier to hit higher and land softly. For example, Graeme McDowell, winner of this year's RBC Heritage, mixed a Cleveland 588 MT 3-iron and 588 TT 4-iron in with his set of Srixon Z-TX irons (5-9) on Hilton Head. The week before, Masters champ Adam Scott carried a Titleist 712U 2-iron at Augusta National alongside his Titleist 710 MB irons (3-9). The week before that, Martin Laird won in Houston with a set that included TaylorMade Tour Preferred 3- and 4-irons (from 2008) and TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons (5-PW).

Notice a trend?

• • •

Adam,

There are a lot of ways to get a golf ball to fly farther, and manufacturers study them all. Theoretically, a longer shaft should allow a player to generate more clubhead speed, which should translate to more distance. Lowering the center of gravity and strengthening the lofts in irons can also produce more distance, too.

Another way to increase distance is to increase a club's characteristic time (CT), which is a measurement of the face's spring-like effect. Drivers have the largest faces and have long had the greatest CT values. The USGA and R&A do not allow any club to have a CT value greater than 239.

Adams Golf designs channels that the company calls 'Velocity Slots' into the sole of fairway woods, hybrids, and now even its Super S and Super LS drivers. Several fairway woods and hybrids also have channels cut into the crown. Adams says that these slots allow the face of the club to flex more at impact, thereby increasing the spring-like effect. According to Adams, the Super S fairway wood has a CT value of 230.

TaylorMade, which owns Adams, has designed clubs with a 'Speed Pocket' cut into the sole. The RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway woods and the RocketBladez irons boast these channels that allow the face to bend more at impact to create more distance.

Before releasing the VR_S Covert woods and hybrids, Nike designed several drivers, fairway woods and hybrids that feature channels too, including the VR Pro Limited Edition, VR STR8 Fit and VR Tour.

As long as CT values remains below 239, this trend should be nothing but good news for golfers who want more distance.

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