Tiger Woods’ return to the course at The Match last weekend produced an interesting gear change few saw coming. In place of the Ping PP58 grip that’s been a part of Woods’ putter DNA for decades was a rubber Scotty Cameron pistol grip with grey lettering — an equipment Easter egg of sorts for rabid gearheads.
Those who weren’t paying close attention to Woods’ gear likely missed it altogether. The sight of Woods using a different piece of gear always causes golf fans to ask the same question: Why? It’s a fair question considering Woods almost never touches certain equipment variables.
Up until 2020, the putter grip was one of those variables. Then along came a full-cord Lamkin — featuring a “Deep-Etched” pattern — to shake things up. The grip enjoyed a short stint in the bag before Woods returned to the PP58, but it was a reminder that nothing is truly irreplaceable.
But back to the why for the most recent putter grip change. Without an official comment from Woods on the new Scotty Cameron handle, we’re left to look at the current putter build and hypothesize on reasons behind the swap, which is exactly what we did on the latest episode of GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast.
Here are two likely explanations.
It’s a feel thing
It’s a minor detail that likely means a lot to Tiger. The Scotty Cameron pistol grip is slightly larger than the PP58, which is going to change the overall feel of the putter in Woods’ hands. Outside of those in Tiger’s camp, it’s impossible to tell what he’s trying to accomplish, but an overall larger grip is going to engage different muscles and take the hands out of the stroke, even in a case where the grip is only moderately larger.
“Tiger has more face closure than most tour pros,” said Fully Equipped co-host Gene Parente. “He likes that closure, timing and feel to control it. But with a larger grip, you’re going to get less closure. Your hands do not rotate as much, so you’ll minimize more closure and be more pendulum-like.”
It’s common for Woods to test different putter grips at home on backup putters. But very rarely do we see any of them stick on the course — outside of the Cameron and Lamkin grips. Bottom line, there’s something about the overall feel of this particular grip that Woods likes at the moment.
So about that feeling…
In addition to changing the putter grip, Woods added lead tape to the back cavity of the putter head, something he’s done in the past to combat slow greens. While he’s never changed the grip during those tournaments, Fully Equipped co-host Kris McCormack wondered if the change could have another benefit.
“It could be to keep the swing weight and feel the same,” McCormack said.
A larger grip is going to change the overall swing weight of the club — if you need a refresher on swing weight, check it out right here — which would require additional weight to be added back to the putter to maintain a similar feel. The heavier overall is also going to give Woods a “heavier hammer,” so to speak, meaning he’ll be able to increase the amount of energy transferred to the ball at impact.
On slower greens at night, as was the case at The Match, a heavier hammer is a great way to ensure you’re getting to ball to the hole without any additional effort.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out Fully Equipped podcast below.