It was March of 2018 and Tiger Woods, having lost the better part of two years due to back issues, was just a few tournaments into his return to competitive golf. Asked about his improving play after a solid round, Woods offered an explanation, then finished with this thought: “I’ve got my feels back.”
It’s a term, of course, that Tiger has used throughout his legendary career. Feels. It’s his way of describing his reliance on one of his senses to analyze his form. He’s not waiting for TrackMan to deliver launch numbers; he’s not leaning heavily on his yardage book. If his “feels” are working, then he’s comfortable with his game … and his equipment.
But there’s another sense that Tiger uses, especially when he’s testing golf balls for Bridgestone. Hears. He listens to the sound the ball makes as it comes off his club, particularly with his wedges. In a game in which player and equipment are connected by the hands, it’s the ears that perform a vital role for Tiger in determining his golf ball of choice.
“It’s something that’s definitely important to him, listening to the ball,” said Adam Rehberg, Bridgestone’s ball fitting manager. “When he’s juggling the ball on the club, he’s feeling it out obviously, but he’s also listening to the sound of it when he’s chipping it.
“The sound of the ball is so important to him. He’ll turn a ball away just for the fact that it didn’t sound like he wanted it to.”
So what exactly does Tiger want to hear?
“He’s looking for something that’s not as loud, a little bit quieter,” Rehberg said. “I would venture to say that he’s looking for a softer sound. Obviously, he plays a really soft ball and has always traditionally wanted to put a very soft cover on the ball. But we have to be careful with the mantle layer because it influences the sound a lot.”
For the TOUR B XS, Tiger’s current ball of choice that he’ll have in play at this week’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, Bridgestone is using its new REACTIV Urethane cover.
Source: PGA tour