What makes Tiger Woods’ beloved Milwaukee Inkzall marker so special? We investigated

September 5, 2019
Tiger Woods doesn't use your standard, run-of-the-mill Sharpie.

I get paid to know what’s inside Tiger Woods’ bag. I can reel off the clubs, balls and custom tees without breaking a sweat. His ball-marker? That’d be a 1932 Washington quarter to remember the year his father, Earl Woods, was born. I even knew Woods’ go-to on-course snack was a crunchy peanut and banana sandwich before caddie Joe LaCava revealed it in a recent GolfTV clip.

Literally nothing surprises me when it comes to Woods’ gear — except for one thing. His marker of choice: a Milwaukee Inkzall. During the Q&A between Woods and LaCava, the looper mentioned his boss has an affinity for a particular type of writing utensil.

“You have to have a Milwaukee sharpie versus just a regular sharpie,” LaCava said. “I don’t know what the deal is there but you like those Milwaukee sharpies.”

Woods laughed and agreed with his looper. “This is true,” he said.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised Woods eschews the standard Sharpie for something a bit more technical. We’re talking about a hyper-sensitive player who can feel minuscule air bubbles underneath the grip and notice when the overall driver weight has changed by less than one gram. Maybe he can tell a difference when it comes to markers as well.

You asked.

Realizing I had completely overlooked Woods’ marker of choice during my time on the job, I decided to do some digging to pinpoint the year he started carrying a Milwaukee Inkzall. More than 20 minutes later, I came to one conclusion: Woods has never been photographed with the marker in question. Seriously, go look for yourself. Every photograph has him toting around your standard, run-of-the-mill Sharpie.

So if Woods is all about the Milwaukee marker life, when exactly does he use the darn thing?

Woods isn’t one to give away his trade secrets — even when it comes to his favorite marker. One would assume he uses it to mark golf balls and keep score. Was he drawn to it because the Greater Milwaukee Open was his first pro start? Could it be because the black cap and red pen match his usual Sunday ensemble? The possibilities are endless.

Is there a difference between Tiger's Milwaukee Inkzall and a basic Sharpie?
Jonathan Wall

When you’re accustomed to doing head-to-head testing with clubs and balls, it’s natural to want to conduct a similar test with Woods’ Inzkall and a basic Sharpie. So I decided to give it a go. (The brief offseason will make you do crazy things.)

Is Woods’ marker superior to the competition? Here’s what I found out.

What’s the story behind Woods’ marker?

With Tiger offering few details on his Milwaukee Inkzall, I managed to figure out a few things with the help of Google. The marker is actually geared for the jobsite with a fine point that never clogs and can be used to write on “dusty, wet or oily surfaces.” In other words, it’s uber-versatile and can handle almost any situation — kinda like a certain 15-time major winner during his prime. This already feels like a good match.

That being said, I’m not sure why Woods feels the need to carry something that’s suitable for scribbling on cinder blocks and concrete. Maybe he’s moonlighting as a contractor on the side. And did I mention it has a built-in hard-hat clip? I’ll eat this story if Woods ever shows up to the course with his hat on backwards and an Inkzall pen attached to the brim.

There's a difference between the fine point on Woods' Inkzall and what you'd find on a Sharpie.
Jonathan Wall

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a pen with all the bells and whistles, Woods’ marker checks every box. What’s interesting is the pen has only been around since 2013, which means it doesn’t have the same history as, say, the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter in his bag.

Is there a difference between Milwaukee’s Inkzall and a Sharpie?

I picked up “Fine point” versions of the Inkzall and Sharpie for this head-to-head battle, but it only took me a few seconds to notice a difference. The tip on the Inkzall is ultra-fine, putting the Sharpie’s so-called “fine point” to shame. I was already starting to question if this was a fair fight.

The marker test was comprised of writing straight lines (ball alignment), Woods’ signature (don’t hire me as a forger) and marking up a golf ball — three things I figured would give me a good idea of how the markers handled in a “game situation.” Sorry, I couldn’t type the last sentence without laughing.

Jonathan Wall

As for the straight-line test, the Inkzall was the clear winner in my eyes. The ink doesn’t bleed and the tip seems to flow across the page. It’s the equivalent of a smooth wedge from Big Cat himself. The Sharpie isn’t far behind, but I’m not a fan of how it bleeds and leaves a larger line on the page. It just feels clunky next to the Inkzall.

The same goes for Woods’ signature, which is tighter and cleaner with the Inkzall. Imagine how good all those signed pin flags would look if he’d employed this marker on a regular basis. Come to think of it, I might need to suggest this to Tiger…

How does it handle on a golf ball?

The Inkzall was the clear winner in line and signature testing. The ball test, however, is a bit more about personal preference. If you’re the kind of player who likes to draw small dots or detailed logos on the ball, my suggestion would be to go with the “Tiger marker.” While it fills in the dimple nicely, the dots are smaller than anything I’ve ever seen before. You’d need to give it a second pass to completely fill in the dimple.

Inkzall marks are on the left.
Jonathan Wall

The Sharpie doesn’t have the same capabilities due to the thicker marker tip, but some people might prefer something that marks up their ball in less time. This is sort of like deciding between Pine Valley or Augusta National: There are no wrong answers here.

Another positive for both markers? Neither smudged after ink was applied to the cover, so we’re all square in a key area of the head-to-head test.

The verdict

I can see why the greatest golfer of the modern era likes Inkzall. The ultra-fine point is really good and seems to handle even the simplest tasks with grace and poise. I’m willing to go on record and say it’s the “Tiger Woods of permanent markers.” I even went so far as to change out the markers in my golf bag recently. (Sorry, Sharpie.)

If it’s good enough for Tiger, you can be damn sure it’s good enough for the average hack. Now pick up a pack and pretend you’re Tiger Woods.