Watch Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy take rips with a 40-year-old metal driver

May 1, 2019
Tiger Woods takes a cut with TaylorMade's Pittsburgh Persimmon driver.

How would Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy fare if their hulking, high-tech 460cc TaylorMade drivers were replaced with a cast stainless-steel version featuring a head size more closely resembling a 3-wood? It’s almost guaranteed they wouldn’t be pumping 300-yard drives on a regular basis.

To celebrate TaylorMade’s 40th anniversary, Woods, McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Jason Day — all members of TaylorMade’s tour staff — answered the question by taking a rip with an updated version of the company’s Pittsburgh Persimmon, better known as the metal wood that changed how drivers were constructed.

The 12-degree cast stainless-steel driver was the brainchild of founder Gary Adams, who borrowed $24,000 on his house to lease out a 6,000 square foot office northwest of Chicago to create TaylorMade Golf.

Metal woods were already in the marketplace before the Pittsburgh Persimmon came along, but the club was the first to make a dent in persimmon usage on Tour. Two years after Adams’ creation came to life, in 1981, Ron Streck logged the club’s first Tour win in Houston.

As for how Woods and the rest of TaylorMade’s Tour staff fared with the driver, the results were surprisingly impressive. All five found the fairway, with McIlroy (going strictly off the footage) leading the way with the longest poke off the tee.

A couple observation from the video: Day, Johnson, McIlroy and Rahm all produced a distinctive thwack at impact, similar to what you’d expect to hear if they were hitting a driving iron. Only Tiger had a more subdued thud when old-school driver met modern-day ball at impact. It should be noted Woods was the only one of the five to ever use metal construction with a steel shaft in competition — something he continued with until 2004.

You can also hear Day and Woods say “just think of it as a 3-wood,” when discussing how best to handle the club. Considering the club’s diminutive size, compared to today’s drivers, it puts an absolute premium on consistency and accuracy, two areas that have lost importance as drivers have grown in size.

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