ORLANDO, FLA. -- Unlike its namesake, this SasQuatch is easily caught ...
On camera, in a golf bag, in your hands.
Nike's SasQuatch driver is the club that seems to be creating the most buzz at this year's PGA Merchandise Show, the annual gathering of the industry's movers and shakers to preview what will be this summer's hot clubs, fashions and accessories.
ON MAG'S HOT LIST
It has already created a stir on the PGA Tour with Tiger Woods putting one in his bag near the end of last year. It gathered more momentum when it received Golf Digest's "Editors' Choice" award for drivers in the magazine's 2006 Hot List.
Yesterday, at the Orange County National golf club, the biggest crowds were clustered around the Nike station at the annual Demo Day. With most of the game's traditional equipment manufacturers and innovators with their new ideas on hand, it's a chance to tee up the newest sticks and see what they can do.
I tried the SasQuatch yesterday. It was a Tour 460 model with 10.5 degrees of loft with a Graffaloy Pro Launch Blue 65-gram regular shaft.
The clubhead's deep look sets up nicely behind the ball.
Trying it out is a fun thing to do, but even better was being able to walk off the tee and talk to Tom Stites, Nike's master clubmaker, the guy who designs Woods' sticks for him and the man behind the SasQuatch.
Nike considered 60 different names before settling on SasQuatch. It's a fitting name because the emphasis with this new driver is on its "footprint," as it moves out to the limits of the breadth to face length ratio allowed (the USGA mandates a face cannot be more than five inches wide, a club can't be deeper than five inches and it can't be bigger than 460 cubic cm in volume).
The SasQuatch is nearly as deep as it is wide as Stites moved in a different direction to try and improve ball flight within the bounds of the USGA's restrictions.
If golf club technology bores you, you may leave the room for the next couple of paragraphs.
The technology behind the club involves increasing the club's moment of inertia (its resistance to twisting) by moving as much weight as possible from its centre of gravity. A better MOI means better results on mishits.
Deepening the clubhead moved the centre of gravity farther back from the face.
"It's like a teeter-totter," Stites told the Sun on the back of the Orange County National range yesterday. "If you want the other end to go up, you don't just stick two dumbbells in your hands. You move as far away from the middle as possible. By increasing that dimension, we get more effect than any amount of weights we could put anywhere else. No amount of weight you move will affect ball flight as much as changing geometry."
That last statement is a slightly veiled shot at TaylorMade's r7 Quad's moveable weight technology.
BEHIND SLINGSHOT IRONS
The SasQuatch design, he said, increases launch angle without an increase in spin.
Stites is also the guy behind the popular Nike Slingshot irons.
He was a mechanical engineer designing plumbing fixtures when he joined the Ben Hogan Company in 1986. Four years later he was with Impact Golf Technologies, a team of designers and engineers which contracted with about 25 club manufacturers. Nike bought Impact in 2000 and Stites started working with Woods.
From plumbing fixtures to the hottest golf club ... guess Stiles is now flush with success.