Rarely has a driver hit the PGA Tour harder and faster than the Nike SasQuatch. Paul Casey put one in his bag and promptly won the 2005 Volvo China Open. Carl Pettersson claimed his first Tour victory using the Tour version of the SasQuatch Driver at the Chrysler Championship, and K.J. Choi and Keiichiro (Kay) Fukabori used it to win the Chrysler Classic Greensboro Open and the Japan PGA Tour's Ana Open, respectively all in the same week.
Then Chad Campbell announced he would be using the SasQuatch (SQ) just a few weeks before he won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
And, of course, there's Tiger, who has won the last three tournaments he's entered, using the SQ in each.
So the SQ works for Tour players. That doesn't mean squat for you and me - except in this case, it actually does.
In several respects the SQ bucks current trends. First and foremost, the "big footprint" so heavily touted by Nike is produced by a clubhead that appears at address to be squashed - the back of the crown bulges out as if partially herniated. Consequently the clubface is not as deep as other 460cc drivers.
Also anti-trendy is the SQ's distinct lack of moveable weights. The bright yellow sole plate and bulbous clubhead distribute the weight back away from the face, increasing MOI and resistance to torque on off-center hits.
I was able to test the standard SQ model (10.5-degree loft, stiff shaft) both on and off the course during multiple practice sessions and rounds. The most memorable moment came on the first hole at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, Ill..
The previous day, using the Adams Redline RPM 460cc Dual driver, I'd hit a slight fade 286 yards to the right side of the fairway. Under precisely the same playing conditions (wind, temp, playing partners, swing - everything), I hit precisely the same shot with the SQ, only 10 yards farther.
I asked Bob McCurdy, a 14 handicap who plays a Nike Ignite driver, to test out the SQ during two rounds. His first drive with his own driver was a beauty - 240 yards straight down the middle. He teed up another ball for comparison's sake and hit precisely the same shot - 250-plus yards, with a slight fade. (The shaft was a bit stiff for his swing.)
"I don't know what it is," McCurdy said, "but it just feels really easy to square up. One of those will be in my bag before the end of this season."
Tour stats with any club must be taken with a very large grain of salt. None of the pros use the same clubs we do. However, the Nike SQ comes as close as can be expected to living up to the hype. According to Beth Gast of Nike's media-relations department, Tiger even plays the "standard" model (as opposed to the Tour model used by some other players). Again, it's not the same club you or I will play, but the head design and rough specs are roughly equivalent.
Is it pretty? No. Is it cheap? No (MSRP $399). Is it easy to square up and smack the tartar sauce out of the ball? Yes.
The biggest knock against this driver is the head cover, which is so tight and stiff that it requires two or even three guys to get it on or off over that enormous swollen clubhead.
I'm guessing Tiger lets Stevie deal with that.
For more information visit www.nikegolf.com.
March 14, 2006
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.