Scottie Scheffler’s most important club isn’t what you think

Scottie Scheffler's TaylorMade Qi10 driver pictured on golf course

Scheffler used TaylorMade Qi10 for the first time at the WM Phoenix Open.


Scottie Scheffler notched two wins during the 2022-23 PGA Tour season to go along with 17 top-10 finishes in 23 starts. For literally any golfer on the planet, the season would have been an all-timer. But this has become old hat for the human “Iron Byron.”

Show up and contend. Rinse and repeat. Even a disobedient putter couldn’t keep the 27-year-old from being mentioned in the same breath as Tiger Woods at his athletic peak. Yes, Scheffler was that good last season, especially from tee to green.

When you’re that good, areas of the game tend to get taken for granted, like Scheffler’s off-the-tee prowess and how he was nearly three-quarters-of-a-shot better than Rory McIlroy in the Strokes Gained category last season. And McIlroy is considered by many to be one of the best to ever pummel a golf ball.

Ask TaylorMade Tour rep Adrian Rietveld to highlight the aspect of Scheffler’s other-worldly game that doesn’t get nearly enough attention and he’s quick to come back with an answer.

Scheffler tees off with TaylorMade’s Qi10 driver at the Houston Open Getty Images

“It’s difficult not to say the driver,” Rietveld told “He had probably the best driver he’s ever had in his life [last season], which is saying something considering how well he’s driven it in recent years. You’ve got a player who’s leading accuracy stats and in the top 5 percent in distance. And you’ve got to play against that combination each week. It’s terrifying the energy you’d need to keep up with Scottie [off the tee].”

The driver in question last season was TaylorMade’s Stealth 2 Plus, a club Scheffler initially put in play during the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Minor tweaks were made along the way, but Scheffler was as close to perfect off the tee with his new big stick. For someone who values accuracy over distance, Stealth 2 Plus offered a rare combination of precision and game-changing distance that made Rietveld wonder how things would go when Qi10 was introduced to TaylorMade’s Tour staff.

Scheffler was coming to the end of his multi-year contract with TaylorMade, which meant he’d need to see something that confirmed the Qi10 coming down the pipelines was noticeably better than what he was playing before a switch would be considered.

“There was no way he was considering switching out of the Stealth 2 for even the same performance,” Rietveld said. “He saw a little bit of ball speed, but that didn’t matter to him at all. He values accuracy so much, which is why he hardly looks at a ball speed number. His range of spin is wider than other players because he hits so many different shots and trajectories. He’s hitting shots at 6 and 12 degrees of launch.”

Bumping Scheffler’s near-perfect Stealth 2 driver from the bag was never going to be an easy task, but with three years of trust and “equity” built up with the 2022 Masters champion, Rietveld believed the Tour team could get the job done.

“I bet there were competitors and other people on the range looking at me doubting the work we were doing,” he said. “Because of his record, it’s easy to question why he’d even consider switching. But I do believe he’s such a good driver of the golf ball that he finds out if it’s better for him in an honest way. There’s no need for games. I love that about Scottie.”

The journey begins

As Scheffler makes his final Masters preparation, one club he won’t have to worry about when he steps foot on Augusta National’s hallowed grounds is the driver — a certified weapon that’s gotten continually better since he joined TaylorMade’s Tour staff in 2022 and started working closely with Rietveld.

Rietveld credits a treasure trove of data he’s amassed on Scheffler over the years — TrackMan numbers, video and Shot Tracer — as the key to a successful driver blueprint. If you know where you’ve come from, it’s easier to get an idea of where you need to go. Even still, Rietveld couldn’t have predicted the painstaking process it took to get Scheffler in a Qi10 driver head.

“I probably thought two of three times during the process that the job was done,” he said. “Then Scottie would offer more feedback and I’d head back to headquarters to work with the team on a few more adjustments. This was a journey, no doubt.”

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Before the calendar flipped to 2024, Rietveld linked up with Scheffler ahead of the Ryder Cup to conduct some initial testing. With the low-spin Stealth 2 Plus already in play, Rietveld came armed with a Qi10 LS — a Stealth 2 Plus comp — and Qi10. The testing session revealed some positives, but Scheffler wasn’t sold on either model, so the two parted ways knowing more testing was on the horizon.

By the time they reconvened for testing in the Bahamas ahead of the Hero World Challenge, Scheffler had decided to give Qi10 LS the green light. But the driver lasted one round before Stealth 2 Plus was reinserted.

“He identified a few things that needed to be worked on,” Rietveld said. “At the same time he was looking at the LS head, we were still talking about the Qi10 head as well.”

The “core” head, better known as TaylorMade’s middle-of-the-road offering, is an intriguing beast. During GOLF’s 2024 robotic testing, Qi10 presented a lower spin rate and launch angle than a majority of the drivers tested, two things better players with speed tend to gravitate towards. Another thing that intrigued Scheffler was the ball speed retention and consistent spin rates he observed on off-center strikes.

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“Having even a fraction more forgiveness was important to Scottie,” Rietveld said. “In testing, the LS head spins a little less. But I feel like all these parts hold spin so well, which is a testament to the learnings we gathered from Stealth 2 and implemented in Qi10. What’s the most forgiveness I can get with the speed I can create? That’s something the best players in the world want to know.”

Another session just before Christmas reinforced Rietveld’s belief that Scheffler would eventually end up in the Qi10 core, but they weren’t quite there yet. So the journey continued.

“You could feel he had an affection to the core head,” he said. “He needed a fraction less loft, which is pretty common for him, but we were getting closer.”

In Rietveld’s eyes, the winter break is the best time to get work done before the season. Players are more inclined to test behind closed doors and offer up additional time to get things right. Even Scheffler admitted that he rarely, if ever, tests during a tournament week, preferring to do his work at home.

“I definitely will test stuff,” Scheffler told “But I don’t love doing it at a tournament. So if anybody wants me to test anything, I’ll do it at home. I want to use the best stuff, so I’ll happily test. I like new gear. Gotta try and get better.”

Testing in the limelight

The Sentry Tournament of Champions marks the beginning of testing in the “limelight,” as Rietveld likes to call it. Every testing session is analyzed on the range by prying eyes. A packed schedule had the globetrotting rep going from Hawaii to Dubai and back to California, leaving little in the way of time to test with players at home. On-site testing quickly turned out to be the only opportunity for Scheffler and Rietveld to conduct work — with one exception.

Encouraging feedback from Scheffler in Hawaii led Rietveld to adjust the center of gravity location on the Qi10 head and start down a road that eventually led to some seriously detailed driver work with TaylorMade’s R&D team. Instead of continuing to pit Qi10 in a head-to-head test against Scheffler’s Stealth 2, Rietveld challenged engineers to build a Qi10 with the exact same specs as his gamer.

Armed with three Stealth 2 Plus heads Scheffler played last season, TaylorMade mapped out each one down to the CG XY (heel-toe), CG YZ (top-bottom and front-back) and exact loft. The goal? If they could showcase Qi10’s technology and performance in a true head-to-head battle, a switch was all but guaranteed.

“When you get that right and you’re testing old product against new, the only variable that differs between the two clubs is advancements in tech,” Rietveld said. “Have you managed to break a performance boundary that makes the new club better? Is there a gain? These were questions you can more easily answer when you’re testing heads with identical specs.

Scheffler leads the Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee by almost a full shot this season. TaylorMade

“When Scottie tests with me, he leaves no stone unturned. Time is never an issue. The feedback is amazing. It reminds me a little bit of Justin Rose back in 2017 and 2018.”

Rietveld didn’t have to wait long to see the work behind the scenes pay off. After making a 24-hour trip from Dubai to Palm Springs, California, for the American Express, Scheffler invited Rietveld to join him at the Madison Club for a pro-am he was slated to participate in. Hoping to get some additional feedback on the driver, Rietveld watched in amazement as Scheffler carded 11 birdies and four eagles in 20 holes with the Qi10 driver in tow.

“The following day [on Wednesday] I see him and he says to me, ‘I can play this Qi10, but I need to make a small adjustment.’ I was like, OK. Then he says, ‘But I’m not willing to make that adjustment yet. I want to keep working.’ He’s talking about him personally, not the club. So he doesn’t play it.”

Each time Scheffler offered more feedback, Rietveld went back to TaylorMade headquarters armed with his data and videos to make additional tweaks to the head — his “homework and due diligence” — in an attempt to close the deal.

“You have to remain patient,” Rietveld said. “That’s all you can do. It’s up to the player to commit to the club when they feel completely comfortable, and Scottie doesn’t make changes until he’s all the way there.”

The payoff was coming, but it was when Rietveld least expected it.

With the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am washed out due to rain, Scheffler phoned Rietveld to let him know he was going to be coming in on Monday, instead of Tuesday, for the WM in Phoenix: “Let’s get to work.”

Over the next three hours, Scheffler pounded drivers with Qi10 on the TPC Scottsdale driving range as caddie Ted Scott and Rietveld observed the results. The launch and spin numbers were dialed. The only thing that remained was eliminating the left side of the course with internal changes and a small loft adjustment.

“It’s getting dark and we’ve just made the final adjustment, moving the head one click higher back to standard upright, which is what he normally plays the 8-degree head,” Rietveld recalled. “Launch didn’t change, spin didn’t change, but the thing that changed for him is that he felt like there was zero left. There wasn’t even a straight shot. He really felt like he could commit to his start line. He was trying to take the whole left side of the golf course out.”

Rietveld could sense all parties were on board with the current setup, so he challenged Scheffler to put the driver to one final test. If the club held up under the pressure, Scheffler had to give it a chance in his match the next day with Sam Burns.

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“We’re buzzing at this point, so excited,” he said. “We’re going back to the Stealth 2 and Qi10, and me and [Ted Scott] are just watching this. I said to [Scottie] right at the end: Here’s the deal, you hit this next shot as hard as you can. If this thing goes dead straight, you are playing this in your match tomorrow with Sam. He sets up and just melts this thing. He picks up the tee and throws it at me with a smile.”

At that moment, all the travel, equity and behind-the-scenes work Rietveld had put in over the past few months was about to result in a driver change. Scheffler and Burns won their practice round match the next day. On Thursday, Qi10 made the final cut on the first tee at TPC Scottsdale.

The driver has found a place in Scheffler’s bag and quickly become one of his most reliable weapons, passing tough driving tests at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass with flying colors. The two trophies he added during back-to-back weeks confirmed the driver’s bona fides. So, too, does the fact he’s nearly a full shot better than Xander Schuaffele this season — his closest competition — in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee.

As Scheffler makes his way to Augusta, there’s no question his putter will be a topic of discussion. He’s become accustomed to fielding questions about the biggest equipment enigma in pro golf. But even if mischief ensues on the greens, Scheffler knows he can hang his hat on a driver that’s turned into the kind of club required to succeed on golf’s biggest stage.

He has Rietveld and the rest of TaylorMade’s team to thank for helping him get there.

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