‘I’ve never been good at it’: Tiger Woods reveals rare golf weakness

Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on May 20, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship earlier this year.

getty images

When Tiger Woods joined the pro ranks back in 1996, Tour pros were still playing balata balls — you know, those soft, wound, spinny orbs with which players could work wonders.

Then, in 2000, everything changed with the introduction of the solid construction, lower-spinning Nike Tour Accuracy, which Woods played, along with Titleist’s Pro V1. These balls flew farther and mitigated mishits while still offering a soft feel, but they also were far less “workable” than balata. Ergo, traditionalists will tell you, the game’s true shotmakers lost a competitive edge with the advent of the modern ball.    

Woods falls into that camp, which is why even as new ball tech emerged, he still opted for solid-construction balls that offered the highest spin rates.

tiger woods and fred couples
‘My dad on Tour’: Tiger Woods opens up on special Fred Couples bond
By: Jessica Marksbury

“I’ve always played the spiniest ball on Tour, just because I grew up in that era of balata golf balls,” he said the other day, speaking on Bridgestone Golf’s “Another Golf Podcast.”

“I’m not good at putting spin on a ball. I’ve never been good at it. But I could take spin off it really well.”

And here Woods likened himself to Fred Couples, who has some of the softest hands and best touch the game has ever seen. “Like Fred, I can hit those little shots,” he said, “but putting big spin on the golf ball I’m not good at.”

As our Jonathan Wall reported earlier this week, Woods, in preparation for his appearance in The Match on Saturday, has, in fact, veered from his usual ball preference, electing to play Bridgestone’s Tour B X model, which is a firmer, less workable option than his usual gamer, the Bridgstone B XS, but also one, he said, that gives him up to 10 more yards of carry.

“Now I’m monkeying around with the X ball because, hey I want a little pop, too,” he said with a laugh on the podcast. “But the good news is it’s the same cover, it’s the same feel. Granted it’s a little bit different inside, the guts are a little bit different. Yes, I’m hitting it further, but it feels the same.”

tiger woods
The most important thing in your golf bag, according to Tiger Woods
By: Sean Zak

Will the switch be permanent? Don’t count on it. Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s golf ball marketing manager, told Wall:

“The Tour B XS is still a ball he helped co-design, and it’s a ball he’ll probably go back to in those situations where he needs more playability and workability in the golf ball. We don’t get the impression this is a permanent thing. It’s more situational. He’s chasing distance more than spin for all the obvious reasons.”

The gear swap will be an interesting subplot to follow when Woods and Rory McIlroy take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas under the lights at Pelican GC, near Tampa, Fla., this weekend. Woods surely will enjoy the added oomph in his tee shots, but how will his iron and wedge game and touch shots around the greens respond to a harder ball?

Gear heads will be watching!

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.

Unleash your full golfing potential with brand-agnostic, precision club fitting.