When we first scheduled our Nike SasQuatch (SQ) review back in May for August 4, we did not know Tiger Woods would have won the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool less than two weeks prior after pulling his SQ only once in competitive play.
Only a few years after being dissed by Phil Mickelson as "inferior equipment," Nike has built some incredibly well performing golf balls and clubs as well as a large stable of PGA Tour pros to use them.
During the SasQuatch's development, many believed "SasQuatch was merely a code name and that "SQ" or some other product name would be used upon release. Of course, the average person knows only that Michelle Wie and Tiger Woods play the SasQuatch, and "Woods" and "Wie" carry a lot more weight than any individual product.
I'm no Tiger Woods (or Michelle Wie), but I've given the SQ a thorough test. Read on to see what I thought of the driver that wasn't used to win the 2006 Open Championship.
Design and Technology
Building upon the rather successful Nike Ignite, the SasQuatch has a lot in common with Tiger's previous driver. That starts with the face: like the Ignite, the SQ is built with what Nike calls "NexTi" titanium. NexTi is a "layered yet tightly compressed titanium that is thinner, lighter, and stronger than the current standard of Beta-Titanium." Gone is the "pull-face" technology touted in the Ignite - we hardly knew ye!
The SQ - like the Slingshot OSS irons and the Slingshot hybrid - pushes the weight back in a swooping grey piece of metal. On the irons and the hybrid, that piece of metal is called the "Slingback." On the SQ, it's called the "PowerBow." The "PowerBow" - the appearance of which I'll discuss later - does several things.
First, it creates what Nike calls "Max Dimension." According to Nike, the "trailing volume of mass apply more power and control to the ball without overstepping the 460cc limit." In addition to the 460cc limit, the rules of golf state that a clubhead can't be any longer (front to back) than it is wide (heel to toe). The SasQuatch's "PowerBow" and "Max Dimension" come close: the SQ is 4.7116 inches wide and a whopping 4.664 inches deep. The Tour version is a bit shorter front to back (with a deeper face).
Finally, the PowerBow creates what Nike has called "Max Back CG." This - as is popular these days - moves the center of gravity (CG) down and back in the clubhead to increase leverage, expand the sweet spot, and resist twisting. Nearly every driver (and fairway wood, and hybrid, and game-improvement iron) employs methods to lower and deepen the center of gravity, and the SQ is no different.
The SasQuatch is one of many 460cc drivers, but it may be one of the most unique when it comes to looks. At address, the large grey "PowerBow" band - which is much smaller on the "Tour" model - adds a visual distraction that requires an adjustment period. After adjusting, many will tell you they don't even notice the PowerBow and that the metallic black portions of the driver's crown are all they see, but I always noticed the PowerBow, and I have the Tour version with the smaller PowerBow.
The PowerBow is smaller on the Tour version because the Tour version has, in Nike's words, "a taller face height with less breadth than the 460." Nike claims that this "unique profile delivers a more boring trajectory and the increased workability desired by better players." I was simply happy to have a driver that looked a bit more traditional at address.
One final difference between the Tour and the non-Tour models: the non-Tour model features a pair of arrows on the top of the crown to indicate the center of the clubface. The Tour version is free of this alignment aid. The center of each clubface is void of grooves, with white punch dots around the area and black grooves on the heel and toe.
The satin grey PowerBow finish wraps around to the toe and just under the club, but the sole of the SasQuatch is bright and shiny: a bright yellow paint towards the back of the club provides the recognition factor companies seek, and the shiny polished titanium serves as a temporary mirror.
The sole configuration between the Tour and non-Tour versions vary slightly, with the non-Tour version clearly pushing a little more weight towards the heel than the Tour version, but that change is most obvious from above - the PowerBow bulges in the non-Tour version on the heel side of center.
The SasQuatch, I've heard, has one of the highest moment of inertia (MOI) ratings in the game. MOI can be thought of as "resistance to twisting" on off-center impact. The benefit of a high MOI is a "forgiving" club.
MOI is one of the recent buzzwords, and with the "Slingback" design in the Slingshot OSS irons and the Slingshot hybrid and the PowerBow in the SasQuatch, Nike club designer Tom Stites has seemingly attempted to maximize the benefits of MOI. "Screw tradititon, let's put a big grey blob on the back of the driver if it makes it more forgiving" he seems to have said.
And so Nike did, and it's tough to question Tom's passion for MOI after hitting the driver a few times: it's awfully forgiving. In one round, I hit a ball on the heel that I would have expected to start well left of the fairway and "heel cut" back into play. Instead, it started just left of center and cut slightly just into the right rough. It was almost as if the club was too forgiving. High, low, toe- or heel-ward, the SasQuatch does what it can to keep the ball in the fairway.
Though nobody plans to hit the ball off-center, it's nice to believe that missing the sweet spot by a half inch won't result in a missed fairway and a long approach shot. But for those who do find the sweet spot, they'll find a long driver that produces a solid low, boring trajectory. The center of the clubface is rather hot, and even the easiest swings that find the sweet spot shoot the ball with incredible speed. Launch monitor testing confirms that the SasQuatch produces a fairly low amount of spin (the non-Tour model, with a lower, deeper CG may produce more but was not test).
I was a bit hesitant to begin working the ball with the SasQuatch, given all the talk I'd heard about how straight the driver is, but my fears were unfounded. The SQ Tour is as workable a driver as exists today, with the possible exception of perhaps Titleist's 905S, and can shape the ball in both directions with surprising ease.
It's that ease of shot shaping and one other factor that has made the SQ Tour my "confidence driver." The large clubhead has the odd effect of making the shaft seem shorter than it really is, inspiring confidence that allows me to pull driver and hit shots full of confidence.
My only nit? It is more a personal preference than one based in fact, and it's this: I prefer a deeper face than even the SQ Tour offers - more like those on the Titleist 905S, the TaylorMade r7 425 TP, or even the Callaway FT-3 Tour. Several times I hit the ball excessively high on the SQ's relatively shallow face, losing 50+ yards in pop-up fashion. Teeing the ball down lower than normal helped, but I find that teeing the ball down makes it tougher for me to hit a high draw some of the tees at my home course demand.
As I've discussed, the Nike SasQuatch is available in two versions: standard and "Tour." The regular version comes with a Nike-branded Diamana for SasQuatch by Mitsubishi Rayon, while the Tour version comes with the shaft Nike likes to tell you Tiger Woods used for awhile before switching to the Grafalloy BiMatrix - the Diamana 83. In reality, his shaft costs about $200 more. Still, it's a nice shaft.
The Tour model is available in lofts of 8.5°, 9.5°, and 10.5° all measuring 45". The non-Tour model adds "Lucky 13" and "Sweet 16" models measuring 44.5". All but the 8.5° and the Sweet 16 are available for lefties. Shaft flexes for the Tour model are X, S, and R, while the non-Tour adds an A (senior) flex.
Custom shaft options include the Aldila NV 65 or 75 and the Grafalloy ProLaunch 65 in a variety of flexes. Though normal pricing for both the Tour and non-Tour version is $299, custom shafts will often run $349.
The Nike SasQuatch Tour is one of the most stable, forgiving drivers on the market today. Once I adjusted to the PowerBow (and, admittedly, it was easier on the Tour version with the smaller PowerBow), my confidence grew and this driver is now the one you'll find in my bag when my driving needs a little self-esteem boost. Despite its forgiving nature on mis-hits, the SQ Tour should satisfy the shotmaking needs of better players, and the SQ version will likely help the mid-handicapper looking for a lot of forgiveness.
At $299 for both versions, customers can focus instead on choosing the model that suits them best, not the one they can afford like some other companies' "pro" drivers.