Fundamentals of Geometry
The Nike SasQuatch driver
by Steve Pike

It’s time for a geometry lesson from Professor Tom Stites, chief club designer for Nike Golf. He’s brought along his latest creation, the SasQuatch—SQ for short—a 460cc driver that features a distinctive yellow sole design, "Powerbow" technology and a club head configuration he expresses as the "ideal ratio" between the width of the clubface and the depth of the clubhead.

According to Stites, this configuration pushes up the breadth-to-face length ratio of the club, resulting in a larger, more forgiving sweet spot. In this era of moveable weights, Stites went back to the basics in his quest to create a superior driver for players at every level—way back, more than 2,000 years, to the time of Greek philosophers Thales, Pythagoras and Euclid, the founding fathers of what we know today as modern math. Little did those ancient scholars know that one day a Texas cowboywould use their theories to design a golf club for guys named Tiger, Rory and K.J., not to mention the average joe. How could they know that marketing monster Nike Golf would name the club after a mythical beast from a land beyond Atlantis? A lot about SasQuatch would have been mysterious to them—but not the science behind it.

When Stites started designing clubs more than 20 years ago for the Ben Hogan Company, drivers were 185cc and weighed approximately 200 grams. Today he is working with 460cc clubfaces that are still 200 grams. That’s about 2.5 times as much volume in the same weight. As drivers got larger, the USGA put a limit on how big they could be. Today that limit on club face size is 460cc, plus a tolerance of 10cc. The USGA also says that the distance from the heel to the toe of the club head must be greater than the distance from the face to the back. Nor may the distance from the heel to the toe of the clubhead exceed five inches (127 mm) or the distance from the sole to the crown exceed 2.8 inches (71.12 mm).

What all this means is that Stites and his fellow club designers must stay within these limitations and at the same time find new ways to create superior products. Through the power of geometry and better materials like titanium, Stites has created the Nike flagship driver for 2006.

"The SasQuatch has achieved a lower, deeper center of gravity without the use of weights," he explains. "Moving the CG back makes the club face easier to square at impact. When you move the center of gravity back and low, the ball will launch higher naturally because the center of gravity is trying to get in line with the center of the shaft. This dramatically effects how the ball comes off the golf club. The SQ’s ‘Powerbow’ technology provides the visual cue of the new geometry. Placed on the back of the driver, the Powerbow expands the perimeter of performance, making it easier to get the ball airborne as well as to hit straight. Its trailing volume of mass applies more power and control to the ball without overstepping the 460cc limit."

Why is geometry a big deal in club design? Again, let’s go back in time. But instead of 2,000 years, we only need to go back 30, to the days when Ping’s perimeter-weighted Eye2 irons and Callaway Golf’s oversized Big Bertha metal woods provided textbook examples of the principle Better Golfing through Geometry. Stites is banking on the SasQuatch doing the same. After all, it was another legendary Greek mathematician, Archimedes, who said, "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I will move the world." The SQ may not move the world, but it will certainly rock it.




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