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Review: TaylorMade JetSpeed Driver
Summary: The JetSpeed driver is for golfers who need more spin and forgiveness than the company's SLDR models can provide.
Lighter and more forgiving
Pros: Consistent launch and carry on strikes anywhere on the club’s large sweet spot, particularly those low on the face. Impressive distance for a driver with this level of forgiveness. Sleek, subtle look and an attractive $299 price point.
Cons: No moveable weights and limited shaft offerings. It’s also difficult to work the ball and keep ball flight down. Those who liked TaylorMade’s matte white crowns or the R1′s racing stripe may not like the more traditional, glossy gray crown.
Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for a forgiving driver this year, JetSpeed is a good place to start. It offers the spin and forgiveness many golfers need to hit consistently long drives.
The addition of TaylorMade’s Speed Pocket technology to its JetSpeed driver promotes lower-spinning, higher-launching shots than its predecessor, the RBZ Stage 2 driver. The Speed Pocket also dramatically improves performance on shots struck lower in the face, where, according to TaylorMade, most driver mis-hits occur.
With the JetSpeed woods in general, and the driver in particular, TaylorMade continues the theme of a low, forward CG. Given the more forward CG, many players will need to “loft-up” to optimize ball flight. Fortunately, the JetSpeed driver has a 3-degree range of adjustability, up or down 1.5 degrees from the printed loft in 0.5-degree increments.
The JetSpeed is long and light (46 inches with a 299-gram total weight), and the stock Matrix Velox T 49 shaft weighs just 50 grams. The driver’s head measures 460 cubic centimeters, and it is available in lofts of 8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees and retails for $299. The TP version includes a more robust Matrix Velox ST 60 shaft and sells for $399.
It’s been clear since the JetSpeed’s release that it is a complement to TaylorMade’s 2014 driver line, not something that is meant to better the company’s low-spinning SLDR and SLDR 430 drivers. With this in mind, the JetSpeed driver is intended to be more forgiving and higher spinning than each of the SLDR drivers.
In testing the 9.5 degree Jet Speed driver, with an average club head speed of 107 mph, ball speed was 155 mph. Average spin was 2600 rpm, with a launch angle of 13.6 degrees for an average carry distance of 265 yards, which are slightly better numbers for me than with last year’s R1 and RBZ Stage 2.
The touted forgiveness on shots hit low on the face isn’t off base, either. The traditional low-launching, high-spinning shot golfers expect from that type of strike is replaced with a slightly higher-flying, mid-spinning shot. On shots hit on the center of the face, distance was about what could be expected from a more forgiving club, although roll out was generally above average.
Shots hit off the heel or toe of the club weren’t dealt the same degree of forgiveness as those struck low on the face, as both loss of distance and penal hook/slice spin resulted. It seems with the forward CG, TaylorMade has sacrificed performance on shots struck on the heel or toe of the club for better performance on shots struck in the center of the face.
Looks and Feel
Visually, the crown of the JetSpeed driver is somewhat reminiscent of the 2007 TaylorMade Burner, and the dark gray/black coloration is certainly a significant departure from the white heads of last year’s RBZ Stage 2 and R1 models.
The sole of the club—with its flowing triangular design—is reminiscent of something aeronautical, and it looks sleek and fast. The club face itself is shallower than TaylorMade’s recent offerings in order to lower the club’s CG. That makes the club look and feel fast, although perhaps I’ve been conditioned to think this way by TaylorMade’s relentless marketing efforts. One of the coolest angles to view the JetSpeed driver from is from the side; the club looks like it’s moving through a wind tunnel.
As for feel, the polymer slot dampened vibration on off-center hits, particularly on the heel and toe where hits sounded much quieter and flatter. Feel on shots struck on the hyped “25 percent larger” sweet spot was percussive, loud and somewhat high-pitched and metallic. The 46-inch shaft felt long and light as advertised, but it was a little flimsier than most stock stiff driver shafts.
If you’re interested in a TaylorMade driver and don’t need the adjustability or spin-killing ability of the of the SLDR, consider the JetSpeed a way to save $100.