Pros: Not your grandfather’s (or even your father’s) driving iron. Effortless launch, long distance and a surprising amount of forgiveness.
Cons: While more forgiving than expected, these driving irons are for the better golfer and if forgiveness on mishits a primary need, you’ll want to stick with hybrids or fairway woods.
Bottom Line: The Tour Preferred UDI offers distance and playability, two key features a driving iron must deliver to satisfy the demands of better players. With a solid feel off the sweet spot, good feedback, forgiveness on mishits and an almost effortless launch, the UDI delivers long distance off the tee and shots that hit the ground and rolls for days.
The first time I put the UDI in play during a round, I casually said on the first tee “I think I’ll hit 1-iron.” Then, as if we were in a cartoon, the heads of the other members of my foursome snapped around and looked at me bewildered and confused until someone said “you’re going to hit what?” Thankfully, I flushed that drive and then handed the Taylormade UDI 1 iron around to the group who each had the same reaction … this doesn’t look like a 1 iron.
The driving iron market is red hot right now and every manufacturer is trying to put out high performance equipment that delivers maximum distance and playability. With the UDI, Taylormade wanted to create a club with the distance and playability of a hybrid and the accuracy and workability of an iron.
The UDI’s hollow body construction is made out of 450 stainless steel and the face is made out of thinner, stronger 455 Carpenter Steel that is designed to produce faster ball speeds. The Speed Pocket, a 3 millimeter slot in the sole, is also included in the design and allows the face to flex more at impact. That leads to a higher launch and more ball speed, especially on shots hit low on the face.
The UDI’s are available in three models: a 1 iron (16 degrees), 2 iron (18 degrees) and 3 iron (20 degrees) with an MSRP of $199. The stock shaft is the KBS C-Taper Lite, which is said to promote a mid-to-high trajectory and controlled spin. You can pre-order them now and they are set to ship on 8/1.
In addition to this review, check out what five GolfWRX Featured Writers, including myself, think about the UDI after spending time testing UDI 1 irons custom built to our specs.
I tested both the 16-degree 1 iron and the 18-degree 2 iron with the stock KBS C-Taper Lite S-Flex shaft outside in calm conditions on the driving range as well as the course. I was sufficiently warmed up by the time I was ready to hit the UDI and instead of going the safe route and hitting the 2 iron first, I did what a lot of GolfWRXers would do and pulled the 1 iron.
I was sold with the first shot off the tee. I expected the launch to come out like a low bullet, but instead I had no problem getting the ball up in the air. Looking at the launch and flight, it appeared very similar to my SLDR 4 iron but clearly much longer. Once the ball hit the ground, the rollout was impressive. I was regularly flying shots 235 yards with plenty of rollout, which is a long way for someone with my club head speed.
It was hard to gauge on the range, but once I hit it on the course and the launch monitor I was able to see that I was getting 25-to-30 yards of roll and more in some cases. That is excellent off the tee, but won’t be great if you’re looking to fly shots onto greens and get the ball to stop. Just as important as distance, controllability with the UDI was very apparent. Unlike the the occasional shot with a hybrid and certainly fairway wood, I didn’t have any shots getting too far away from me.
Surprisingly, on average the 2 iron appeared to generate almost as much distance as the 1 iron. On the launch monitor, I averaged only 2 more yards with the 1 iron than the 2 iron. Yes, my longest shots with the 1 iron were longer than the 2 iron. But more importantly, my dispersion, launch and distance was more consistent with the 2 iron. For me that is telling and very important.
I can still generate great distance, but instead of searching for the the bombs with the 1 iron every so often, I was content and happy with the consistent distance and accuracy of the 2 iron, which still beat my hybrid. Both clubs sit between my 18-degree hybrid and my 3 wood in total distance. The higher launch and flight of my hybrid will come in handy for shots into greens, but the UDI 2 iron will generate more overall distance off the tee. Between the two clubs, the 2 iron will likely spend more time in my bag than the 1 iron.
Both clubs offered the same workability. I was regularly hitting nice tight draws but could also throw a fade into the mix. Hitting the ball low, as expected, is not a problem with a stock shot and playing it farther back in my stance gives me the freedom to send super low shots down the fairway.
What I was surprised to see when I looked at the data on the launch monitor was that mishits were not as penalizing as I would have expected with a 1 or 2 iron. Ball speed did drop and there was more movement right or left, but not as much as I anticipated. That said, I can and did mishit this club. The biggest opportunity for mishits for me happened off the turf more so than off a tee. Toe hits were more penalizing than heeled shots, which is what I expected. The real performance of this club shines when hit off the tee.
Looks & Feel
These are some killer looking clubs. With the Tour Preferred name, you expect it to have a similar look and it does. With smooth, clean lines and edges and a mix of satin and bright chrome, the UDI irons look stunning in the bag and in your hands. The milled score lines add a nice touch of class as well.
As I mentioned above, these clubs do not have the traditional thin, butter-knife look about them. Looking down at address, the thicker top lines and mass low behind the face really make you believe the sweet spot is larger than it really is. We throw around the word confidence a lot in reviews, but when you have a 1 or 2 iron in your hand, you better have some confidence. The UDI delivers.
The satin KBS C-Taper shaft further compliments the look. Some of TaylorMade’s larger irons in the past, like the RocketBladez and SpeedBlade, don’t look very serious in my opinion. The UDI on the other hand, is a serious looking club for serious golfers.
Feel is subjective, but right off the first flush hit this club had a solid feel to it. Even with the hollow construction, there is nothing hollow about the feel. Off the sweet spot, shots had an effortless, powerful feel. Mishits were very obvious. I knew instantly if I was high on the face or low and definitely knew if I was hitting it toe side or heel side.
With three different lofts to choose from, the UDI can sit in the bag as a compliment to a hybrid or even a fairway wood in certain cases and delivers serious distance off the tee and even off the turf. It’s more forgiving than traditional 1 and 2 irons, with a higher launch and excellent workability. These clubs are best suited off the tee or in situations where you want the ball to roll out.
While all three UDI lofts are suited for better players, the 1-iron is definitely made for better golfers looking for the distance of a hybrid and the accuracy of an iron. Mid-to-high handicap players will likely struggle to put the 1 iron in the bag, but the 2 and 3 iron could still be on the list of the clubs to test if you’re looking for distance off the tee with more accuracy than a hybrid.