Connect with us

Driver Reviews

Review: TaylorMade R15 460 and R15 430 Drivers

Published

on

Pros: Extremely low-spinning, and more consistent than TaylorMade’s SLDR drivers. Offered in two colors — black and white. The ability to split the R15’s sliding weights for more consistency is a nice touch.

Cons: The R15 460 is not as impressive on mishits as other leading drivers. The R15 430 will prove too demanding for all but the best amateurs.

Who’s it for? Better players looking to increase launch angle, reduce spin or both. Lofting up is crucial to getting the most from the R15’s design, and can lead to some of the longest drives you’ve ever hit.

Overview

32db6a4aea275022c1be3d3986ca1dd6

It is a safe bet that many GolfWRX readers have played or at least hit a TaylorMade R-series driver at one time or another. They have been a driving force of innovation in the driver category for many years. While TaylorMade went away from the series last year with its SLDR, the R-series is back for 2015 with the release of the R15 460 and R15 430 drivers.

The R15 460 is TaylorMade’s larger, more forgiving driver, while the R15 430 is a smaller, lower-spinning driver aimed at better players or anyone in need of an extremely low-spinning driver.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 4.56.39 PM

Taylormade engineers pushed the CG (center of gravity) of both drivers lower and more forward than any of their previous drivers, which is designed to create a higher launch with lower spin, a combination that produces really big drives.

That alone wouldn’t be enough to stamp the “R” on this club — TaylorMade also doubled the number of sliding weights from one to two. The dual, 12.5-gram sliding weights offer the ability to fine-tune the trajectory bias and CG of the club like never before. Set both the weights to neutral for example, and the R15 is built for distance and power. Split the weights out to the edges, and the R15 becomes more stable, especially on mishits. Compared with the SLDR, the R15 is considerably more stable and forgiving in any configuration.

d60e4d1a4a2d757500ce603081a00b59

Both the R15 460 and R15 430 continue to leverage TaylorMade’s 4-degree Loft Sleeve that allows golfers to adjust loft, lie and face angle.

The R15 460 ($429) is available in glossy black and matte white in lofts of 9.5, 10.5, 12 and 14 degrees. It comes stock with Fujikura’s Speeder 57 Evolution shaft (X, S, R and M Flexes) and has Lamkin’s 48-gram performance grip.

9e8d9bb3e8dc6cd627aa8e269a103e70

TaylorMade’s R15 430 (left) and R15 460 at address.

The R15 430 ($429, white only) is available in lofts of 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees and comes stock with Fujikura’s Speeder 67 Evolution shaft (S and R flexes, X-flex is custom only).

Click here to learn more about the R15 Drivers, including TP versions of the clubs.

The Review

As I do with all my testing, I first started at the driving range under calm conditions. With the R15 460 (9.5 degrees), I noticed that the launch was as high if not higher than my current gamer and that the distance appeared right on track if not slightly longer. Moving up to 10.5 degrees, however, I started to see a really nice trajectory, with a subtle draw and the launch felt more effortless to me. My immediate impression is that TaylorMade had another good driver on their hands.

7edbebad3e42d238da2f3d76074beb85

To get the actual launch data, I tested the clubs during two sessions. The first was outside on Flightscope at the Nike Golf 360 Fitting Center at Bentwater Golf Club in Acworth, Ga.. The second was inside on a GC2 launch monitor at Golfsmith Xtreme in Smyrna, Ga., where they were nice enough to open up early so I could spend plenty of time testing a variety of configurations. Too keep things consistent, I tested each head with the stock Fujikura Speeder 57 Evolution shaft.

The Numbers

R15 (1)

Instead of burying the headline, the R15 460 (10.5 degrees) with the weights set to neutral performed the best for me. Not only did I hit more of my longest drives with this club, on average it was the lowest spinning (not including the R15 430) with the most consistent launch angle. A recipe for long drives that also stay close to the fairway. This was exactly what I expected.

While I’ve been playing a 9.5-degree Big Bertha Alpha (with the core down), the low and forward CG of the R15 will mean most golfers, myself included, will actually need to loft up. It isn’t just marketing, in order to truly maximize your launch conditions, increasing the loft of the club is often necessary. And not just for amateurs, this trend has been going on within the PGA Tour for quite some time as well.

a913e041867315827f1a51957e6263ec

TaylorMade’s R15 430 (right) has a noticeably larger footprint than the company’s SLDR 430 driver.

While the 10.5-degree is the best performing head for me, I also wanted to test splitting the weights from neutral to the edges to see how that affected the stability on mishits, but also on the launch conditions for shots off the sweet spot. One thing to note is that because the weight track is curved, with the apex of the curve at the lowest spot on the head, keeping the weights at neutral offers the lowest CG. Splitting the weights out to the edges actually raises the center of gravity of the club and in turn, can increase the amount of spin.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 4.56.45 PM

I tested this using the 9.5-degree head and the numbers confirmed exactly what I expected. On average, the spin increased slightly, while the launch angle decreased by 1 degree. Mishits were more consistent, with ball speeds on slight mishits staying relatively consistent, but still noticably slower than shots off the sweet spot. Positioning both weights to the heel definitely created a clear draw bias to the club and positioning both weights out toward the toe created a noticable fade bias.

00cfe1f1707b1aaf782ccf4d1f419b02

In our testing, we saw slightly more foriveness from the R15 460 than the SLDR 460.

The 9.5-degree R15 430 driver was fun to hit, but it’s not a club that most golfers will fit into. The smaller, low-spinning design is the least forgiving of all the R15 drivers. I hit some stunners with this club, but it was feast or famine. On the other end of the spectrum, I did hit some long drives with the 12-degree R15 460 driver. Overall, the numbers were not as ideal, but it is further proof that more loft just might result in hitting the ball longer than ever before.

Looks and Feel

When it comes to looks, I’ve been critical of TaylorMade in the past. But this is a performance driver and I expected an edgy, sporty design. I tested the white version, but the black model is my favorite as the design elements blend more naturally. The dark stock shafts compliment the look and the overall design is clearly and distinctively TaylorMade.

be6d451f5a76a2f41e87dbd2a89e298d

TaylorMade’s R15 460 (right) has a longer front-to-back profile than the company’s SLDR driver (left).

Behind the ball, the 460-cubic-centimeter head is big, but not bulky and sets up nicely. What I do like is that the crown is relatively clean and includes a grey “T” and alignment mark. One thing to notice about the alignment mark is that it extends further back on the crown than some other drivers on the market, and I found that helped ensure a more solid alignment at address.

I’m also a fan of the headcover, which is clearly inspired by the likes of Stitch and other custom headcover companies. But for an OEM, the departure from the standard, bulky design is welcomed and unique.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://taylormadegolf.com/R15-Driver/DW-WZ129.html#start=1″ oemtext=”Buy the R15 460 from TaylorMade” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLVEFLC/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLVEFLC&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=24ET563ARVTROLTG”]

The Takeaway

During testing I hit drives that sniffed the 300 yard mark, something that for me typically only happens with a strong Florida wind at my back. While the 10.5-degreee R15 460 performed better overall, for a small number of golfers looking for an extremely low-spinning driver in a compact design, the R15 430 might be for you. The feedback, sound, and feel are all extremely solid and this driver has earned their “R” stamp.

Players who consistently hit the ball off the sweet spot will find the R15 generates crazy low spin and extremely long distance, possibly even their longest drives ever. However, as you move away from the sweet spot, the low, forward CG makes this club less forgiving on mishits than other drivers on the market.

As I found, it’s best to keep an open mind about the loft that might be best for your game and take the time to really dial in the right shaft, weight, and loft settings.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://taylormadegolf.com/R15-430-Driver/DW-WZ132.html#start=5″ oemtext=”Buy the R15 430 from TaylorMade” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLVH2N0/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLVH2N0&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=X6O662MBNHHIMQYF”]

Related

1e51f8f098c78d196460f9705fcb8d62

Your Reaction?
  • 345
  • LEGIT90
  • WOW44
  • LOL23
  • IDHT25
  • FLOP41
  • OB17
  • SHANK91

When he is not obsessing about his golf game, Kane heads up an innovation lab responsible for driving innovative digital product development for Fortune 500 companies. He is also the co-founder of RoundShout and creator of Ranger GPS, the free iOS GPS app for the driving range. On a quest to become a scratch golfer, Kane writes about his progress (for better or worse) at kanecochran.com and contributes golf technology-focused articles on GolfWRX.com.

53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Big Joe

    Aug 15, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I am a lefty, handicap 9, fighting a draw/hook so I bought the R15. With standard settings hit it bad. Low hooks. Thought I needed to move it to -2Degree so I did and results about same. Feeling like I just wasted $300 adjusted hosel to +2deg. All the sudden, nice and straight, consistent, good trajectory. Was +2deg setting supposed to do that for me? No complaining just curious. Thanks

  2. Santi

    Jan 3, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Yes

  3. Santi

    Jan 3, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Which shaft is recommended for R15 460. 10.5
    My SS is 95-100 mph.
    1. Speeder Evolution
    2. House Of Forged Platinum
    3. G D BB blue

    Thanks
    Santi

  4. Pingback: 4 Signs You Need More Loft On Your Driver - Dan Hansen Golf Instruction

  5. Pingback: TaylorMade R15 460 Driver | Best Nail Art Photos

  6. leftrighrt

    Apr 7, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I have my best numbers with the 12 dialed back 2 degrees with the 661TS. I also take 1/2 inch off my driver and play it at 45″. I have found when the spin gets less that 2500 I don’t like the ball flight and carry distance as much.

  7. Steve

    Mar 23, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    UNREAL, not a big fan of movable weights tried neutral and split and was pleasantly surprised that in the split configuration that a miss hit gave me instant feed back but was forgiving enough that it didn’t kill to much distance and direction. Launch angle 14° spin rates 2200rpm not tm ideal figures but the best I’ve had with any other club. Going to get fitted soon!

  8. Speedy

    Mar 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Will this be TM’s last new and improved driver for a while?

  9. Jimmy O

    Feb 16, 2015 at 2:58 am

    What were the rest of the launch monitor specs? Carry distances, descent angles, total distance?

  10. TXGLF

    Feb 11, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I went and hit the R15 against all the major brands at the range yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. The sole of the club does look a bit gimmicky, but the top has the most subdued look when compared to Nike, Callaway, or Mizzuno (obviously Titleist looked the best). The sound and feel was tremendous, and the Speeder 57 X Flex performs on par with most aftermarket shafts that I’ve used. All in all, TM does put out a lot of product, but if you’re like me and only buy one every 3 years then it is a tremendous step up from my current gamer. Bash it all you want but, the launch monitor doesn’t lie. This was the best club for me.

  11. Lowell Madanes

    Feb 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

    I myself was not all too impressed with the R15 initially testing it in my local golf store. I thought there was not much really different. To me, the R15 white looked like and R11 head with 2 sliding weights. I was able to try my buddy’s R15 with the speeder 661 and was inconsistent with it. When I did get a hold of one, the ball did go along way. After a few swing, the result was in line with my sldr but the feeling did not feel as solid. I currently game the silver edition sldr and by far nothing beats the solid feel. Im not too sure if I will make the switch just yet. Who knows, I might get the itch and I will probably be gaming the R15 with my Rogue Black. That would be a great combo.

  12. Rob

    Feb 7, 2015 at 4:55 am

    I was just fitted for R15 after trying many other leading clubs and shafts. By far best fit and great performance. Sorry I’m not a fan of the club head cover- just looks ugly and cheap. Looks like packing material.

  13. MBA-J

    Jan 21, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Aesthetically, these look cheap in comparison to the SLDR series of clubs. I can’t put my finger on it, but this just doesn’t look like a premium product. As a result, I have no desire to even hit this club.

    I LOVE the SLDR, but it’s safe if this is the best TM has to offer at this point in time.

  14. JEFF

    Jan 20, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Wow, tm has a new driver out? seems like it was just a month ago they had a new revolution!!!! SUCKERS AND CHUMPS ENJOY THE HOAX…… UARANTEED TO HIT IT STRAIGHTER AND FURTHER….. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHA!

    • Keith

      Jan 20, 2015 at 11:16 am

      Your a sucker Jeff your just another person who knows little to nothing about golf equipment and just wants to bash probably one of the best companies keeping golf alive. Chances are you play another major brand that uses technology that taylormade has passed on and left to the scrap heep, I.e velocity slots, gravity cores, flip weights and adjustable hosels. Also I’d be willing to be your a terrible golfer about a 20 handicap and doesn’t find fairways or come close to 300 yard drives especially if your so loyal and true to not buying into big equipment companies new tech your probably playing Spalding metals

      • Rich

        Jan 21, 2015 at 3:26 am

        Not all of us can it 375 like you Keith……….

      • Forest Gump

        Jan 21, 2015 at 11:37 am

        Mine’s bigger than your’s!

      • Max

        Jul 22, 2015 at 3:01 pm

        I like how a 20 handicapper is considered a terrible golfer. I suppose since I’m not racing around a NASCAR loop every weekend I must be a terrible driver as well.

      • scott

        Apr 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        Sorry Keith, he’s right, but that’s Ok if you want to buy a new driver every year that’s fine with TM but not everyone needs to find that extra three yards at the cost of 500 big one’s . Still using my Callaway FTIZ ( no weights and fixed loft ) and I’ll play you for money any time. I only hit it 230 maybe I need a new driver then I can hit it 235. I’m a 11HDC just turned 60 and play with them fancy balls that I fine from them big hitter.

    • bradford

      Jan 23, 2015 at 7:19 am

      While your comment doesn’t actually deserve a response (there’s no arguing with stupidity)–I’d like to see where you saw TM claim “straighter and farther” (further doesn’t really apply here). You won’t find it, they’ve stuck to advertising specs, forgiveness, and launch conditions.

    • mikey t

      Mar 22, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Jeff must be a callaway guy!!!! They put 10/12 drivers out in the last 18 months!!!! He probably owns ALL of them!!!LMAO

  15. Jon Silverberg

    Jan 19, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    In addition to a comparison with the JetSpeed (I can infer the comparison with SLDR), I am not impressed with the configurations you show us…if you think the 12 degree version has worse numbers, show them to us…and it should be noted that TM clearly states that ideal launch conditions are 17 degrees and 1700 rpm…you don’t come close to those numbers with the columns you show us…maybe the 12 or 14 degree versions would work better?

  16. Keith

    Jan 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    People who bash golf club companies are ridiculous, hit it if you like it buy but don’t bash things just for the sake of it. Fact is most of the best players in the world play taylormade drivers and woods simply because they perform the best. I would be willing to bet everyone of you who bash have hit or owned a Taylormade R driver so cut the s**t. I tested the R15 460 and 430 hit both of them consistently over 300 with the longest at 375 on a trackman so don’t hate if you can’t hit haha

    • bradford

      Jan 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Wow, that’s a long internet drive. I’ve claimed 300 on the internet, but never 375. Kudos to you…maybe I should keep my driver and buy a Trackman–that seems to make everyone hit the ball farther.

  17. Rich

    Jan 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    The whole low forward CG thing is all about marketing. When Ping released the i15, it was pretty low spin for the time (maybe not as low spinning as these drivers now) and had a low MOI i.e. not very forgiving for most. Back then, people complained it wasn’t forgiving enough hence it wasn’t very successful. Now TMAG produce a low spinning, unforgiving driver and everyone thinks it rocks? I’m not saying it doesn’t do what the claims say, it’s just interesting how peoples perception of things change over time and it’s all driven by marketing. Back then, forgiveness and MOI were all the rage so everyone wanted more forgiveness. Now, low spin is the latest fad so we can’t get enough (or as little) of that.

  18. Enrique

    Jan 17, 2015 at 10:26 am

    The shape of the 430 is really good at address. You may or may not like white but this is the shape most better golfers prefer. Not too triangular – and doesn’t look like a rounded nub like the 815 DBD. It’s very Titleist-esque (but sounds and feels good)

  19. MRC

    Jan 17, 2015 at 9:32 am

    I like my SLDR “S” w BCG (back weighted) speeder shaft.
    12 degree….. You really want to gain some distance? Work out and “Stretch”!
    Stay fit and go long.

    • marcel

      Jan 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      exactly 😉 and squats lots of deep squats

  20. JB

    Jan 17, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Not really sure why the author thinks this club is hard to hit? By no means am I saying he’s wrong, just odd that everyone else seems to find this easier to hit vs the SLDR and R1. Interesting..

    • Kane Cochran

      Jan 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

      Hey JB – Since it has come up a couple times, wanted to clarify the point around forgiveness of these clubs. Without question, the 460 is easier to hit than the SLDR or R1 and provides more forgiveness overall. The 430 on the other hand, just by its shape and construction, isn’t going to be as easy to hit for the massess as the R15 460. My numbers for the R15 430 were better than the SLDR, even on mishits, but it is still a club that many mid to high handicap players would likely find less consistency playing than the 460. I did find that there was a wider drop in ballspeeds from off-center shots relative to other non-TM drivers on the market such as the G30, and that speaks to the low, forward CG. But it all comes down to the player and their swing. Let me know if you get a chance to hit these, I’ll be curious what you think.

      • JB

        Jan 17, 2015 at 11:47 am

        Thanks for the clarification, Kane. I actually have the R15 430. I’m not like some of these guys on here where I hit the middle of the face 95% of the time. I’m a 8 handicap with my weakness being driver. I have always found the smaller heads looked better and gave me more confidence. My miss tends to be high/low on the face with a toe side every now and then. Due to winter time, I’ve haven’t hit it much outside and quite a few times on the inside LM. Just kind of getting buyers remorse from the lack of hype this is getting. I just can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can actually get some time with this outside

      • Bob Johnson

        Jan 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm

        I disagree the 430 was just as easy to hit as the 460 and just as forgiving. Either way debating a subjective manner lol relative to each individual. Regardless I think everyone should hit everything keep an open mind and enjoy what feels and works for them regardless of stereotypes and marketing. ????

  21. Golfing

    Jan 17, 2015 at 5:18 am

    the 2 wights might give more stable settings for a wide range of golfers.

  22. Golfing

    Jan 17, 2015 at 4:32 am

    As the aesthetics go, I like it, and the cover too.

  23. Golfing

    Jan 17, 2015 at 4:21 am

    seams more user friendly than the last, its a mater of time to buy at half price *the correct one!

  24. Mike

    Jan 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I have a 460 TP with two rounds. It’s a good driver. Launches higher than the SLDR 12 degree TP I used to own. Low spin, forgiving and long. Going to switch the shaft with a 757 Speeder I have and see if it can beat the stock TP Speeder. Not sure I understand all the bashing here of TM and other companies. Play what you like, live and let live and have fun.

  25. Enrique

    Jan 16, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Go hit it – it’s a good golf club. The 430 is about as forgiving as the 460 SLDR

  26. Enrique

    Jan 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Not a TMAG fan but THIS IS A GREAT CLUB. I’ve hit it outdoors and the 430 flat out sounds great and ran circles around my Titleist 915d3 with Diamana White (D+). The sound is solid yet muted. The feel is lively and the performance echoes whatever swing I put on it.

    • Bob Johnson

      Jan 17, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      What I meant was the 915’s weren’t as long or forgiving.

  27. slider

    Jan 16, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    don’t like it

  28. other paul

    Jan 16, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Pass.

  29. Bob johnson

    Jan 16, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I hit these at the local driving range. I agree they are ugly and the club headcover looks like a cheap towel with a fancy paint job it actually wasn’t a bad club. I didn’t find the 430 hard to hit at all and I thought both versions were quite forgiving not sure why the author said what he did about harder to hit. My suggestion is to try them, get out of your comfort zone and stereotypes you might be surprised. I hit the 915’s and thought they were less forgiving and not as long, I typically think TM clubs are junk!

    • Guanto

      Jan 16, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      “My suggestion is to try them, get out of your comfort zone and stereotypes you might be surprised. I hit the 915’s and thought they were less forgiving and not as long, I typically think TM clubs are junk!”
      Okay that makes sense.

  30. Bo

    Jan 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    I never use my energy commenting on new golf clubs, but this club is so ridiculously hideous and shameful I just had to come here and bash it. I have nothing against TM, even though their clubs are par to sub par. We all know they choose style over substance and DISTANCE, but come on, this is disgustingly bad. Is there seriously golfers out there who eat up this ugly trying to be techy transformers inspired golf MACHINES? Ugly does not do this hunk of junk justice.

    • Rightsaidfred!

      Jan 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      You mad? Jealous? Yep!

    • Mikec

      Jan 18, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      How are these any uglier than the R11, RBZ, R1, RBZ Stage 2?????
      I actually find them more subdued.
      Only thing I don’t like is the white shaft on white head of the AeroBurner and having it say AEROBURNER down the visible part of the shaft.
      But I am trying it out none the less.
      I actually have begun to like color in woods more than not. White, orange (Cobra).
      Love it.
      People need to understand marketing, it’s visual, it sells, and if you don’t like it, get the black, they are offering BOTH!!! (except for the Aero).

    • Regis

      Jan 19, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Should have saved that energy. Guessing you didn’t hit it.

  31. Jack

    Jan 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I actually don’t like the headcover, because there is no protection for the shaft.

  32. HP

    Jan 16, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    No doubt, SLDR 2 should be coming mid-summer 2015.

    • ACGolfwrx

      Jan 20, 2015 at 5:04 am

      Mid-summer? Don’t you mean spring in 2 months or so? Lol

  33. John Kelly

    Jan 16, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Touche, AK! The best thing about this driver is the headcover. Where did TM get its inspiration for the design, Transformers?

  34. AK

    Jan 16, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Let the TM bashing begin…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Driver Reviews

Review: Ping’s G400 and G400 LST Drivers

Published

on

I still remember the first time I hit Ping’s G30 driver. It was July 2014, and I was at Ping’s HQ in Phoenix. Super low-spin drivers were all the rage at the time. With their forward center of gravity, they were helping golfers optimize their launch conditions beyond their wildest dreams: crazy high launch, ridiculously low spin. Many in the business, including myself, had one of these drivers and spent many launch monitor sessions trying to figure out how to get more distance from these high knuckleballs. The bad news was that forward-CG drivers, by nature, were really unforgiving. Bad shots were really short and crooked.

Before I knew the G30 was a big deal, Marty Jertson, Ping’s Director of Product Development, explained to me his vision for the perfect driver inside a conference room at Ping Headquarters. In his eyes, the perfect driver didn’t have the low, forward center of gravity (CG) that was being touted at the time. Its CG was located as low and as rearward in the driver head as possible, which he said would offer the best of both worlds: optimized launch conditions on good shots, as well as the best possible forgiveness on bad shots.

Building the perfect driver was a long way off (and still is), but Jertson was excited where Ping had landed with the G30. When it was released, the driver was a powerful testament to his vision. Its rear-CG design created great distance on good and bad shots, and it was also a very straight driver. The G30 sold incredibly well and, as a result, the industry mostly shifted away from forward-CG drivers.

It’s been nearly three years since the release of the G30, and Ping has just made another counterintuitive driver release. The company shrunk the size of its new G400 drivers in a climate where full-size drivers have become the norm. Granted, it’s only 15 cubic centimeters smaller, but it’s noticeable at address. Compared to the Ping G drivers they replace (which replaced the G30), the G400’s look like they cut carbs.

Despite their slimmer frames, however, the G400 drivers are actually more forgiving than the G drivers (which were even more forgiving than the G30). That’s why Ping representatives say smaller is actually better in the G400’s case. The drivers have the lowest, most rearward CG of any Ping drivers ever, and their smaller size is said to improve their aerodynamics so golfers can swing them fractionally faster. The other big change is a new face material made of T9S+ titanium, which is thinner and more flexible to help golfers generate more ball speed.

Ping_G400_LST_2

For this review, I wanted to put the G400 and G400 LST to the test against the G and the G LST drivers that they replace, so I took them to the Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. I hit five shots with each driver on Trackman IV, and to ensure as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible, I tested each driver head with the same shaft. Each driver head was adjusted to the same loft, or as close as possible.

Note: The G, G LST, and G400 drivers I tested were 10.5-degree heads adjusted to 9.5 degrees. The G400 LST had a loft of 10 degrees, and it was adjusted to 9.4 degrees.

The Test

PingG400_2017

In my personal driver tests, I don’t usually see a huge uptick in distance or accuracy when comparing the latest drivers to the most recent models from the same manufacturer. Improvements generally come in the form of improved head shaping, a better feel, or enhanced adjustability. That’s why I was surprised to see such a big change in my launch conditions and dispersion with the G400 drivers.

G400 Test Results: With the G400, I launched my drives an average of 1.6-degrees higher than I did with the G while dropping spin an average of 416 rpm. That led to a significant improvement in distance. With my swing speed and ball speed staying about the same, I added an average of 7.2 yards more carry distance and 8.7 yards more total distance.

G400 LST Test Results: First, a note about the G400 LST. It has a CG that’s slightly lower and more forward than the standard G400 driver to help golfers reduce spin. Like the G30 LST and G LST, it’s still very much a rear-CG driver, but its design helps high-speed golfers who can consistently find the center of the club face maximize distance without highjacking forgiveness. When I test Ping drivers, the LST is generally the model that creates the best performance, and the G400 LST was no exception. I saw an average of a 1.2-degree higher launch angle with all other things staying about the same when I compared it to the G LST. The result was an average of 6.6 yards more carry distance and 3.1 yards more total distance. It was the longest and straightest driver I hit in the test.

Note: Ping also sells a G400 SFT (Straight Flight Technology) driver, which has added draw bias. To learn more about it, click through to tech story on the G400, G400 LST and G400 SFT drivers. 

Dispersion

G400_Dispertion

One way to explain the improved launch conditions is that I hit the G400 drivers more consistently. As you can see in the Trackman dispersion chart, I hit the G400 and G400 LST drivers straighter on average than the G and G LST. Is that its slightly enhanced forgiveness shining through? Maybe, maybe not.

To me, the changes Ping made to the look and feel of the driver were just as important as the performance difference I saw on Trackman. I’ve always preferred smaller driver heads, or at least 460-cubic-centimeter drivers that appear smaller than their size. For that reason, I felt more confident with the G400 drivers in my hands. I didn’t mind that I didn’t see any added swing speed or ball speed from the smaller driver head. I was sold on the looks alone.

I also preferred the sound of the G400 drivers to the G drivers. There was definitely much more of a “thwack” than a “ping” at impact, which made the G400’s feel more powerful. Looks and feel are subjective, of course, but to me the improvement was night and day. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that my fondness for the looks and feel of the G400 was at least a contributing factor to my improved performance in the test, if not the most important factor. When I like the way a club look at address, I tend to hit it better, and I know I’m not alone.

I do want readers to keep in mind that this was a one-person test and I hit a limited amount of balls. Yes, it’s a great indication that the G400 driver can be measurably better than a G driver, but it’s not a guarantee.

I also want to address the weaknesses of the G400 drivers. While they’re few, they could push golfers into another driver model in a fitting. Unlike Callaway’s GBB EpicTaylorMade’s M1 or Titleist’s 917 drivers, the G400’s don’t have CG adjustability. That means there’s no way to fine tune ball flight outside of a shaft or loft adjustment. A bigger deal for some golfers might be the G400 crowns. Despite their smaller size, there’s still a lot to look at address, as was the case with the G drivers.

Ping_G400_LST_4

Aerodynamic features on the front of the crowns, “Turbulators,” have been thickened for the G400 release. There’s also Ping’s “DragonFly Technology,” a geometry on the back of the driver crowns that helps push CG lower and more rearward in the driver heads. I personally think the G400 crowns give the drivers an old-school, muscle car-like look, but there’s no question they won’t fly with all golfers.

Whatever your thoughts about what’s on top of the G400 drivers, there’s no question that what’s under the hood can offer something the G and G30 drivers did not. Maybe you’ll like the smaller head. Maybe you’ll prefer the quieter sound. Maybe the improved forgiveness will show up on a launch monitor or on the course. Or maybe you’ll just flat out rip a G400 farther and straighter down the middle like I did.

If that last bit happens, try not to second-guess it.

Your Reaction?
  • 527
  • LEGIT62
  • WOW34
  • LOL12
  • IDHT7
  • FLOP19
  • OB10
  • SHANK48

Continue Reading

Driver Reviews

Members Choice: The Best Driver of 2017

Published

on

What determines the best driver on the market; is it the opinion of professional club fitters, professional golfers or testing results from a group of amateurs?

At GolfWRX, we believe all three sources can lead golfers to an answer. Being a website founded by passionate golfers with a mission to serve passionate golfers, though, we place a special emphasis on the opinions of our GolfWRX Members — the most knowledgeable group of golfers on the planet. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively as GolfWRX Members. So who better to poll to get an initial indication of the best performing drivers so far in 2017?

So we asked them, “What’s the best driver of 2017?” They voted for the three drivers they felt most worthy of the title and provided feedback about their selections in our special forum thread. You can see the results below (as of the first three weeks of voting), as well as quotes we pulled from GolfWRX Members about the drivers from our forum.

Remember that our polls will remain open for voting throughout the year, and we’re going to keep an eye on the percentages as more and more golfers have an opportunity to test these drivers. We’re also working on another Best Driver list, which will evaluate clubs in another important way. Stay tuned!

Keep in mind that there’s no single driver on the market that is the absolute best option for every golfer: that’s why nearly every manufacturer makes at least two different models. As this list indicates, however, some drivers are working better than others this year. Happy Testing!

Note: Forum posts were minimally edited for grammar, style, spelling and clarity.

Cobra King LTD Black (3.00 percent of votes)

3f7f45629f386b15ed7bbbaa529e0826

  • The General: All-black LTD is really clean looking. I’m about to cover up the orange on my LTD with lead tape. Orange is played out
  • mh7vwLove my LTD, but wish the black finish (or even this gray) didn’t have that subtle checkering you see in some like. Prefer plain black.
  • dbleagI am a fan of the black/orange combo. The performance and sound of the LTD is very appealing to me. I also like that the standard length is 45 inches. For me, that helps it be super-accurate. With the low-spin design, I hit it longest of the current offerings and can’t remember the last time I missed a fairway. Straight, solid, low spin and nice.
Further Reading

Mizuno JPX-900 (3.20 percent)

Mizuno_JPX_900_Driver

  • johnnythundersJPX goes straight. Best real-deal shaft and is long and very adjustable.
  • KT35That blue head looks awesome sitting on the ground. I hit balls off the toe and heel and didn’t see the big drop off in distance like the previous models.
  • nmortonThe JPX-900 is definitely more forgiving compared to the JPX-850, and sounds much better. Though they did sacrifice a bit by going with a little larger profile, but it’s easy to get used to. The graphics are so so, but this driver performs. I’m really digging the Evo II (shaft).
  • jay65I can see that Mizuno is really making a decent effort with its drivers/fairways in terms of tech and aesthetics, and they compliment the new JPX-900 line of irons really well, but if they’re going to make any inroads they really have to address this issue of their custom shafts options. It’s rubbish.
  • bok006The JPX-900, after being properly adjusted by the fitter, gave me an extra 20 yards just like that. My swing speed suggested I was borderline S to X (flex), but the fitter said unless I was fighting a hook I should stick with the S.
  • bubbagump: …the JPX-900, when properly fit, is just as long on a consistent basis than all the new models I tried in real life situations. It looks great, sounds solid and just knows the way to keep the ball in play.  
  • ChazbI’m 69 years old, have a swing speed of 91 mph and played nine with the JPX-900 this morning. It was in the 40s with a brisk wind hit it around 220 to 230 yards. It was a fairway finder, has great feel and is one of the easiest to control drivers I have ever hit. I can’t wait ’til it is warmer and can dial it in more. So far I have the two weights all the way forward for a lower flight and the other set with a draw bias with 10.5 degrees of loft. This driver is the real deal; it may not be the longest or the shortest, but it is a fairway finder which IMO makes it a winner.
Further Reading

Ping G (3.80 percent)

7adaa1412b79ca8c7cc5a0b788f55058

  • Wesquire: Ping G is the most forgiving so it wins.
  • bopper53: Ping G hands down. Great distance and the most forgiving.
  • Dannydubbbs: The Ping G series is just too forgiving. The distance is comparable between most models, but Ping always seems to win out with forgiveness.
  • Bruin BearThe Ping G is going to be overlooked because it’s looked at as “game improvement,” but this driver is a beast. I liked the LS, but it requires a faster swing to get results and in the cold outdoors I just don’t have that all the time. I think the G is the perfect blend of performance and forgiveness.
  • cmrl1986Only reason I switched from the Ping G25 was that the G felt less harsh off the face. Same distance just about.
Further Reading

Cobra King F7+ (3.90 percent)

cec33621c8ab9450c778e79b3b280da1

  • EntourageLife: Ball really flies off face. Driver head controls spin well. Not one drive “ballooned” and trajectory was high and best of all… very easy to work ball right to left for a confident draw.
  • GollieThe F7+ is another great offering from Cobra… I didn’t get the “MAN, this is gonna take my LTD out of the bag” feeling, but it has very good sound, feel and performance.
  • J13F7+ is a great offering from Cobra and IMO is in the top-3 drivers this year. Epic is the standout for me numbers wise, then M series and F7+ are right behind it. Love the Agera (shaft) in there!!! Such a great shaft; I can’t seem to get mine out of the bag.
  • Golfer from MOHit both Cobras lefty and as a lefty the LTD is the shizzle. Last year it was the LTD and Big Bertha down to the absolute wire… the F7+ is more workable than the LTD, but not longer and a little worse on mishits.
  • BoognishI took a few swings with the F7+ at Golf Galaxy yesterday. 9.5 degrees with heaviest weight forward. The stock shaft is actually the same model I play in my GBB (albeit in smoked black instead of yellow). Ball flight and distance were similar to my GBB with good consistent sub-3000 backspin. Sound was OK, feel was harder than the GBB.
  • thechief16Just from the range (no LM), I didn’t see a noticeable performance improvement with the F7+ over the original King LTD. And I like the look and sound/feel of the LTD better.
Further Reading

Ping G LS Tec (4.90 percent)

463210496f8e1487a5ff2fdcf38109a1

  • drvrwdgeI played the G LS with the Ping Tour 65X (shaft) tipped an inch for about a year. Just put the HZRDUS Yellow 75 6.5 tipped an inch and never thought it was possible, but it’s longer and straighter. Best driver shaft combo I’ve ever hit. You can feel that HZRDUS throughout the entire swing. Really gives you a solid connected feel.
  • Mtngolfer1: I am not sure that I would consider this a 2017 Driver, but my vote went to the Ping G LS Tec. The fact that my G is still holding its own against the latest 2017 releases has me very excited to see what Ping will release later this year.
  • 3woodvt: Fairway finder and plenty long.
  • pitchinwedgeI’ve found the LS to be nearly as fade biased as the M family. I get pretty good results with the LS by making a conscious effort to make more of an in-to-out swing. Any lapse in concentration and everything goes right. The M’s require even more effort, which is the reason I stayed with the LS instead.
  • 3 Jack ParAfter an up and down year with the G LS, I’ve actually recently gone back to my G30 LS head. I only have a couple of rounds as a sample so far, so I can’t really draw a conclusion about whether one or the other is better, but with the same shaft it seems like my G30 head might be a little longer. Honestly, the performance differences are pretty minimal if you really compare the two generations.
Further Reading

Titleist 917D3 (5.30 percent)

f5830abf21efeb00cab7cbe4329a9972

  • GavaThe 917D3 is in my bag now, and I’ve found it incredibly long with a recently purchased Graphite Design Tour AD MJ 7TX shaft. Feel and accuracy has been a real improvement as well.
  • Togatown22I find my 917D3 to be just as forgiving as my 915D2 was, and man do I prefer looking down at the head shape and color versus the 915. Very confidence inspiring.
  • NIxhex524I would definitely give the D3 a whirl. I feel like Titleist has made great strides at making the smaller head way more hittable for us ams.
  • KPH808So in conclusion, I was hitting the ball about 9 yards further on average and 3-4 mph faster ball speeds with the 917D3 vs. the 915 D4. The biggest thing for me was the forgiveness between the two; the 917D3 was more forgiving on mishits.
  • brushieThe 917D3 head feels soft like the 910 and sounds great. I never had an issue with the 915 sound; it wasn’t great, but it didn’t bother me too much. This is much better, though. The 917D3 head shape is perfect to my eye as well. The area where the 917 shines is forgiveness. 

Further Reading

TaylorMade M1 440 (5.35 percent)

TaylorMade_M1_440_Feat

  • Tigermatt31: The M1 440 is best driver I’ve had ever.
  • TollBros: The M1 440 is definitely lower spin than the M1 460 or M2 from last year. Launch angle isn’t really any lower, but spin is lower for sure.
  • specimania: This year’s 440 is more forgiving.
  • MCozYes, this 440 is more forgiving, and yet it also appears to be more workable than both of the previous M1 and M2s.
  • nitramTo save you a bunch of reading and crunching numbers, I quickly concluded there was a little more forgiveness and exactly +0.4 mph ball speed with the 440. By forgiveness I simply mean this: A 1.48 smash 440 will give you the same ball speed and distance as a 1.49/1.50 430. But if you get a 1.50 from both there is no measurable gain. Side-to-side dispersion was better by 4.7 feet with the 440. Workability was a wash between them, although the 430 seems a bit more fade biased whereas I’ll describe the 440 as a scosche more neutral.
  • tj24: I hit the M1 440 with my Aldila RIP at an 80-gram X-flex. For me, the spin numbers were around 1700 rpm which is probably to low for my swing. I did, however, like the shape of the head and I felt like I could easily work the ball both ways.
  • halfsumoI really think they nailed it with the shape of this 440 head. Nice pear shape, no weird bulges or ridges that you have to get used to.
Further Reading

Titleist 917D2 (6.65 percent)

4edf1bce10b81caa57e8ccc4079bd3fd

  • tsletten: Love the sound of the 917D2.
  • bladehunter: No doubt the 917D2 is an accurate, forgiving driver that doesn’t look as big as it is and sounds fantastic.
  • JStangMaybe it’s just me, but I find the face to be more shallow (top to bottom) with the 917D2 than other drivers that I’ve tried lately.
  • LuckyLowbrowI was actually spinning it too low with the D4. Going up to the D2 normalized my spin rate, but led to such an improvement in consistency across the face.

Further Reading

TaylorMade M1 460 2017 (11.81 percent)

TaylorMade_M1_460-Feat

  • Ereim: I ended up going with the M1 460. It gave me a slightly tighter dispersion, and I liked looking down at it slightly more.
  • jdenham15: The 2017 TaylorMade M1 is a great driver, but I tend to miss wide right and struggled to turn it over.
  • ZBigStick: The M1 460 gave me the best results. Was able to increase launch without much added spin with the (T-Track) weight. Feel is good and felt forgiving; dispersion results backing that up.
  • BillMurrayGolfingThe face is hot, receptive, thin and makes a nice sound. I like that.
  • JStangSound and feel were both fantastic. I couldn’t ask for much more in the sound and feel department than what this club offers. Plenty of feedback was provided based on impact as I would expect. I could easily tell where I missed based on feel.
  • tnordJust as another tester found, moving the weight back and forward absolutely does impact how the club sounds. I’m much more a fan of the weight back.
  • chickenpotpieMoving the slider to the draw position made the feel of the driver a little harsher. Feel was much much smoother with that weight in the middle. I didn’t see any such changes with the front/rear slider.
Further Reading

TaylorMade M2 2017 (11.86 percent)

M2_Speed_Pocket

  • ZBigStickI liked the feel of the new M2 but seemed to get better results and numbers with the new M1. Could be the extra 5 grams of head weight?
    It was dynamite with the GD TP-6 (shaft)!
  • erock9174On Trackman it didn’t put up the most ball speed, but counting all shots the M2 had the longest average distance.
  • gripandripThe M2 seems to have a little bit of a fade bias for me. And the head is HUGE. Maybe it’s a mental thing to be able to turnover a head that large.
  • Bomber_11M2 has very big shoes to fill, as the 2016 M2 was arguably one of the best drivers of the last 3-4 years.
  • LONG&STR8It’s hard to ignore the sound of the new M2. That may be TaylorMade’s biggest fail with that driver, as the sound and feel was one of the best things about the first version that I’ll have in the bag until something better comes along.
  • Z1ggy16The new M2 was terrible for me, not sure why. Unsure if it was the shaft I used but it spun up like a monster and ball speeds weren’t any better than previous M2.
  • Peanut191I don’t really think that the new M2 was much of a step backward, probably more that it doesn’t seem like a big step forward compared to last year’s model. I was hitting my 2016 M2 against a 2017 M2 indoors (which usually amplifies the louder, more obnoxious sound) and I didn’t notice that much of a difference in sound. It could have been that I might have just happened to get a hold of a head that was more muted than normal with the new one, but I just didn’t notice much difference. Performance wise, I could tell that the 2017 was slightly more forgiving than the 2016 model, but I was basically getting the same ball speed and spin numbers, so I didn’t see the need to upgrade.
  • gioguy21: Played 54 holes this weekend. The M2 was as reliable as it could get. I hit 11/12 fairways Friday, 10/12 Saturday and 5/9 or so yesterday (windy). Controllable, just wants to go straight. The sound no longer bothers me. I think it’s when hitting indoors or in range bays that it gets unbearably loud. Makes a different sound when hit on the screws I’ve found, similar to last years M2/M1 with less high-pitched ring. The forgiveness is very obvious, as I hit a couple that were close to center of the face but either high or little out toward the toe that flew similar trajectory and distance to how a well struck shot would react. I think where this driver really shines is the ability to either tee it high and hit it with higher trajectory or the ability to hit it lower with a low tee (3/4 of the ball under the crown) and hit laser beams that don’t move left or right.
  • G-BoneFrom what I’ve seen on Trackman, 2017 M1 was a big jump from 2016; however, 2016 M2 was so good, 2017 is a minor jump.
Further Reading

Callaway GBB Epic (14.91 percent)

GBB_Epic_Hero

  • HDTVMAN: I hit both the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion and Epic with a 44.5-inch UST Recoil F3 shaft and the results were very close. From customer testing, it appears the Epic is longer for those with higher (95+) swing speeds. I have also seen that 44.25-44.5-inch lengths promote tighter dispersion with customers, no loss of distance and better over-all drives.
  • mbbrewer: Tried them all and for me Epic was the one. Fastest ball speed, lowest spin and tightest dispersion.
  • Ereim: Epic felt great, looked great and the numbers were basically 99.9 percent optimized for my swing.
  • johnnylongballz72There is Epic and there is the M series… then there is everyone else. The votes here show it, the PGA Tour use shows it and launch monitors everywhere show it.
  • misplacedtexan83: GBB Epic/Sub Zero pushed the envelop in design and materials to produce increased ball speed and gains. For once a driver did what a company said it would do.
Further Reading

Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero (16.91 percent)

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Hero

  • jdenham15: I tested the Epic Sub Zero and Epic against my 2016 TaylorMade M1 and the ball speed was 5 mph higher on average, which gave me about 10 yards more carry disstance. That was great, but the part that sold me was the forgiveness. I love my Epic Sub Zero. I feel like it’s easier to turn over and I can work it both ways.
  • Z1ggy16Sub Zero was hands down the best, including my gaming M1 (yeah, not even top-3) due to the combination of lower spin, good forgiveness and feel and looks.
  • jimhaire: I had a 2016 M2 and went with the Epic Sub Zero. The look at address suited my eye and the feel off the face was better for me. And the club went straight.
  • Sef: I have tested a lot of these drivers and for me the Epic Sub Zero was so much better than everything else. I wish I could just apply all three votes to it.
Further Reading

Members Choice 2017

Your Reaction?
  • 587
  • LEGIT81
  • WOW33
  • LOL29
  • IDHT14
  • FLOP36
  • OB28
  • SHANK229

Continue Reading

Driver Reviews

GolfWRX Members Gain 7 Yards on Average with 2017 TaylorMade M1, M2 Drivers

Published

on

5 GolfWRX Members
Gamer vs. 2017 TaylorMade m1/m2 Drivers
+7.01 Yards Distance Gained on Average
-615 RPM Spin reduction on Average

What can the new 2017 TaylorMade M1 and M2 drivers do for your game?

Five GolfWRX Members found out last week when they pitted their drivers against TaylorMade’s latest models at The Kingdom, the custom-fitting facility at TaylorMade’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.

The event was the first of #TaylorMadeTuesdays, a series of TaylorMade-sponsored events that are exclusive to GolfWRX Members. The five members received Trackman 4 fittings for their drivers, which were built immediately afterward so that they could test the clubs the next day at Aviara Golf Club, home course of the LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic.

12_things_TaylorMade_2017_M1_M2_drivers-1021x580

Our editorial team was present to observe and document the fittings, where they saw the five GolfWRX Members add an average of +7.01 yards to their drives with a new TaylorMade driver. Key to the success of TaylorMade’s 2017 M1 and M2 drivers was their ability to remove excess spin from the drives of each GolfWRX Member (-615 rpm on average). As a result, each player was hitting longer drives on their best shots, while achieving a straighter ball flight that was less affected by wind.

Every GolfWRX Member gained yardage with a new TaylorMade driver; the largest distance gain was an impressive +10.1 yards, while the smallest was a very respectable +4.8 yards.

TMDrivers2017_groupshort

Our testers were better players, but they covered a range of handicaps (+1 to 7.1) and swing speeds (95 to 117.5 mph) within the better-player category. Learn more about the five GolfWRX Members, their new drivers and their experiences in our individual recaps below.

Andrew Harveson (drewtaylor21)

Andrew_WRX_Aviara-4864

  • Distance Gained: 4.8 yards
  • Handicap: +1
  • Swing Speed: 117.5 mph

New Driver: M2 D-Type (9.5 degrees, set to 9 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Prototype PT6F5 (65X)

Old Driver: TaylorMade SLDR (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya ProForce VTS 6X Silver

Andrew Harveson brought a TaylorMade SLDR (10.5 degrees) driver with him to his fitting, which was already optimized for his game. He fits into a group of golfers who are often hard pressed to see distance gains from new clubs. The former college golfer, now 34, has an ability to consistently contact drives in the center of the club face. He also has an upward angle of attack with his driver (+3 degrees on average) that helps him maximize the distance of his drives.

Nonetheless, TaylorMade’s fitters helped Andrew find an average of +4.8 yards with a new TaylorMade driver, but it took some experimentation and outside-the-box thinking.

TMDrivers2017_andrew

Andrew’s SLDR driver was set to a neutral loft and lie setting, but to combat his tendency to hit shots that slid to the right his SLDR’s front weight track was shifted to the max draw setting. According to TaylorMade fitter Jason Werner, the SLDR is a more draw-biased driver company’s current M1 460, M1 440 and M2 models. After seeing the ball fade too much with those drivers, Jason had Andrew try the company’s M2 D-Type driver (9.5 degrees), which is designed with more draw bias to help golfers eliminate excessive left-to-right curvature.

Andrew’s Dispersion Chart

Andrew_Harveson_Dispersion

Andrew achieved slightly more left bias with the 2017 M2 D-Type, which was what he wanted for his tee game.

The M2 D-Type gave Andrew the confidence to play his preferred cut shot off the tee without fear that it would drift into the right rough. Actually, it created a bit too much draw bias for him, which is why the loft setting was lowered 1-click to 9 degrees. The change helped him lower his spin rate -553 rpm on average, while also opening the club face slightly to take the left side out of play.

“While the averages don’t really look better with the D-Type compared to SLDR, I had a few mishits in the D-Type grouping that, if removed, would have shown a more accurate picture of the results,” Andrew wrote in the forums.

The last piece of the puzzle for Andrew’s fitting was finding the correct shaft. He tried several low-launching shafts that proved to have too little torque for his swing, exacerbating his rightward miss. He ended up seeing the best performance from his gamer shaft, UST Mamiya’s ProForce VTS Silver 6X, which has a mid-torque design. TaylorMade’s Tour Department also provided him with a similar alternative that they thought he might like, UST’s Elements Prototype PT6F5 (65X), which proved to be a winner on the course the next day.

“[TaylorMade] gave me the newer [better] UST Elements Chrome Platinum Prototype PT6F5!” he wrote. “Supposed to be a very similar profile to the [Aldila] Rogue [Silver] 125. I was a bit anxious to see if it would hold up as the right fit, but after just a couple swings on the range at Aviara, I was convinced! It’s a bomber.”

With the M2 D-Type, Andrew’s good shots got better. His peak ball speed went from 175 mph with his SLDR to 178 with the M2 D-Type, enhancing his distance potential. He was also seeing a lower ball height from the new driver — his peak height was reduced from 135 feet to 122 feet — that he “really liked.”

“It was a bit amusing though, everyone at [TaylorMade] seemed shocked that I got put into the D-Type,” he wrote.

You wouldn’t expect the fastest swinger and most accomplished player in the group to be a fit for TaylorMade’s most draw-biased driver, as the model is generally reserved for slower swingers. As a traveling +1 handicap, however, Andrew’s needs were very specific and met perfectly by the 2017 M2 D-Type.

In Their Own Words: See what Andrew said about his experience

Brian Ussery (BCULAW)

Brian_WRX_Aviara-4252

  • Distance Gained: 5.5 yards
  • Handicap: 6
  • Swing Speed: 106 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 6X

Old Driver: Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Black 60S

Brian Ussery arrived at The Kingdom with a Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees) driver that he knew wasn’t right for him. The 43-year-old was aware of the fact that his low-launching, high-spinning drives were costing him distance, but he wasn’t sure how to improve.

As it goes in a lot of fittings, Brian didn’t swing as well as he wanted to at The Kingdom, but his outlook on the game of golf allowed the fitting to be a success. “Golf is my therapy and my chance to find peace, quiet, time away and fun,” he wrote in the forum. Spending time with the former minor league baseball player who’s now a lawyer, his commitment to improving his game was immediately apparent. On this day, getting better required patience with his swing and an open mind to the recommendations of his fitters. He was up to the task, and in the end he was rewarded with a new solution for his tee game.

TMDrivers2017_brian

The TaylorMade fitters started Brian with an M2 D-Type (9.5 degrees) driver, but he struggled to hit it high enough to be effective. He found much more success with an M1 460 that had more loft (10.5 degrees). Excessive spin was still an issue, however, especially with the added loft, but the M1 460 had a solution. By sliding the driver’s Back Track weight all the way to the front of the driver, he achieved a lower-spinning trajectory that not only allowed him to hit straighter drives but achieve more roll-out, too. It helped negate his negative angle of attack of -4.5 degrees, which was the main culprit for his low-launching, high-spinning trajectory.

It was at this point in the fitting that Brian had to make a decision. Did he want to continue to chase more distance or did he want a driver that would help him hit more fairways? With his busy work and family schedule, he’s only able to play nine holes of golf per week. That made the choice obvious; he was going to target consistency.

The TaylorMade fitters recommended Brian try a shorter driver. His 915D2 measured 45.25 inches on TaylorMade’s ruler, and he was advised to try a driver that measured 44.75 inches. With the shorter driver his consistency was immediately improved, and it was time to dial in the right shaft.

Brian’s Dispersion Chart

Brian_Ussery_Dispersion

Brian hit most of his shots with Fujikura’s Pro Tour Spec 73X shaft, which produced good results, but in the end he made the decision to go with Graphite Design’s Tour AD-DI 6X. It provided the stiffness he needed for straighter drives, but offered a smoother feel (Note: since Brian hit limited shots with the AD-DI 6X, the data displayed in the chart above shows his performance with the Fujikura shaft). His fitter, Jason Werner, supported his shaft decision. And as Brian put it: “Based on my on-course play … it would seem he is pretty spot on.”

With the M1 460, Brian saw an additional 5.5 yards of total distance over his gamer, but more important to him was the increased accuracy. Even at a higher loft, he was able to reduce his spin rate an average of -744 rpm. So now when his drives hit the fairway, they will keep rolling. And Brian expects to be hitting a lot more fairways.

In Their Own Words: See what Brian said about his experience

Chris Scheeweiss (Schnee)

Chris_WRX_Aviara-4802

  • Distance Gained: 10.1 yards
  • Handicap: 3
  • Swing Speed: 112 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (8.5 degrees, set to 10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex)

Old Driver: TaylorMade SLDR (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Blue 75TX

Chris Scheeweiss was the biggest gainer of the five GolfWRX Members, finding +10.1 yards on average when compared to the TaylorMade SLDR (10.5 degrees) driver he brought with him to the Kingdom.

Key to Chris’ success, a 3-handicap with ample club head speed (112 mph), was reducing the spin caused by his big miss, which was high and to the right. While that isn’t Chris’ typical miss, it’s what showed up at the Kingdom. TaylorMade’s M1 460 proved that he could handle that miss, as well as any other miss he might encounter on his journey to improve his game thanks to its wide-ranging adjustability features.

TMDrivers2017_chris

During the fitting, the M1 460 scrubbed -627 rpm of spin off Chris’ drives. To do so, TaylorMade Fitter Jason Werner gave Chris a 8.5-degree M1 460, but he increased the loft of the driver to 10.5 degrees, maximizing the full range of TaylorMade’s 4-degree Loft Sleeve. Adding two degrees of loft closed the club face, which helped eliminate Chris’ slice spin.

Jason made the adjustment without telling Chris, however, and he was glad when Chris said he didn’t notice the change at address.

The reason Chris didn’t notice the more closed club face? The crowns of TaylorMade’s 2017 drivers are engineered to look as square as possible at address regardless of what setting is used due to their cleverly designed black-and-white graphics. Chris had recently been fit at a local club fitter for a 2017 M2 driver (10.5 degrees), but this setup was “much better than the combo I was previously fit for,” Chris wrote in the forum.

Finding the right shaft was a faster process that Chris expected. Project X’s HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex) offered him the lower trajectory and added stability he needed to hit his best drives.

Chris’ Dispersion Chart

Chris_Scheeweiss_Dispersion

“Jason … didn’t think we had to go much further,” Chris wrote in the forum. “I wasn’t completely sold on the combo, but I deferred to his knowledge. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the combo itself, it’s that I wasn’t hitting ANYTHING all that well, so I didn’t know how it would perform on course when my swing was better. I’m glad I trusted him, because it was AMAZING on course.”

As Chris works to eliminate the right tendency in his swing, Jason recommended that he try lowering the loft of the driver, which will open to face to reduce left bias. They agreed that at some point in the future Chris may be able to return to the 8.5-degree loft setting, which could net him even more distance. And if he needs more spin to optimize his launch conditions at that point, he can gradually slide the Back Track’s weight rearward to achieve it.

In Their Own Words: See what Chris said about his experience

Darrin Sloan (DNice26)

Darren_WRX_Aviara-4675

  • Distance Gained: 7.1 yards
  • Handicap: 1
  • Swing Speed: 110 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M2 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 65 (6.0 flex)

Old Driver: Ping G (10.5)
Shaft: UST Mamiya ProForce AvixCore 69 Red (Tour-S flex)

Darrin Sloan, 36, knew exactly what he wanted from a new driver. He arrived at his fitting with a Ping G (10.5 degrees) that was giving him the height he wanted, but he was looking for a straighter ball flight.

The 1-handicap, former college golfer started his fitting with a TaylorMade M2 (10.5 degrees) with a Project X HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex), a combo that significantly lowered his launch angle and spin rate. While it was giving him more distance, the ball flight was too low for his needs despite his 110 mph swing speed and average angle of attack of +2 degrees.

TMDrivers2017_darrin

Darrin told TaylorMade Fitter Jason Werner he needed a higher ball flight to cut the corners of the doglegs at his home course, where he plays 95 percent of his golf. So the two starting experimenting with different heads and different shafts in search of a more familiar trajectory, as well as more distance.

He actually preferred liked the look and the feel of TaylorMade’s M1 460 driver, but there was no denying the performance of the M2. It offered him nearly +4 mph of ball speed on average over his gamer, an incredible improvement.

Once the M2 (10.5 degrees) was linked up with a Project X HZRDUS Yellow 65 (6.0 flex) shaft, it was clear Darrin had a winner. The counter-balanced shaft helped him launch his drives higher, giving him the trajectory he needed to tackle his home course. It also helped him eliminate his miss to the right and easily execute his preferred right-to-left ball flight.

In terms of distance, Darrin was also able to sightly increase his carry distance (+0.6 yards) while significantly increasing his roll out (+6.5 yards). His total yardage gain with the new driver was +7.1 yards.

Darren’s Dispersion Chart

Darren_Sloan_Dispersion

The takeaway for GolfWRXers is that TaylorMade’s new M2 driver can offer more ball speed than the company’s M1 driver for certain players. And if you’re struggling with either a ball flight that’s too low or a rightward miss, a counter-balanced shaft like Project X’s HZRDUS Yellow can help.

In Their Own Words: See what Darrin said about his experience

George Cellette (GC70)

George_WRX_Aviara-4360

  • Distance Gained: 7.6 yards
  • Handicap: 7.1
  • Swing Speed: 95 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-BB 6S

Old Driver: Callaway XR (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujkura Speeder Evolution 565 (S-Flex)

Like a diesel engine, George needed some time to warm up during his fitting. But once he did, he began pounding drives down the left center of The Kingdom’s range.

At first, it looked as though George might post a ridiculous distance gain with a TaylorMade M1 460. He increased his distance more than 30 yards over the Callaway XR ’16 he hit at the beginning of the fitting. As he and TaylorMade Fitter Jason Werner dialed in the loft, shaft and CG setting, however, Jason noticed that George’s swing speed had jumped nearly 10 mph from 85 mph to 95 mph since he first started hitting balls. He asked George to retest his Callaway to make sure that the final data would reflect a fair comparison of his old and new drivers.

TMDrivers2017_george

The result was a smaller average distance gain with his new TaylorMade, but still an impressive one.

George first tested TaylorMade’s M1 460 with 8.5 degrees of loft, but because George was fighting a slice he closed the face to 10.5 degrees to create a left bias. As George loosened up, however, his slice turned into a gentle fade. For that reason, he switched George from the 8.5-degree head to a 9.5-degree head in a neutral setting.

While George’s warmed-up swing was the biggest contributor to the improved trajectory, a new shaft and weight setting also helped. At first Jason gave George a Project X HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex) shaft, a low-launch shaft with ample stability to help him reduce spin. It would have been a good combo, but George wanted to test a few more shafts to see if there was more distance available to him. The winning shaft ended up being Graphite Design’s Tour AD-BB 6S, which gave George an even lower-spinning trajectory.

The adjustable weight settings of the M1 460 further optimized George’s ball flight. Since he already had enough height on his drives, Jason was able to slide the M1 460’s Back Track weight all the way forward to decrease spin. He also slid the driver’s Front Track weight all the way to the heel to maximize draw bias. The two changes had George hitting high-launching, low-spinning bombs that barely had any curvature.

George’s Dispersion Chart

George_Cellette_Dispersion

When all was said and done, George was able to scrub an incredible -908 rpm of spin off his drives. And along with his straighter trajectory, he walked away with +7.6 yards of added distance.

In Their Own Words: See what George said about his experience

Your Reaction?
  • 115
  • LEGIT20
  • WOW12
  • LOL8
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP6
  • OB5
  • SHANK161

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending