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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Buy the R15 460 from TaylorMadeBuy Now on Amazon

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.

Buy the R15 430 from TaylorMadeBuy Now on Amazon

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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

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  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

    • 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

      • 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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

    • 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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)

  13. 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..

    • 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.

      • 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

      • 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. ????

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

    • “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.

  17. 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.

    • 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).

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