Pros: The R15 is a low-spinning, highly adjustable fairway wood that offers faster ball speeds and more forgiveness than TaylorMade’s SLDR fairway woods. The AeroBurner offers freakishly fast ball speeds and more forgiveness. It’s one of 2015’s top fairway woods.

Cons: The R15 fairway woods are not as forgiving as other models on the market. AeroBurner offers no adjustability.

Who’s it for? The R15 is aimed at better players looking for maximum adjustability with a low-and-forward center of gravity in a classic shape. The AeroBurner is aimed at any golfer looking for more ball speed and forgiveness.

Overview

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R15 Fairway Woods

TaylorMade introduced something new with the R15; its first sliding weight track on a fairway wood. The 25-gram weight can be positioned closer to the heel for more draw bias and more toward the toe for more fade bias.

In addition to providing the ability to fine-tune the CG and bias, TaylorMade engineers also claim the weight track acts similar to a Speed Pocket, allowing for the face to flex more for a higher launch, less spin and more ball speed — even on mishits.

The R15 fairway woods ($279) share the same 4-degree Loft Sleeve as the R15 driver and come in lofts of 15, 16.5, 19 and 20.5 degrees. They come stock with Fujikura’s Speeder 67 Evolution shaft (X, S, R and M Flexes) and a TP version ($349) with Fujikura’s Speeder 757 Evolution Tour Spec shaft is also available.

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AeroBurner Fairway Woods

The AeroBurner brings back TaylorMade’s Burner name in a big way by offering golfers a lighter, faster and more forgiving fairway wood. While the AeroBurner is not adjustable, TaylorMade did leverage the Speed Pocket and Thru-Slot technology to create a sweet spot that it claims is twice as large as other TaylorMade fairway woods. I can attest to this being true, as you’ll see below in the review.

The crown is raised and a fin-like hosel create a more aerodynamic head which makes the AeroBurner the fastest fairway woods in TaylorMade’s 2015 lineup. Like the R15, the AeroBurner also has a low, forward CG that helps keep spin low and gets the ball launching higher.

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The AeroBurner fairway woods ($229) are offered in 3 (15 degrees), 3HL (16.5 degrees), 5 (18 degrees), 5HL (21 degrees) and 7 (23 degrees) and come stock with either Matrix’s Speed RUL-Z 60 (S, R and M flexes, X-flex is custom only) or Matrix’s Speed RUL-Z 50 (L-Flex) that both measure 43.25 inches.

A TP version of the AeroBurner fairway woods ($299) can accommodate TP shaft selections and has lie angles that are 2 degrees flatter and face angles that are 1 degree more opened.

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The Review

I got straight to the range as soon as the clubs arrived. I was eager to see how the two fairway woods, with very different characteristics, would perform. It wasn’t a perfectly calm day, but close enough. I noticed right away the launch and peak height of both clubs seemed higher than my current gamer, the X2 Hot Pro. I felt like I was working a little harder with the R15 than with the AeroBurner to produce the same results and consistency. The AeroBurner appeared to be flying a little farther and was definitely more consistent than the R15 15-degree with the weight set to neutral.

My initial impression, unlike when comparing the R15 and AeroBurner drivers, is that the AeroBurner would actually produce the better numbers and find a place in my bag.

The Numbers

R15 and AeroBurner Numbers

I was only 10 minutes into my testing session on a launch monitor when I realized the AeroBurner fairway wood was outperforming the R15, SLDR and JetSpeed drivers, almost across the board. The numbers above are the averages, taking into account center hits as well as slight mishits, to get an overall picture of how each club performs. I rotated through each club numerous times to reduce the effect fatigue would play on the numbers.

The AeroBurner generated more clubhead speed, more spin and more distance than any of the other fairway woods. Ball speeds on mishits remained much closer to the average than with the R15 set to neutral. To test the claim of the sweet spot being larger on the AeroBurner, I sprayed the face and checked the impact mark after each shot and compared the numbers. What looked like almost a quarter of a ball on any side of the sweet spot still produced shots that on the course would look and feel flushed with ball speeds losing only 1-to-2 mph, but carry and total distance staying within about 2-to-3 yards of truly centered shots.

The AeroBurner is likely one of the best fairway woods of the year, but I don’t want to take anything away from the R15, which also outperformed the SLDR and JetSpeed fairway woods.

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The R15 generated more ball speed and 2-to-4 more yards of carry than JetSpeed and SLDR. With the weight set to neutral, I reduced reduced spin with the R15 by more than 500 rpm over the AeroBurner. The ability to tune the trajectory bias is nice and makes it easier to reduce the effects of a slice or hook, something that many golfers will appreciate in a fairway wood.

For more refined players, the 25-gram weight allows golfers to choose the face angle they want (remember, reducing loft with an adjustable club head opens the face, adding loft with an adjustable club head closes the face) without adding more draw or fade bias to the club.

I also tested the R15 and AeroBurner 5 woods. Depending on the makeup of your set and your personal preference, a 5 wood may or may not be necessary so I won’t spend much time discussing the results. But I will say that the AeroBurner once again, outperformed the R15 in ball speed, launch and total distance. In fact, I might be rethinking whether a 5 wood has a place in my bag after testing the AeroBurner.

Based on the numbers from the test, the 15-degree AeroBurner fairway wood should go into the bag. However, I want to note that both the 15-degree and the high launch 16.5-degree AeroBurner performed very well for me, with the 16.5-degree producing a higher launch, slightly less spin (probably not typical) and very similar distance. The higher launch and nice peak height is very appealing, especially when going for a par-5 in two and trying to hold the green.

Looks and Feel

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An R15 5 wood at address

I expected the R15 to look noticeably more compact at address, something better players tend to prefer, but surprisingly, both clubs have a relatively compact footprint. Not small, but not bulky. Without question the R15 feels heavier and more mallet-like. It reminds me a little of the X2 Hot Pro that I’ve had in the bag for a year — a feeling that if you connect right on the center, the ball will fly for days. Contact is solid with plenty of feedback. The look of the R15 at address is more serious, cleaner and simple. No distractions.

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An AeroBurner 3 wood at address

By contrast, the AeroBurner is definitely lighter, which translates into a feeling that you’ll generate more speed without more effort. The raised crown and fin-like hosel stand out at address, but not in a distracting way.

Similar to the driver, I like the longer alignment mark on the crown from front to back and believe it will help golfers with their setup at address. Unlike the R15, shots off the center seem to pop and get airborne much quicker and with a louder sound. The feeling is less firm, more smooth and distributed across the face, but still with nice feedback on mishits.

The Takeaway

The R15 might be TaylorMade’s flagship line for 2015, but the AeroBurner is a beast of a fairway wood. With more speed and a larger, more forgiving face, the AeroBurner shouldn’t be overlooked during testing — especially considering the AeroBurner TP option, which will better suit the needs of lower-handicap golfers.

If you like traditional-looking fairway woods or are a tinkerer (or both), the R15 will prove nearly irresistible with its low-spin performance, clean, tour-inspired looks and multiple adjustability options that can give golfers the exact face angle and trajectory bias they prefer.

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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.

22 COMMENTS

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  1. Spot on with comparison. I have an 85mph swing and I need to work hard on the R15 fairway to make it work. The Aeroburner 3HL (16.5 degrees) consistently out drove the R15 by 10 to 15yds. Aeroburner consistently drove 220 to 225 yrds and was very very forgiving. My R15 Driver (12 degrees) travels only 240yrds at best, which is not that often. On very tight courses I tee off with the 3 HL Aeroburner.

  2. How does the AeroBurner compare to the RocketBallz Stage 2 Tour fairway wood (7 hdcp)? I currently use a Stage 2 Tour 5 wood set to the lowest setting (17 degrees) for my driving fairway wood and occasional attempts to go for par 5s. I’m thinking about going with a 3HL AeroBurner but I’m not sure if it’s really going to help out. Are these clubs different enough to justify spending $230+?

  3. “Pros: The R15 is a low-spinning, highly adjustable fairway wood that offers faster ball speeds and more forgiveness than TaylorMade’s SLDR fairway woods. The AeroBurner offers freakishly fast ball speeds and more forgiveness. It’s one of 2015’s top fairway woods.”

    Where does this crap come from?? Are you being blatantly paid by equipment manufacturers to write bogus reviews? What is your measure for this?? Is there any, or are you just regurgitating the latest marketing hype?

    I’m all for new equipment being better…but this faster ball speed crap is not true…we would all be hitting the ball yards farther if every ears marketing hype was truthful. Sites like this one who publish this propaganda are just as culpable in the hosing of golf consumers….

    Why not just say the truth…new club colors, internal weighting moved 1/10000 of an inch lower…and everyone…not even tour players will notice a difference between this and the last iteration

  4. Kane thanks for this review. I checked the specs on the TM site for the AeroBurner, specifically the lie angels… WOW – 60 seems very upright for the none TP version and 58 for the TP version? Yikes! This sounds like a pull hook waiting to happen. Thinking I will stick with my X Hot Pro 3 Deep at a 55 degree lie angle for now. During your testing, do you experience any snap hooks?

    • I’ve hit some left with the AeroBurner, but not snap hooks. Just overcooked a few during testing. The 3 Deep is a good club for sure and sounds like it is working for you. If you end up testing the AeroBurner (especially the TP version) I’ll be curious to hear what you think.

  5. Great review. I would love to see the numbers with swing speeds less than 100mph, something like 95,90,85 this would give the average golfer information that would be closer suited to their game considering that most golfers aren’t swinging a 3 wood 100mph despite what many of the post may say.

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