The Big Review – TaylorMade R9 Irons
Show me a golfer who doesn’t dream of playing blades and I’ll show you a liar. We know that nothing feels like a blade when you pure one from the middle but actually getting one out of the middle is the trick. Before the rise of the cavity back, a round of golf for the vast majority of players was several hours of finger numbing thins and miss-hits that barely coughed past the ladies tees. Cavity backs, with their increased level of forgiveness without losing distance, are the main reasons that so many of us are able to play the game we love to the standard we do by.
Best known for their fantastically successful range of drivers, the R9 irons are TaylorMade’s latest cavity back and a jammed full of all the technological wizardry to maximize your potential while still looking and feeling like a classic iron. With the R9 irons, the emphasis is all about performance and distance.
This is what TaylorMade have to say about these irons: “Whereas our Burner irons deliver extraordinary distance in a modern design, the R9 irons are aimed at the technician, and so are rendered in a player’s shape with a clean and conventional look,” said Harry Arnett, TaylorMade’s senior category director of metalwoods, irons and balls. “However, a ridiculous degree of performance-enhancing technology is packaged within each oversized clubhead. The result is an iron that’s phenomenally easy to play despite its classic appearance, and extremely controllable and accurate as well.”
For a game improvement iron, they aren’t half bad looking. The oversize heads are reassuringly big without being too large or having too much offset and the nickel chrome-plated stainless steel and pearl finish is very classy. The plastic cavity badge has a milled effect finish and a chevron that echos the R9 TP. At address the topline is well balanced and the overall effect is top notch.
You’re never going to get the sort of feeling you expect from blades but the localized silicone shock absorber and the light foam that fills the Velocity Control Chamber in the 3 to 6 irons make these feel better than expected. A solid strike gives you a muted click while miss hits are only a little different with no harsh twisting no matter where on the face you hit the ball.
This irons are all about performance. Now I’m not going to come over with a bad case of the infomercials and claim that these are guaranteed to add 15 yards but what they offer is great distance even on hits nowhere near the sweetspot. You can hit the ball right off the toe or the heel and see only minimal loss of distance. This comes from the deep undercut cavity and heel and toe weighting which lowers the center of gravity, in face the sweetspot on the R9 is 10% larger than the R7 irons. TaylorMade say that these are for golfers not just about pure performance but are also for the technician who wants to work the ball. Given the emphasis on forgiveness the R9 are surprisingly controllable for fades and draws but you have to put some effort in to making the ball do anything more than a gentle movement.
You also don’t need to worry about getting the ball in the air as despite the strong lofts there are only two trajectories: high and really high which helps maximize distance especially for slower speeds. This particular review set had the Fujikura Motore 65g Graphite iron shafts which undoubtedly contributed to the high flight. Faster swingers will send these into orbit but that of course is what the R9 TP irons are for. The stock shaft is the KBS 90 gram which should be even more stable and give a tighter dispersion.
The sole has the width needed in a game improvement club and is well shaped, particularly the beveling on the back edge which allows the full width of the sole to come into play in softer conditions without getting in the way when the turf is firmer. Even players used to narrower irons should not have a problem getting that crisp contact with these.
The grooves are in compliance with the new ‘Condition of Competition’ groove rules from the USGA and the R&A so those looking to take these clubs into high level competitions can do so.
The cavity badge is purely cosmetic and has no effect on performance – a good thing considering that 2 of the 3 review irons lost theirs within 2 rounds. TaylorMade have since reassured us some of the initial samples (including those sent to the media) have had issues with the badges but this was rectified for mass production so shouldn’t be a problem for those looking to buy them.
The R9 are great irons for those looking for forgiveness without sacrificing performance. The amount of technology packed in ensures that any swing is flattered. With such a large sweetspot the distance generated on both pure strikes and on miss hits is fantastic and the low COG and high MOI ensure a great flight from low to mid swing speeds and that they come in left handed means that not only the righties get to play with them. The long irons are especially forgiving and for those of us who need that extra forgiveness but still want more control than the typical game improvement set these are a rock solid choice. The legions of TaylorMade fans will be more than happy with these as a genuine improvement on the R7.