Pros: One of golf’s most adjustable fairway woods. New dual weights allow golfers to more finely tune trajectory. Improved ball speeds over TaylorMade’s R15.
Cons: Unlike the M1 driver the fairway wood does not have a “Back Track,” so golfers can’t adjust CG forward and backward.
Who they’re for: The M1 fairway woods will best suit the needs of better players, but anyone can play them. Experienced golfers who want a fairway wood with a particular loft, face angle and trajectory bias are the most likely users.
TaylorMade’s M1 fairway woods are the most technologically advanced models the company has ever produced, merging together a slew of features that not only improve their performance over past TaylorMade adjustable models, but also makes them the most adjustable fairway woods in company history.
Like TaylorMade’s M1 drivers, the new fairway woods use a carbon composite crown that TaylorMade says helps lower its center of gravity (CG) to improve launch conditions and ball speed. We didn’t see improved launch conditions from our testers when comparing the M1 to TaylorMade’s R15 fairway wood, but we did see a noticeable boost in ball speed from both players.
In our test, performed at the Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., we had two scratch golfers hit the M1 against its predecessor. The adjustable features of both fairway woods (more on that later) were both set to neutral, and both fairway woods were tested at 15 degrees with the same shaft.
Player 1 added nearly 1 mph of ball speed with the M1, while keeping his launch conditions roughly the same. That gave him 3.2 yards more carry distance, and 2.1 yards more total distance. Player 2‘s ball speed gains were more substantial at 2.7 mph, which despite a lower launch angle (-2.4 degrees) and more spin (+240 rpm) produced an increase of 4.3 carry yards and 9 total yards.
Increased average ball speeds are an indication of a more-forgiving fairway wood, which became even more obvious in on-course testing. Some golfers may prefer the more traditional sound and feel of TaylorMade’s all-titanium R15 fairway wood, but there was no question that my mishits with the M1 flew slightly farther and a little straighter.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that fairway woods, unlike drivers, are not always about maximizing performance in terms of distance. When they are hit off the tee, golfers are relying on them to go a certain distance, or for more control. Off the ground, they’re much trickier beasts than drivers.
Sometimes golfers need to hit their fairway woods as far as possible to reach an elusive par-5 or long par-4, while other times they need to take something off their full yardage and want the ball to land softly on the green. It’s in these more sensitive application where they’re most likely to outperform their competition, giving golfers the ability to adjust the performance of the club to their game, and not the other way around.
Let’s say you bought TaylorMade’s AeroBurner fairway wood, which was one of the best performing fairway woods in our 2015 Gear Trials: Best Clubs List. Like any non-adjustable fairway wood, there was no easy fix if you found yourself hitting the club too high, too low, too far left or too far right. With the M1, however, golfers can quickly solve those problems.
Like the R15 fairway woods, the M1 has a 4-degree adjustable loft sleeve, which allows golfers to add or subtract up to 2 degrees of loft from the club’s printed loft. So if you’re hitting the M1 too high or too low, the adjustable hosel makes it easy to create a more optimal ball flight. It also opens the door to make course-specific adjustments, giving golfers the ability to increase or decrease loft to suit course conditions.
What some golfers don’t know, however, is that adjusting the loft of a fairway wood also changes the trajectory bias of the club. Reducing loft opens the face angle, which creates more fade bias, while adding loft closes the face angle, which creates more draw bias. With the M1 fairway wood, golfers can use the two sliding weights on its “Front Track” to add more draw or fade bias to the club.
Let’s say you made a loft/face angle adjustment, but in doing so you started to see the ball draw or fade too much. All you have to do is slide the two Front Track weights incrementally toward the heel or toe until the ball starts flying as you want.
Another option also exits — splitting the M1’s Front Track weights to the extreme toe and heel positions. It’s been a popular option with TaylorMade’s PGA Tour players, as it creates a two-fold improvement in ball speed. The more “open” Front Track increases the spring-like effect of the club face, and moving the 15-gram sliding weights to the edges of the Front Track increases moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of ball speed retention on off-center hits.
Splitting the weights does fractionally raise the fairway woods’ center of gravity, however, theoretically creating an incrementally higher launching and lower spinning ball flight on perfect hits. But the M1 is already such a low-spinning fairway wood that many golfers will actually see improved performance from the split-weight position.
Remember, we’re talking about very fine differences in ball flight, which again, is the advantage of owning an M1 fairway wood.
At $300, the M1 is one of the most expensive fairway woods on the market. That’s why if you don’t plan to use its adjustable features, you’re better off purchasing a non-adjustable fairway wood such as TaylorMade’s AeroBurner. You’ll get similar performance at a reduced cost without the bells and whistles you don’t need.
If you’re looking for a fairway wood that can adapt to your swing and preferences, however, the M1 is one of the best choices available.
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