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TaylorMade M2 and M2 Tour Irons: What you need to know

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  • The M2 irons are TaylorMade’s “longest iron ever,” according to the company. The M2 Tour irons have a more compact design that doesn’t offer quite as much distance, but allows for more trajectory control.

taylormade m2 iron

  • The M2 irons replace both TaylorMade’s RSi 1 and AeroBurner irons in the company’s product line. They use TaylorMade’s new Fluted hosels, which allowed 3 grams of weight to be moved lower and deeper in the clubheads and improves their feel. A new 360-degree undercut design, which removes weight from the top of the clubheads, also helped move weight lower in the clubheads.

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  • Like all of TaylorMade’s recent iron launches, the M2 and M2 Tour irons use the company’s Speed Pocket, a urethane-filled slot in the sole of the 3-7 irons.
The soles of the M2 (left) and M2 Tour irons.

The soles of the M2 (left) and M2 Tour irons.

  • TaylorMade has used several different versions of Speed Pockets in its irons in recent years, each of which was designed to offer specific performance benefits. The slot in the M2 and M2 Tour irons is what TaylorMade calls a “Blind Version” of its Speed Pocket. It is located farther from the sole of the club to increase launch angle.
  • The higher-launch of the M2 and M2 Tour irons allowed TaylorMade to strengthen the lofts of the clubs, which increases ball speed and lowers spin for added distance. Despite their stronger lofts (M2 6 iron: 25 degrees, M2 Tour 6 iron: 26.5 degrees), the M2 and M2 Tour irons will fly higher than TaylorMade’s PSi and PSi Tour irons.
TaylorMade's M2 Tour irons.

TaylorMade’s M2 Tour irons.

  • Neither the M2 nor the M2 Tour irons use the company’s Face Slots, a feature added to the company’s PSi and PSi Tour irons that were released late in 2015. According to Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade’s director of iron product creation, the large, thin faces of the M2 and M2 Tour irons didn’t benefit from the technology, which is most effective in more compact irons such as TaylorMade’s PSi.

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  • Both the M2 and M2 Tour irons use TaylorMade’s Thin-Face, Inverted Cone clubfaces, which improve distance consistency by thickening the center of the clubfaces. The technology helps bad shots fly more similar to good shots.

M2_Irons_Tech

  • According to Bystedt, the M2 irons have a 6 percent larger unsupported face area than the RSi 1 irons. To reduce the vibrations of the more flexible clubfaces, the M2 irons use a new 3-dimensional badge, which has V-shaped struts that improve the sound and feel of the irons. The badges are stiffer than previous TaylorMade iron badges to better dampen vibrations, yet do not compromise the flexing of the clubfaces at impact.

The M2 Tour irons don’t have the fluted-hosel design of the M2 irons, which along with their thinner toplines, soles and reduced offset gives them a more traditional look. The M2 Tour irons also use a satin PVD finish, whereas the M2 irons use a polished PVD finish.

The M2 (left) and M2 Tour irons at address.

The M2 (left) and M2 Tour irons at address.

  • Compared to the PSi irons, the M2 Tour irons will create slightly more distance, but will not have the same soft feel at impact.
  • The M2 irons ($799 steel, $899 graphite, 8 pieces) are available Feb. 19. They’re offered in 4-PW, AW, SW and LW. The stock shaft is TaylorMade’s Reax 88 High-Launch (Steel) or M2 Reax Graphite (45L, 55M, 65R, 75S).

M2_Specs

  • The M2 Tour Irons ($899 Steel, 8 pieces) will be available March 15. They’re offered in 3-PW, AW, SW. The stock shaft is True Temper’s XP95.
M2_Tour_Specs

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81 Comments

81 Comments

  1. Lowell

    Apr 10, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Boy, some like to get upset over things that really don’t affect them at all. Like Taylormade said, the design allowed for them to lower the lofts due to higher launch. I’m betting they would have people complaining how the irons hit it too high now if they kept the loft where they were. I adjust the lofts on my clubs so my spacing is more to my liking. This has been going on before the m2 so why the argument. You are probably not going to buy them anyways. Step into a golf shop and test them out for yourself and see if you like them and get you the results you are looking for. Same argument happened when 300cc plus heads came out and Titanium was being used. Really folks. Come on. So instead of a 6 you hit a 7. There you go.

    • JMac

      Aug 9, 2016 at 3:33 am

      So my 7-iron goes to high, lets bend the loft down 4 degrees to where the 6 was. Of course, no one stops to think the 6 that was also going too high at that loft. What TM is doing is making a club that gives you a low spinning flyer on every shot, exactly what a good player needs. Control?, we don’t need no stinking control.

  2. KK

    Jan 30, 2016 at 2:56 am

    I don’t really mind the jacked up lofts of some of these GI irons, but I understand the argument against it, especially when the company strictly markets the set as “longest ever.” What I don’t understand is, if these clubs are made for the mid to high handicapper and the 6 iron has the loft of a 4 iron, why even make a 5, 4, and especially the 3 iron. What percentage of mid to high handicappers can consistently hit a 21.5* iron 10 yards further than the 25* iron in that same set? I fit higher handicappers for clubs all the time and 9 out of 10 times, they can’t hit a traditional 4 iron high enough to even think about holding a green. OK, so the consumer doesn’t buy 8 irons and they fill their bag with two extra wedges and another hybrid…great for them, that is what they should do. Why does the manufacturer even make the 3-5 irons? I really hope it’s not because the manufacturers think that the consumer won’t buy the set if they can’t get 3-PW.

    • Billy

      Jan 31, 2016 at 5:46 am

      Because they will argue that the lofts accommodate the new lower cg’s they achieve, which I think is BS. Loft has 90% of the say when it comes to height. This can only be good for golfers who over spin or launch it way too high, but you need a bit of swing speed for that unless you’re a special case. They will probably go boast how Dustin hits the “4iron” 300 yards at the coast.

  3. golfraven

    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Now I am in the progress of buying new clubs for my wife and she actually ebded looking at TM. Now she hit the RSI 1 which are rather traditional looking and she really likes those. Actually I picked her the RSI and the new M2 irons to hit them on the range on weekend. While the finish of the M2 is interesting, they are quite bulky and the topline is about 30% thicker. The plastic on the back of the club is not giving me the confidence it will stand the time. The RSI on the other side is really nice looking club and I like the Slot technology on the face. What I do like about the Rsi is the fact that GW/AW and SW/LW are more like traditional looking wedges and are slick and sharp. I have not seen the M2 wedges but dont think they will be as nice as the RSI one. Pricewise you look at 20% difference on single clubs. Hosel on the M2 as well as the 25* on 6 iron are just a bad joke. Another reason to go with the RSI 1. It may come down to performance but my wife already prefers the RSi without having hit the M2 yet. We will see.

  4. joro

    Jan 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Makes me wonder who and when what mfgr. will be the first with adjustable irons. They can be adjusted for loft and lie like todays woods. Now that would be really something.

  5. Joshuaplaysgolf

    Jan 29, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Alright, this is very, very simple everyone. We all have our favorite manufacturers for one reason or another, and we justify it for ourselves and stick to our loyalties. That really doesn’t matter, and no one cares if you love Ping, Titleist, TM, Callaway, Adams, or whatever else…that’s not what’s driving the loft anger. It boils down to this: progressively over the years companies have been labeling the same lofted clubs with progressively lower numbers. i.e., a PW used to be 52* in the 70’s. Titleist’s 716 MB’s (just an example, don’t freak out that I said the ‘T’ word) have a 47* PW. Yes technology has improved in the past 40 years, BUT, companies have also used ‘loft strengthening’ (which is just relabeling the club) to help stroke all our egos and make us feel like MEN because we hit our PWs 150 yards (just using my numbers for an example y’all).

    SO, when a company comes out boasting about how long their irons are and you start looking at the data on the clubs and see that clubs with a loft of 25* that was a ~4 iron a few years ago and is now labeled a 6 iron in this set (and others), it really becomes more of a ‘did they really develop anything here, or just relabel their clubs?’ conversation. No one cares how far your hitting your 6 iron, we care about companies rolling out supposed new technology that actually appears that most of the distance gains they’re claiming are just in the changing of the label of the club. Its about wanting to really see the game and technology progressed, not just throwing out gimmicks that all companies are guilty of.

    Taylormade gets beat up on a lot because they market a lot wider and more aggressively than most other companies. Pay attention to the number of Taylormade ads for clubs that you see compared to ads for other golf club companies. So when you see them constantly, and they have a super short product cycle, some people start seeing them sort of as the Wal-Mart of golf club companies. There’s a place for them, absolutely, but as we all know not everyone loves Wal-Mart and will lash out against them and their supporters. Then on the flip side you get the Wal-Mart supporters who want to defend the company they’re loyal to…and some of those people come back to this article 5 or 6 times to troll people and spew nonsense ;)…and you end up with the disaster you see throughout this page of people just arguing to argue and it’s not even about what is accurate and correct anymore, but just making the a lot of noise and screaming ‘this company’ ‘no, that company’…rabble rabble rabble.

    Make sense?

  6. David

    Jan 28, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    I don’t really care about the lofts or the number on the bottom of the club. I am looking to find out if these are a good forgiving club. I can not really find anything on how these are made other than what taylormade says on their site. I am trying to fingure out if these new irons are a gimmick club like the aeroburners or are they a true forgiving workable club like the RSIs. I am in the market for a new set and I would like to get a long but workable set. Should I just get the RSi or should i wait for these to come out. Any input would be very helpful.

    • Joshuaplaysgolf

      Jan 29, 2016 at 1:16 am

      You should go hit a wide variety of clubs and stop trying to figure out what works for you by reading things on the internet. It’s a great way to get an idea of what your interested in, but that’s about it. My gut feeling is they’re a gimmick, simply because they’re labeling a 25 degree iron as a 6 iron, which is a 4 iron in most sets, and more traditionally a 3 iron. You said you don’t care about the number or loft…but this is a HUGE red flag if your talking gimmicks. It’s a typical way for companies to say ‘This is the longest iron EVER!!!!! Your 6 iron will go as far as your old 4 iron!!!’ Yep. Sure will. But like I said, GO HIT IT, compare, and keep and open mind. You never know what you’ll actually like and will work best for you, regardless of brand, price, or age of the club without putting numbers side by side.

      • Cliff

        Jan 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

        People with slower swing speeds need more than 4* gaps between clubs to get the 10-15 yards distance gaps. Stop bashing the club based on the lofts until you try them!

    • golfraven

      Jan 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      My advise is to go with the RSi as the more traditional looking clubs that you will have fun with. You also can save up to 300$ that you can invest in a wood or driver. Or get yourself extra GW/AW and LW and a 23* JetSpeed hybrid. Then you have a nice golf set h5,6-PW,AW,SW,LW for next 2-3 seasons with reasonable resale value.

    • LeftyGuy

      Feb 13, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Let me tell you the minute you put these in your hand and hit them you will love them. I hit the RSi and PSi along with ping g30 and max and these were smooth, great feel soft high and great distance. I have lost weight due to surgery and lost distance. These clubs make up for my loss. Just purchased them today. Can’t wait to get them.

    • Frank Cruz

      Mar 21, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I recently fell into the Taylor Made wagon, I’m very happy I did. The short product cycle made it possible to find a “just returned” set of PSI irons for 60% of retail, by far the best irons I ever played. The sound and feel are second to none. These are long -PW is 45-, but the shaft fits me PERFECTLY. In my opinion, the perfect club is one that you like and matches your handicap and has a shaft that you can “load” even when your swing is not 100%, or late in the round. I play to a 10 handicap so the heads are not too small, and the shafts are KBS 90, a little higher trajectory, exactly what I needed. In the past I played Mizuno, Bridgestone, Callaway and Titleist, none had full combination user specific characteristics: head look, feel, sound, shaft and grip that fit me.

  7. Jeff*

    Jan 28, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I just can’t see why no face slots. The face slot is the single only reason I’d consider buying a Taylormade iron, ever. To disclose the face slot from this model seems to me the easy way to make more faster, but I can’t see the difference between these and Burner irons. I’ll not be buying. The drivers are great though, I don’t mean to knock the whole operation.

  8. Sasovalerio

    Jan 28, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Lol

  9. Jonjo throw these on the Shelvey

    Jan 28, 2016 at 12:09 am

    That hosel thing is so hideous it is way too loud. The last thing a golfer should be looking at is the hosel we have enough issues as it is.

    • golfraven

      Jan 29, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      I hear what the PM dude is saying but two clubs difference are still a huge gap comparing to CB/MB sets – or I just compare it to the Ping i20 I still game (iron has 30*).

  10. birdeez

    Jan 26, 2016 at 9:21 am

    if taylormade is going to jack lofts and come out with a new set, they could have at least made them good looking. these things are hideous. at same time, these jacked lofts sell clubs. wrx readers aren’t your avg. joe walking into big box store thinking they might get new set of irons. when the salesguy hands them an 8 iron and they hit it 10yds farther than another brand, its often sold. only months later will they hear someone mention that they are playing a loft that is another brands 6 iron.

    • Fahgdat

      Jan 26, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      Lofts aren’t jacked. But your mind might be

      • birdeez

        Jan 26, 2016 at 4:11 pm

        A RSI TP which is used on tour has a 30* 6 iron. The M2 has a 25* 6 iron. I’d call that jacked. 5* degree difference ….. thats marketing, not technology.

        • Cliff

          Jan 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm

          What is your point? Who cares what the loft on the club is as long as you can control the distance and accuracy. I’m I more manly if I use a 50* pitching wedge?

        • Fahgdat

          Jan 28, 2016 at 3:54 am

          Just admit you’re really stoopid, know nothing, so we can all move along

        • LeftyGuy

          Feb 13, 2016 at 9:15 pm

          Actually the RSi 6 iron from their site is 26.5 degree. Same as the M2 tours they don’t have a RSi TP on their website

      • Fahgdat Conscience

        Jan 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        “But your mind might be” Ok, how does this comment help? Well it doesn’t. It is just a typical “hiding behind the keyboard” attack. Maybe you stop doing this and grow up.

        • Fahgdat

          Jan 28, 2016 at 3:53 am

          “It is just a typical “hiding behind the keyboard” attack. Maybe you stop doing this and grow up.”

          Right back atcha, dummy

  11. Mat

    Jan 26, 2016 at 1:58 am

    The lofts are a problem. It isn’t because this will make people feel like they have tour numbers. The problem is the giant gapping by in the short irons. That’s the real disappointment.

    • Cliff

      Jan 26, 2016 at 9:14 am

      It’s not hard to figure out…4-GW is the new 3-P! Why does everyone make a big deal about lofts. My Hogan Apex II E-wedge is 50 degrees, no big deal! Compare that to my Wilson Ci11 P-wedge at 44 degree or my Miura CB-501 p-wedge at 45.

      • Fahgdat

        Jan 26, 2016 at 1:40 pm

        Precisely.

      • birdeez

        Jan 26, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        except its not. they are strengthening lofts so that 4-6 irons have 2-3 * between them while 9 – gw have 5-6* between them.

        pretty soon a TM set will consist of 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 9, gw yet they’ll label them 4-gw

    • gunmetal

      Jan 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      @ Mat is dead on. This obsession with trying to trick us into feeling better because we’ve “never hit a 7 iron that far!” has consequences. When you have 5-6* loft differences from your 8 iron on up, good luck!

      • LeftyGuy

        Feb 13, 2016 at 9:20 pm

        How often do you use your 8 or 9 iron compared to your 7 iron? I use my 7 the most so I would hope its stronger. Could care less about the lofts of the shorter irons.

  12. Dat

    Jan 25, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    The lofts haven’t changed. The labels have. Not a big deal. It’s the status.

    • Fahgdat

      Jan 26, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Before the 90’s there really was no such thing as a GW or AW, because PW was 48, 49, and sometimes 50. And then we had SW. Practically the whole world freaked out when they heard you can get a LW at 60 degrees to flip it up in the air. So what were you saying then? Nothing’s been manipulated. 14 clubs is 14 clubs. That hasn’t changed since that rule came into being. You still have to figure out your own gaps in yardages, regardless of what kind of clubs you have up to the 14. If you haven’t figured that out, then it’s time you did.

      • Cliff

        Jan 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        Great reply!!

      • Matto

        Jan 26, 2016 at 11:57 pm

        +100
        For Christsake, why do people get their panties in a knot over this?!?? It’s hilarious! No one is saying you have to go and get an ENTIRE M2 set from Driver, Fairway, hybrid(s) irons, to wedges. Sort your own yardages and gaps out people.

      • Fahgdat Conscience

        Jan 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm

        Much better! We are on the right track to recovery.

    • LeftyGuy

      Feb 13, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      Maybe you should hit them before commenting on them. I have along with 5 other irons including XRs, RSi and PSI and Ping G30 and Gmax. These were by far the longest. And in case you all haven’t figured it out yet, all companies are making irons with stronger lofts.

  13. Duncan Castles

    Jan 25, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Want a set of ugly looking, cheaply produced clubs, with verging on 2-club strong lofts and terrible gapping? TaylorMade will take the best part of a $1000 off your hands for them. Then offer you and even more ludicrously designed set in nine months time.

  14. Turbo

    Jan 25, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I wouldn’t play any of those clubs if they PAID me! Absolutely hideous! The game is not designed around distance, but control and strategy. When will these idiots figure that out?

  15. jgpl001

    Jan 25, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Another “our longest ever iron” – when are we going to see an end to this sort of nonsense, what’s next a 24 deg 6 iron and a 40 deg PW???

    How could ANYONE use the word Tour here with that top line and sole – give a break

    The TM wagon of rubbish and hype trundles on – yawn

    • Fahgdat

      Jan 25, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Did we finally get rid of you from the great game of golf? Then it worked! Thank faaak

    • jgpl001

      Jan 27, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Nope, I just play a full bag of Titleist…..golf is safe again!!

      • LeftyGuy

        Feb 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm

        I have titleist 712 ap1. And I think they are now up to 716 because they keep changing as well. And the TM M2 7 iron goes about 12 yards longer and easier to hit then my 712s.

        • JMac

          Aug 9, 2016 at 3:29 am

          Pretty soon you’ll be hitting that 7-iron as far as your Driver, that’ll impress your mates! Though you’ll probably need about 10 wedges in your bag to get the gapping right.

  16. Lefty16

    Jan 25, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    lol

  17. Don

    Jan 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I believe Cobra, King Cobra irons of the early 90s were the first with a 43 deg. PW. Added the gap wedge at that same time.

  18. Lefty16

    Jan 25, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Anyone else see Burner 2.0 irons???

  19. New and Improved

    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I’m glad they’re doing this…and I hope they keep releasing new stuff ASAP so the RSI irons that I want will drop in price to where they’re affordable to me.

  20. Dave

    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:52 am

    This type of hype and continuous marketing of new, better than the last Super set we sold you is why I do not buy! To this day I have not found a better set of irons than my 2008 Callaway FT 4-Lob (more traditional lofts and length-these clubs were way ahead of their time), they just work, traditional lofts keep my swing on plane, anything else lets say 1/2 over length or more just plays havoc with my tempo and plane.

    I think this is more the parent company mentality than a golf equipment company, Nike same thing, Callaway close and look at the length/loft of the new (intriguing) Wilson D and C-200’s are. It really is as commented on earlier a sad commentary, also that clubs are more important than lessons, I found out the hard way and it wasn’t cheap. 90% of golfers today swing over the top, correct that and you can play just about any club. I guess the real vote is better than my comment, just do not buy!

    • emb

      Jan 26, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      This comment is absolutely ludicrous. I feel dumber just from having read it. Well done, takes a lot of effort to get to that level of stupidity

  21. Hank

    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:19 am

    The loft gaps don’t make sense to me. Compared to drivers though, there is less mass and less materials to work with, so anyone expecting incredible technology advancements in irons is just being unrealistic. The lofts I guess is just the only way anyone can figure out how to create more distance in the irons. For those that are mocking the look and relating it to past models, that’s extremely hypocritical. The only major OEM that redesigns iron appearance is Callaway. PING and Titleist have been creating the same irons for 20 years.

  22. Eric

    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:07 am

    They are the laughing stock of the industry

  23. Robin

    Jan 25, 2016 at 11:02 am

    If only half of you could afford them you would buy them.

    • Eric

      Jan 25, 2016 at 11:09 am

      You couldn’t pay me to play that trash.

    • odjkfg

      Jan 25, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      10 sets irons/19 putters/8 drivers/36 wedges/15 fairway woods/6 hybrids: 0 taylormade clubs

  24. Dmbrennan

    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

    What’s up with those sticks? My five iron has 27 deg loft. My gaps run four degrees between all irons and five degrees between wedges. These gaps are all over the place. Two and a half to five degrees. You can talk all you want about them flying higher, but as a product it seems to me that distance control would be all over the place with these. There have to be better things out there than these.

  25. Jake Anderson

    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:23 am

    the loft gappings are ridiculous. i dont like the look.

  26. KTM2000

    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:02 am

    So gimmicky. Where’s all the class? Didn’t they JUST release the PSI irons? They need a two year cycle like all respectable golf manufacturers.

    • Chris

      Jan 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Did you read the article? These aren’t replacing the PSi. These are replacing the RSi 1 and Aeroburner. PSi replaces RSi 2. If only you JUST understood the concept of it.

      • Lefty16

        Jan 25, 2016 at 3:43 pm

        Concept??? Replacing irons every 4-6 months is not a concept is called robbery!!

  27. DatSliceDoe

    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:00 am

    2* gaps in the long irons and a 43* PW / 49* AW? What on earth? So you’ll have a 5 yard gap in the long irons and a 20 yard gap where it really counts? Good luck adjusting these lofts if you dare. SNAP goes the clubhead.

  28. birdeez

    Jan 25, 2016 at 9:36 am

    a 33* degree 8 iron….hahaha even if it launches high with little spin is anyone going to be able to hold greens?

    i think we’re officially to the point where the 4-pw is now the 5-aw.

  29. Ml

    Jan 25, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I hope no one actually buys these. The clubs are over a club stronger than traditional lofts. And a two degree gap between 3, 4, & 5? Lets not even get started on the 43* PW…

    • Chris

      Jan 25, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      If memory serves me correctly, the Aeroburner iron had a 42* PW. It is crazy though.

  30. SV

    Jan 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. 2* loft gaps between the M2 4 & 5 irons. 5 iron loft is 5* stronger than just 10 years ago. Then the same loft was a 3 iron. Irons are for precision, not distance. It goes to show how gullible the golfing public is.

  31. Matt

    Jan 25, 2016 at 9:09 am

    We’ve finally reached the 43* PW mark. I just don’t see anything new. It looks like a burner 2.0 with Robocop armour.

    • Paul

      Jan 25, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Titleist 716 AP1 has a 43* PW and that came out last year, yet no one complains about that.

      • Matt

        Jan 25, 2016 at 3:56 pm

        I couldn’t care less about Titleist GI irons, I guess no one else does either.

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Equipment

What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”

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One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.

That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.

I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.

TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.

My Experience

I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.

The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”

Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.

With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.

From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.

There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.

The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.

I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.

JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…

TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.

Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.

Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.

JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom? 

TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.

We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.

JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.

TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…

Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.

He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.

To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.

Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.

Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.

Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with  Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!

JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?

TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.

When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.

So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.

What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.

JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?

TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!

JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.

TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.

I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!

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Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month

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Puma X Els Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.

Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.

Puma X Els Autism

Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.

Puma X Els Autism

The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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In our forums, our members have been discussing both boutique brands and major OEMs and why the former “trail the OEMs in drivers and woods”. WRXer ‘gr8 flopshot’, who plays a bag full of boutique clubs bar woods, poses the question and it’s got our members talking in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • DaRiz: “Irons, wedges, and putters don’t change much, and for all the technology OEMs try to pack in there, it’s more about how they look and feel. So boutique can fit in nicely here. Drivers/FW, on the other hand, definitely benefit from the millions of dollars in R&D, and it is probably really hard to compete. You can argue that COR is maxed out, but the tiny changes in launch conditions, spin rates, and forgiveness add up.”
  • MattM97: “One reason why I and most other lefties don’t go boutique is options. At least with OEM’s for drivers and most woods we get the most of what is released, some versions and loft we don’t get but better than nothing. I’m not against boutique; I love my putters, I love the look of a lot of wedges, I would absolutely love a set of Japanese forged CB irons one day. Just woods I’ll stick to OEM options.”
  • sniper: “The Wishon 560’s I had built years ago were as good (or better) as anything I’ve had. My current set of MP-18SC’s and Wishon’s are the best feeling irons I’ve played. Both came from a club builder and not built by the OEM. Obviously on the Wishon’s.”
  • RogerInNewZealand: “Genuinely good point. It’s like why we buy JDM, Yonex Ezone 420…and the famed J33 Bridgestone driver from long ago! T.E.E is another one..always a surprise there. With your wood/driver if your sorted that’s fine! You don’t have to bag an exotic club to hit fairways.”

Entire Thread: “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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