The inside scoop on TaylorMade “tour heads”

by   |   March 15, 2013
R1 retail and tour head comparison

There’s three TaylorMade R1 drivers.

Yes, you heard that right. The driver that TaylorMade touts as being able to “tune to any loft, any look and any flight” is currently on the USGA’s list of conforming driver heads in three different versions — “R1 Version 1,” “R1 Version 2″ and “R1 Version 3″ — all of which are noticeably different shapes and sizes.

So how do golfers know which one of the TaylorMade R1 drivers is best for them? Well, they don’t have to worry about it. That’s because when they go to buy an R1 driver off the shelf, they only have one option — the R1 Version 1.

So why does TaylorMade produce three different drivers when they only sell one of them to the public?

It’s a question golf equipment gear heads have gone back and forth about in our forums for years. The discussion has been further fueled by the fact that viewers who have looked through our 2013 Tour photos have yet to see a single R1 Version 1 driver in any of the photos, just the R1 Version 2.

This creates an awkward situation for TaylorMade, which prides itself on the usage of its drivers on tour — a key element in the company’s business plan that has helped it dominate the golf equipment industry — because TaylorMade is selling one driver to the public and giving its tour players a different driver to use.

Before you pick up your pitchforks and storm TaylorMade headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., consider this — TaylorMade has been making different heads for tour players for a long time. According to the USGA Conforming Club List, TaylorMade created multiple versions of its drivers as early as 2000, when it released a Version 1 and Version 2 of its 300 Tour drivers in both left- and right-handed models.

We had a chance to sit down with the top brass at TaylorMade to clear the air about “tour heads.” We asked why they’re made, what they do and more importantly what they don’t do.

What do tour heads look like?

31ed351d6e3f758d3f9d3759e2fc4f6a

The only way to tell a “tour head” from a retail head is to look at the driver’s serial number (pictured above). They always start with the letter “T,” which denotes that they were made especially for tour players.

In the case of TaylorMade’s R1, the tour heads are different sizes than the retail head. The R1 Version 2 is 440 cubic centimeters, 20 CCs smaller than the retail version. This gives the driver a different shape — it’s noticeably more compact in just about every respect when compared to the R1 Version 1.

Why are tour heads different?

36e84ff479914e4cf6c436e407e48825

Notice the skinnier toe section on the tour head (left). The weight saved from the toe section and other places makes the tour head lighter than the retail version. 

According to Tom Olsavsky, senior director of product creation at TaylorMade, the reason for the change is simple. One of the reasons is that smaller heads can be made lighter, which gives tour players the option of playing a driver with a lower swing weight.

Olsavsky says the target weight for a tour head is 195 grams, 10 grams lighter than the target weight of a retail head, which is 205 grams. For every two grams of weight lost in a driver head, the swing weight is reduced by one point. So if a golfer takes the retail head off his or her R1 driver and replaces it with a tour head, the swing weight will go from around D4 to around C9, a five point drop.

The shafts that comes in the retail versons of the R1 driver are 45.5 inches, however, which are about 0.5-inches longer than the standard length of driver played on tour. So if a half inch was cut off, the swing weight would plummet three points to C6, which is way too light for most tour players. So what gives? Is Olsavsky pulling our leg about this swing weight thing? Spoiler alert — he’s not.

Tweaking the Center of Gravity

5383eab0b17018601640aa3c711202d1

When weight is removed from one part of a driver head, it can be put back in another. In the case of the R1 Version 2, the smaller head removes weight from the entire structure. But the R1 has a trick up its sleeve for putting it back — thanks to the R1′s “Shot Shape weights,” golfers can tweak both swing weight and center of gravity by changing the amount of weight in the club’s two weight ports.

The retail version of the R1 driver is sold with two weights, a 10-gram and a 1-gram. Golfers can create a “draw bias” by putting the 10-gram weight in the heel and the 1-gram weight in the toe. They can create a “neutral bias” by swapping the weights, putting the 10-gram weight in the toe and the 1-gram weight in the heel. Those options are better than none, but they’re certainly not enough to fit TaylorMade’s huge tour staff.

According to Olsavsky, the tour heads have almost the exact same center of gravity position as the retail heads. But since the tour heads are 10 grams lighter, tour players have 10 more grams of tweaking power at their discretion, allowing them to create a slight draw bias, a slight fade bias or just about any other bias that they want.

The trade off of this technology is that making the heads smaller decreases MOI, which makes a driver less forgiving. Loading up the front of the driver with heavier weights further decreases MOI. But for some tour players, a lower MOI is actually a good thing, because it allows them to work the ball more easily.

Also, the farther forward the center of gravity is located in a head, the less spin a driver creates. So when a tour player loads up a tour head’s front-positioned weight ports with heavy weights, the drivers become even lower spinning, which can help players with tour-like swing speeds hit the ball even farther.

Tour heads are more exact

cbd8dab44ba51548bedc3b8e524be97a

Notice how much smaller the face is on the tour head (pictured above), another symptom of creating a lighter-weight driver. 

According to Olsavsky, Tour heads are made in one of TaylorMade’s three metal wood factories overseas. So while they’re made with different tooling to create their smaller shape, they are not made in a special place. Are they made out of special materials? Without testing the metal, we don’t know, but we doubt it.

What we do know is that every R1 tour head gets COR tested, which according to TaylorMade is done to make sure that tour players do not receive non-conforming equipment, that is, heads with a coefficient of restitution greater than the allowable limit of 0.830.

We have been told by several TaylorMade fitters over the years that this testing is all the more reason to buy a non-tour head, because untested heads have the possibility of being over the limit. We’re not going to get into the ethical dilemma of playing illegal equipment, but we will say this: If the lesser tolerances of non-tour heads can make those heads measure over the limit by a point or two, they can certainly measure under the limit by a point or two as well.

Before sending its tour heads out to the tour, TaylorMade records every possible variable — actual loft, head weight and face angle — which are usually slightly different than the target. According to Olsavsky, few heads out of a batch of 20 that are supposed to be 9 degrees with a 2-degree open face angle will actually measure that. They’ll be close, but most vary by a few tenths of a degree each way.

The club builders on TaylorMade’s tour truck know exactly what players want and cherry pick the appropriate heads based on TaylorMade’s measurements. That’s why the tour heads do not use the 4-degree loft sleeves that are being sold on the shafts of the retail R1 drivers. Tour players don’t need to adjust the heads very much, because their face angles and lofts are already cherry picked, so a 3-degree loft sleeve is more than enough.

Just as loft and face angle vary, so do COR differences. And it’s doubtful that TaylorMade is ever going to give one of its players anything but a driver that is right on the edge of the 0.830 limit. Every drive hit with a TaylorMade driver is an endorsement for the company, and TaylorMade wants that endorsement to be hit as far down the fairway as possible.

Are tour heads better?

60aa2f91afe783643455047408eebed8

So are tour heads better? Maybe, and maybe not. For golfers with tour-like swing speeds who need a lower launch and less spin, a tour head might in fact give them give the few extra yards they’re looking for. It also might give them more workability, which is good for some as well. But for the general population, a tour head is not going to make a difference in distance. For many, its smaller shape might even make a tour heads shorter and more crooked than the retail version.

So what about the R1 Version 3 driver we mentioned earlier in the story? It’s an even smaller version of the R1 Version 2, which is preferred by certain TaylorMade tour players like Sergio Garcia. Why? The case could be made that it has an even lower MOI, so it’s even more workable and lower spinning, but that’s probably not the reason Sergio uses it. Like most golfers, Sergio has developed visual preferences for his equipment, and he likes the looks of a small driver head.

We can talk about MOI and CG until we’re blue in the face, but what the tour head discussion basically comes down to is visual preference. Again and again over the years, feedback from the tour has told equipment companies that most prefer the look of a head that’s smaller than 460 CCs.

That’s evident in the driver releases of other manufacturers such as Callaway and Nike, which just like TaylorMade have smaller “tour only heads”  that are used by certain staff players. Right now on tour, Phil Mickelson is using a special “deep face” Callaway X Hot Pro 3 wood, and Nike has a Version 3 and Version 4 model of its Covert Tour driver listed on the USGA’s Conforming Club List that we expect to see on tour soon. Titleist provides some of its professional golfers with tour only putters made of custom metals, and many of the company’s Vokey wedges are created with special grinds that aren’t available at retail either.

While TaylorMade is not the only company making “tour only” equipment, we wish that TaylorMade and other companies would be more forthcoming about the difference between its retail and tour product, because there’s plenty of golfers out there that think their R1 is the same driver being played by Dustin Johnson.

It’s obvious that TaylorMade has decided that players who aren’t on tour are going to be better served by the largest and best performing driver head that the company can make, and TaylorMade’s sale of drivers in recent years have proved that. For most golfers, it’s probably a good thing that they’re hitting a retail version and not a tour head.

But it’s a shame that golfers are led to believe otherwise, because “our R1″ is certainly not “their R1.” Regardless of whether or not the retail version is better for the general public, we think golfers have the right to know.

About

Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com.

He's been a part of the company since 2012, when he was hired to develop GolfWRX's front page. Since that time, GolfWRX has become the go-to destination on the web for golf equipment news, tour news, instruction and opinion.

Zak also developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers who want to improve their skills and allows established golf professionals to communicate directly with readers.

He played college golf at the University of Richmond, where he took too many strokes. Good thing he also studied journalism and creative writing.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss all the cool gear and insider info that's part of his job.


83 Comments

  1. k

    January 22, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    When the Serial# starts with TD2 is that version 2?

    TD1xxx version 1?
    TD3 version 3?

  2. skyler

    August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Good article. Marketing is all about brand recognition. It is our naivete to think products offered to the public are the same advertised by the professional athletes, actors, models and celebrities. The clothes, cars, boats, sports equipment, cosmetics and services are often never the same as sold to the general public even if a pro’s name is stenciled on to it. The equipment especially in golf, tennis, shooting sports, baseball and racing is customized to personal specs and may not be available by contract to any other pro. You think Rory, Ricky, Sergio, Tiger, Dustin and Phil would allow their equipment be available to competitors? I read Phil even has a one-of-a-kind Callaway wedge. Even the tour balls are not available to the public since most cannot not even hit them.

  3. RCM1301

    July 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    My head is spinning!!

    • tom

      July 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

      i’m a +3. i used to play the R11s until switching to the R1, which i really think is a better product – a whole topic unto itself. in the R11s, i have a retail head and i also have a TXXXX v2 “tour-only” head. i got the tour only head several months after i had been playing the retail v1 head. i preferred the v1 retail head. why? for starters, i put 21 cotton balls in the retail head which made the sound AMAZING!!! instead of the normal sound the r11s made, this was a “thwack!” which was undeniably awesome. a muted “thwack” will make you feel like “yeah” as the ball screams off the face into the stratosphere.

      if you want a tour head, get out and buy one. they’re all around. they’re also much more expensive than the retail head because A) they’re not made in huge quantities (supply/demand) B) you’re not making taylormade any money by your presence on tour…

      you can’t buy one at golf smith, golf galaxy or edwin watts. you have to find a small boutique specialty fitter. i have one very close to me. in fact, he just send me an email a few days ago saying “i’m getting 5 tour issue taylormade r1 drivers. they are allocating only 20 per the entire Georgia Sales Territory. These are smaller heads 440 C.C., two degrees flatter than the regular and will have Tour Issue serial numbers on them.”

      what is the price? $599…

      what did i buy my retail v1 R1 for at retail (from a dealer on the back end, not a store front)? $229… I’d rather keep my $370 than have a “tour issue” driver head…

  4. ZD

    May 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I feel cheated as a low handicap player, i wish these companies are more transparent about what they put out in the market versus what tour pros play.

  5. Pingback: La cabeza del TaylorMade R1 disponible en tienda no es la misma que usa Sergio García | Golf76.com

  6. Brad72

    April 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    The statements made in this thread that “all OEM’s make different product for tour players” is not correct. At least, I can assure you that it is not the case with PING. Part of PING’s product strategy is to sell the same clubs in retail that its tour players use to compete at the highest level. Some exceptions were made to old iron models so they would conform to the new 2010 USGA groove rules, but very few of those are still in play. PING wants consumers have the peace of mind that they are purchasing the same high quality products that are used by its tour players. Even Bubba’s Pink G25 Driver comes from the same production molds as the heads sold in retail, just with different paint. If you want to play the same equipment as tour players, then maybe you take a second look at PING’s line up. The entire G25 line is pretty nice!
    I don’t normally comment on these types of threads, but after reading some of these comments I couldn’t help myself – Brad Schweigert, Director of Engineering…PING

    • Brett

      June 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      Brad, I would love to try and buy your gear. Sadly as a golfer who has to decide between buying gear or playing my ill fitting equipment I choose to play. It costs less even though with better fitting gear I’m sure I would enjoy the game more.

  7. Sam

    April 1, 2013 at 1:37 am

    blows everyone’s argument out of the water that there is no difference in these clubs. frustrates me to here people say that, when clearly there is, and now it’s been explained. also frustrates me to hear people say there is no benefit in the “tour only” clubs. if that were the case, why are pro’s gaming them? if the gear doesn’t matter, than why don’t all the doubters get rid of their blades for a set of G25s? of course there is a performance advantage, albeit a smaller step than from GIs to blades, but a step nonetheless. plus, let guys play what they want to play.

  8. daniel

    March 23, 2013 at 12:56 am

    they pay the pros to make money wy they make money because we buy there equip wy we buy becuse we trus them!!!!!!! we see apple and we buy apple but it is a orange peint red pls try to be honnes and peoples will trus and buy wath tey are supose to buy thanks and sorry for my english

  9. northhighlandway

    March 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

    The public will forever be held at arms length where manufacturers are concerned…I agree with d. whitney. Where is truth in advertising?
    Its been going on since………who knows?

  10. D. Whitney

    March 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Is there a “truth in advertising” issue here? Isn’t it time that manufacturer’s stop screwing the public?

  11. Augustine

    March 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Taylormade adopted the NASCAR slogan long ago – win on sunday, sell on monday.

    Except NASCAR fans know that the “stock” car raced on Sunday is completely different that what’s in the showroom other than by “name”.

    Golf OEM’s produces “tour-only” equipment for several reasons

    1) Tolerances. Most equipment massed produced have an acceptable tolerance which varies by OEM. A 9.5 driver might be 10.5 or 8.5… and that is deemed acceptable for the average joes but for the tour pros they are “dialed-in” for equipment with certain specs so they need to “hand pick” heads from the factory lines that meet the tour pros specifications

    2) Design. The features like 460cc heads, extra forgiveness, etc might not benefit the pros so the OEM produces smaller 440cc or even 390cc heads for more workability and these are genuine tour only heads

    3) Compliance. All gears used by pros have to conform to USGA rules, so tour-only heads have been COR tested while the retail ones aren’t – again there are acceptable tolerances..

    Bottom line – the logos and gear sported by pros are just for advertisement, some use it, some don’t and even when they use the same model, you can bet it’s tour issue only versions, or retail versions hand-picked from the assembly line that meets a certain specs.

  12. inall

    March 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I think most big companies, Callaway and Nike, do the same — one set of equipment for average joe and another set for tour players.

    • Wisconsin Terrapin

      March 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      I get it that Phil is playing with mock-ups (Lord knows, I can’t get many clubs in LH) and that Bob Vokey isn’t grinding my wedges. But in the TM commercials, Dustin tosses his driver to someone that wishes he had that driver. That’s misleading if I can’t get a 440 at any price. That I can’t hit a Mizuno MB is not the answer.

  13. Jeff

    March 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Not sure this is breaking news……..”another” website has been posting this stuff for years since the trend of tour issue stuff emerged.

    Over the years of the R11, R11s, and R1 V2 & V3 heads are simply smaller heads that are more workable and lower spin. Plus the smaller heads can be weighted more easily as the raw weight is lower than the “retail R1″.

    Not sure most folks buying clubs off the rack would opt for the smaller tour head even if it was available. Look at the RBZ tour driver last year, more people opted for the regular RBZ that is easier to launch and draw biased. Taylormade and the major OEM’s try to fill a niche of players. From a fitter / retail shop sales guy stand point, they want to keep it simple for most people.

    It would interesting if Taylormade made it an option to “special” order these products for those in the know, but again it ups the cost of production and logistics.

  14. BK24BK

    March 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Who cares? Do you think Tiger was rolling around town in a Buick or that Eli Manning actually wears a Citizen watch? I would expect them to have better equipment. I don’t buy a golf club because Tiger plays it or because Phil says “this driver is a dream.” If you are that open to suggestion, you deserve what you end up with.

  15. Double Mocha Man

    March 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Someone needs to write the article about tour variances in golf balls…

  16. Max

    March 20, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    It’s all simple cost/benefit analysis. The extra expense of shipping a tour head to the retail outlets doesn’t make up for any benefit received. The truth is, most golfers will still be pushed to the regular version, and those of you that are low handicappers will want to be fitted. The fitting means the outlet has to have all those heads/shafts available, which is an extremely high expense for a very small population and a very small sales figure at the end of the day.

    On top of that each OEM has to compete with the other OEMs that are offering basically the same thing. So you could just as easily get fit for one of those products. If you have a good golf shop, more likely than not you can be in there for a day hitting every driver they have until you find the right one and get fit for it. So why have a second head available? The logistics of coordinating that just don’t make sense when looking at the bottom line. And I’m sure they’ve figured that out as the R9 was the last time they really played with the whole TP thing.

  17. Paul

    March 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Same thing goes for balls, there cherry picked for the pros.
    Slight variances that make a ball “hotter” go to the pros.

  18. Nick

    March 19, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    You can’t buy a tour issue club because you aren’t good enough to play them. Plain and simple. If a tour issue club was actually better for anyone outside the tour or elite amateur level, then you would be able to find a rack full of them at every golf store or pro shop in the country.

    Frankly, most of you should thank TM for not giving you the opportunity to waste a bunch of money on a club that would end up in your garage next to the set of Mizuno blades that you can’t hit either.

    • christian

      April 10, 2013 at 11:31 am

      You are missing the point completely. The issue for most people is that the pros are gushing over a club they aren’t playing, ever. That is, the retail version. As we can see in this article thee are huge differences. It’s simply false advertising. That people here on WRX generally knows what’s going on is one thing, but that does NOT go for people that aren’t gear heads, including for sure many low hcp players.

      Plus, how can you know every amateur is better suited to the retail head rather than the tour versions? That’s just a stupid thing to say. I can guarantee there are quite a number of mid to low hcp players that would get better results with one of the Tour Only heads.

  19. Prairiegolf

    March 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    This is a nice article because it explains that bifurcation exists now and has existed forever. Pros play different equipment than the rest of us, wow what a news flash. This is nothing new to most gear heads. It is laughable that people actually thought the pros played exactly the same stuff available to the public. So allow bifurcation to all golfers already, it is a hypocritical argument to start with.

  20. MarkRScotland

    March 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Anyone who thinks that for one moment an elite player uses a retail product is dreaming! The shaft alone in their drivers probably costs more than a full set of irons.

    TM could avoid any bad publicity by simply describing all elite players’ equipment as “prototype” (on test – on tour) which would probably add the required level of mystique for gear heads to salivate over. If you are daft enough to pay a fortune to have a tour product when you are not a tour player then you have too much money.

    Scores are made from 100 yards in. That’s the area where you can improve your handicap. If you are practicing properly your wedge game, you would be wearing the groves down so much that you would be replacing your wedges every 4 to 6 months and at far less expense than that involved in an exotic driver.

    By the way, a TM fitter told me recently that his RocketBlade 6 iron has a loft of 26.5 degrees – that would be a four and a half iron in old money!

    Also by the way – as by far the highest percentage of forged blades sold by OEMs come from the same factory in China – does anyone seriously think Rory isn’t still playing “Titleist” and that Tiger has ever stopped playing “Mizuno”.

    The whole “play the same equipment endorsed by the Pros” has always been a complete no-debate and has never fooled anyone with half a brain.

    • christian

      April 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

      What are you on about? Mizuno is forged in Japan, by the Chou forging house. Endo, a Japanese forging house and probably the single biggest one too, has a plant in Thailand in addition to the japanese one. They forge heads for many different brands, including most of the OEMs you could think of such as Callaway, Bridgestone, TM etc etc.

  21. Brockohol

    March 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I had played a Superdeep the past few seasons before I just put the R1 in the bag (verdict is still out…lets just say the SuperDeep is ready to go in the locker if needed).

    Is it safe to say that the Superdeep was a “tour version” of the SuperTri?

  22. NotBuyingIt

    March 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

    WHo gives a toss? This club is fugly. I really don’t buy into “tweak able” club like this, a decent player should be able to shape and control the ball with his setup, why in gods name would you set a club up for a low draw for a given course? What happens when you want to pump a high one, or fade a drive into a short par four? It’s pure gimmick. I’m using a Ping G2 that was given to me 2 years ago, the club must be over 10 years old and it’s longer than a lot of guys I play with who are using all the new gear – why? because it’s hit right. Before that I used a Hawkeye 300CC head and hit that just as far as the ping (the only reason I switched from it was the reg shaft now I swing a bit faster).

    • Chuck

      March 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      No; the adjustability feature in new drivers is a boon to the recreational player. It is one development that we should all be grateful for.

      In times past, only the tour vans could afford to bend drivers to adjust face angles, etc. They were the only ones who had the beinding jigs/molds for their heads. They were the only ones who didn’t need to care, if a driver head was cracked in the bending process. They were the only ones with unlimited supplies of tour heads.

      Being able to adjust a dirver head for loft, lie and face angle is a great development. It is a “democratizing” development. It decreases the wide distance between tour players’ equipment choices and recreational players’ equipment choices. It ameliorates the problem of retail driver heads being built with shut faces and tricked-up lofts, to appeal to the average high-handicapper who fights his slice and has trouble getting the ball into the air. The guy who won’t ordinarily buy a driver with enought loft.

      I congratulate all on the conduct of this worthwhile interview.

      And I very much agree that while TM has done a perfectly excellent job of explaining “Tour” and “retail” differences, they haven’t explained why not offer everything that is USGA-approved for sale, to cut out the problem of gray-market price inflation. Why not offer heads only, in this era of components and detachable heads? Why not sell prodcts that have been spec’ed to loft, lie and face angles within 0.1 degrees? Just like the tour van?

      Again; this was a wonderful interview. Not a word of it surprised me. I know that TM marketing folks will read these comments. I’d like them to know that I appreciate their doing this, and that I ask these questions in the hope that they will do more to give us the kind of product that we want.

      • Curt

        July 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm

        Agreed; they should sell the head only if they cannot provide all shaft options to fit each individual!!! Or, provide much larger shaft options, the current one or two shafts offered are a joke. And I can never order the TP option because they never have the shaft that fits me.

        Time to elevate your game TM. In the meantime, I buy other manufacturers heads and install my shafts so I have woods that fit my game!!!

  23. Rus

    March 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    The most frustrating fact is that – a better player has not shot of getting an R1 V1 2 or 3 – one without being ROBBED for on the internet. 1K for a head and shaft. Having a tough time wrapping my brain around that price.

    • TWShoot67

      March 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Right On!, Just because a small percentage of people have friends or played college golf and get access to Tour Vans, why can’t the better player choose for himself direct from the OEM. have a custom dept. heck they already do… it’s called the “TOUR DEPARTMENT”. We are not worthy even though we are the ones who keep these companies alive or dead. If we all just boycott and play golf with what we have for the next 6 releases from TM 2 for everyone else they might wake the hell up!

      • Jeff

        March 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

        I sincerely doubt it. I am trying to not play a taylormade club this year purely based on liking the new Titleist woods and avoid the hype involved with “more distance”. Plus not really in love with the new Taylormade products. Feel Callaway and Titleist have better products this year and get back to the basics of just playing the game!

  24. 58 and sunny

    March 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    For what it’s worth, I like Sergio prefer a smaller driver head from an appearance stance. Why won’t they do like other OEM’S and make a smaller version and just sell it like the others rather than forcing us to pay triple price for a head 40 cc’s smaller? Kinda like they did with r7 425? That was shape and size a lot of players prefer, not a massive 460 bubble…and if they have the ability to make it, why not make it without all the extra testing to keep cost down? This exact article is what pushed me to titleist as there are more options…..and I know they have tour issue equipment as well, but at least the option is there. Just sick of excuse from TM that retail is what majority of public buys, they have ability to spread what most people on this site want.

    • Socorr4

      March 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      I’m with you 100% Sunny. I don’t like the lok of “standard” drivers and always buy Tour models. Fortunately, manufacturers less arrogant than TM (Callaway, Cleveand and Titleist, to name the three I use) do offer Tour models to the general public.

  25. 8thehardway

    March 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

    There is no conceivable explanation for TM doing this interview and I’m very disappointed. Deceptive advertising is the only reason most of us think we’ll eventually break 80 on a legitimate course and TM just turned a glass of unwarranted optimism from half-full to half-empty… I hope they’ll think twice before admitting to anything else.

    • christian

      March 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      You mean you don’t want to know the “terrible truth”? You actually prefer being lied to?

  26. Metal-X

    March 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

    This is a great article! Gearheads (like me) are lured in by the thought of playing what the pros play and spending hundreds on “T” version heads. Seriously, none have helped my game other than the novelty of having it in the bag. I’m near scratch and I realize now that trackman and a good fitting is all you need for the driver. I’m not sure what connection the “T” aftermarket guys have and how Taylormade can sit by and watch them charge huge dollars for the stuff is beyond me. Allow the public to buy “T” heads directly from Taylormade at a premium if that what you want. Not me.

    • Karma

      March 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Even better is your paying extra Benny’s for gear that is just left over and auctioned in bulk…..TMAG should do the right thing, distribute this gear that is useless once there staff is covered and let the public get their hands on what they want, but not at an inflated price from the few people with inside sources able to make bids on this equipment that some of us would reconsider TM’s tactics if for once it was in our favor, rather than the guy with a connect robbing us blind for a v3

      • TWShoot67

        March 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm

        Thats what I’m talking about. It’s not like equipment gear heads didn’t know that all OEM’s have been lying for years, saying we get the same as the pro’s get. heck if your going to make 3/5/7 versions make them available to the people who drive these sales, THE PUBLIC!

      • Joe C

        March 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        Not at inflated prices? TM makes tens of thousands of retail clubs, they make a few hundred or a thousand Tour models. Do the math, the Tour models are crazy expensive to make. Your not getting anywhere near them for a price you can afford. Get over it.

  27. christian

    March 17, 2013 at 4:03 am

    And no, I don’t care if I the retail version “might suit me or the average golfer better”..I don’t need some OEM to tell me what is good and not good for me, what I can or can’t “appreciate” or that my hcp is not low enough bla bla bla. The only decent thing to do is to offer all these versions to the general public, or add a disclaimer to every advert/commercial stating that the product the tour pro in the ad touts, is different to what is sold at retail. Aren’t there laws against this kind of marketing?

    • Can't believe they even put this out

      March 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Believe it’s “bait & switch”…..just sick of certain OEM’S excuse being the market is more profitable from weekend warrior. We don’t all want 17 and the most forgiving huge driver head legal by rule. I see more enthusiasts, WRX members who want players gear, not what you think is best for us. Maybe my neighbor who plays 4 times a year, but let the guys who are passionate about their equipment get their hands on what they want.

      • rtylerg

        March 19, 2013 at 10:44 am

        The main thing that bothers me about Taylormade (and Adams, go figure!) is their lack of shaft options. I personally think that distance, spin, launch and consistency with the driver have less to do with the head and more to do with the shaft. The fact that Taylormade only offers like 3 shaft options is terrible. Honestly I’m more interested in ordering a custom Cobra driver as they offer many high performance shafts at the lowest upcharges I’ve seen of the manufacturers.

        • Jeffrey

          July 29, 2013 at 10:06 am

          The TP version offers boat loads of shaft options. The regular I think has four. Which is limiting for some. People like me who have ridiculous spin rates have to spend a fortune to get the correct shaft.

  28. christian

    March 17, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Bottom line: The club TM sells at retail has got very little in common with the clubs the pros hit on tour, the same players that are touting the amazing properties of the R1..It could almost be called false advertising! And, yes, this has been going on for years, I guess the last real “TP” driver was also the first one, the R510TP. That head came in 9 degrees only for lefties, because that’s what Mike Weir used to win the Masters. A real tour product sold to us mere mortals. Everything after that is apparently just pure, dishonest marketing BS.

  29. Shawn Edwards

    March 17, 2013 at 1:22 am

    Anybody heard of a “CIRCLE T”?

  30. John

    March 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    The whole rediculiosness to this is the fact, as many of you pointed out, that they are marketing one thing and the players are doing another. They have the r1 commercial making it seem as if the taylormade staffers are playing THE R1 (v1) and are playing something completely different that isn’t even available to be bought. Same as with the Rocketbladez, how many staffers actually still play then that are in the commercial saying they play a “distance Iron”. oh wait, Justin Rose does actually play the rocketbladez, in a long iron, and MB’s for the rest. Just stop with all the blatant false advertising. Get some class taylormade, your not gonna last long in this information era where everyone can point out your BS marketing strategies. Bought the R11s because I actually did want a large forgiving driver, and play your mb irons, but can’t say I will be a returning customer just because of all this type of non-sense by taylormade. Much would rather have my money supporting comanies like Ping, Titliest, or Callaway who actually is transparent with why they put out.

    • maurorac

      March 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      John, you want a nice, pure Iron, go look at Mizuno. No BS marketing.

      • Curt

        July 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

        I will second that!!!

        Mizzy for life!!!

  31. Gdog

    March 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Excellent article, giving us insight into the reality of the equipment industry…almost makes sense from an economic perspective…competition and obselessence being so prevelent for the retailers…its too bad though and even worse that the retailer staff never mention this or don’t know themselves.

    I am curious if anyone has insight on retail vs. tour iron sets?

    Thanks.
    G.

  32. Rus

    March 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Boy oh boy… Taylor Made is making more converts to other companies every day. I’m a Golf Instructor at a major resort and we had to upgrade from the R1 to the R1 TP’s because the stock shafts just aren’t very good. Now to see that they readily admit to FLEASING their supports of their product is an abomination. I played an R11s but could never get the spin rates down to a manageable number. Now reading this well article I am glad I got my 913 fitted at the PGA show and it.. IT kills any retail Taylor Made driver BY ALOT!

    • ABgolfer2

      March 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Fleasing: to lie to your customers by providing them with a product more suited to their actual needs. Personally I think the real lie is exactly where you had a problem. Retail drivers often have poor quality shafts. A 2013 S is weaker than a 1980s R.

  33. nitram

    March 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for finally daylighting this issue and hopefully putting it to bed.

  34. LovinItAll

    March 16, 2013 at 9:50 am

    The idea that 460cc drivers are “better” for the AVERAGE” golfer has always bothered me. I’ve always been up for buying more game when possible, but never based on a manufacturer’s claim…my experience is all that matters to me.

    I’ve tried to find a 460cc driver that I like since they were first introduced. Notwithstanding the fact that I really don’t like the huge head, I’ve never seen any performance gains when bashing balls on the range. Specifically, I’ve never noticed an improvement in off-center hits when compared to my old 983k driver. I recently discovered why.

    Moment of Inertia: The amount of force required to twist an object around a rotational axis.

    Ostensibly, the larger face of the big drivers is more ‘forgiving’ due to the higher MOI. However, unless a golfer’s swing speed is north of 95 mph (higher, really, but 95 is faster than the vast majority of amateur golfers can swing a club), the golfer isn’t generating enough force to see an appreciable difference in increased MOI over MY driver. It’s physics, so please, save the flaming.

    So why did slower SS golfers switch to larger heads and notice improvement back when mfg’s were first pushing the ‘bigger is better’ marketing hype? Largely due to the lighter, more flexible shafts that were first slapped on the new, larger heads. I’ve changed shafts several times in my 983k…that does the trick. I’m hitting the ball further in my mid-50′s than I ever have (I’m not a long driver of the golf ball – 240-250 c&r), and it isn’t because of a bigger driver head.mnote that my ‘K’ series driver’s cor is at the limit.

    Most amateurs would be better served putting the lightest head possible on their driver. After all, it’s not like one is going to start whiffing a 400cc driver, and they’ll still hit the sweet spot as often as they would with a 460cc model. I’ll hold off on ‘sweet spot’ talk other than to say that the SS is the same size on all drivers regardless of when they were made or what size they are.

    Lastly, I’m not discounting the confidence factor. If one thinks they’ll perform better with a particular piece of equipment, they probably will unless the gear is inferior in some way. The mind is an amazing thing!

  35. Birdie Bobz-ier

    March 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Actually the V2 & V3 are the higher spinning heads while the V1 is lower spinning with more weight towards the face.
    Tour Pros need more ball control, ie more spin and the V2/V3 will provide that.

    1. The V2 and V3 models of the R1 produce MORE spin not less than the V1 retail R1.

    2. The tour pro needs more ball control not less. That means more spin is better for ball control. Imagine hitting a flier out of the rough and seeing the ball take off with little control….that is less spin. Not what the tour pro wants.

    3. The R1 V1 has weight more towards the face and that equates to lower spin, straighter shots. Good for average joe six-pack golfer, but not good for tour pro.
    Imagine a pro baseball pitcher throwing a baseball without seams! Yikes, he would have no curve balls, no control over the pitch at all! Not good. That is the R1 V1 driver…straight and low spin. The baseball with seams is the V2 & V3 drivers.

    4. So, why doesn’t TM sell a V2 or V3 driver….more spin = less distance most of the time especially for average golfer. Less distance = less sales = less $$$$$$ for TM. 95% of the retail golfing public is best served by the R1 V1.

    5. The V2 & V3 drivers are not better…. they are different designs…period.

    Bottom line: Why do the pros have the V2 & V3 available? This was the question posed.

    The tour pro needs more control over the ball and that equates to more spin…enter the V2 & V3 drivers…smaller heads with weight further from the face…unlike the V1 retail R1.

    • Gdog

      March 17, 2013 at 1:48 am

      Your suggestion re. Spin contradicts the article and the general perception. But sounds like you write with some authority…..what are your thoughts re. Retail vs. Tour irons?

    • Joe Golfer

      March 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

      I would imagine that pros can have their clubheads customized far more than what those weights allow.
      I recall hearing several years back that Jesper Parnevik used to have an extra 18 grams of weight added to the toe area of his drivers. This wasn’t lead tape or weights that one screws in.
      One can make the clubhead so that it had more weight in a specific area, just as Parnevik had done. Perhaps it was welded weight on the inside prior to putting together a four piece driver clubhead, or some other method.
      I’ve always heard that pros prefer low spinning drivers. When they play an Adams brand, they typically play the LS (low spin) head.
      So I don’t think they necessarily want a clubhead that is higher spinning, as you state about the V2 and V3 versions. I think the article above is probably more correct. Those pros get fit outdoors with the best monitors and live testing, making sure they have the exact correct head AND SHAFT to maximize their game.
      Now if we could only get TaylorMade (and other OEM’s) to put those $360 dollar shafts into our drivers just like the pros use :)

    • David

      August 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

      You are confusing side spin with back spin..

  36. Wally Kim

    March 16, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Get read. Now I want the tour issue more than ever.

  37. Tom

    March 16, 2013 at 5:28 am

    I managed to get a R11 Dot head which was perfect and out performed my retail R11 but cracked the face on the Tour issue dot head. I managed to ring the tour dept and they said that as a non Taylormade contracted pro I shouldn’t of even had the head and all the TM tour product is only ‘lent’ the to the pros and they should in theory be returned back to TM when the pro had finished with them. I had paid £300 for this head and as it was a tour product it wasn’t under any warranty. This seemed unfair as it had broken but that’s the downside of not buying retail product. The guy I spoke to from the tour department suggested I was may as well bin it or use it as a paperweight.

  38. Jack

    March 16, 2013 at 4:35 am

    That’s right what happened to The TP heads?

    • Jack

      March 16, 2013 at 4:37 am

      Nvm they still sell it but the heads are the same… Wth?

  39. G

    March 16, 2013 at 4:17 am

    I thought it was illegal for manufacturers to sell products that are different for the public than are used by the special people? Wasn’t there some sort of case that went through the courts regarding this very fact, that some manufacturer had made a special version that wasn’t available to the general public and that company was sued for doing that?
    Does anybody know? Why do golf equipment manufacturers get away with selling versions that are different than what the Pros use?

    Thanks

  40. mark

    March 16, 2013 at 4:13 am

    No big deal. An F1 driver doesn’t drive a Chevvy or Ford so why would a Tour Pro, who needs a bespoke club to maximise his performance (it is their living) use something off the shelf? Add in the fact that most amateurs need as much assistance as we can get and the retail version will be of much more use to us. Give me 10.5 loft and a HUGE sweetspot please!

  41. Birdie Bobz-ier

    March 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Your photo of the toe weights indicates that the tour V2 model has weights further ahead but the one with the toe weight closer to the face is the V1 retail model.

  42. Danny

    March 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Does this surprise anyone? Taylormade are the kings of false advertising. Just watch the rockerbladez distance iron commercials or the rocketballz ads for a driver none of those guys bag.

    Also, Dustin Justin promotes Dicks and Golf Galaxy. Some guys just can’t turn a paycheck down.

    • G

      March 16, 2013 at 4:18 am

      Yup. It turns out, the Callaway XHot is definitely longer than any of the Rocketblades. By far.

    • Joe Golfer

      March 21, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      You state that Dustin Johnson promotes both Dicks and Golf Galaxy.
      Golf Galaxy is owned by Dicks Sporting Goods, so it’s not like there’s any conflict of interest there.
      He’s not taking a paycheck to promote two competing stores, since they are both owned by the same parent company.

  43. docsbro

    March 15, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Good article and thanks for the information. The idea that Tour players play the “same game” as the rest of us is laughable. They have perfectly fit clubs, perfectly manicured golf courses(it always makes me smile when those guys talk about poor course conditions), and thousands of people(plus cameras) to help them find errant tee shots. But hey it’s a good gig if you can get it.

  44. Jeff

    March 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    You want TM to be “more forthcoming” with this information? You sat down with the senior director of product creation and discussed the differences in sufficient depth to write an entire article on it. What would you consider to be “more forthcoming?”

    • Bsimos

      March 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Forthcoming, meaning being direct and truthful in the retail advertising.

  45. Dave

    March 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    While I can understand that tour pro’s are the best players on the planet, the fact that they are given equipment that is not available and marketing that equipment is fraudulant and false advertising.

    In the past prior to the R9 taylormade had always released at least 1 of the tour models onto the market as a tp version. As a pro myself i have always used these models as like Garcia i prefer a smaller driver head. Suggesting to people that a tp version is for sale as on the markets today is ridiculous as all that does is enable Taylormade to charge excessive amounts for shafts and upcharge as well.

    When will they realise that the general public would like to decide for themselves which version they prefer or at least offer v2 and v3 in fitting centres worldwide.

    I played the R7 Superquad TP which was and probably still is the best driver i have ever used and i still use the R9 due to the 425cc head. Small is better and even those people that i teach hit a smaller head better as it focuses them to have to rather than these ridiculous max MOI 460cc things!

  46. SV

    March 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Interesting article, but nothing new. Tour players have always had different equipment. They represent the company and the company wants the pros to perform at their best so the company can sell more equipment.

  47. Bob

    March 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I was told that Taylor Made has three different lofted heads in the Version 2. If you get one from the tour it doesn’t have the + – 2 degree hosel. Rather it is marked +- 1.5 degrees on the inside. They evidently don’t need the full 2 degrees with 3 different lofts to start with. They didn’t say if it is 9, 10, 11 or 8, 9, 10…..

  48. footwedge

    March 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Nicely written. Agreed – it’s fine to have special tour only versions of equipment, but not fine for pros to imply that you are buying their version.

  49. TWShoot67

    March 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    So after all that, we learn’t something most of us gear heads already knew 10 years ago. All OEM’s make Tour Only Gear. Now they also know that there is a small percentage of golfers who want to play them and some actual good amateurs who canplay tour only heads. What I want to know is if Tom Olsavsky could send me 1 of V1, 1of V2 and 1 of V3? Then I can do my own little shootout and show what works for this 2 handicap golfer! Tom if you hear me I’m a GHIN 2 been playing your Tour heads since the Tour 300 series. Then went to the R510 series like 3 or 4 different versions, finally settling on the R510 DF Proto which I still feel is the best head ever made by Taylormade and still own 2 just because (lol). Now I play a couple product lines back the Superfast V1 Tour issue that most didn’t like as it was almost 4* open and super low spin. Now that it’s all out in the open maybe TM could make these available through custom order? Then they wouldn’t have guys/gals stealing them from foundries or tour vans and selling them to only a select few, who are robbing people. I bet Taylormade would sell a decent amount of these Tour Only heads and places like ebay wouldn’t have so many people buying/selling fakes. All OEM’s could do this. They are already being sold basically on black market or being unloaded to guys in Florida and California that buy up all the last years models and throw them on ebay in mass quanities. So there’s enough to go around to players who want them, maybe Taylormade could be the first OEM to do this instead of having certain guys like the previous owner of BSG who ripped people off left and right only because he knew someone on the inside. These should be available to everyone who wants to buy one. Lie I said Custom Order. Come on Taylormade step up! You have guys like me who will support this specialty item. You already did it with B headed irons. It’s just time to make the next move.

    • G

      March 16, 2013 at 4:20 am

      But if they started giving it out, it wouldn’t be “special” !!! haha

    • Roy D Mercer

      March 17, 2013 at 2:00 am

      So do you really think a “Tour” spec head is going to move your handicap 1 stroke lower? Really? Puhleeze give me a break. I’d be willing to bet $100 that on average a Tour driver head wouldn’t make any statistically relevant difference in any single digit amateur’s handicaps. None. Zero. Zilch. We ain’t that elite so quit stroking your ego and realize that you’ve fallen right into the manufacturers Mysterious Driver BS Sales Vortex. That said, I too have an issue with anyone claiming you can play the precise same club whoever is playing on tour. That’s wrong.

      Now if you really want to get longer / straighter go get a real legit quality club fitting and then go start working out.

      PS_In my current bag I’ve a 3-wood right off a Tour van via a player whom I helped with his putting. It isn’t one yard longer than a production head despite being “Tour Certified”. Hit one of his drivers as well — nothing magic. Give it up.

      • bogeyman2

        March 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        Right Roy; it isn’t the club it’s the clubber! Tour players can take an amateurs clubs and play scratch golf but the opposite doesn’t apply!

      • maurorac

        March 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm

        Roy, I think you’re missing his point. He’s not implying that it would make him a better Golfer, it’s just a comfort level some of us “older”, or more traditional guys may have. For Drivers; personally, I’m tired of the “huge heads”. Wish I could get a look at the smaller “pro” heads Taylor produces. First “metal” wood was a Taylor 9 Degree with an Aldila Gold (whatever)Shaft in it, some 35 years ago. Was tough to move out of Persimmon, but the head on that club was easily around the same size, or possibly smaller, than the Persimmon headed driver I was playing and was certainly not much bigger than most 3 metals of today, but had no problems “moving it out there”. Don’t think I went to a metal 3-wood until about 5 years ago….yes, Persimmon 3-wood with steel shaft. Really didn’t experience much distance change at all (except perhaps on off center hits). Only changed, because the insert and head were finally giving out. Anyway, I would absolutely prefer a smaller head and I believe that’s where TWShoot67 was going, along with the whole false marketing pretense.

    • Joe C

      March 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      This article, aside from the specs mentioned, is sensationalism and a waste of time. I expect better from this website. Anyone, without a + handicap, who thinks they’re playing the same equipment as tour pros are delusional. Why don’t you do another sensationalistic article about how shaft makers should be more transparent and put in their ads that tour pros actually get the absolute pick of the litter shafts that are double or triple X stiffness, and then tipped an inch or two. Oh wait, I just did it. Wow being a journalist, or whatever’s you call yourself, feels good. Where’s my check? You guys need to step up your game.

      • Curt

        July 1, 2013 at 10:57 am

        Seriously???

      • RCM1301

        July 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

        Please do not sit down, as the sun may go also. Wow, you think a lot of yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>