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Opinion & Analysis

New and Old: TaylorMade 2017 M1 460 driver vs. TaylorMade SLDR S 460

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What happens when you hit TaylorMade’s 2017 M1 460 driver against the company’s SLDR S driver?

I wanted to do this test because when the SLDR came out more than three years ago its radically forward center of gravity changed the way drivers were designed, sold and talked about by golfers.

How much has changed since then? Enjoy my video above, which shows my on-course and launch monitor tests of the clubs.

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Mark Crossfield has been coaching golf for more than 20 years, and has enjoyed shaping the digital golf world with fresh, original and educated videos. Basically, I am that guy from YouTube. You can connect with Mark on Periscope (4golfonline) and Snapchat (AskGolfGuru), as well through the social media accounts linked below.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. John Delirious

    Jan 15, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Posters knocking Mark because his tests don’t validate their purchase of an M1, are utter and complete morons.

  2. DB

    Jan 11, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Only thing this test tells me is that Mark is consistently inconsistent with any driver.
    He’s also stating the obvious… with any driver it will simply come down to how it suits you swing, nothing much to do with the new tech. FWIW, I’m about to drop my Ping G for a Cobra F7. Is it longer or straighter than the G? Yes, for me it is, but that is simply a function of how it fits my swing, nothing to do with the clubs themselves. In someone else’s hands the G may be better. As much as I tried I just never could get along with the Ping, but the F7 just feels right to me, so the result is longer, straighter drives. I could probably save some coin and find an older model that works too, but I won’t, so not even going to pretend that I’d even entertain that idea.

  3. james day

    Jan 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Typically stupid test which tells us nothing other than the old spec of a standard Taylor Made club suits him more than the new spec. Mark Crossfield and many others are the mud in the muddy waters. Maybe he believes this is worth while which makes him a moron. Maybe he understands its a stupid test which makes him a total fake…

    • Egor

      Jan 18, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      You ok dude? Link us to some of your videos.

  4. jgpl001

    Jan 10, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    SLDR 430 TP still the king for distance, can be very unforgiving though….the only reason it left my bag

  5. W

    Jan 10, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Mark, can you please test the SLDR 430 against the 2017 M1 440? Thank you

  6. G.W

    Jan 9, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    When you are swinging well it’s tough to beat the sldr for distance but when your swing is off a touch it is a punisher.I still have my sldr as a back up.

  7. MrPoopoo

    Jan 9, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Yet to see a review or comparison that tells me that I should get the new club. All launch data I’ve seen comparing 2017 M1 to [insert TM driver post 2014] shows no distance improvement over previous comparable models.

    The only thing the 2017 M1 has proven in the closed data sessions is that it may be slightly more forgiving since the clubhead is stretched out longer from front to back.

    • McPickens

      Jan 11, 2017 at 6:23 am

      USGA put limit on clubhead COR in 1999, meaning no more gains in distance from clubhead to ball energy transfer. Only gains players can make are from technique, ball, ball flight/launch conditions, clubhead forgiveness.

      DS

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Opinion & Analysis

Junior golf development 101

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So here’s a best guess: At 7-years-old, in the United States, there are about 200 junior boy golfers “trying.” That is, they are taking lessons, going to tournaments, and doing some sort of practice. In my estimation, this number doubles every year until high school. This means that at 13 there are 12,800 players trying. It also means that each and every year, it gets almost twice as tough to win. This of course continued until about 400 of these players go on to play NCAA Division 1 golf and another 1,000 or so go on to play NCAA D2, D3, NAIA, or club golf.

So why is this important? Because between 7-13 years old kids are gonna change A LOT. In particular, kids who start early and have some success are going to face infinitely better competition in three years. Likewise, students who start at 12 are going to lack experience playing competitive golf. This includes traveling, charting courses, and maybe playing in different conditions.

The difficulty with golf is that to become a college athlete the data suggest that by the end of freshman year in high school you should be able to shot about 78. Below are the scoring differentials (basically, handicaps) of players who, according to best guess are on pace to play college golf:

So what is a kid or parent to do? I would focus on the player developing at least six shots. They are:

  • go-to shot off the tee
  • stock iron shot
  • low iron shot
  • low spinning chip
  • flopper
  • bump and run

I would challenge them with games:

  • round with just even irons or odd
  • draw back; every time they miss a putt on the course, they draw the putt away from the hole a putter length
  • play the red tees and try to shoot as low as possible

The secret sauce for kids is to have the desire and internal motivation to continue to learn and grow. Kids that love golf and have a future will not only have some scoring success but will have a deep passion and interest for the game. They will spend countless hours honing different shots and trajectories, all while avoiding the dangers of adolescence (which, of course, is the real goal of youth sports).

The reality is that success, particularly in junior golf, has a ton to do with things people don’t consider. This includes when puberty happens, who your children play with at the club (other competitive players?), how much they want to compete and access to their club.

In fact, in all cases, your kid would be better off at the goat ranch down the road, without a range, with three kids of the same skill level than alone on his fancy range pounding perfect range balls.

Let that sink in.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work?

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Having been in the wedge business for over thirty years now, and having focused my entire life’s work on how to make wedges work better, one of my biggest frustrations is how under-informed most golfers are about wedges in general, and how misinformed most are about the elements of a wedge that really affect performance.

That under-informed and misinformed “double whammy” helps make the wedge category to be the least dynamic of the entire golf equipment industry. Consider this if you will. Golfers carry only one driver and only one putter, but an average of three wedges. BUT – and it’s a big “but” – every year, unit sales of both drivers and putters are more than double the unit sales of wedges.
So why is that?

Over those thirty-plus years, I have conducted numerous surveys of golfers to ask that very question, and I’ve complemented that statistical insight with hundreds of one-on-one interviews with golfers of all skill levels. My key takeaways are:

  • Most golfers have not had a track record of improved performance with new wedges that mirror their positive experience with a new driver or putter.
  • A large percentage of golfers consider their wedge play to be one of the weaker parts of their games.
  • And most golfers do not really understand that wedge play is the most challenging aspect of golf.
  • On that last point, I wrote a post almost two years ago addressing this very subject, “Why Wedge Mastery Is So Elusive” (read it here).

So now let’s dive into what really makes a wedge work. In essence, wedges are not that much different from all the other clubs in our bags. The three key elements that make any club do what it does are:

  • The distribution of mass around the clubhead
  • The shaft characteristics
  • The specifications for weight, shaft length and lie angle

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

For any golf club to perform to its optimum for a given golfer, these three key measurements must be correct. Shaft length and lie angle work together to help that golfer deliver the clubhead to the ball as accurately as possible time and again. If either spec is off even a little bit, quality contact will be sacrificed. The overall weight of the club is much more critical than the mystical “swing weight”, and I’ve always believed that in wedges, that overall weight should be slightly heavier than the set-match 9-iron, but not dramatically so.

We encounter so many golfers who have migrated to light steel or graphite shafts in their irons, but are still trying to play off-the-rack wedges with their heavy stiff steel shafts that complete prohibit the making of a consistent swing evolution from their short irons to their wedges.

That leads to the consistent observation that so many golfers completely ignore the shaft specifics in their wedges, even after undergoing a custom fitting of their irons to try to get the right shaft to optimize performance through the set. The fact is, to optimize performance your wedges need to be pretty consistent with your irons in shaft weight, material and flex.

Now it’s time to dive into the design of a wedge head, expanding on what I wrote in that post of two years ago (please go back to that link and read it again!)

The wedge “wizards” would have you believe that the only things that matter in wedge design are “grooves and grinds.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Grooves can only do so much, and their primary purpose is the same as the tread on your tires – to channel away moisture and matter to allow more of the clubface to contact the ball. In our robotic testing of Edison Forged wedges – on a dry ball – the complete absence of grooves only reduced spin by 15 percent! But, when you add moisture and/or matter, that changes dramatically.

Understand the USGA hasn’t changed the Rules of Golf that govern groove geometry in over 12 years, and every company serious about their wedge product pushes those rules to the limit. There is no story here!
For years, I have consistently taken umbrage to the constant drivel about “grinds.” The fact is that you will encounter every kind of lie and turf imaginable during the life of your wedges, and unless you are an elite tour-caliber player, it is unlikely you can discern the difference from one specialized grind to another.

Almost all wedge sole designs are pretty darn good, once you learn how to use the bounce to your advantage, but that’s a post for another time.

Now, the clubhead.

Very simply, what makes any golf club work – and wedges are no different – is the way mass is distributed around the clubhead. Period.

All modern drivers are about the same, with subtle nuanced differences from brand to brand. Likewise, there are only about four distinctly different kinds of irons: Single piece tour blades, modern distance blades with internal technologies, game improvement designs with accented perimeter weighting and whatever a “super game improvement iron” is. Fairways, hybrids, even putters are sold primarily by touting the design parameters of the clubhead.

So, why not wedges?]

This has gotten long, so next week I’ll dive into “The anatomy of a wedge head.”

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: 2023 PGA Merchandise Show recap

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All the new interesting things we enjoyed and appreciated.

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