The photos that leaked of the M4 driver, and later of the M3 driver, showed a technology called “Hammerhead,” which we thought would be the most significant technology in the new M3 and M4 drivers. Ha, not even close.
TaylorMade’s new M3 and M4 drivers have what’s called a “Twist Face,” which means the driver faces do not have the traditional bulge and roll that drivers have used since 1888. Instead, they’re actually twisted. The high-toe portion of the faces are more open and with more loft than normal, while the low-heel portions are closed and have less loft than normal.
“TaylorMade engineers discovered there was a flaw in the traditional bulge and roll.”
Why… why after over 100 years does TaylorMade think that bulge and roll is wrong?
Well, according to the TaylorMade team, the company studied “more than half a million shots” from golfers of all skill levels, using data recovery devices — for swing path, launch and landing location — to determine trends. What TaylorMade found is that shots struck on the high toe went 8 yards left of the target on average and with less spin than ideal (a hook), and shots struck on the low heel went 6 yards right of the target on average, and with more spin than ideal (a slice).
Normal bulge and roll uses curvature — straight across from heel to toe and straight up and down from top to bottom — in order to impart gear effect on the golf ball. That means shots hit on the toe should spin back to the left and towards the target line, while shots hit on the heel should spin back to the right and toward the target line. With a flat-faced golf club (or without bulge and roll), toe shots would go way right and heel shots would go way left. Bulge and roll was introduced to bring shots hit all over the face back to the target or the centerline.
TaylorMade’s findings, however, show that traditional bulge and roll, or at least the way it’s used by golfers in the real world, forces toe shots too low and left, and heel shots too high and right.
Brian Bazzel, the Vice President of Product Creation at TaylorMade, explains the phenomenon:
“Players over or under rotate at impact and the low heel to high toe impacts are in the rotation axis of the face closing. So if the golfer over rotates you hit high toe… under rotation leads to low heel. Players that create more droop can lead to slightly higher face shots and vice versa, but the primary driver of the impact location spread is do to face rotation.”
So, the way golfers rotate the face, on average, leads to the overall trend of toe shots going low-left and heel shots going high-right. And it makes sense. Think about your latest round or practice session. When you hit the ball off the toe, it was probably high on the face, right? And your heel shots are probably low on the face. Seriously, when is the last time you hit the ball off the high heel? TaylorMade says that is due to face rotation, and it mends the trend by using “Twist Face.”
And what is Twist Face exactly? Bazzel explains again:
- At 15mm above CF (center face) and 15mm to the toe, the loft will be 0.5 (degrees) weaker and 0.5 degrees more open than standard bulge and roll.
- At 15mm below CF (center face) and 15mm to the heel, the loft is going to be 0.5 degrees stronger and 0.5 degrees more closed than standard bulge and roll.
In the end, TaylorMade says shots hit off the high toe will go 1 yard left of the target on average instead of 8 yards, and low heel shots will go 2 yards right of the target on average instead of 6 yards. That drops the differential on shots from toe-to-heel from 14 yards down to 3 yards, according to TaylorMade. Luckily, the design is unnoticeable from address — at least, unnoticeable to me. See for yourself…
Note: While the new Twist Face technology is in the new M3 and M4 drivers, TaylorMade says it’s not ready to implement it into the new fairway woods or rescues; it needs more time for R&D, according to TaylorMade.
Additionally, TaylorMade has also introduced its new “Hammerhead” technology, as the leaked photos of the drivers have implied. The slot-technology, which is broken up into three sections, is in the soles of both the CG-adjustable M3 head, and the non-CG-adjustable M4 head. Since the speed pocket was divided into three zones, the length of the slot now stretches 100mm across the sole instead of 82mm in previous M2 designs; that leads to more forgiveness across the face. The ribs behind the face mean the face was able to made thinner for more ball speed, effectively making the sweet spot bigger. The center portion of the slot allows for greater ball speed on shots hit low on the face.
The hammerhead slot works in conjunction with the Twist Face technology, and the familiar inverted cone design used in TaylorMade drivers of the past, to boost ball speeds across the face.
TaylorMade is also ditching the white, and going back to silver for the first time since the SLDR S release. TaylorMade’s M3 and M4 metalwoods have a new matte silver front section on the M3 and M4 drivers, with a raised 5-layer carbon composite crown back section — it’s raised for more aerodynamic qualities. Each of the layers has also been thinned out to lower CG (center of gravity), while being stronger than ever due to years of research, according to TaylorMade.
See below for more details on the M3 and M4 drivers, fairway woods and rescues. All metalwood offerings will be available on February 16.
TaylorMade M3 driver ($499)
Out with the T-track, in with the Y-track.
Rather than having two independent swing weight tracks, as with the 2016 and 2017 M1 drivers, the M3 drivers have one track (it houses two 11-gram weights) that’s connected and allows for more control over front-to-back CG adjustments, and heel-to-toe CG adjustments.
Overall, there’s 1,000 different CG configurations, according to TaylorMade, and the Y-track allows the CG to move 36 percent further back in the most rearward weight settings, thus boosting the MOI (moment of inertia) by 10 percent. Front-to-back CG movement was also increased by 83 percent, says TaylorMade. The curvature of the sole is flatter than previous M1 drivers, meaning CG is lower in the clubhead regardless of the weight settings.
Additionally, the loft sleeve allows for 12 different positions and 4 degrees of change. Stock heads for right-handed players will be 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees, while left-handed options include 9.5 and 10.5 degree heads.
TaylorMade M3 440 ($499)
The CG adjustable M3 driver head will also be available in a 440cc version, which has a slightly more compact look and a deeper face. Like the 460 version, it will come stock with Mitsubishi’s Tensei CK Red (high launch), Blue (mid-launch) or White (low-launch) shafts in R, S and X flexes and a Lamkin UTx cord grip. Additional shafts are available at no upcharge.
The M3 440 drivers are a right-handed-only option and will come in 9 and 10-degree lofts. See more photos here.
TaylorMade M3 fairways ($299)
The CG-adjustable M3 fairway woods are more adjustable than the M1 2017 fairway woods because the sliding weight now measures 29 grams instead of 25 grams. Also, the fairway woods are now constructed with 40 stainless steel bodies, Ni-Co C300 faces and the new 5-layer crown that appears in the M3 and M4 driver heads. To produce the lower spin ball flight that better players prefer, the moveable weight track was pushed 1mm toward the face; the composite crown also saved 8 grams from the top of the club head, and it was displaced low and forward in the head.
For better turf interaction, TaylorMade designed what it calls an “overhang” that extends the length of the track to improve playability. The speed pocket behind the face, which helps boost ball speed and promotes face-flex, is longer than in the M1 2017 fairways. The changes are said to lead to more ball speed on mishits low on the face, and less backspin, too.
Available lofts for the M3 fairway woods include 15, 17 and 19 degrees for right-handers, and 15 and 19 degrees for lefties. Stock shafts are Mitsubishi’s Tensei Blue (A, R, S and X flexes).
TaylorMade M3 rescues ($249)
The sliding weight in the M3 rescue clubs weighs 30 grams, instead of the 27-gram weight that was in the M1 2017 rescues. They will come stock with Mitsubishi Rensei Blue hybrid shaft (R, S and X flexes), and will be available in 17, 19, 21 and 24 degree heads for righties, and 19 and 21-degree options for lefties.
TaylorMade M4 driver ($429)
Like the M2 drivers of yesteryear, the M4 drivers are the more forgiving ying to the M3’s yang. They feature the same Twist Face and Hammerhead technologies as the M3, but they also use the familiar “Geocoustic” technology as seen in the M2 drivers; the Geocoustic designs use geometry to produce more forgiveness and better acoustics.
Overall, the M4 drivers have a lower and more rearward CG compared to the M2 2017 drivers. The M4 has a redesigned face that saves 8 grams compared to the M2 2017 drivers, which means it’s made thinner for more ball speed, and allows that discretionary weight to be placed low and rearward in the head for higher MOI. The mass pad on the rearward portion of the sole has also been increased from 22 to 41 grams — for golfers, that means more forgiveness and a higher launch.
For righties, the M4 drivers will be available in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degree heads, and 9.5 and 10.5 degree heads for lefties. Stock shafts are Fujikura’s Atmos Red 6X, 5S, 5R and 5A shafts.
TaylorMade is also offering an M4 D-Type, which has an inherent draw-bias for those struggling to mend a slice. That will be available in 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degree options for righties and 9.5 and 10.5 degree heads for lefties. The M4 D-Type will come stock with Matrix’s Platinum White Tie 55 (S and R flex) and 45 (A and L flex) shafts.
TaylorMade M4 fairways ($249)
The M4 fairway woods are made to be more forgiving than the M3 fairways, and even more forgiving than the previous M2 fairways. The rear mass pads have been separated out toward the toe and heel to preserve ball speeds on off-center hits. Also, the thinner and stronger No-Co C300 faces help to increase COR (coefficient of restitution) for higher ball speeds on off-center strikes.
There is also an M4 Tour head that’s available, which measures 156cc instead of the normal 172cc M4 head. It has a deeper face and an obviously more compact look — it will produce lower launch and more workability, according to TaylorMade.
Right-hand M4 (15, 16.5, 18, 21 and 24 degrees heads) and left-hand M4 (15, 16.5 and 18 degree heads) fairways will come stock with Fujikura’s Atmos Red shafts. Right-hand M4 Tour (15 and 18 degrees) fairways will come stock with Mitsubishi’s Tensei Blue shafts.
TaylorMade M4 rescues ($219)
The TaylorMade M4 rescues have also been made more forgiving due to the split rear mass pad to help on off-center strikes, and they have a speed pocket for higher ball speeds across the face
Right-hand M4 rescues (19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees) and left-hand M4 Rescues (19, 22 and 25 degrees) will come stock with Fujikura’s Atmos Red shafts.
Listen below for more on Twist Face from Brian Bazzel, VP of Product Creation at TaylorMade:
The ‘game-changing’ Autoflex shaft: A year in review
Last year in August, I introduced the now-famous AutoFlex golf shaft to the English-speaking world here on GolfWRX (Korea’s Autoflex shaft: Challenging the conventional wisdom of golf).
Created by Dumina Co. in South Korea, the upstart shaft challenged the commonly-held view that flexible shafts are not only straighter but longer as well. In the weeks that followed, the neon pink shaft exploded onto the golf scene fueled by a series of videos from TXG’s Ian Fraser and Matt Blois, who seemed equally amazed at the unexpected results. And from the depths of obscurity where so many would-be ‘game changers’ remained, the legend of the Autoflex was born.
Looking back, it may have been the perfect storm – an innovative, ultralight, and flexible shaft with a mysterious “Korea Hidden Technology” appearing at the height of the golf boom brought on by a pandemic. The fact that the manufacturer refused to patent their know-how to protect the technology only added to the intrigue.
Shortly after TXG first introduced the “mysterious Autoflex,” the pink shaft made its appearance on all the major tours. Some of the tour pros to put Autoflex in play included Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, and Michelle Wie West, with dozens more requesting to try the new shaft.
Although the specific technology behind the shaft remains hidden, tens of thousands have since taken the plunge to track down the bright pink shaft despite the high price tag.
According to Dumina, Autoflex shafts are now available in most golfing countries and major OEMs such as Titleist and Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO have added the Autoflex to their premium fitting matrix.
So what have we learned in the space of one year? Recently, I spent several days scouring the Internet to see what the people have been saying about the shaft in posts, reviews, videos, forums, and testimonials.
From the thousands of actual golfers, club fitters, and pros who have tested or played the AutoFlex, the consensus is:
- The majority of users seem to agree that the Autoflex driver shaft is the real deal in providing increased ball speed (as high as +8mph) with overall carry distance and accuracy, just by changing a shaft and without any additional effort (i.e. speed swing or physical training).
- The shaft seems to work best when the overall swing weight of the driver is between C8 to D0. This is radically different from the ‘normal’ D2~D5 swing weight for heavier, stiffer conventional shafts.
- Many raised the concern that swinging such a flexible shaft would not readily translate to swinging a stiffer shaft on the following shots. However, many users, including myself, reported that the swings felt no different going from Autoflex to a conventional shaft and back again during the round.
- Despite the shaft feeling extremely whippy when waggled, golfers said they came to trust the clubhead to catch up to the ball at impact even when swung hard. A few golfers with an aggressive transition said the shaft actually helped to smooth out their tempo on all their clubs.
- Initially thought to target the slow swing speed golfers with a smooth transition, the shaft has been proven by numerous users to perform well for faster swings in excess of 120mph with aggressive transitions.
The above summary may seem to paint the Autoflex as the new golf messiah, but not all reviews were glowing.
I would be remiss not to mention the handful of golfers who saw no increased benefit whatsoever with the Autoflex. There were also a few golfers who likened the shaft to “snake oil”, but most of them did not seem to have actually tried one for themselves.
Most famous perhaps is the video review by Rick Shiels, who was disappointed at the lower-than-expected results. However, many replies on the channel pointed out that the swing weight may have been too heavy (D4~D5), and needs to be fitted to the recommended balance as it is not a “plug and play” shaft.
There were also some instances where golfers reported their shaft breaking or cracks appearing along the shaft. Luckily, the shafts are equipped with a warranty sticker and many reported that the company was quick in response with a replacement. On their website, Dumina recommends utmost care during club fitting as the walls of the butt end and tip are quite thin (be careful when tightening that vice!).
On the whole, however, the online feedback seemed overwhelmingly positive, and that the Autoflex shaft can indeed improve driving performance when dialed into their specified swing speeds.
The inevitable questions soon followed. What’s their secret? Many guesses were thrown into the hat, ranging from non-Newtonian materials to KHT being an elaborate marketing scheme.
Could it be all along that golfers can benefit from using a much lower-flex shaft than their current gamers? I have tried several times to coax Dumina into giving me some hints, but so far, they gave nothing away other than stating that their tech and materials are capable of hundreds of new combinations.
According to its two-year product cycle, Dumina plans to release its new shaft models in the fall of 2022.
Other common questions I’ve seen were about their fairway and iron shafts. These shafts cost less than the driver shaft ($790) but are still expensive enough to give most golfers pause. The fairway wood and hybrid shafts retail for $675 each, while an iron shaft will set you back at $210 per shaft. Since becoming smitten with the driver shaft last summer, I managed to save up for the SF505 Autoflex shafts to be installed in all my woods and irons 6 months ago.
So are they worth the money? Below is my experience using the Autoflex SF505 shafts in all my woods and irons.
AutoFlex Driver and Woods
I have been using the SF405 shaft in my Cobra F9 since last year, and switched to SF505 with SIM2 Max 9° head early March. Despite the small fortune spent, I have been quite pleased with the results. When built to 45”, my driver came to C8 with the 24g stock weight in the head. It was good, but I wanted to feel the clubhead a bit more on the downswing. I
added about two grams of lead tape to bring the balance slightly past C9, and it is perfect for my average swing speed of 95mph. This setting is very comfortable to swing throughout the round, and my overall driving distance increased just under 20 yards.
As many users have attested online, one amazing benefit of the Autoflex shaft is that it allows me to feel the shaft loading as would a faster player swinging a much stiffer flex at 110+ mph. Thus, even at my slower swing speed I can feel the shaft actively loading and releasing explosively through the impact. The feeling is nothing short of glorious, and I believe this addictive feeling is a big part of the Autoflex charm. With the success of the driver shaft, I changed all the shafts in my woods and irons to the SF505 this March.
The distance gain with my 3-wood (210-220 yds) was barely noticeable, but the 5- and 7- wood carry distance increased by 10~12 yards. The fairway woods and hybrid are all from Knuth Golf, which came with Fujikura Atmos shafts at D2~D3. After switching to Autoflex, the lighter club heads coupled with the 46g pink shaft came to D0 swing weight. Just like the driver, the woods felt light and whippy compared to their conventional counterparts.
I find I don’t need to swing harder for the extra distance and the smoother tempo allows me to hit the center of the face more often. As a result, there is less chance of cold-topping the ball or pulling it left, and I am less afraid to pull out the longer clubs. The distinct kick at impact is also felt in the woods, but not as much as the driver. Depending on my condition and course, I switch out my 7-wood with the 4-hybrid. The hybrid feels a lot like a regular club, but a much lighter weight can be felt when compared to a normal hybrid club.
I tested both of the SF405 and SF505 iron shaft models and chose to go with the latter. I used Golf Pride Velvet Lite grips to get the swing weight between C9~D1 throughout the set.
Although the stiffer model of the two, the 505 shaft is still very light at 52g even when uncut. Unlike the driver shafts that range up to SF505XX flex for high-speed swings, the current iron shaft models are for average swing speed golfers between 80-100mph (driver SS).
Before switching, I played MFS Matrix Program 70 shafts weighing 79g uncut, and NS pro 950s steel shafts before that. My idea was to go lighter and still maintain adequate stiffness for control. I had pretty good success with the Matrix graphite shafts and carried on average 140~145 meters (153~158 yds) with my 7-iron on the course.
At first, the SF505 shaft actually didn’t feel too different. Perhaps I was already used to the lighter overall club weight from using the Matrix shafts. Also, the waggle test still produced a lot of whip, but not to the level of the driver and fairway shafts. Right away, I felt I could swing hard or smooth and still feel the clubhead following into the impact zone quite nicely.
It took about a week to get better acquainted with the new swing weight, but the overall transition into the new shaft was quite easy. I now average 150~155 meters (164~169 yds) with the same 7 iron (34 degrees loft). The spin is about the same as before at a low 4000rpm range, but the ball launches a tad higher for that extra carry distance. For those who play often in windy conditions, the added peak height may not be beneficial.
On the whole, the Autoflex iron shafts did improve my distance, swing tempo and accuracy over the last two shafts I’ve used. While I have seen equally good distance gains with other premium carbon shafts such as Steelfiber and MCI, there is no doubt that my dispersion got better. My iron play from within 150 yards improved noticeably, and I can swing more uniformly throughout the round.
Also, dropping down one club into the green helped both my GIR and putting average. I was a decent iron player to begin with, but the added distance with less exertion made the game easier on the body and the scorecard.
Looking at my past five-game average on a GolfZon simulator, I saw significant gains in all aspects of my game. To be sure, it is a simulated golf round and can’t compare to the actual course, but my numbers have all jumped up.
Compared to the tens of thousands of Korean golfers in my handicap/skills bracket, I am well above average except in putting. My driver averaged 226.8 meters (about 250 yards), launching at around 12~13° with 1900~2000rpm. This is an increase of about 20 yards B.A,
(Before Autoflex) and FIR has also jumped from the previous 55% to 74.2%. Greens in regulation improved by about 11% to 76.6%, and this is the indication that my iron play has gotten much more effective in terms of distance and dispersion. I have played over 370 virtual rounds on GolfZon over the past 12 years, and I can honestly say that my numbers
have never looked better. If I can only take these numbers onto a real course, I’d be golden.
If I had to list the Autoflex shafts in order of performance for my golf game, it would first be the driver followed by iron, fairway, and hybrid shafts. The driver shaft is simply like nothing I had ever used and has proven to be worth every penny. The rest of the shafts are honestly equally good, but in terms of cost and the amount of use during a round, I figured that iron shafts are the better value.
So is Autoflex the answer for all? Of course not. No single product can possibly satisfy the countless number of unique golfer swings in the world. The price of the shafts alone would be a big pill to swallow for most golfers, and the gains may not be enough to justify the cost for some.
But as high-end club manufacturers have shown recently, more and more consumers are willing to pay for products that provide real-world performance. At the end of the day, it’s up to each individual to decide where price and performance intersect for their own budget and golf game.
Moreover, the Autoflex shaft taught me that we may be missing out on playing better golf, simply because we take certain notions in golf to be true without really questioning them. To be sure, I never believed that a more flexible shaft could be both longer and straighter, but I am more than happy to be proven wrong. For me, the Autoflex shafts truly delivered what it promised, and stands out among the dozens of “game-changer” products I have tried over the years.
Lastly, I hope the story of the Autoflex further helps to encourage all golfers and manufacturers to re-think and reexamine other previously-held notions in golf. For, who knows what other benefits we may be overlooking to take this amazing game to the next level?
How about it? What has been your game-changer of late?
Most forgiving driving iron without much offset – GolfWRXers discuss
In our forums, our members have been discussing driving irons. WRXer ‘Gentles’ is on the hunt for the biggest and most forgiving driving irons that don’t have much offset, and our members have been sharing their best picks 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.
- Boogeyman: “SIM DHY has very little offset and is definitely on the bigger side. Maybe even too big for your liking? It’s basically the replacement for GAPR Mid without adjustability but with much-improved looks and feels”
- Bunkersarebigcups: “U510 is as big and forgiving as it gets. Offset is not minimal but less than the Crossover for sure.”
- cflo2382: “The New Level NLU-01 might be a good option. They removed a lot of offset compared to their first utility (4995HB). Fantastic feel too.”
- Spankopotamusredux: “GAPR is money. Like it better than both the Srixon and the Titleist for my game. I think it’s quite an underrated club. Can be found new old stock for $100 or less.”
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (10/1/21): Tour-Issue SIM2 Max Driver
At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Tour-Issue SIM2 Max Driver
From the seller (@HoganHQ): “TaylorMade SIM 2 Max Tour issue 8 degree (tour only head) with Ventus Black 5x, plays a hair over 45 inches length, includes original wrapper with detailed specs, built by People’s golf, mint. $900.“
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Tour-Issue SIM2 Max Driver
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