By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of TaylorMade
CARLSBAD, CA – “TaylorMade is the #1 Driver in Golf, leading in sales and drivers in play on all the major tours worldwide,” remarked Mike Fox, Director, Product Marketing for TaylorMade Golf.
You hear “#1” a lot in connection with TaylorMade. The company is infinitely proud of its metal wood products and you don’t have to wait long to see them when watching the pros tee off on TV.
Fox added that the “#1” position in sales and in-play numbers is the true test of TaylorMade’s products because if they didn’t outperform the competition, no amount of money in the world would convince golfers to use them.
“Specific to technology, our R15 Driver is the leader in adjustability with our Sliding track system to ensure all golfers can maximize their launch conditions for more distance,” Fox said.
The R15 is the latest in a fairly long line of new and innovative drivers from TaylorMade. The company was the first to introduce adjustability into metal woods and has honed the concept over the course of several generations. And the R15 is certainly easy to fine-tune, thanks in part to most manufacturers now using similar methods and concepts to boost or lower loft as well as promote different shot shapes.
If you’ve owned an adjustable driver before, you likely won’t even have to read the instructions to tinker with them these days – but you probably should anyway!
We caught up recently with Fox and asked him to explain how the R15 diverges from TaylorMade’s products of the recent past:
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: TaylorMade is known for introducing new and improved drivers every year. How does the R15 driver differ from its predecessors?
Fox: The R15 has the most amount of moveable weight TaylorMade has ever used in a driver, with 25 grams on the new Front Track system.
This allows golfers to have more control over their ball flights for more distance. In addition, the Front Track system was moved 12mm closer to the face – it now acts as a Speed Pocket for more speed on off center strikes.
Further, the two sliding weights on the R15 now provide a max speed position (with the weight together in the center of the track) and a max forgiveness setting (with the two weights split to the end for more MOI).
Because of this, the R15 has been opened up to more player types than we’ve ever had with any previous model.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Adjustability is a terrific thing to have, but are you concerned that people might be adjusting the club too much? I've spoken to a couple fitting pros who say people shouldn't be tinkering all that much?
Fox: Our data shows over 80% of golfers adjust their drivers at least once. This is fantastic because in order to optimize your launch conditions, you need a driver that is working with your individual swing.
The golf swing is always changing and for golfers to maximize their distance, they need to make sure their driver is always working with them and never against them.
We see the best players in the world on Tour change and/or check their driver settings every week they play because if anything has changed week to week in their swing, they want to make sure the product is also changing accordingly.
We always encourage getting your driver properly fit by an expert fitter. However, if we can teach the golfer how to fit themselves with easier to understand technologies, they will never be giving up distance again.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: With a heavy emphasis on adjustability now in the industry, what role does the shaft play in driver selection?
Fox: The shaft is typically the last thing we fit when working with golfers; excluding flex, which we determine almost immediately.
|The R15 also comes in black.|
In our testing, we found that a R15 430 head offers almost 1000 RPMs of spin difference from an AeroBurner head. In contrast, the biggest variance we’ve seen different shafts provide is 300RPMs. In other words, the head will make the biggest impact on the launch conditions.
So when fitting, we:
1. Pick the type of head (High Spin/Low Spin) that is right for the player type
2. Adjust loft with the 4* loft sleeve
3. Set the front track weights to provide desired left to right ball flight
4. Lastly, find a shaft that has the type of feel the golfer is looking for
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: I think you’ve already answered this, but what type of player is the R15 geared towards...? If it's mainly for better players, does that make it "less forgiving" than other models?
Fox: The R15 is an amazing product that provides better players the shot they want and other golfers the shot they need.
The best players in the world use the R15 because they can adjust it to create their desired shot shape. What makes R15 truly unique is it can also be adjusted to increase MOI and forgiveness by splitting the front track weights and make it work for higher handicap golfers as well.
It is a special product that will benefit golfers of all abilities.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: What is your response to those who claim that equipment is changing the game... and not necessarily for the better?
Fox: The recreational golfer plays the game for fun and if they thought our innovations weren’t for the better, they would have stopped buying equipment a long time ago.
The USGA provides thousands of restrictions to ensure we are only maximizing the golfer’s true abilities and not adding anything that takes the game out of the golfers’ hands. As long as we are making golf more fun buy providing technologies that allow golfers to improve, we will continue to push the limits inside the rules of golf.
The fun part is we still have plenty of room to grow.
It’s a little funny that Fox should talk about “room to grow” because these products are tending to make golf courses smaller.
I have always been a fairly long-hitting average player – meaning I can hit it out there pretty well but don’t always have stellar numbers on the scorecard. I can’t say whether one product is clearly superior to another in that regard, though I’ve noticed over the years that I’m better able to keep the ball in play and reach the landing areas that are built-in to every golf hole by the architects.
Modern equipment has definitely made the game more fun and I’m better able to play the golf courses the way they’re supposed to be played. That’s about all you can ask from your equipment.
The R15 is on the high-end of the spectrum in terms of distance and ease of use. But I’ve also observed that most drivers I’ve tried provide good results.
You will need a launch monitor to truly determine the difference, which is why I recommend trying several different brands and models in a golf shop. As Fox indicates above, you’ll also be able to see which one “feels” right for you to go along with the raw numbers.
TaylorMade should be commended for its non-stop pursuit of leadership in the industry. It gives new meaning to the concept of “#1.”
TaylorMade Golf’s R15 Driver
Available at your higher-end golf retailers and club pro shops.
Check out more information about TaylorMade products at: www.taylormadegolf.com.
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