TaylorMade drivers through the years – Rick Shiels roundup


The premise

Golfbidder collaborated with Rick Shiels to examine the last few years of TaylorMade drivers. Are the claims of innovation and extra yardage true, or are the new models a yearly facelift?

How does the test work?

In the last 5 years of golfing releases, TaylorMade have released 20 driver models! In order to make a sensible test, Rick selected 6 of these models to test.

During the test each club is hit 10 times, and the best 5 of these that hit the fairway, are selected to produce our data. The adjustable weighting and loft settings on each driver, were set to 9.5° and neutral weight. In addition, to make the test even fairer, the same shaft is used throughout, except when testing the R11s, due to a different connector in this head. All shots were measured and performed using GC Quad golf simulator software, in neutral conditions and on the same day, so data tracking is consistent and accurate. Finally, a notable consistency was Rick’s swing speed, with less than a mile an hour between all 6 clubs, at 110mph.

The data

What the results say

It is no secret, TaylorMade release a lot of drivers. With the claims of extra distance, we should be expecting to see notable distance improvements incrementally with every new release. A notable jump is seen between the R1 and the SLDR with the total distance jumping by 8/9 yards in carry distance. However, after the SLDR, a massively hot driver, no note worthy distance gains were produced. Also where the extra distance was gained, in the low spinning SLDR, forgiveness was sacrificed.

Rick noted that the latest drivers, the M1 2016 and the M2 2017, were the best looking and although they were not longer than the SLDR, they provided more forgiveness whilst maintaining the distance gained over the R11s and R1.

Rick’s conclusions

Across the 20 drivers produced by TaylorMade in the last few years, Rick speculated that the jump seen by the SLDR set up the TM drivers for a plateau. Although the distance seems to have stopped progressing at the rate of 8 yards in 1 year, the distance has been stabilised with more forgiveness available and better looks, feel and sound, which Rick argued plays a bigger role in the success of a driver.

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