It’s been an interesting few months at TaylorMade Golf. On the downside, rumors that the brand will be sold by parent company Adidas, some staff lay-offs, and a management shake-up. On the upside, new managment and the performance of Jason Day and other players. (According to the company, four of golf’s current top 10 play the brand.)
So what’s next? How about some new clubs.
Hold on. If you’ve heard “new clubs” from TaylorMade before—maybe too often—don’t turn away yet. These products are the first introductions under new president David Abeles, who recently told an auditorium’s worth of sales reps, big shots, media, and assorted guests that from now on the company will bring out equipment only when it is markedly better than what’s already out there.
Say hello to the TaylorMade M1 driver.
TaylorMade calls it the “unmetal wood,” because while its shell is made of very thin, very strong titanium, the crown is a very strong, very light, and very cool looking seven-layer carbon composite that positions more weight toward the sole, lowering the center of gravity. The black carbon also contrasts with the white head and black clubface to create a very effective alignment aid.
The M1 also takes adjustable weighting in another direction—literally. The “T-Track System” features two tracks in the sole, each with a sliding weight: The one directly behind and parallel to the face can move heel to toe to alter shot direction; the other port runs from face to heel, the weight sliding to lower or raise spin rate and launch angle. The two ports are labeled for simplicity, reading from “fade” to “draw,” and from “low” to “high.” Of course, the hosel is also adjustable, up to 2 degrees either side of the standard loft options (8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 12 degrees in right-hand models; 9.5 and 10.5 in left-handed).
As part of the launch event, I was fitted for the driver. Hitting it with all specs set to standard, a few things were immediately evident: It felt great, light but solid; and it sounded solid, too, a major concern for TaylorMade engineers, who remember the dead “thunk” composite clubs used to make. As I was fit and the specs tweaked, the results got better and better, until I was hitting a straight, penetrating drive that, according to the launch monitor, was 15 to 20 yards longer in the air than I’ve been used to. (Matching M1 fairway woods and hybrids have lesser degrees of adjustability.)
TaylorMade also unveiled two models of “player performance” irons, which is code for investment-cast clubs that feel and play like forged. The Psi and Psi Tour have cavity backs with weight “badges,” plus slots, called “speed pockets,” on the face and sole to produce more speed and keep it consistent on mis-hits. I hit only a few shots with the Psi (the Tour model has a slightly smaller head and less offset), but was impressed with its solid feel and performance.
If this is a “new” TaylorMade, it’s off to a strong, smart start.
TaylorMade M1 driver: Available October 8. $499. (A slightly smaller M1 430, aimed at better players, is also available, right-hand only.) Fairway woods and hybrids, also out October 8 in a variety of lofts, at $299 and $249, respectively.
Psi irons: November 6. 3-PW: $1,099, steel; $1,299, graphite.
Psi Tour: December 20. 3-PW: $1,299, steel. A variety of custom shaft options also available for all clubs.