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TGW’s TaylorMade Tour Goes In Depth With New 2016 Golf Clubs
The year was 1979, the location McHenry, Illinois. Gary Adams, with the vision of transforming the golf industry, took out a loan against his house, leased a local building, and founded TaylorMade.
The company had just one product at that time, unveiling a 12-degree driver that was made of stainless steel instead of wood. The first metalwood in the golf industry, which became known as the “Pittsburgh Persimmon,” was a hit with professionals and amateurs alike, as it provided unprecedented forgiveness and higher launch angles. From there, TaylorMade Golf was on its way.
Fast forward 37 years and TaylorMade is still king when it comes to the driver, having owned the distinction of “#1 Driver in Golf” for multiple years. Driver success, however, is now only a part of the company’s overall success, as TaylorMade has emerged as a giant in the golf market.
The company ultimately made the move from Illinois to California, and TGW made the trip on March 9 to TaylorMade’s headquarters in Carlsbad for a tour of the facilities and to learn more about the company’s 2016 product offerings.
Tom Kroll, who’s been with TaylorMade for 28 years and serves as Director of Global Product Creation, was our guide. The company has been headquartered at the facility it’s in now since 1997, but this location is actually the fifth California location that TaylorMade has called home. Located across the street from the corporate headquarters is “The Kingdom,” a world renowned testing, fitting, and performance center. We spent our afternoon there, but more on that later.
As Kroll led us into the lobby, we were greeted with displays featuring TaylorMade’s newest products, as well as a wall devoted to the numerous professionals who are part of the TaylorMade roster, including household names like Jason Day, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, and Dustin Johnson.
After receiving our guest badges for the day, we entered another lobby area where an amazing collection of many of TaylorMade’s driver offerings through the years was on display in a glass case. Leading the way, of course, was the Pittsburgh Persimmon from 1979, and at the end of the line was the new M1 driver, which can be seen on television weekly as a fixture on every professional tour.
Some of the others in the historical lineup included the original Burner driver, with its “Bubble” shaft, the R510 TP, which dominated Tour play for years, the R7, which was the first driver to feature moveable weight technology, and the R11, which unveiled the white crown that forever changed the game when it came to driver looks. It was a fun trip down memory lane for our staff members, as we all recollected times when we had played those various drivers through the years.
Upon leaving the second lobby, we headed out to the facility’s production floor, and what a sight it was, as countless employees were hard at work building clubs in a factory setting filled with inventory. There were seven different manufacturing cells in use at one time and at each cell, working in the form of an assembly line, multiple employees handled different tasks ranging from installing shafts, to adjusting lofts and lies, to finishing clubs with the proper grip.
Kroll informed us that approximately 1 million golf clubs, which equates to roughly 25 percent of total production for the United States, are built on that floor and shipped from the facility annually. He also said that so far this year, 40-50 percent of the clubs being built are custom orders, numbers which continue to rise each year as more and more consumers uncover the benefits of custom fitting.
Off to the side of the production floor was TaylorMade’s Tour Department, a separate room where clubs were being assembled for members of the TaylorMade playing staff who compete on various professional tours around the globe. In this room, typically it was one employee assembling and modifying a club to spec from start to finish.
We didn’t want to interrupt the work being done, but we were able to spot an M2 fairway wood that had been built for former professional tennis player Mardy Fish, who has turned his attention to golf and was victorious in the Diamond Resorts Invitational celebrity golf tournament in January. The Tour Department also served as the site where we recieved the inside scoop on TaylorMade’s 2016 lineup of drivers, fairway woods, rescue clubs, and irons.
Presenting first was Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods. Bazzel walked us through the M1 and M2 driver first, and made one thing very clear about the two products. “The M2 is not a replacement for the M1,” he said. “It’s a complement to it.”
Both drivers feature the same composite crown and look basically identical at address, although the M1 also comes in a 430cc head that has a smaller overall profile than its 460cc counterparts. The difference between the two models is on the bottom of the club and how the weight saved by using lighter materials in constructing the crown is redistributed.
In the M1, there are two T-Track weight systems that allow golfers to make adjustments to achieve their preferred ball flight and trajectory. In the M2, meanwhile, the weight was moved lower and further back on the sole to lower the center of gravity and create higher ball speeds. Along with the M2’s redesigned Speed Pocket, the lower CG delivers exceptional forgiveness and keeps ball speeds high on shots struck at different impact points on the face, making for a club that offers high launch and low spin.
So how should golfers choose between the two? Bazzel said that each driver would fit a wide variety of player, pointing out that Tour play between the two drivers right now is “roughly 50-50.” He added that, “Some guys that I thought would have gone for the M1 have gone for the M2.”
But at its most basic, Bazzel said it comes down to wanting customization versus forgiveness, and that “golfers who know they’re inconsistent and are looking for max forgiveness can go straight to the M2.”
In terms of the M1 and M2 fairway woods and rescue clubs, Bazzel said the thought process in creating the M1 and M2 driver remains intact. With M1, the focus is still customization, while maximum forgiveness is what M2 was designed to create. More specifically, the M1 fairway woods and rescues feature moveable weights and adjustable loft sleeves that allow golfers to achieve exactly what they’re looking for in terms of trajectory and shot shape.
The M2 fairways and rescues, meanwhile, rely on a lower center of gravity and utilize TaylorMade’s Speed Pocket to enhance the size of the club’s sweet spot. The result is high launch, low spin, and a clubface that keeps ball speeds high even on shots that are struck off the heel or toe.
Unlike the M1 and M2 driver, however, there are cosmetic differences when it comes to the fairway woods and rescue clubs. With M1, the clubhead has a smaller profile and a slightly deeper face, both of which, along with the adjustable weights and loft sleeve, promote the ability to shape shots more easily. M2, meanwhile, features a slightly larger clubhead but a shallower clubface designed to help golfers launch the ball with ease.
After Bazzel finished his presentation, we were joined in the Tour Department by Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Global Irons, to talk about the company’s 2016 iron lineup. The discussion was interesting, as Bystedt explained that while tour play inevitably inspires the technology utilized in drivers and fairway woods, when it comes to irons, technology is driven by the average golfer, who needs the additional help in an iron far more than a tour player.
For 2016, TaylorMade has two very different products available, the M2 and the PSi, both of which also feature a tour version. To put it most simply, the M2 offerings would fall into the “game improvement” category while the PSi offerings would qualify as “players clubs.” There is, however, some crossover with the products that will appeal to a wide variety of golfers based on their needs and look preferences.
In terms of M2, Bystedt said the ultimate goal was to create an iron that launched high, flew far, and offered unmatched forgiveness. Those goals were accomplished by creating an extremely low center of gravity and expanding the sweet spot on the clubface to keep ball speeds high on mis-hits. “This club is for the player who wants more distance and the ability to hit the ball higher,” Bystedt said.
What TaylorMade didn’t want, however, was for M2 to only be seen as an option for higher handicap players, which led to the M2 Tour. Said Bystedt, “We like to describe M2 Tour as small profile, small package, big distance.” The M2 Tour still features a low CG for high launch and max forgiveness, but the clubs have less offset and a thinner topline than M2, as well as a smaller overall profile that provides more of a players club look in a game-improvement iron.
As far as PSi is concerned, TaylorMade set out to deliver on all of the needs and wants requested by better players. PSi Tour is a product that was created directly from feedback from TaylorMade touring professionals. It features a thin topline, thin sole, and minimal offset, all of which maximize workability. Additionally, the PSi is forged and delivers exceptional feel and sound. Make no mistake about it, this is an iron that is definitely for a lower handicap player.
PSi, however, is a different animal. The profile is slightly larger than PSi Tour and the topline is a little thicker, but this club maintains all of the typical aspects of a true players club, especially in terms of feel. That said, the Face Slots and Cut-Thru Speed Pocket create distance, launch, and forgiveness not often found in a players club. In short, for the mid-handicapper who wants a clean, compact look, the PSi would be a great option, but it would also be a club that a scratch player would enjoy.
After finishing up our iron presentation, we headed across the street to the aforementioned “Kingdom.” The facility was impressive to say the least. The inside, from a decor standpoint, looked like the locker room at an upscale country club. It also featured a putting lab, a fitting studio, and a covered hitting bay equipped with cameras to record every aspect of a player’s swing from multiple angles. Lockers in this area featured names like Dustin Johnson and Paula Creamer, among others. Outside, there was a pristine driving range with multiple target greens, as well as a short game area.
One of the exciting aspects of the day’s events was being joined in the afternoon by four TGW customers who were invited to test out TaylorMade’s 2016 products. Bob, Neal, Chris, and Mike, whose handicaps ranged from 2 to 18, made the trip, and after enjoying lunch with TaylorMade and TGW staff members, everyone headed out to the driving range.
We set up on the top level of the range and there were three Trackman devices in place to help the testers evaluate the clubs they were hitting. TaylorMade also provided professional fitters to work with each of the testers, and Bazzel and Bystedt were also on hand to answer questions and offer recommendations related to the woods and irons, respectively.
The testers started out by hitting the different irons being offered for 2016 before moving to drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. They were consistently hitting into a 10-12 MPH wind, which provides great feedback in terms of the stability of the ball flight with each product. Given their differing ability levels, each tester seemed to have his own personal favorites, which you can see in the videos we recorded, but reviews on the M2 irons and M2 fairway woods seemed universally positive.
After hitting full shots for close to two hours, our testers took a much-needed break and headed down to the short game area to try out some of TaylorMade’s 2016 wedges and putters.
Our testers came away impressed not only with the new products they had a chance to hit but with the attention they received from the TaylorMade staff as well. From our end, the experience gave us far more insight into the inspirations for the 2016 product lines, as well as a better understanding of what type of player would benefit most from the new products being offered by TaylorMade this year.
And at the end of the day, that’s why we made the trip. TGW customers have plenty of choices when it comes to the clubs they choose to play, and we feel it’s our job to help them make educated decisions. And how can we expect to fill that role if we’re not experts on the products ourselves? That being the case, this trip proved to be a tremendous success.
At TGW, we believe it’s part of our duty to help you make great choices when it comes to the golf clubs you purchase. We can’t effectively do that, however, unless we’re experts when it comes to the products we’re selling, and what better way to become more knowledgeable about those products than to go directly to the manufacturer. So that’s just what we did, as we headed to Carlsbad, California on March 9 for a VIP tour of the TaylorMade headquarters, as well as detailed product presentations about the company’s 2016 club offerings. And we didn’t go alone. We also invited four of our customers to join us, and they spent an entire afternoon hitting all of the new clubs at TaylorMade’s renowned fitting and performance center, The Kingdom. To say it was a productive day would be an understatement. Not only did we get excellent feedback about the new products from our customers, feedback that you’ll have video access to, we also received valuable insight into the inspiration for the 2016 products from the engineers who designed the clubs, as well as their thoughts on who those clubs were designed for. The end result is that we’re more knowledgeable than ever about TaylorMade’s 2016 club options and ready to pass that knowledge onto you. Enjoy!
TaylorMade Drivers: M1 vs. M2, Customization Vs. Forgiveness
At first glance, at least at address, it’s pretty much impossible to tell the difference between the M1 and M2 driver, unless you’re talking about the M1 430, which has a smaller overall profile than its 460cc counterparts. The composite crowns are identical in appearance and constructed from the same lightweight materials, and both drivers have the same loft adjustment sleeve. The difference, however, is on the bottom of the club. By using lighter materials in the crown, TaylorMade’s engineers were able to redistribute weight. In the M1, that redistributed weight is used for the T-Track system, which allows golfers to more easily achieve their desired trajectory and ball flight. In the M2, weight has been moved to the lower back of the sole to create a low center of gravity and high launch angles. Additionally, the redesigned Speed Pocket, makes the M2 incredibly forgiving on mis-hits. Which one is right for you? If you struggle with consistency and want max forgiveness with a high-launch, low-spin ball flight, M2 is probably the better choice. But if you want to dial in the driver to hit your go-to shot time and again, be it a low fade or a high draw, M1 will give you that capability.
M1 and M2 Fairway Woods: Dual Options To Fit Your Needs
As is the case with the M1 and M2 driver, prioritizing what’s important in terms of performance will help you make a fairway wood decision. That said, there are cosmetic differences between the M1 and M2 fairway woods that don’t exist between the drivers. More specifically, the M1 fairway woods have a smaller overall profile and a slightly deeper face, while the the M2 fairway woods feature a larger overall club head but a shallower club face designed to make it easier to achieve higher launch. Whether you want customization or forgiveness, however, will likely be the determining factor in choosing either the M1 or the M2. The M1 has an adjustable loft sleeve and sliding weight system. Combined, they allow users to control launch conditions and ball flight. The M2, meanwhile, utilizes a low center of gravity and speed pocket to achieve a high ball flight and max ball speeds on shots hit off the heel or toe. But depending on your playing profile and what you want from a fairway wood, TaylorMade has a choice that will fit your needs.
M1 and M2 Rescue Clubs: A Choice For Your Game
If you’re thinking about an M1 or M2 rescue club, much of the same decision-making process that exists in choosing between an M1 or M2 fairway wood will be in play. Like its fairway wood counterpart, the M1 rescue club features moveable weights and an adjustable loft sleeve designed to help golfers dial in their ideal ball flight and trajectory. It also, like the M1 fairway wood, has a smaller overall profile. The M2 rescue, meanwhile, has a slightly larger clubhead, and its shallow face is designed to achieve higher launch conditions. Additionally, improved forgiveness is made possible by the Speed Pocket. One difference, however, between the two rescue models is that the M2 was designed to have a bit of draw bias. The M1 is more neutral in its standard setting, but the moveable weights allow a golfer to set up the club to have either a fade or a draw bias.
M2 and M2 Tour Irons: High Launch, Serious Distance, Incredible Forgiveness
If there’s one problem that amateur golfers often share it’s an inability to get enough height on their iron shots, especially when it comes to long and mid-irons. And it’s no secret that almost all golfers are in search of more distance. Unfortunately, through the years, the game-improvement irons designed to remedy those issues were not exactly aesthetically pleasing. TaylorMade set out to solve that riddle with its new M2 and M2 Tour irons, as the company has achieved a clean look and solid feel in what performs as a game-improvement iron. From a technology standpoint, M2 and M2 Tour irons include TaylorMade’s 360 Undercut and Speed Pocket. The 360 Undercut removes weight from the topline to lower the center of gravity and expands the unsupported area of the club face to keep ball speeds high on mis-hits. The Speed Pocket, meanwhile, helps maintain high launch and ball speed for shots struck low on the face. In terms of looks, the M2 Tour has a thinner topline, less offset, and a smaller overall profile, but the results remain the same as the M2, which is a great combination of height, distance, and forgiveness.
TaylorMade M2 and M2 Tour irons: Which is the right choice for you?
By Chris Wallace
For years, many golfers have had something of a love-hate relationship with what have commonly become known as “game-improvement” irons. Why, you ask?
The answer is simple. Golfers love the performance ability of irons that offer forgiveness on shots that aren’t struck solidly. On the flip side, however, they often hate the look of those same irons, which sometimes resemble small gardening tools more than golf clubs.
With its new M2 and M2 Tour irons, TaylorMade has set out to remedy this dilemma for players of all ages and ability levels.
“These are game-improvement irons that offer the distance and ball speeds that the average golfer needs but also have good feel and a clean look,” said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Global Irons. “But we also didn’t want M2 to be just for 10 handicaps and over.”
In terms of performance, TaylorMade is promising an iron that delivers high launch and maximum distance, a combination that has been achieved through advanced technology, some of which has been in the works for years.
For example, in the M2 iron, TaylorMade is utilizing its Thick-Thin Fluted Hosel design, which Bystedt said the company began refining more than four years ago. This feature removes weight from the hosel and distributes it in the lower portion of the clubhead. The result is a lower center of gravity for the M2, which creates higher launch angles and faster ball speeds.
“When it comes to our irons, there’s more technology for the average player,” said Bystedt, who has been with TaylorMade for 10 years. “For a tour player, who’s going to play a muscleback or something similar, they don’t need the technology that the average player does in an iron.”
Other technological features that can be found in both the M2 and M2 Tour irons include the 360 Undercut and Speed Pocket. The 360 Undercut removes weight from the topline to also aid in lowering the center of gravity. It also expands the unsupported area of the clubface to keep ball speeds high on off-center contact. The Speed Pocket, meanwhile, helps M2 maintain high launch angles and ball speeds for shots struck low on the face.
Additionally, in each model, TaylorMade has incorporated a Sound Management System to improve overall feel by removing unwanted vibrations.
Higher Launch, Faster Ball Speeds
It’s also worth noting that because ball speeds and launch angles are so enhanced through this technology that Taylormade is utilizing stronger lofts in the both the M2 and M2 Tour. For example, in today’s marketplace, the average pitching wedge loft would be somewhere in the 46-48 degree range. In the M2, the pitching wedge loft is 43.5 degrees, while it’s 45 degrees in the M2 Tour.
Given the stronger lofts and the higher ball speeds that the M2 creates, these irons might not be the best fit for the longest hitters, who could wind up with significant distance gaps between each iron.
“The M2 isn’t a club that we’ll put in the hands of a tour player,” Bystedt said. “It’s so long that it will create gapping problems for a tour player, who doesn’t need the distance. This club is for the player who wants more distance and the ability to hit the ball higher.”
The M2 Tour, however, would be a sound choice for a player of any ability level, even a longer hitter. It was designed to be more of a “players club” but with the forgiveness, launch attributes, and ball speeds to make the game more enjoyable.
“The M2 Tour, we like to describe as small profile, small package, big distance,” Bystedt said. “We’re actually getting a lot of requests from guys on the Champions Tour to try this iron.”
M2 and M2 Tour Review
Of course, what golfers are wondering is whether or not TaylorMade has delivered on the performance expectations it has established for the M2 and M2 Tour irons.
I was in Carlsbad, California, recently with TGW colleagues to visit the TaylorMade headquarters and explore the company’s 2016 product lines.
As part of the day’s events, I had the opportunity to demo the M2 and M2 Tour irons at Taylormade’s renowned testing and fitting center, The KIngdom.
If you’re considering a switch to the M2 or M2 Tour irons, here’s some quick feedback that might help you make a decision.
There’s no question that TaylorMade has succeeded in terms of creating a cleaner look in a game-improvement iron. Yes, the M2 has a thicker topline and a longer blade than you might find in some irons, but there’s far less offset than one might expect and the iron’s darker finish gives it a more compact look. At address, the clubface frames the ball nicely and none of the mass behind the clubhead is visible.
The M2 Tour, meanwhile, is even more streamlined. The blade isn’t as long, the topline is thinner, and there’s even less offset. The dark finish makes for a sleek look, and the M2 Tour looks more like a players club than a game-improvement iron at address.
I found that the TaylorMade M2 and M2 Tour irons had distinctly different feels. With the M2, there was a discernable click, both in terms of sound and feel, on pretty much every strike, whether I found the center of the face or made contact more toward the heel or toe. The click wasn’t harsh, loud, or distracting by any means, just noticeable and consistent.
With the M2 Tour, on solidly struck shots, there was a more muted sound and feel, something more reminiscent of what I’d expect from a forged cavity back for example. On off-center hits, however, the slight click that I experienced in the M2 was noticeable. But overall, how solid the irons felt came as a pleasant surprise, at least in terms of my expectations. I also was appreciative of the fact that in a game-improvement iron I was able to get valuable feedback on shots that weren’t struck perfectly.
TaylorMade said the M2 irons would launch high and go forever, and they did just that. I was impressed with how little I had to work to launch the ball effortlessly, even with the mid- and long-irons. And while I hit these irons, through the set, very high, they didn’t balloon at all. I was hitting directly into a 10-12 MPH wind while testing and came away impressed at how stable the ball flight was. The iron distances were also extremely long, probably a club and half longer than what I’m used to in my current set. Most impressively, shots that I missed seemed to carry as far as solidly struck shots and the dispersion was tight. In fact, it was somewhat challenging to curve the ball with the M2 or knock it down. The ball simply wanted to fly long, high, and straight.
The M2 Tour was also impressive in terms of how easy it was to launch the ball high, and like the M2, the distance also was impressive, as was the overall forgiveness of the club. As mentioned previously, an off-center hit was easier to discern in terms of feel with the M2 Tour, but the overall result rarely suffered much, if at all. Additionally, however, I found that the M2 Tour had an aspect of workability that wasn’t as prevalent in the M2. I found it easy to hit a knockdown shot with M2 Tour, as well as fades and draws.
TaylorMade has done some quality work with the M2 and M2 Tour irons. These are player-friendly irons that will make the game more fun for a lot of golfers, but they will also prove to fit more than just high-handicap players. In fact, one of TaylorMade’s professional fitters at The Kingdom, a scratch player mind you, told me that he had just put the M2 Tours in his bag, adding that “I just couldn’t pass up the forgiveness.”
So which model might be the right choice for you? If you’re someone who’s just getting started in the game or who needs a little extra help in creating distance and height with your irons, the M2 deserves a closer look, as TaylorMade definitely succeeded in terms of what it set out to do with this product. Additionally, the forgiveness that these irons provide is impressive, and the good news is that aesthetics haven’t been completely sacrificed for performance.
In terms of the M2 Tour, this is a club that I expect will end up in the bags of players with dramatically varying profiles. A high-handicap player who values a clean look will still benefit from the technological features of the M2 Tour, while lower- and mid-handicap players will enjoy the forgiveness that these irons provide without having to sacrifice look, feel, or workability. This is a product that simply oozes versatility. As a low single-digit handicapper, I would have no qualms from a feel, look, or performance standpoint about putting the M2 Tour into play.