Adjustability is the dominant trend in drivers these days, and the new R1 driver continues TaylorMade's mastery of this current generation of custom-tunable drivers.
The R1 model offers the greatest range of adjustability of any driver in TaylorMade's history, as well as in the industry today. It gives the golfer 12 loft settings and seven face-angle positions, and includes two movable shot-shape weights. These three features allow the driver to be tuned 168 different ways to optimize distance and accuracy – and, importantly, allow a golfer to adjust the loft and face angle independently of each other.
''Offering a wide range of loft settings is imperative, because our research indicates that 80 percent of golfers are playing the wrong loft, which costs them distance,'' said TaylorMade Chief Technical Officer Benoit Vincent. ''The R1 offers 12 positions to help golfers find the loft that delivers the launch conditions that deliver maximum distance.''
That stat – that 80 percent of golfers don't play the correct loft – seems incredible, but TaylorMade says that many of us typically choose the wrong loft when we buy a driver off the rack. We usually opt for too little loft because too many of us believe that a lower-lofted driver will provide longer distance, but that typically costs the average player carry and distance by promoting a too-low launch angle.
In addition, recent advances in driver design to create less (such as moving the Center of Gravity lower and more forward in the clubhead) help achieve a blend of higher loft and lower spin, making it logical for many players to switch to a higher loft. And because it is so adjustable, the R1 can be tuned for players of almost every type and skill level.
The R1's 12 loft settings mean it can be set anywhere from 8 degrees to 12 degrees of loft (seven of the settings are at the standard lie angle, and five at an upright lie angle). The seven face-angle settings include: neutral/square, slightly open, more open, maximum open, slightly closed, more closed and maximum closed. And the two shot-shape weights allow the Center of Gravity to be shifted by five millimeters to promote either a draw or a neutral/straight trajectory.
This new driver also includes TaylorMade's Inverted Cone Technology – in which an inverted cone is milled into the inner side of the clubface – which expands the sweet spot for extra distance, even on off-center hits. The head is covered with a white matte finish to reduce glare and contrast with the black face to make alignment easier. The new gray and orange crown graphic is eye-catching, and the triangular white space immediately behind the face acts as an alignment aid.
The R1's standard shaft is the Aldila RIP Phenom 55, which, at 55 grams, helps produce a faster clubhead swing than heavier models yet is strategically weighted to deliver the feel of a heavier shaft. It also features Aldila's Hyberbolic Flex Technology, which incorporates a stiff tip section to aid launch and spin control, a very firm butt section for a stable feel and a softer center section that promotes an added kick through impact for maximum ball speed.
The R1 carries a suggested retail price of $399, while the hotter R1 TP model retails for $499.
LPGA star Suzann Pettersen sent out a blog post detailing a chain accident of cars that slightly injured fellow stars Ai Mayazato and Paula Creamer on their way to the airport following the Honda LPGA Thailand.
According to Suzann Pettersen's blog: Don’t know how it all went down, but in a split second the entourage of our 5 cars was all crushed together! Paula said she felt like a ping ping ball being hit from both ends pretty hard! I was in the last car and manage somehow to just miss the rest! Out of all the cars , the car I was in was the only car suited to take us to the airport!
You can read her entire account at her blog here.
You can follow John Kim on Twitter @johnkim_10
Who says golfers can't multi-task? Despite being halfway around the world for the Honda LPGA Thailand, several of the LPGA Tour's finest have been keeping up with the happenings leading up to the Daytona 500.
Why, you ask? Come on, you know the answer – the LPGA Tour players aren't just sports fans; they're cheering on Danica Patrick, who made history by winning the pole for Sunday's Daytona 500. And they're not just cheering her on – stars like Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis made signs and even a good-luck video in support of their speed-racing sister.
Surprisingly, at least to me, the most enthusiastic "go-get-'em" came from Taiwan's Yani Tseng. Maybe we should have figured out that Tseng loved racing by the way she sped up the women's world rankings.
To see the LPGA's video for Danica, click here.
When it came to creating a set of irons to round out its new line of AMP Cell drivers, fairway clubs and hybrids, Cobra didn't hesitate to go bold. So, when choosing a set of AMP Cell irons, golfers can pick from four different accent shades, allowing them to color-match them with other AMP Cell clubs or create a personally mixed set. For traditionalists, silver irons are the stock option, while the other choices are the Vibrant Orange, Directoire Blue and Barbados Red that are also available in the AMP Cell drivers, fairways and hybrids.
Color choice isn't all the AMP Cell irons have going for them, though. They also feature a metalwood face-weld construction, E9 Face Technology and AMP Cell technology as well as a V-Skid sole design, vibration management system and speed channel to help provide enhanced distance, forgiveness and accuracy.
The AMP Cell 4- through 7-irons feature a metalwood construction with a thin, high-strength steel face that is welded to a softer 431 stainless steel body. This optimizes the irons, says Cobra, and helps to generate faster ball speeds for improved distance and forgiveness. E9 Face Technology helps to expand the sweet spot across nine spots on the face and improve distance, feel and forgiveness regardless of where on the face the ball is struck.
The internal cell weighting in the AMP Cell irons enables precise Center of Gravity placement, while the V-Skid sole combines a higher-bounce leading edge with heel-toe relief, resulting in a sole that is versatile for better players, yet forgiving for mid- and higher-handicappers. This works with the vibration management system to reduce unwanted impact shock and sound for exceptional feel.
The new irons (3-iron through lob wedge) come in right- and left-handed models in both steel and graphite shafts. Eight-piece sets (4-iron through gap wedge) carry a street price of $699 for the steel set and $899 for the graphite set. The steel irons feature True Temper Dynalite 90 shafts and the graphite irons use Cobra MRC AMP Cell shafts. All irons feature Lamkin REL .600 grips designed specifically for them.
It's been a long couple of days for me, so maybe you won't find this as funny as I did. But I thought this photo tweeted by the TaylorMade rep known as "Charlie Tour" on Friday was pretty funny.
After all the upsets in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship over the first couple of days, he tweeted out the photo shown above, with this caption: ''A live look from Wentworth, where they just wrapped a meeting tabulating OWGR [Official World Golf Ranking] for the week of Monday, February 25.''
Seriously, though, almost every edition of the Accenture Match Play produces a ton of upsets, prompting lots of discussion about the validity and/or absurdity of the world ranking that establishes the seedings. My own take is that the upsets really don't reflect poorly on the ranking. Instead, the Accenture Match Play shows how closely bunched all the top players are.
You can argue that the two-year period that the ranking includes is too long, but then the question becomes how short of a period do you measure? One year? Six months? Three months? There's no right answer, and no perfect way to rank the players. But the cream rises to the top over the long run, and that's what, I believe, the world ranking reflects fairly accurately.