I have long been a big fan of TaylorMade's wide variety of drivers, fairway woods and rescue clubs. When the opportunity recently arose to try out the R15 driver, as well as the Aeroburner 3-wood and 3-rescue, it's safe to say I was pretty excited.
Just like everyone else, I'm always in search of more distance off the tee. I've always been pretty lucky as an accurate driver of the golf ball, but I'm not always the longest. With just a few more yards off the tee, you're set up with a shorter approach, with a more lofted club, which should lead to a more accurate shot to the greens and more looks at birdies and pars, right?
I took these clubs out for a test spin at my home course in Rhode Island. I wanted the test to be at a place I'm familiar with so I could compare landing area of shots with my game clubs. What was the difference? Was I still as accurate? Did I have shorter approach yardages?
I wouldn't recommend it, but my first time at the course with these beautiful new sticks was also the first time I had hit them, period. I took the plastic off in the parking lot.
The R15 driver -- I got it in white -- boats a lower and more forward center of gravity to promote higher launch and lower spin. The lower spin, obviously, allows the ball to roll out more once it hits the ground.
The 460cc head was nothing I'm not already used to. Several of my drivers in recent years were the same size, so it wasn't overwhelming. That said, as interested as I am in more distance off the tee, I'm equally as concerned with how a driver performs on mishits.
That's where the R15 really put an ear-to-ear grin on my face. The shots I mishit still felt solid and not as far off line as I would typically anticipate.
Overall, I found the driver to be very comfortable to hit right from the first tee on. Did I hit every fairway? Of course not. I've never done that. But, my misses were playable, which is important to any avid golfer.
Length-wise, I'd say the R15 was about 15 yards longer than anything I've ever hit on the button. When I walked out to some tee shots, I actually had to scratch my head because I was in spots on the course I had never seen before with my tee ball. That was fun.
While I've messed around with several drivers for the last three years, only one has remained in my bag over that period of time. Until now. It was time for an upgrade and the R15 is it. After that first round, it was immediately promoted to "gamer" status.
On to the Aeroburner 3-wood. Truth be told, my course isn't one that requires a lot of 3-wood shots. Maybe a few off the tees -- which I couldn't bring myself to hit seeing as the R15 was going further than anything I've ever unleashed -- but other than that, there's just one par 5 over water where you'd need the 3-wood even after a good poke from the tee.
That's where I used this club for the only time at the course. I would later take it to the range.
As is the case with most golfers -- I'd presume, anyway -- the aesthetics of a fairway wood are paramount to me. What does it look like at address? Anything too bulky and I'm visually intimidated. It needs to look right behind the ball, or I know I'm going to hit a lousy shot before I even pull the trigger.
At address, I immediately loved the look of the Aeroburner. That made me comfortable and I proceeded to smash that second shot from 240 yards out over the water... and over the green. Much like the R15, this club provided some extra yards I wasn't accustomed to.
The most noticeable attribute of the Aeroburner 3-wood, to me, was the sound upon impact. It just made this "pop!" like I haven't heard before with other fairway woods. Since I only hit one shot with it on the course, I was sure to take it out to the range a couple of times too.
At the range, the results were similar -- more distance than I'm used to and just a fantastic sound at impact. Like the R15, the Aeroburner 3-wood also allowed for more forgiveness on mishits. We have the Speed Pocket on the sole of the club to thank for that -- it increases the size of the sweet spot and reduces spin.
And when I really got ahold of this thing, I'd venture to guess it was traveling within 10 yards of my previous driver.
Lastly, there was the Aeroburner 3-Rescue (which I've also spent a lot of time with on the range). For me, this club was installed to replace three clubs -- a 5-wood, 3-iron and 4-iron. For years I've read and heard about how much easier it is to hit a hybrid than a long iron or fairway wood, but it's taken me time to believe in it and convert.
What I loved most about this club, which also boats a Speed Pocket on the sole, is the ease with which I was able to extract the ball from some typically tough lies. Whether it was in rough or on hardpan -- for the most part -- I didn't feel the need to hit a short iron to get the ball back in play. Instead, I could trust that this club would get through the thick grass without costing me loads of yardage. It gave me chances to save par instead of hoping to sneak away with a bogey.
I also tried it a couple of times from just off the green instead of using a putter. It was like adding another dimension to my game.
The R15 and Aeroburner clubs from TaylorMade were everything I expected and more. I can't wait to get out there with them again.
If you're interested in learning more about the clubs, visit http://taylormadegolf.com/.
The R15 driver retails for $429.99. The Aeroburner 3-wood sells for $229.99, while the Aeroburner Rescue is priced at $199.99.
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Sahalee Country Club
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Hazeltine National Golf Club