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.