Golfers are a demanding bunch. They want to hit the ball farther with their irons, but they want the ability to land it softly as well.
Those two ideas aren't always compatible. Usually adding distance requires a lower launch angle, which means the ball flight is lower. But TaylorMade Adidas iron designer Tomo Bysted said the latest generation of clubs -- the M2 and M2 Tour irons -- may have solved that conflict.
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The M2 products complete what TaylorMade is calling the "M franchise," which includes the M1 and M2 drivers, plus the M1 and M2 rescues and fairway woods as well. All of the products were released to the public in February after they were debuted at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando at the end of January.
So how do you design an iron that looks great, feels awesome and does all those things? Well, according to Bysted, you work under two constraints: distance and forgiveness.
"It's a very forgiving iron and easy to play," Bysted said of the new M2 line. "What we were trying to do is focus on making it extremely long for people so they can hit a shorter iron into the green. If you can hit a 7-iron where before you had to hit a 6, that's great."
But Bysted said the goal was not to trade off height in order to get a few additional yards.
"You can't just do that by lowering the trajectory," he said. "You have to do that with meaningful performance. So the M2 irons are really designed not only to go farther -- so you can use one less club on your approach -- but to go higher than your previous product."
When talking about irons and adding distance, Bysted said what sometimes gets lost in the conversation is the ability for golfers to do two things every time: get the ball to land -- and stay -- on the green, and to feel confident in their yardage.
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"It's no good to land on the green and roll off the back every time," Bysted said. "And there has to be a consistent distance. If you don't know how far your irons are going, that's also no good.
"If one shot goes 160 yards and the next one goes 140 and you feel like you've hit almost the same shot, then you're not going to score well because you're going to be missing greens."
The M2 line is just the latest in a rollout of the M franchise equipment, and TaylorMade is especially proud of how a variety of golfers -- from PGA Tour players to high-handicappers -- have found nothing but positive things to say, right from the introduction of the M1 driver.
"M1 was the starting point for launching the entire M franchise," Bysted said. "We launched it really with our flagship product, which is our most-technical, most-advanced, best-performing driver. It's had incredible reception so far. Tour use has been off the charts. It was the No. 1 driver in play the first week we brought it out, and the numbers have only climbed since then."
The M2 driver soon followed, and Bysted explained the similarities and differences between the two. While they both share similar characteristics, one is much more of a hands-on product for the player who likes adjustability. There's also a different price point, so that's another factor to consider if you're in the market for new gear.
"The M1 is a very technical driver, it's a premium driver," he said. "But we wanted to have a driver -- the M2 -- that was a little different in the approach.
"M1 is very personalizable, there's a lot of adjustability on the club, you can really dial in your launch conditions. That's great for the more technical golfer, who understands how to unlock performance by getting the right launching conditions. The M2, particularly the driver, is not only about giving the player that kind of distance with a great launch trajectory but with forgiveness."
Which one should you choose? Bysted said it's a matter of personal preference.
"If you're more of a recreational player -- a mid- to high-handicapper -- the M2 may work better for you because it is more forgiving," he said. "That's not to say high-handicappers won't find great success with the M1, because you can dial in a lot of draw, for example, for players who need it.
"If you have a tendency to hit it right, there are a lot of technologies in the head that will help you hit it more left. A lot of beginners need that help. M1 really spans the whole spectrum."
The same technology flows down through the M1 and M2 rescues and fairway woods, Bysted said. Just like the irons he helped design, TaylorMade kept two basic principles in mind with the new metals.
"They're really geared to more distance and forgiveness as a core idea," he said.