TaylorMade-adidas Golf is continuing its tradition of adjustability that began in 2004 with the introduction of the r7a quad, which used Movable Weight Technology (MWT) that allowed golfers to change a clubhead’s centre of gravity to promote different ball flights.
After a long line of TaylorMade clubs that used MWT, TaylorMade has introduced the new R9 and R9 TP drivers that incorporate Flight Control Technology (FCT), which enables golfers to change the R9’s face angle, loft and lie angle with the turn of a wrench.
A small metallic sleeve is positioned over the tip of the shaft, which is secured to the clubhead with a specially bolt in the bottom of the clubhead.
The sleeve is made of high-strength 7075-T6 aluminum alloy and ringed around the bottom with small teeth that tightly mesh with a second ring of matching teeth within the hosel.
The clubhead’s characteristics can be changed by loosening the FCT bolt, removing the shaft from the head, rotating the sleeve and shaft into a specified position, then locking them into position with the FCT bolt.
“The R9 driver offers eight positions and changing from one position to another is easy and takes only a matter of seconds,” said Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade’s chief technical officer.
“When changing, it’s important to recognize that, as the face angle closes, the loft increases and, as the face angle opens, the loft decreases,” said Vincent.
With that in mind, the R9 is set up to promote different trajectories ranging from higher, long-carrying flight that moves right to left to increasingly lower, more controllable flights with left to right action or neutral flight with mid-level height.
“Every golfer, whether a tour pro or high handicapper, knows that the position of the face angle at address is critical to confidence,” said TaylorMade senior category director of equipment Harry Arnett.
“Strong players prone to hooks much prefer looking at square or slightly open face at address, while slicers find reassurance in seeing a closed face. FCT gives the golfer the ability to adjust the face to the position that they like best, which is a huge advantage.”
The R9 unites FCT with MWT and has a clubhead with three weight ports. It comes equipped with one 16-gram and two one-gram weights. The heavy weight can be put in the heel port to promote a draw, in the toe port for a fade and in the middle port for straight flight.
TaylorMade says its testing indicated 75 yards of side-to-side trajectory change, depending on the clubhead characteristics and weight configurations in the R9.
Other features of the R9 include what it calls a “New Classic” triangular clubhead shape that allows for a deep back, far-from-the-face centre of gravity location for easier launch, high moment of inertia, exceptionally low centre of gravity and ease of use with MWT.
The R9 is also constructed with TaylorMade’s Ultra-Thin Wall technology, with clubhead walls measuring as thin as 0.6 millimeters, with saved weight redistributed to make MWT and low, deep centre of gravity possible.
Other features of the R9 include Inverted Cone Technology and a new 65-gram Fujikura Motore graphite shaft.
“When you consider the extraordinary list of technologies and innovations that make up the R9, the undeniable conclusion is that this is the most advanced driver TaylorMade has ever created,” said Arnett.
“More important is how these technologies work together to make the R9 driver perform. It’s forgiving and easy to hit. Its total adjustability makes it easy to tune its characteristics to best fit the player, the course, the weather, etc.
TaylorMade-adidas has also incorporated FCT into two new fairway wood models, the R9 and R9 TP. The company has also introduced the Burner 09 irons.
“During the past few years, we’ve cultivated a trend of convincing golfers of all types that we’re more than a metalwood company,” said Sean Toulon, TaylorMade’s executive vice president of innovation. “The new Burner 09 iron will continue that trend.”
“Our performance goal was to create an easy-to-launch iron that delivered meaningful distance,” added Toulon. “What do we mean by that? Longer distance that’s consistent from club to club, for one thing.
“We wanted to make sure that every club was consistently longer than the club before it and that the distance gaps between each iron are even because it doesn’t help if you hit the six iron 15 yards long than your seven iron, but only hit the four iron five yards longer than the five iron.
“Meaningful distance also has a lot to do with control. Extra yardage with your irons doesn’t mean anything if you’re missing greens with crooked shots or hitting low bullets that skip hard and roll over the back.
“To deliver meaningful distance, the Burner 09 irons had to promote high, straight, long-carrying, soft-landing ball flight. There could be no sacrifice in the quality of launch angle, spin rate, peak, height and landing angle in our pursuit.”
TaylorMade’s research and development department started with the long irons. “We felt that if we could make a long iron that was far easier to hit than any other, we’d learn a lot about how to make the middle and short irons easier to hit too,” said Vincent.
“We spent a great deal of time in the beginning deconstructing conventional long irons and rethinking how we might reconstruct them in a new and different way.
“We’d given the previous Burner irons longer, light shafts and Inverted Cone Technology, but we knew we could do more. We realized the tweaks weren’t enough, that we had to redesign the club completely.
“We realized that each grouping of irons – the short irons, middle irons and long irons – had to be treated separately and differently because each one is a different animal.”
TaylorMade R&D began with the four iron.
The process for making it more forgiving and long was done through thinning the clubface as much as possible to make it more flexible and faster for a higher coefficient of restitution.
A custom 450 stainless steel alloy was used for added strength, allowing 1.9 mm thickness across most of the face.
Inverted Cone Technology was incorporated into the back of the clubface for increased ball speed on off-centre hit, while the size of the head was increased by expanding the perimeter to ultimately increase MOI.
The width of the sole was increased to pull centre of gravity location low and back from the clubface, while the degree of offset was also increased to make it easier to square the face at impact.
The topline was thickened to give the appearance of more mass behind the ball at address and a lightweight, longer length shaft with lightweight grip was added to the long irons.
The middle irons began with the seven with the goal of making it accurate and long by thinning the clubface not quite as much as the long irons, incorporating Inverted Cone Technology into the back of clubhead and expanding the size of the head.
A wide sole, not quite as wide as the long irons, was used, while the topline was thickened, again not as much as in the long irons. A slightly longer shaft was added with lightweight grips.
The short irons began with the nine. The clubheads were made relatively compact, the clubface was thinned, not quite as much as the middle irons, and the topline was thinned.
The sole is slightly thinner than the middle and long irons, but not by much, and the undercut cavity allows weight to be moved to the perimeter.
Also new is the TaylorMade Rescue 2009, with its compact clubhead to improve playability out of all lies, a two-tiered monochromatic crown and silver clubface and a crown decal for ease of alignment.
The Rescue 2009 also features Ultra-Thin Wall Technology in the crown to lower the centre of gravity location, while the sole has been redesigned with substantial areas in the toe and heel significantly recessed so less area comes in contact with the turf.
Two versions are available, standard and Rescue TP, the latter featuring the same FCT as the R9 driver and fairway woods.