THE SPRING THAW IS FINALLY HERE AND SO IS A NEW GOLF SEASON. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT CLUBS IN YOUR HAND. EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT THOUGH IS GETTING THOSE CLUBS PROPERLY FITTED. By Mark Keast
Yes, to score well, you need to practice, and play often. You also need quality equipment. Make that properly fitted quality equipment. It makes no sense playing the finest golf course this country has to offer with improperly fitted clubs.
TaylorMade is one of the world’s top golf equipment manufacturers. So we reached out to the folks there to see what’s coming down the line for 2015, as well as the importance of getting the clubs fitted.
With that in mind, the first stop was the TaylorMade Performance Lab in Woodbridge, Ontario (image), where they suit you up with sensors around the neck, wrist, knees, feet – all the major range of motion points on the body. The technology they use is called Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade (MAT-T). There are 34 reflective sensors in all around the room. Six really high speed infrared cameras send data into a large sophisticated computer that then creates 3D images, allowing the club fitter to look at my swing from different angles, zoom in and out, and break it down.
Says Phil McNally, Master Fitter at the TaylorMade Performance Lab: “The technology captures everything about your swing, right down to a tenth of a degree. It tracks everything from every angle.”
The tools and measures include all club impact data, swing planes, body lines, centre of gravity, posture lines, shaft lines and more – all allowing the fitter to really break down the swing. When the three-hour fitting session is complete, clubs sized just for you are ordered up from TaylorMade’s manufacturing hub in Carlsbad, California.
“Golfers who are passionate about the game and are investing in their hobby will be looking for something a little bit better, and we have that here,” says Cameron Jacobs, Manager, Custom Fitting at TaylorMade Performance Lab. “Whether it is a specific shaft or grip option, or the player wants the $400 upgraded shaft you can only get in select locations, this is where you come to test them all. If you are going to make a big investment in upgraded equipment, you definitely want to get the right one. Golfers have a place where they can test all the different options we bring to the marketplace, a private environment with the best technology.”
Here is what is new for TaylorMade in 2015:
AEROBURNER DRIVER, FAIRWAY AND RESCUE CLUB
TaylorMade has improved the Speed Pocket and aerodynamics of the clubs for more effortless distance and maximum speed in terms of shot-making. The driver has just a 50-gram shaft for increase speed. All AeroBurner metalwoods feature the largest Speed Pocket in combination with an extremely low and forward centre of gravity. The driver (460cc) is $349.99, the fairway is $259.99, and the rescue club is $229.99 ($100 up charge for all AeroBurner Tour Preferred models).
AEROBURNER IRONS, MINI DRIVER AND BALL
Follows the launch of the AeroBurner driver in January, these products complete the AeroBurner franchise of clubs for 2015. The irons are built for distance through speed, with up-to-the-limit COR face design engineered to maximize ball speed off the clubface. The 253cc metalwood Mini Driver is engineered for players who commonly drive with their 3-wood. You can hit it as a driver or as a 3-wood replacement. Then there’s the AeroBurner Pro golf ball: a three-piece ball engineered for high ball speeds off the clubface. AeroBurner irons are available in 8-piece sets and are equipped with stock REAX 88 High Launch steel shafts ($749) or AeroBurner REAX 60 graphite shafts ($849) in stiff, regular, senior or ladies flex. AeroBurner Mixed Combo Steel sets are available at $999 and AeroBurner Graphite / Ladies Combo sets are available at $1,099. The Mini Driver goes for $299 ($399 for the TP). The balls go for $29.99 for a dozen.
PROJECT (A) BALL
The “a” stands for amateur, and the reason for its creation is simple: since amateur golfers deliver less spin that tour pros, this ball is designed to deliver more spin on mid irons, short irons and shots around the green, resulting in better shot control and better scoring opportunities. The balls go for $34.99 for the dozen.
SUPREME HYBRID GOLF BAG
Combining great design with an attention to detail, the Supreme Hybrid bag is for the golfer who likes to walk the course on occasion. The bag has all the storage space you need with the mobility of a lightweight stand bag, four-point shoulder strap with air mesh for ventilation, 14-way top with handle, four full-length dividers, ten pockets, and glove tab. Price is $219.99.
GHOST TOUR PUTTERS
This new series of putters is inspired by the company’s four most classic shapes and has been updated with a new deep-milled aluminum insert. The Ghost Tour Black series is already in play on various tours around the world, and is comprised of two blade styles: Daytona (shown here) and Indy, as well as two mallet styles: Maranello and Monte Carlo. The putters feature a rich, dark glare-resistant PVD coating — visually attractive, but also effective at deflecting the sun’s rays. Price for the standard version is $179.99 and $199.99 for an upgraded version with a Super Stroke grip.
R15 DRIVER, FAIRWAY AND RESCUE CLUBS
The R15 driver comes out in both black and white and has two head sizes: 460cc and 430cc. Available in four lofts: 9.5°, 10.5°, 12° and 14°. The R15 fairway club is available in four lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 19° and 20.5°. It’s the most adjustable fairway wood to date, with the same Front Track system as the driver, utilizing a single 25-gram tungsten weight that slide easily to promote a draw or fade using a TaylorMade torque wrench. The smaller shape on the head of the rescue club (99cc) allows for more versatility than a conventional size hybrid, preferred by players who like to shape their shots. The R15 series is considered to be the most technologically sophisticated, high performance metal wood franchise the company has manufactured. Price is $499.99 for the R15 460 and 430 (there’s also a Tour Preferred version for $599.99); fairway club is $299.99 ($399.99 for the TP), rescue is $239.99 ($339.99 for the TP).
Designed to help golfers with off-centre hits, the new RSi iron family of clubs features something called Face Slot Technology, to help improve consistency and distance. Better performance on mis-hits? Where do we sign up? The Speed Pocket (a small slot in the sole of the iron to improve shots struck low on the face of the iron), introduced by TaylorMade two years ago, activates the shots struck low on the clubface. New face slots activate toe and heel areas to provide more uniform flexion across the face of the club and protect ball speed on those off-centre hits. The RSi irons come in three distinct models (RSi Tour Preferred, RSi 2, RSi 1) designed to appeal to different levels of players. The RSi 1 in particular has the largest sweet spot of any iron created by TaylorMade. The RSi 1 prices are $899 steel, $999 graphite; the RSi 2 goes for $1,149 steel, $1,249 graphite; the RSi TP is priced at $1,399.
TOUR PREFERRED EF WEDGE
According to TaylorMade, the chemical process used to make a face insert on these new wedges makes the grooves sharper, more consistent and durable than anything they have manufactured before. The wedges are available both in the traditional Tour Grind and a reshaped ATV Grind with a slightly narrower sole than predecessors. Tour Grind is available in 47-, 50-, 52-, 54-, 56-, 58-, 60- and 62-degree models with bounce options from 8 to 15 degrees; ATV Grind is available in lofts of 52-, 54-, 56-, 58-, and 60-degree versions. Price is $179.