You may remember the days of persimmon woods, struck heartily by such legends as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Then came the boosted power of metal-headed drivers, a segment that took fire in the 1980s and quickly became ubiquitous among pros and amateurs alike, pushing woods made from actual wood to the dustbins of antiquity. Today, TaylorMade has moved beyond metal to create what it calls the "unmetalwood" category with the introduction of its snazzy new M1 driver, with a club head constructed from carbon fiber.
The club is striking to behold, with a bright white leading edge cut in a shape reminiscent of a telephone receiver set against a sea of dark-gray carbon fiber. That contrast not only looks attractive, it serves as an alignment aid as well, preparing you to drive for show. The M1 has a massive look, with a huge sweet spot just begging you to show that Titleist who is boss. Yet it's exceptionally light to the touch.
That light feeling comes from the seven layers of carbon fiber, the lion's share of the crown. (Despite TaylorMade's "unmetal" monicker, there is some metal in the head, namely titanium.) All that weight savings was invested into adjustability.
While drivers have been adjustable for years, TaylorMade's M1 takes swing customization to a new level. The TaylorMade T-Track system is a black, moveable 15-gram weight that can slide more than three inches across the bottom of the golf club, from the heel to the toe. That adjustment is meant to transform slices or hooks into straighter shots, and, the company boasts, your drives may move up to 25 yards to the left or right. A second track with a red 10-gram weight allows a golfer to adjust the height of the shot. The designers kept the entire track system low on the club's sole to maintain a low center of gravity. All together the makers claim increased speed to get the ball moving, a high launch angle to boom it out as far as possible, and low spin to minimize disasters. (Remember the one you sliced into the pond on 18 during the final round of that member-guest? We've done it, too.)
The club is swung on tour by several big stars, including Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia. Day shot a 61 in his first round with the driver, the BMW Championship in Carmel, Indiana. He went on to win the tournament. Putting a $499 TaylorMade M1 in your golf bag won't turn you into Jason Day, but you will be armed with an advanced club that can be adjusted in just about any way you like.