Not too many years ago, when golfers bought a driver they had few choices—and they were permanent. They picked a clubface loft and, if they were really serious about their games, dictated the stiffness of the driver shaft. Then along came the TaylorMade R5, with tiny little weights that allowed players to subtly alter the balance of the club head to promote either a draw or a fade. It went by the moniker, Adjustable Weight Technology and was arguably the first creative innovation in drivers since the advent of metal club heads. Today, Callaway Razr Fit, Nike Covert, Ping, Anser, Titleist 913 D2, Cobra S3, Tour Edge Exotic—oh, wait, just about every golf club manufacturer—offers some degree of adjustability in their driver category.
But it seems fitting when talking about the options in the market—and your local golf shop or club pro can help decide which is best for you—to return to the granddaddy of them all: TaylorMade. Marketed as “Your R1,” it is designed to easily adjust three basic elements of a club head to counter the worst tendencies of your swing, or at least to promote the better elements. In fact, there are 168 possible combinations of settings, so you can truly fine tune the club to your game.
The R1 club face loft can be adjusted from 8 degrees—many professional players prefer a lower loft—to a 12-degree face which promotes a higher ball flight. You can also adjust the face angle seven different ways from neutral to open or closed. And, finally, it retains the original-concept moveable weights, which can shift the center of the gravity by up to five millimeters.
Another innovation that began with the R11, a previous generation of TaylorMade driver, is a white club top, the part you see as you stand over the ball on the tee. According to TaylorMade, that stemmed from research that showed the white top with a black face helped golfers align the club properly. Well, they’ve taken the research one step further with a combination of the white top along with sharp arrow-like designs.
In a swing test, the club felt extremely light, but very controllable, probably a result of the stiff, 55-gram standard shaft. I’ll let you know how the club performs in the real world after a few rounds this spring: check in to cigaraficionado.com for my update.
The R1 retails for approximately $399. And, I would recommend taking the time to get the club fine-tuned at an authorized dealer. It’s the best way to figure out which of the 168 possibilities is right for you.