TaylorMade’s R9: Defying the laws of physics?

If you were paying attention to last weeks post about TaylorMades newest driver offering, the R9, you might have noticed something odd about the companys description of the clubs adjustable playing characteristics.

Bob Hope champ Pat Perez and his new best friend, the R9.

Bob Hope champ Pat Perez and his new best friend, the R9.

Specifically, Im talking about the remarks of Dr. Benoit Vincent, the companys chief technical officer, who was quoted in the companys release talking about how the different positions on the adjustable hosel fitting can alter the ball flight.

The R9 driver offers eight positions, and changing from one position to another is easy and takes only a matter of seconds, Vincent said. When changing, its important to recognize that as the face angle closes, the loft increases; and as the face angle opens, the loft decreases.

Huh? Wait a second. Isnt it usually the other way around?

The companys release continues:

Thus the R9 driver is engineered to promote trajectories that are 1) increasingly higher, long-carrying and which move from right-to-left; 2) increasingly lower, more controllable and which move from left-to-right; or 3) which are neutral, with relatively straight flight and at mid-level height.

None of this made sense to me. When you shut the face of a driver, do you not de-loft the face? And do you not do exactly the opposite when you crank the face open? Isnt that why a right-to-left ball flight flies lower and runs longer, while a fade flies high and stops short?

At the time of the original post, I wasnt able to get an immediate answer to this question, but I did eventually hear back from TaylorMade Canada spokesman Marc-Antoine Robin, who was kind enough to oblige.

Vincent is talking about Ëœactive loft, not Ëœstatic loft, Robin explained. Heres the gist of it: if the face of the R9 driver is set open at address, the loft (SL) is increased but in motion this same head decreases its loft (AL) as it tries to close back to square.

On the reverse side a closed R9 driver face decreases its loft (SL) at address but once in motion its loft (AL) is increased as the face opens up for square contact.

This doesnt quite explain everything, but it does indicate one thing: This was not an error or a mixup. TaylorMade is indeed claiming it has designed a golf club with playing characteristics that contradict some of the most fundamental assumptions about driver engineering.

According to TM, a closed-face setup will result in a higher draw trajectory, and an open-face setup a lower fade trajectory. If its true, it promises to be a remarkable, potentially revolutionary, change in how golfers hit the ball off the tee.

One of the most frustrating challenges to a better golfer is controlling the trajectory of a tee shot while trying to shape it in one direction or the other. The ability to hit a high draw, which evades a lot of good players with a natural left-to-right shot shape, would transform a lot of golf games.

Either that, or it’s all a lot of hooey. It will likely be at least another month before we can get our hands on one and find out for ourselves.

The R9 is, of course, causing some pretty serious seismic activity on the golf course already.

I nailed every single fairway during my practice round with the R9 driver, Pat Perez, who won the recent Bob Hope Classic with the R9 in his bag, said in a recent company release.

This club is a machine and I didnt even think twice about putting it in the bag.

At the European Tour’s Commercialbank Qatar Masters, three TaylorMade professionals put the R9 driver in play for the first time: Sergio Garcia, currently the No. 2 player in the world, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.

In our company’s history we have never had a driver become the number one model played in its first week on tour,” said Chuck Presto, TaylorMade-adidas Golf senior vice president of global sports marketing. “This speaks volumes about the performance of the R9.

It looked to me as though Kenny Perry, who continues to defy all logic when it comes to how 48-year-old golfers are supposed to perform on the PGA Tour, was still rocking his Burner driver at the FBR Open, which he just won. But if I was playing the way hes been playing, I wouldnt switch drivers either.

It’s starting to look like picking all TaylorMade players in this year’s pool would have been a good idea. But more on that later.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Some interesting thoughts on the R9. Conceptually, the Taylormade R9 is ahead of its time. But its quite another if these concepts don’t pan out for the average golfer.

    I look forward to seeing how this driver does.

    Taylormade R9 Driver

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