Sorting Out the R9 Brain-Teaser

The R9 saga rolls on . . . and up and down, and left, and right. r9driver-wlogo

Flummoxed, apparently, by the latest flight-control features built into TaylorMades brand new R9 driver, the Gear Head is getting a free drop courtesy of Cameron Jacobs from TMs fitting centre in Toronto.

Regular readers will recall a recent post in which we wondered aloud about some of the adjustability features of the R9, which provides players the opportunity to adjust not only the weight distribution in the clubhead but the clubface angle as well.

How, we wondered, could closing the clubface result in more loft instead of less? How could opening the clubface reduce the clubs effective loft? Hasnt more than 30 years of golf instruction been predicated on precisely the opposite concept?

Well, yes and no, explained Jacobs, whos manager of custom fitting at TaylorMades MATT (Motion-Analysis Technology – TaylorMade) Performance Center, and also the companys tour rep on the Canadian Tour.

First, consider the old-school basics of clubface alignment. Its true that when youre standing on the tee and you grip your driver with an open face to hit a fade, for instance, that you add loft to the clubface. The opposite is true when you shut the face to hit a draw.

In the case of the R9 and its adjustable hosel, however, youre effectively changing the relationship between the shaft and the clubhead; youre altering the characteristics of the clubface in a way that was never possible before, at least not without the use of a vice and a blowtorch.

Hold your right hand out in front of you, as if youre going to shake hands with someone. Pretending its the face of a driver, tilt it slightly to the right to add a bit of loft.

If you look at your right palm and turn it towards you, that would be effectively closing the face _ and you can see how the loft would increase, Jacobs said. If you put your hand down more towards the floor, that would open the face and decrease the loft.

When I tried this at first, I couldnt quite setm-r9-graphice it. But as you turn your palm more towards yourself, youll see what might be, say, a five-irons loft slowly start to look like a pitching wedge.

I realize that it goes against the old adage that a closed face will produce a lower flight and an open face will flight the ball higher, Jacobs wrote in a subsequent email. That happens because it is the players mechanics that are opening or closing the face based on the conditions they create as they swing, NOT how the club was built.

Jacobs even provided some of TaylorMades own data, which is fascinating; moving the clubface angle of an R9 driver or fairway wood through the eight possible positions, from two degrees open to two degrees closed, increases the loft by as much as two full degrees. The numbers dont say anything about the resultant change in trajectory, but the spread in direction is a full 40 yards.

Flight Control Technology (FCT) influences not just the face angle, but the loft and lie angle as well, Jacobs said. Factor in the three movable weights in the back of the driver head and you effectively have 24 different drivers in one, he added.

Now, if you expand that to include the fact that there is not just one loft available, but three (8.5 degrees, 9.5 degrees and 10.5 degrees), that actually gives us 72 options to totally adjust the player.

The R9 is a club that can not only meet the myriad needs of a better player, it can also grow with a less experienced golfer as he or she evolves, he added.

The player that cures his slice through improved technique could switch to a more neutral setting, or a good player that develops a tendency to hook his drives in tournaments could open the face.

Sold? Still confused? Either way, check out TaylorMades motion-analysis fitting system online or contact them directly at

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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.

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