Release Date: March 20, 2009
What they say:
- TaylorMade Flight Control Technology
What sets the R9TM driver apart from all other drivers is that it incorporates our new TaylorMade Flight Control Technology, or FCT for short. With a simple twist of a wrench, FCT allows you to change the R9’s face angle, loft and lie angle. How does FCT work? It starts with a small metallic sleeve positioned over the tip of the shaft. The shaft is secured to the clubhead with a specially made bolt in the bottom of the clubhead. The FCT bolt is designed to be retained in the well to eliminate the chance of losing it. The sleeve, made of high-strength 7075-T6 aluminum alloy, is ringed around the bottom with small teeth, which tightly mesh with a second ring of matching teeth within the hosel. You can change the clubhead’s characteristics (face angle, loft, lie) by loosening the FCT bolt, removing the shaft from the head, rotating the sleeve and shaft into a specified position, then locking them into that position within the head with the FCT bolt.
- What makes the R9 driver totally adjustable as opposed to partially adjustable is that it unites FCT with MWT. The clubhead features three weight ports and comes equipped with one 16-gram and two 1-gram weights. Put the heavy weight in the heel port to promote a draw, in the toe port to promote a fade, and in the middle port to promote a straight flight.
- The R9 clubhead is constructed with the aid of TaylorMade’s Ultra-Thin Wall (UTW) technology, which allows for clubhead walls measuring as thin as 0.6 millimeters, with the saved weight redistributed to make both MWT and the low-and-deep CG possible.
What we say:
My R9 was build in a few minutes in the TaylorMade tour van at Riviera with a stock shaft and head that came straight from a drawer used for the PGA Tour. Could have been destined for Pat Perez I suppose, but instead it is now forced to deal with me.
What immediately struck me was how easy it is for TM to put this driver together given the level of customization involved. The sleeve that attaches the clubhead is simply connected with epoxy and then the clubhead is screwed into place and tightened using a wrench similar (but not the same) as that used to alter the weights on the old R7. The spin on the R9 is that it can be altered to have a dispersion of 75 yards, meaning that by tweaking the components one could get a swing from 37 yards to the right and the same to the left. And this was demonstrated by TM when I was at their facility in Carlsbad using the Iron Byron. A small tweak and balls went right – another and they went left.
Beyond that, the other element that impresses is the look. Everything is simple and clean. The red shaft might not be your thing, but it doesn’t bother me. The clubhead has a look that anyone who has hit an R7 will be used to.
Initially my driver was set up to a neutral position. With the weights set for my typical ball flight, I struck a few drives in Carlsbad at The Kingdom. The ball had a nice penetrating flight, with the occasional shot veering off to the left, following my typical draw/hook that I play with a driver. It was seriously long – there’s no doubt of that, and the sound of the ball connecting with the clubhead was not overstated or annoying.
An observer suggested we tinker with the club, opening it up to the first open setting. A minute of two later the driver was set to 1 degree open (it can be opened to 2 degress) and my ball flight straightened while maintaining the same flight characteristics. It was an impressive display, though I didn’t get a chance to really dig into tweaking the weights once we set the clubface.
On the course a day later, I found that my tendency was still to hit balls to the left, so I may open the clubface up fully to see the effect.
Even in a difficult market, it is hard to imagine the R9 not being a success. The R7 was a huge hit with golfers, bringing the concept of moveable weight technology into the golf club equation. The R9 takes that technology to the next sensible step – allowing golfers more range from right to left and more customization. It is a smart, sexy club that will surely be a lure for golfers throughout 2009. My only question is whether the TaylorMade driver market is already cluttered, drawing some of the attention away from the R9. However, a full-on media blitz which is ongoing during the telecasts of the PGA Tour makes it hard not to notice the driver.