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Gear Review: TaylorMade’s R9

taylormade_r9_face

TaylorMade R9

Release Date: March 20, 2009

Price: $499

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:

taylormade-r9My 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.

Conclusion:

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.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I tested one last week and can’t wait for it to arrive. also got the three wood,same technology. also ordered two shafts! I’ll be scary this year.

  • My concern is that the head may become “loose” after being hitting for a while. What are your thoughts on that? I am afraid the connection between shaft and head can become worn over time and loosen the head.

  • I have had a chance to hit the R9 and love the adjustability factor as non Tour models tend to be biased to hook in higher lofts because so many people slice. Tour drivers only work for the higher swing speed player leaving the low handicap good player unable to achieve his desired ball flight.
    However the Motore shaft plays way too stiff even in regular and there are going to be some mighty diappointed buyers out there when they find that they just paid $399 or more and can’t hit the ball nearly as far as at present.
    The answer is anther shaft but Taylormade won’t facilitate that by either making sleeves available or explain how to get it off to place it on a better shaft.

  • eVEN BIGGER THE DISSAPPOINTMENT will be when the R9 drops to $299 in 2 months time when the launch R9 tp, R9 460, etc

  • First driver purchase since my Titleist 983K.

    I hit numerous drivers and the R9 outperformed them all. I only have a 94 mph club head speed but it added about 17-21 yards consistently. Love it!

  • Had a chance to hit this club and really love the look and adjustability of the club, but the stock Motore staff plays too stiff for me and my swing speed is between 90 to 95 mph. I would suggest checking out the TP version with other shafts to get total satisfaction from this club.

  • Good driver! Even a worse golfer will enjoy this R9 driver.They can fix slice or hook factor with this driver.Everyone will fall in love with R9 driver.However TaylorMade should give ‘more’ shaft choice for high HC golfer and a weak swing golfer.

  • I went through a 1 Hr Driver / Fairway fitting (R9)
    Hit 15 Balls per head shaft combo (Two heads 9.5,10.5) in batches of 5 balls until 15 hit with each combo.
    All available shafts ( Two flexes S & R)

    The tightest ball distribution was with R9 TP 9.5 with Matrix OZIK XCON 5 Reg. This also gave the best distance on avg.
    Spin was in the 2650 Range with a 12.5 launch

    Different swing would have different outcome.

    Did not mess with FCT or weights test setup was neutral.

    Motore F1 was the worst shaft of the lot.

    I have been biased in favour of 0.335 Diameter Shafts for a long time. Better feel for what the head is doing and better feel at impact. The only reason I can see for 0.350 is to diminish customer returns from people that hit it close to the heel most of the time and usually break the shaft off at the hosel. The other reason is to discourage re-shafting by making it a pain in the butt.

    I had a first generation R7 that was 0.350 and had it reshafted with a 0.335 Accuflex Evolution ( had to use a shim to make up for the diameter difference). This resulted in me sticking with R7s ever since.

    Only caveat I can think of is If I had been one of the customers that paid full price for a R7 Limited or R7 Limited TP to have it discontinued less than 6 months after launch I would be a little cranky about the hasty designed obsolescence.
    Will the R9 go the same road as the R7 Limited. ?
    Wish TaylorMade would just standardize on 0.335″ tip shafts and stop the crap.

    I have heard also that additional shafts will not be line items for sale. However eBay seems to have no shortage of the fittings for the R9 0.335 tip shafts for sale.

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