Taylormade R9 Irons Review

For the last few years, nobody has been as critical about the Taylormade line of irons than The Hackers Paradise. My personal opinion was that the R7 line of irons was a step backward for the company, and the clubs offered, in no way, lived up to the Taylormade name in terms of R&D and quality. The 2009 Burner irons that the company has put out is a strong contender in the game improvement category and was certainly a step in the right direction in the opinion of our testers. When we got a call to be one of the first to try out the Taylormade R9 Irons several months ago, we jumped at the opportunity.

R9 Forum Information
For the last few months THP has kept the readers updated with a thread on the forum filled with mini-reviews, pictures, and everything else about the R9 Irons. Here is our original thread from the forum for those interested filled with information from day one. Taylormade was also kind enough to supply one of our staff writers with a set of R9 Irons for something we are calling a Long Term Review. Harry Longshanks will be updating this thread daily and answering questions long term as he works with this new set of irons. Following this review THP will also be reviewing the R9 TP Irons for our readers, here is our unboxing pictures of those as well.
Click Each Image for Hi-Res Photo
set

First Impressions
One of my biggest criticisms of the previous line from Taylormade was the look of the iron. Anybody that shared my issues need not worry anymore. The R9 irons are remarkably different and quite striking. The black insert on the back is simple and clean and not filled with graphics. We have seen others mention that it looks “cheap”, I can assure you that in person they do not seem to look that way at all. They have a clean and traditional look and shape and the last thing that stands out immediately is the shaft. Taylormade has added the hugely popular KBS shafts to the R9 set. After about 10 minutes of staring at the new box of clubs, we were ready to get to some serious testing.

cavity outside

First Range Session
As most of our readers know, THP’s reviews are normally filled with multiple golfers trying each piece of equipment to give our readers a thorough review and not just one person’s opinion. The Taylormade R9 irons are no different and by the time you finish reading this review you will see what we are discussing here. However for the first range session, I admit it, I was being selfish. I went to the range with the new irons and spent about an hour hitting these irons as well as a set of R7 irons. From the moment you hit your first ball with these you will realize that they are a completely different animal to the sets from the last few years. The feel that the R9 irons give off is soft and smooth, and when you go back to the R7 irons you have a much harder impact feeling. After about an hour of hitting balls, the first day with the new irons had come to an end and here are my opening notes.

Looks – As good as I have seen out of Taylormade. These look spectacular in my opinion. Plain and sleek with some nice color where needed. Regular R9 irons are of similar size to the R7 in terms of top line and sole in my view. Cavity is great looking and simple.

Feel – This is something I was definitely not a fan of with the R7 line. I thought they felt clicky and hard. Not the case at all. Extremely soft. Great feedback given on mis-hits despite them being a GI iron. The TP version will no doubt have even more of this. (feedback)

Forgiveness – The iron really shines here. Toe or heel mis-hits barely even affected the club, however at the same time all the feedback was there. Shocked at how little distance was lost when missing the sweet spot.

Distance – Not as long as the Burner irons, but few things are. About a half a club longer than what I am currently playing per iron.

Overall – After one range session, I would have to say that these may have it all. Great look, soft feel, solid forgiveness makes a wonderful total package.

topline

Range Testing
Over the course of the time we have had the R9 irons we have had the pleasure of testing them on the range with 32 golfers. During that testing we have kept notes similar to the notes above as well as some interesting statistics.

Looks – 28 of the 32 golfers that tried the Taylormade R9 irons like the looks of them compared to what they felt was out in the marketplace.

Feel – Almost every golfer that tried the clubs first spoke about the feel. What we were getting over and over was that when you strike the ball “pure” it is like you were hitting cotton balls. Other thoughts were that these could possibly be the softest feeling irons on the market right now. My personal belief is that while they may not be the softest, they definitely have a feel that gives off that impression.

Forgiveness & Ball Flight- When discussing Game Improvement irons, the phrase “High and Straight” is used so often. Missing a shot off the heel or toe does nothing and the R9’s delivered in that category. None of us had ever seen an iron work so well when missing a shot. However quite a few of our testers noted that while the forgiveness is pretty remarkable on these, the ball flight was even more impressive. A high, penetrating ball flight that was very desirable was being achieved from an iron that most predicted would just be high and straight.

Distance – Not a single golfer in our 32 hit their current irons longer than the Taylormade R9s. Part of that is lofts and lengths so we did not get too involved with distances. The 3-6 irons in the R9 set are designed differently from the 7-PW and the players seemed to take notice. Golfers spoke openly about going back to long irons rather than hybrids with the R9s in their hands.

Overall – 27 of the 32 golfers testing the Taylormade R9 Irons on the range said that they preferred them to their current irons overall. That is a number that is far higher than just about any iron we have ever reviewed.

foam

Long Irons & Why They Work
Most of the golfers involved in our testing kept remarking on how they have never hit the long and mid irons as well as they were with the R9s. To answer the question as to why, Taylormade provided us some information on these and how they are different from other sets.

From the company:
Each R9 iron (3-6) houses a large and fully enclosed compartment positioned behind the clubface, underneath the cavity badge. Called the Velocity-Control Chamber (VCC), it makes it possible for an immense area of the ultra-thin (2.0 mm) clubface to exist unsupported. We call it a wrap-around clubface because it acts like a face that wraps around the top-line and the leading edge, which gives the face more freedom to flex and reflex at impact, much like a thin-faced driver.

The VCC makes it easier to launch the ball with the long- and middle-irons, yet TaylorMade engineers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the R9 irons deliver controlled power by incorporating Inverted Cone Technology on the inner side of the clubface. In addition to promoting higher ball speed on off-center hits, the Inverted Cone has been carefully calibrated to eliminate “hot spots” so that ball speed is consistent across the clubface, resulting in keen and consistent distance control in all of the R9 irons.

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Course Testing
Over the past few months we have put the R9 irons in play on the course quite a bit. Even more than that we have also had 7 other golfers put the R9 irons in play on the course. They are not some magical iron that is going to lower your score by 12 strokes or take you on the tour immediately. However all 8 of us felt as though we played better with the Taylormade R9 irons than we did with our own irons. There is a small learning curve in getting up and running on the course with the R9s, mainly due to the fact that most of our testers were hitting the ball longer than with their current irons. However the 2nd piece of that learning curve from our perspective is retraining yourself that as an amateur the 4 iron can be your friend.

As each of us got to play with the irons for multiple rounds we all seemed to realize that the dreaded “honeymoon period” that so many talk about had come and gone and all 8 of us were still raving about the Taylormade R9 irons. The KBS shaft is the absolute perfect compliment to the R9 club head. It is as if the R&D department found the marriage of perfection with the combo. After a full 2 months of playing these on the course, all 8 of us had the same conclusion. We liked them more than we did at the beginning of the trial. Each of the other 7 testers that tried this set on the course agreed that they preferred the R9 irons to their current iron set.

The Downside
Every piece of equipment has positives and negatives when it comes time to review time. The Taylormade R9 irons have to small things that most of the testers brought up over and over again. The first is the stock grip that Taylormade Golf has chosen for the R9s, was disliked by more than 70% of the people that tried the clubs. The second is that most amateur golfers that purchase golf equipment play hybrids at this point. Why not make the standard set 4-GW? Almost every tester that was at the range with us commented that they would like the GW for this set and that they would eliminate the 3 iron for a hybrid. Custom orders can be done through many places, but we feel as though the consumers would very much prefer the GW to the 3 iron, at least they did in our testing. Its interesting to note that it seems the only negatives people were having about the R9 irons were purely a preference and that from an iron standpoint most had no issues.

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Overall
Very few irons have come across the THP offices and been almost unanimously liked. The Taylormade R9’s are what our reviewers were calling the Total Package during the month long testing. When you have an iron that has the looks, feel, and performance all in one package, there is a reason that so many have loved them so far. This review started off by explaining the issues that we had with the R7 line. After a couple of months with the R9 line, this reviewer will say that he is converted. As much as I was critical about the R7 irons that they put out, I will sing the praises of the R9 irons.

For more information on any of the equipment that Taylormade offers check out their website at www.taylormadegolf.com

Till Next Time

Josh B.

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