Every year new drivers come out and we go mad trying to review each and every one of them for our readers. This year one driver stood alone as the most requested driver to be reviewed by The Hackers Paradise based on emails received. That club was the Taylormade R9 Driver!
We were one of the few people that really did not care too much for the R7 head in any one of its 5 or so models, so we were eager to see what changes came about with the R9 and if it would fit into our bag. We contacted them and asked to review the driver and we were delighted when a package arrived within just a few days. When we opened the box, we had a smile on our face because the driver that they shipped was actually the TP version of the club and not the standard consumer version that we usually get. This had a few of our testers grinning from ear to ear. Especially a couple of the local teaching professionals that were waiting for this one to arrive.
The appearance of the club changed a little bit and we really like it. It has more of a triangle shape to provide great MOI. It is just enough to notice it, but even for players who prefer the traditional head shape, it will not bother you. With the exception of the head shape, the first thing you are drawn to is the “Movable Weight Technology” (MWT). This will give you the power to change the clubhead’s center of gravity to promote a variety of trajectories. Movable weights is not something brand new, but we were glad that they kept it in the R9 because with the rest of the customization that can be done you can really create the driver that works for you.
This year Taylormade has added “Flight Control Technology” (FCT) to many of it’s clubs. FCT gives you the power to adjust the face angle, loft, and lie angle of the R9. FCT will allow you to change the driver characteristics to make the club look better to your eye and perform better with your swing. You can choose from eight different positions to promote eight different trajectories. Left, Neutral Upright, Neutral, and Right are all labeled on there, plus four different positions in between each of the ones mentioned above.
At THP we are known a little more for hands on testing than we are for technical specs, so once armed with the R9 TP we put it to the test. Being that it was the Tour Preferred version we wanted to make sure that we got the right players to test it on day one and gathered up 7 golfers that all played to a 4 handicap or better. At the range we let each player hit the driver in each position and then settle on the position that they liked the most. I must say that this part was a whole lot of fun and to see the shot differences with just the click of a shaft was quite cool. Not one person in the group could not find a position they liked and helped promote the straight ball. I want to point out one thing and that is the sound. For the first time in a while, we really liked the sound of this driver. There was no hollow sound or feeling and it certainly was not “tinny”. It sounded like a driver is supposed to sound like. After all seven golfers got to tinker with it for a while we got some feedback. Overall it was quite simple, each player loved the driver but the shaft was giving people fits. Because it is the TP version it was sent with the Motore shaft. The shaft is STOUT! Very little play in the tip and was quite “boardish”. That was the only issue we had with it. Most of the seven players that were with us ironically played the R7 TP and almost all said that they preferred the R9 version.
The next phase of our test was course play. We took a foursome for two days in a row out to a course and we all used the R9 driver. We even allowed each person to tinker with it before tee shots. Once again the remarks were all positive. One thing to note is that if you have never been fitted for anything or watched different ball flights, this could be a real treat. Our foursome all preferred the driver set a different way and to see on a dog leg left someone set it to draw and see the ball move that way was quite amazing. A lot of these things coming to the golf world are quite gimmicky, but this one definitely works as advertised.
Since we only had feedback from very good golfers we decided to hit up a public range for a session with players of all skill levels. As usual, we walked up and down the range and got to see 17 golfers try out this club. One by one we spoke with the player and watched him hit his own driver. Then we gave him the R9 and modified it as needed for the player. Not one of the 17 golfers did not find a setup that fit their swing and made them hit it straight. It was quite remarkable actually. We have never had a driver in all the testings we have done that fit this many people. It really goes to show how important getting fitted actually is.
Overall, the R9 seems to live up to the hype. Distance wise, it seems about the same as the R7 TP was, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The R7 had a hot face! We think that Taylormade hit the nail on the head with this one. The R9 TP will be available at retail on March 6th, 2009 with a MSRP of $399.99 for the regular one and $499.99 for the TP model. You can read tons more about this club and the technology behind it at Taylormade Golf.
Till Next Time