Taylormade Raylor Hybrid Review

Sometimes a piece of a equipment comes out and we find ourselves asking why? When we first got word a few months back that Taylormade Golf was releasing a new hybrid/utility club called the Raylor, that is exactly the reaction that we had. THP had recently reviewed the Taylormade Rescue TP Hybrid featuring FCT and we came away extremely impressed, so the launch of this specialized club had us all a little baffled. However rumors were swirling that this new hybrid was coming out and despite us wondering why, we were looking forward to trying it out.
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First Impressions
THP was lucky enough to get their hands on the Raylor Hybrid before just about any other place and give it a good testing. When the club arrived at our offices our first thoughts were all over the place. A couple of things immediately jumped out at us as we were looking over the newest piece of equipment.
1. The club head seemed more compact than the other hybrids we had been testing as of late.
2. The “V Sole” on the Raylor had us wondering if this club could truly be played from any lie and not just from the rough.
3. The shaft seemed to be a full inch longer than the other hybrids in the office we were comparing them to.
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The Raylor History
Mention the name “Raylor” to golfers of a certain age and you’ll receive a smile and a nod of the head in return. Introduced in 1988, the TaylorMade Raylor was one of the most popular and useful utility woods of all time, and especially proficient at getting wayward tee shots out of rough and close to, if not onto, the green. The Raylor boasted a small, rounded steel head with an extremely low center of gravity (far lower than any persimmon utility wood) and two distinct rails on its sole, which were designed to help the head glide smoothly through tall grass while resisting twisting or stalling.
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The Update
Over 20 years after the original, the R&D at Taylormade is launching another utility/hybrid/wood called Raylor, and this one is both superior and different to the first. The new Raylor comes in two lofts, 19° and 22° and has a slightly sharp, slightly pointed leading edge that allows you to slide the face down through the grass and onto the back of the ball. The “Raylor Sole” is shaped similar to a ship’s hull sloping upwards at the sides. In theory it will separate the grass you are hitting from and allow the clubhead to glide through, rather than slowing down or getting stuck.
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First Range Session
The following day we gathered up 3 of our local testers and went to the local range. We each took turns hitting the Raylor from various lies around the practice facility. We started out in the rough and did notice how easily the club glides through the thick spinach. We alternated between this and our regular hybrids hitting out of the thick stuff and each time the Raylor won out. Then we moved to a flat surface to simulate fairway lies and each tester alternated hitting the Raylor and their normal hybrid that they have in their bag. Going into this testing I was nervous about the Raylor’s ability to hit from a clean lie because of the V Sole, however after an hour or so of testing on the range, I did not have the same thoughts. Each time we made a pass at the ball the Raylor came up with the clean shot. However one of the testers was having trouble hitting shots with it out of the clean lies. He found himself hitting each one a little “fat”. After one day of testing all four of us were eager to take this one to the course for more.
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On Course Testing
As a foursome we set out later that day for the first 18 holes with the Taylormade Raylor. All four of us decided to play a little differently today. The rules were that we had to tee off with this club and each one of us would play it instead of our normal 3 hybrid. It took a few holes to get used to teeing off with this club, but once dialed in we were getting great distance out of it. On the course through the round the ability to play this club from any lie was extremely useful. One of the players kept finding side hill lies and remarked at how much easier the Raylor is to hit from these than his normal hybrid. We all believe that this is because of the shape of the head makes it so much more versatile. All four of us also found that the compact shape from heel to toe made us concentrate slightly more and the results were apparent. Throughout the round all four players kept talking about the ease of hitting out of the rough with this club. One of the golfers involved in this testing continued to have trouble with the fairway lies. It could be because of the V Sole on the Raylor, but another reason that could cause this is because the Raylor is 1 inch longer than your traditional hybrid. The Raylor is equipped with a RE*AX 65-gram shaft that’s one inch longer than typical for TaylorMade utility clubs of equal lofts, to promote the added clubhead speed and leverage to help get the ball out of thick lies. However that can lead to some problems on a clean lie if you do not choke up.
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Final Thoughts
Combine the Raylor’s pointed leading edge, V sole, exceptionally low CG, compact size from heel to toe and longer shaft and you’ve got a utility wood/hybrid born to get the ball out of the rough with extreme ease. Add to that the tour validation that this club has already received with players like Kenny Perry playing this at the US Open because of the treacherous rough and our thoughts are that they might have a winner on their hands. While this club may not be used by everybody in every situation, the statistics for amateur golfers hitting their second shot out of the rough are pretty high. For those tight courses (such as the one used for this review), the Taylormade Raylor may be just what the doctor ordered. In our testing of this club over a three week period, more than 18 golfers were able to try this club out. Every single golfer that tried out the Raylor with us found it easier to hit out of the rough than their current hybrid. While the club may be slightly specialized, if you are in the market for a new hybrid or having trouble when you miss the fairway, you should definitely check out the Taylormade Raylor.

Lofts: 19° and 22°
Models: men’s right-handed and left-handed
MSRP graphite: $230 per club
Street price graphite: $179 per club
www.taylormadegolf.com

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