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TaylorMade Releases R9 and R9 TP Irons, Raylor Returns

Nov. 4, 2009     By     Comments (13)

TaylorMade gives us a blast from the past (sort of) with the Raylor hybrid, while also building on the R9 name with their newest irons. If the Burner line is for the bomber, and the R9 line is for the technician, does that mean that the Raylor is for… Rick Astley???

Bag DropTaylorMade has for years been synonymous with innovation and progressive thinking, and though they may catch a hard time due to the frequency of their releases, no one can say that they do not push the limits of playability. That's why it may come as a surprise that they resurrected a club that was first released back when Michael Jackson first purchased Neverland Ranch and the song that would years later become the subject of the infamous (and played out) internet prank known as the "Rickroll" was a number one worldwide hit.

Of course, I would be referring to the TaylorMade Raylor, which for those of you that may be too young to remember, was a very popular fairway wood back then. The Raylor name has been brought back for their newest hybrid club, and as you can imagine, there is a bit of difference between the old and the new. Along with the Raylor, Taylormade has also brought us their latest irons, which share the name with their very popular line of woods from 2009.

TaylorMade Raylor
The first order of business is the Raylor, which you may have spotted as far back as this year's U.S. Open, as it made its way into the bag of Kenny Perry as a replacement for his 3-iron and Mike Weir as a replacement for his ability to get the ball in the fairway. The rough conditions at Bethpage Black commanded a club that ensured crisp, clean contact from any lie, which the Raylor was designed to provide. It became an invaluable tool for cutting through the tall fescue, due to a somewhat sharp, pointed leading edge, and the "Raylor Sole." This sole design resembles the hull of a ship, as it slopes up at the sides, providing a means to separate blades of grass as the head accelerates towards the ball. In fact, Taylormade says there is a 23% reduction in the surface that would otherwise rob you of precious clubhead speed.

TaylorMade Raylor Hybrid

The design of the sole also serves another purpose: the sole radius provides a great deal of assistance for sidehill lie shots. The Raylor's sole radius presents an angle of 17° up from horizontal, as opposed to the previous Burner Rescue, which was only 10°. That leads to 70% more sole relief on the heel and toe side, and effectively makes it much easier to make clean contact with a ball above or below your feet. Another benefit to the Raylor is a near-guaranteed increase in clubhead speed, due to the inch of added length in the RE*AX 65 gram shaft.

TaylorMade Raylor Hybrid Toe

Price & Availability
The Raylor is available in two lofts, a 19° 3-iron replacement, and a 22° 4-iron replacement, for both right- and left-handed players. Though the MSRP is listed at $229, it can easily be found more in the neighborhood of $180. It is available in stores now, and if you have already had the opportunity to try the Raylor out, let us know what you think in the comments section below.

R9 Irons
For the R9 and R9 TP irons, TaylorMade sought to design an iron that combined modern performance (as in forgiveness) with superb distance in a classic frame. In order to pay special attention to each iron across the entire set, TaylorMade's R&D took different approaches for the long irons and the short irons.

TaylorMade R9 and R9 TP Irons

The long and mid-irons are said to be extremely long and easy to hit, thanks to the enclosed, foam-filled chamber that resides behind the clubface, under the cavity insert. The virtually weightless foam actually originates as a powder that is sealed in this chamber, and then transforms into the foam substance after the clubhead is heated during production. This design, which acts much like a shock absorber, has been titled the "Velocity Control Chamber," and it provides the means for a large area of the 2mm thick face to exist without any support behind it. This allows the face more freedom to flex, much like a driver. This trampoline effect leads to an increase in distance as you can imagine. The Inverted Cone Technology on the inner side of the clubface helps maintain a consistent ball speed, even on shots struck a little off-center. Perimeter weighting emphasis in the long and mid-irons helps to maintain stability throughout impact.

R9 Iron Cavity

The design of the short irons is intended to promote a higher degree of control and accuracy while giving the player the desired amount of feedback. They feature a deep, undercut cavity, with a broad, low center of gravity sole and heel-toe weighting for added stability. They have a clearly delineated leading edge and beveled sole which promotes solid contact and playability through the reduction of surface resistance, so that contact is made with as much force as possible, every shot. All of this is wrapped up into a compact, simple teardrop shape that should be pleasing to see at address. There also resides a thin layer of visco-elastic adhesive (made by 3M) on top of the black badge in the cavity, which provides vibration dampening. Like the long irons, weighting was pushed to the heel and toe for added forgiveness. The iron is then capped off with a nickel chrome-plated stainless steel and pearl finish.

R9 Iron at Address

Options and availability
The groove-rule-conforming R9 comes with a KBS steel 90-gram shaft (either regular or stiff flex) as its stock shaft option, though the Fujikura Motore is also available. The cool thing about the KBS shaft is that the wall thickness increases proportionately as the shaft diameter decreases, which promotes stability throughout the entire shaft, and should give the player more control and consistency. The standard set contains 3-iron through PW, and has a MSRP of $999, though a quick search led me to quickly find them for $799. They are available and in stores now for both righties and lefties.

R9 TP Irons
The compact head of the R9 starts off with a semi-straight leading edge and a semi-square toe. The thin, cambered, beveled (sounds like hash browns Waffle House, doesn't it?) sole again allows the club to pass through the turf without becoming stuck. At address, the thin topline should be appealing to most all players, as it is beveled along the back edge, creating the appearance most golfers like to see on approaching the ball.

R9 TP Iron Soles

Remember the VCC (Velocity Control Chamber)? It's also used in the R9 TP, but only in the 2-iron up through the 5-iron. This again allows for a low and deep center of gravity and assists in increasing the MOI. Perimeter weighting (provided by the undercut cavity) also contributes to MOI and stability.

R9 TP Iron Cavity

One standout design feature in the R9 TP is the variable progressive face thickness. As the irons get shorter, the face gets slightly thicker. The 2-5 irons have a face that is 2mm thick, whereas by the time we get to the 8-iron, 9-iron, and PW, the face is up to 2.5mm. Why, you ask? Because this results in a progressively higher center of gravity in the mid and long irons, and adds to the great feel in the short irons. The Inverted Cone Technology is again utilized throughout the entire set to provide consistent distance from off-center contact.

The shape of the R9 TP head is very similar to that of the popular Tour Preferred irons, but by use of the Inverted Cone Technology, and the way the face blends into the hosel, there is a larger overall contact area.

Options and Availability
On top of the normal 3-PW set, TaylorMade is also making a 2-iron available for those brave souls out there, though they say it's extremely easy to hit, thanks to a low CoG and even more extreme perimeter weighting. The stock shaft offering is the KBS Tour Series steel in either X-Stiff, Stiff, or Regular flex, and there is no graphite option. The R9 TP irons are available to both right handed and left-handed players, and though TM lists them at $1125, they can be found for $899.

We'll be reviewing the R9 and R9 TP irons before the end of the year, so stay tuned.

Discussion

  1. Kevin says:

    Regardless of plability, they are the UGLIEST irons I've seen in a while.

  2. Snowman says:

    I also did not like the looks of these irons when I first saw the photos, However, they look Real Good to me at address and the black filling in the cavity looks better in person than I thought. I predict these irons will be a big hit; I plan to test them at an upcoming demo day.

  3. I agree they are pretty ugly but I bet they play with a nice smooth feel just like all the TM irons. The upgraded TP's seem to be a considerable improvement over the standards. Would love to try them out.

  4. Pete says:

    I don't care how they look as long as they work! To me though the burners look better and the playability of the long irons is not a problem.
    For the record I like the look of them, I just wish there wasn't a new set every 6 months!

  5. Frank says:

    I saw them in a pro shop the other day and the clubs are very classy looking, almost rich. The black badge treatment does not photograph well, you will be impressed when you see them. I think it is cool they carried the R7 chevron theme over, it really helps create a second series of clubs, the R Series and the Burner Series. It probably just made everyone's R7 worth more too.

  6. Currently testing the R9 for the site. Personally, I think they look pretty nice even though they are a bit big.

  7. Steve says:

    I just saw these in a golf shop yesterday and was very impressed. I liked how they looked on the back, but for me it's all about how they perform, and look at address, that really matters. I buy irons to hit golf shots with, not put on the mantlepiece!
    I was very close to getting a set of the R7 TP's and could very easily have done so. (The main reason I didn't was that TM pissed me off by telling some guys that were selling their clubs on eBay to blur out, or put something over the Taylor Made logos (in the photo's of the TM clubs they were selling). I thought "what a bunch of knobs", so it turned me right off buying anything by TM. Anyway, I then tested the follow up Tour Prefferred's, but didn't like them, due to the fact I felt they seemed to sit a bit closed at address. I tend to draw my iron shots anyway and I felt they would and did make it worse.
    So the main thing I looked at in the R9 TP's, was how they looked at address and I certainly preferred how they looked to the Tour Prefferred's. They seemed to sit more square, or have less offset, or whichever it was that turned me off about the Tour Prefferred's. They had both sets in the shop, so I was able to compare and I definately liked the R9TP's better from address (and probably from the back, too.). For a "players" iron, they certainly look as though they would be forgiving and easy to hit and are definitely not small and thin. Great for someone like me who doesn't play often anymore and goes around in the high 80's, who doesn't want a draw biased/closed/offset club.

  8. Fairway Zac says:

    They may not look good on the photos on the internet, but give them a try in person. The photos don't give them justice. They really don't look all that bad. They have a great feel too.

  9. Minn Tun says:

    It's good to see a company like TM, keeps producing new clubs, hence encouraging the other manufacturers to also keep up.

    Whilst it might appear to have too many models in their line up, all we have to do is to decide which one works for us and keep that set.

    The more they produce, i guess at the end of the day, the better it is for the end users, i don't see why we should have difficulties in dealing with the new products being introduced into the market place.

    Instead we should welcome it and really, it's not us having to work hard, they are to produce more and more choices and they have really gone away from a traditional club making procedures.

    Nevertheless, i appreciate the reluctance to change as a inate human nature, we should have a bit more open mind and embrace, as the advancements and changes are a significant part of our, Human, existance. So, there really isn't any point in moaning about it, since we cannot stop it, and it would make things so much better, if we just get on with the technology and accept that inevitable.

    Happy golfing.

  10. Ross Burton says:

    Having recently decided to invest in some new irons, the TM R9 TP's caught my eye straight away, i agree that they look 100% better in person, but the looks do not compare to the amazing way they feel to strike. They look very reassuring at address and have a solid sound exceptional feel and a nice mid to high ball flight. They are also very workable and i hit them a club further than my old Titleist 762's, knocking the 6 iron about 180-190 yards. I also have to mention the burner irons, as i had a swing with these too and found them equally pleasing except i felt the club face was a bit large. I found the R9 TP’s for about £500 pound and i am getting a set custom fit in a week’s time, a top club.

  11. dan says:

    high single handicapper... just switched after years with old titleist blades... bought TP version... very solid feel - KBS shafts made the difference for me as the feel was simply supperior to the Project X shafts on the other popular irons out there... highly recommend...

  12. Chris says:

    These irons are terrific. I am a 5-7 handicap golfer and can't say enough about these clubs. If you feel that you rarely miss hit the ball, give these irons a try. Feel great, look great at address, and offer a lot of control. Honestly, not THAT hard to hit for TP version, so even if your handicap is a litter higher, try them out.

  13. Ryan says:

    I just got the normal r9 irons about a month ago and have been playing non stop with them. I really like them but then hit the TP version. I like the thinner top line on the TP's because it makes me feel as though i can go down there and really strike the ball. with the normal r9's they feel really cushiony which i like but only in my driver (I have the R9 driver). The TP's have a more solid feel when struck well and have a sleeker look. Plus, i am a 10 handicap and don't find them that hard to hit. I think seeing TP stamped on the back of the club makes people think that they are hard to hit because they are tour preferred. I do consider myself a good iron player and if you like the feel of the r9 irons but want something that is more forgiving and gives you a little extra distance, I don't think the TP's are for you. What I also like about the TP's is that you can get the regular KBS 90 gram shafts in the TP heads. What comes stock in the TP's are 120 gram shafts. I think it is great especially since I am almost 15 and get tired after a while swinging the heavier clubs. However, the KBS tour shaft that comes stock in the TP's is great as well. I just prefer the lighter shaft because I practice on the range for about 2 hours a day and swing 120 gram shafts for that long a day would make me very tired. Overall, I really like both versions of the R9 irons. If you are looking for a great looking and solid club to hit that also gives you a little extra distance, the R9's are for you. If you are looking for a club with a little more workability, fantastic feel and more of a players club, then the TP's are for you.

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