Over the past few weeks we've covered the latest driver introductions by Callaway and Nike, Tour Edge, and Cleveland. Except for Tour Edge, every company brought out two different models at the same time… one more conventional and workable, the other more radical and forgiving.
This week and next we'll be taking a look at the latest driver and fairway wood offerings from TaylorMade. TaylorMade has also followed the "two model" format.
What's so interesting about the TaylorMade unveiling of its SuperQuad and Burner drivers at last week's PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando is that their stated MOI number for both is very near the USGA limit. And they're not shaped like a science fair project. Here's the story…
MOI by the Numbers
High moment of inertia does more than just resist twisting on off center hits. It effectively means there's a much bigger sweet spot on the clubface so you lose less distance and gain more accuracy when you don't hit it absolutely pure.
MOI is measured in g*cm2 (grams centimeters squared, whatever that means). As with driver volume, the USGA has set a limit: 5,900 g*cm2. Interestingly, not every club manufacturer chooses to publish that MOI measurement as part of their drivers' specifications or promotional hype. Of those that do, here's the current scorecard:
Maker/Model MOI (g*cm2) ----------- ----------- TaylorMade SuperQuad 5,800 TaylorMade Burner 5,800 Nike Sumo2 5,300 Adams Insight BUL 5,000 Tour Edge Geo Max 5,000 Nike Sumo 4,950 Adams Insight BTY 4,350
As I've written before, not being an engineer, it's difficult to quantify just what difference 300 or 500 g*cm2 actually makes. Maybe someone out there can tell us. But in the meantime, I guess we can assume that more is better. And, if so, TaylorMade may have just taken a bite out of Nike's hype for the Sumo2 which Nike currently claims has the highest MOI in golf.
The SuperQuad Driver
The new drivers don't officially launch until February 23. But from what we've gleaned so far, we know that the SuperQuad will be a 460cc titanium head with 26 grams of moveable weight in four ports that will deliver six different possible launch conditions.
Billed as the driver for players who want to work the ball, the moveable weights promote as much as a 28-yard lateral trajectory change and a 1.5° launch angle change.
The SuperQuad sports new cosmetics… an all black Darth Vader-like finish that even shrouds the face. Like the Cleveland Hi-Bore XL that has this finish on the sole, you have to wonder a little about durability. But it does give the club a sort of menacing, weapons-grade aura.
The head shape in the address positions mirrors that of past R7 driver offerings. The face, however, looks to me to be incredibly deep. It's this depth that must help give it the volume and MOI claimed for it. It will be interesting to see how high better players end up teeing the ball to get the best launch conditions.
Speaking of better players, the SuperQuad will be offered in both regular and TP ("Tour Preferred") versions. The standard shaft will be a TaylorMade RE*AX 65 gram number made by Fujikura. We can guess the TP version will have a more open face, different lofts, premium shaft options, and a heftier price tag.
The standard version will be available in four lofts for right handers: 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, and 11.5°. Left handers have a choice of 9.5° and 10.5°.
The Burner Driver
TaylorMade is billing the Burner driver as the club for players who want to just flat out bomb the ball. As such, it's built for speed. It has what they're calling a bullet-shaped head. Much more conventional than square-headed drivers, it sort of recalls the SasQuatch with it's extended trailing edge without being nearly as extreme.
The Burner appears to also be an all titanium 460 cc head, but with a shallower face than the SuperQuad. Both drivers feature TaylorMade "inverted cone" technology.
The graphic treatment on the top of the club seems meant to either mask the shape or enhance it. I can't decide which. But it isn't just the head shape TaylorMade has played with. It's going to come with a longer, lighter 46-inch shaft and a lighter grip that weighs in at a svelte 43 grams. As they claim, it truly seems meant for speed and, thus, distance.
Like the SuperQuad, it too will come in both regular and TP versions with a proprietary RE*AX SuperFast 50 Fujikura shaft as the standard. By the way, that "50" stands for its weight. At 50 grams it is indeed at least 10 to 15 grams lighter than most driver shafts today. The regular version will come in lofts of 9.5°, 10.5°, and HT (13°). The HT loft will not be available in left hand.
The Burner Fairway and Rescue Clubs
Seemingly not content to overwhelm us with four different new driver options, TaylorMade also is going to be launching a series of fairway woods and a rescue club under the Burner moniker that again offer many options.
The Burner fairway woods will come in three flavors: a larger all-titanium clubhead and a smaller more compact head shape in both regular and TP versions.
The non-TP steel version, which sports 30 percent greater MOI than the previous r7 fairway clubs, will come in lofts of 15°, 18°, and 21°. Standard shaft options are a RE*AX SF 50 in graphite (that's very, very light for a fairway club) or a steel Dynamic Gold Lite at a more conventional weight of 91 grams in stiff.
The Burner rescue club, like its sibling fairway clubs, also sports the new line's graphics on its crown and, perhaps more importantly, the very light shaft and grip technology that seems to be the underlying theme in this line. It too will come with both graphite and steel shafts.
The rescue club will be available in lofts of 19°, 22°, 25°, and 28°.
Availability and Pricing
Edwin Watts is currently accepting pre-orders for both the SuperQuad and Burner drivers that they say will ship on March 1. The SuperQuad is priced starting at $399.99 for the regular model and $599.99 for the TP model. The Burner starts at $299.99 and $399.99 for the TP version.
The TaylorMade fairway woods will ship on May 15 and will start at $179.99 with a steel shaft and $199.99 with graphite shaft. The rescue club is priced at $149.99 in steel and $169.99 in graphite. It should ship from Edwin Watts by May 1.
In the End…
After all the talk about square drivers, it seems TaylorMade has proven high MOI doesn't necessarily have to come at the expense of a more traditional head shape. As we'll cover next week, neither do Adams Golf's new entries.
In fact, TaylorMade President Mark King boldly asserted in an interview at the PGA Merchandise Show that all the buzz about square drivers would be over in 90 days. We'll see about that. But it does reveal that TaylorMade is very serious about maintaining their market share in the driver category.
For we golfers, such competition is truly a great thing. It gives us choices and it gives us a chance to find the best club for our swing. I can't wait to try out these clubs.