There is no mistaking TaylorMade's popularity when it comes to drivers. They are a consistent driver count leader on the PGA Tour. There's a reason for that. The r7 driver is the latest in a long series of drivers released by TaylorMade, makers of the first metal driver. The latest iterations in that series, the r7 425 and 460, were reviewed positively earlier this year.
Fast forward to the present. TaylorMade's latest r7 driver is the "r7 Draw." After reading about the r7 Draw driver at TaylorMade's site, I felt that I understood what the club offered. As a slicer, I was filled with hope.
Reading about something on the Internet is one thing. Playing with it is another. After spending a few weeks with the driver, it didn't take me long to find my answer. Read on to find out if TaylorMade's newest release is hit or miss.
Design and Technology
The TaylorMade r7 Draw is obviously designed for golfers who have trouble keeping the ball away from the right side of the golf course. Traditionally, three methods have been used: heel weighting, a closed face, or offset. TaylorMade opted to use the first two in the r7 Draw.
To move the weight to the heel, engineers created an open channel towards the toe, freeing up a significant amount of weight. This creates what TaylorMade calls "Draw-Weighted Technology." The extra weight in the heel moves the club's center of gravity (CG) closer to the shaft, which in turn speeds the closing of the clubface during the downswing. Slicers leave the clubface open relative to their swing path, so anything that helps them close the clubface is a welcome improvement.
The r7 Draw club face is more closed than any other driver I've hit recently. The r7 460 features a closed club face as well, but the r7 Draw takes it to the next level. This setup enables golfers to hit the ball straight or move it from right to left. It certainly helps eliminate the right side of the golf course.
TaylorMade's r7 460 clubhead offers the highest moment of inertia (MOI) - or resistance to twisting - of any TaylorMade driver to date, and the r7 Draw driver likewise bumps right up against the allowable 460cc limit. MOI equals forgiveness, as the less the driver twists on off-center impact the straighter your ball will fly.
Like the r7 425 and 460, the r7 Draw also features TaylorMade's Inverted Cone Technology. TaylorMade claims that this technology expands the high-CoR (coefficient of restitution, or "springiness") region of the clubface. Higher CoR promotes higher ball velocity and longer drives.
The r7 Draw features a RE*AX 55-gram soft-tipped graphite shaft by Mitsubishi Rayon. This shaft is designed to cause a high-launch angle, improving the right-to-left ball flight in the process.
Appearance and Feel
The r7 Draw looks very similar to the r7 425 and 460. The crown features the same solid black look with the same small "T" (for TaylorMade) alignment aid. None of what's beneath - the hollow channel, the heel weighting, the bright yellow paintjob - is visible at address. That's a welcome sign, as I've always found that drivers like the Cleveland HiBore catch my attention for the wrong reasons. I appreciate that the r7 Draw is easy on the eyes.
As for the bottom of the club, the sole channel mentioned above is the first thing I noticed. The r7 Draw also has a bright yellow stripe on the outer sole. The lack of weight ports simplifies the look of the club somewhat over the r7 425/460, yielding one of TaylorMade's tamest looking drivers in recent years. I think the r7 Draw (and 425/460 for the matter) is the most attractive looking driver on the market.
As I mentioned above, the club face is closed more at address than the driver I'm used to hitting. At first, the closed style was very noticeable. I originally contemplated changing my alignment to offset the club face, but I decided to keep things normal. After hitting the r7 Draw a few times, I adjusted to the closed club face quite well.
The r7 Draw feels much lighter than any drivers I've played with recently. My previous driver was a Titleist 905T, and a good friend of mine has a Cleveland HiBore. The difference in weight is definitely noticeable. I've always hit heavier drivers, but it didn't take as long as I expected to adjust to the r7 Draw.
Of course, the 55-gram RE*AX shaft by Mitsubishi Rayon is the main reason the r7 Draw feels so much lighter than other drivers on the market. In comparison, my Titleist 905T has a Grafalloy Blue shaft that weighs 63 grams and the TaylorMade r7 460 features shafts ranging anywhere from 56-65 grams.
I am a 12-handicapper with a natural fade off my irons. Unfortunately, with my driver, things have always been different. That natural fade turns into a natural slice, robbing me of distance and accuracy. Nothing I've tried has ever worked, and I've been playing the past year with a 3-wood.
My banana balls make me the perfect candidate for anything labeled "draw," so I was excited to give the r7 Draw a chance. I tested a 9.0° driver with a RE*AX 55 shaft by Mitsubishi Rayon. I've mentioned a couple times my problems with keeping the ball from going right off the tee. This problem isn't noticeable with my irons or even my fairway woods. The driver has been my krytonite the past few years, and I have put myself behind the eight-ball (or trees, rocks, walls, and OB stakes) on far too many occasions.
The combination of the r7 Draw's closed face and heel-biased weighting really seemed to have a huge impact on my drives. Combined with the light-weight shaft, my tendency to get the clubhead stuck behind me (resulting in a wide open clubface at impact) has been greatly reduced. My drives were consistently in the middle of the fairway.
It normally takes me awhile to adjust to new clubs - especially new drivers. I'll hit the clubs on the driving range and struggle with my first half bucket or so. The r7 Draw saw immediate action on the golf course. My first drive missed the fairway five yards to the left, a welcome sign. Sure, it was a missed fairway, but I was thrilled to miss left instead of right.
I hit three out of four fairways with the r7 Draw on my first nine. As I mentioned above, the one missed fairway was in great shape as well. On the back nine, I improved by hitting four out of five fairways, and my only miss was once again within five yards of the short grass. In subsequent rounds, I've been equally as consistent. I'll miss a fairway or two here and there, but it's much less frequent than in the past. I am now missing in "better" spots as well.
My distance has also improved. Everyone knows a right-to-left or straight trajectory will travel farther than a push or slice. I still don't necessarily draw the golf ball with the r7 Draw, but my drives are going much straighter than before. I haven't measured every drive off the tee, but I have hit a few in the 300-yard range. It's very noticeable because I'm hitting sand wedges into a lot more greens than before. My longest drive of record with the r7 Draw was 345 yards on the par-five 18th hole at a local course. I had never hit a drive even close to 345 yards up to that point.
I know that putting and greens in regulation is what scoring is all about, but the driver is very important to my confidence. If I'm driving the ball all over the place, my putting and iron-play go down with it. I picked up the r7 Draw, hit it well from the start, and my confidence off the tee has improved ten-fold. My entire game has improved because of my mental confidence off the tee. I like hitting my 3-wood, but I love hitting my r7 Draw.
The r7 Draw is available for men in lofts of 9.0 and 10.5 degrees, all measuring 45 inches. These specifications are also available for left-handed golfers. For the women, the driver is available with a 10.5 degree loft only, measuring 44 inches.
The r7 Draw features a RE*AX 55 shaft by Mitsubishi Rayon. Available flexes include S, R, and M. A TaylorMade TGT grip is standard.
The r7 Draw has two key slogans. The first is "Hit a draw. Hit it farther." The second is "Unleash your draw." After hitting this driver, I have to agree 100% with both. In the past, I've visited the right side of the golf course far too often, so it's a welcome change for me. This is definitely my new number one driver in the bag, as my confidence off the tee has risen to an all-time high. I enjoy hitting my 3-wood every once in awhile, but it's nice to let the big dog eat when the need arises.
At $299, the r7 Draw is also very affordable compared to some other top-notch drivers on the market. The appearance of the r7 Draw is fabolous, and the performance is even better. It's definitely worth every penny.