TaylorMade must really like their "r7" logo because they're sticking it on everything these days. Just recently they announced "r7 irons," their r7 driver line (Quad, HT, and TP) continues to sell well, and earlier this spring the r7 TP fairway woods were announced. It's taken us awhile to get this review online because, with a $399 price tag, the r7 TP fairway wood isn't one that your average golfer is going to want to try.
Make no mistake about it, this club - like most of TaylorMade's "TP" or "Tour Preferred" line - is for the better player.
Better players who do put this club in their bags will find one of the best fairway metals on the market today. They'll also find their wallets four bills lighter. Read on to see whether I felt the performance justified the cost.
Yes, Movable Weights
TaylorMade has long enjoyed success with its V Steel line of fairway woods. That venerable model's continued use on the PGA Tour solidifies its position as one of the best fairway woods of all time. So why then did TaylorMade muck with success just to add movable weights to yet another club?
Because it works. Sure, I may put my weights in one way and leave them that way. I pulled the heck out of the Rescue Dual TP until I took the heavy TLC cartridge out of the heel. I pulled the heck out of this r7 TP fairway wood too (a 15° model) until I put the heavier weight in the toe. Movable weights provide that benefit - the ability to drastically (or subtly) alter the playing characteristics without buying a new club, shaft, or applying lead tape.
In addition to shaping the shot, the TLC ports also enhance the moment of inertia (MOI), or the club's resistance to twisting. Think of the weights as perimeter weighting in a three-wood. Constructed with a V-shaped sole similar to the V-Steel, the r7 TP fairway wood glides through turf quite effectively. TaylorMade touts the pull-face construction that combines with a thin, flexible clubface to deliver high coefficient of restitution (CoR). Remember, the USGA only restricts CoR to driving clubs under 13 degrees of loft.
Looks and Setup
The r7 TP fairway wood, despite is "pull-face" construction and its movable weight technology, despite the fact that it's a titanium fairway wood with a custom-made Fujikura shaft, looks like a classic fairway metal. The crown is a reflective, dark black. The head is a semi-pear-shape. The face exhibits some bulge and roll, and the TaylorMade "T" acts as a simple, austere alignment aid.
The "high tech stuff," just as in the Rescue Dual TP and the r5 Dual, hides beneath the club, letting you focus on that dimpled sphere and the flagstick some 250 yards away. The club sets up just as simply, with the V-shaped sole resting comfortably on the ground. The TLC ports are sufficiently high and to the rear that if you feel they affect the contact with the ground, why, you must be swinging a right-handed club left-handed. They don't get in the way at all.
The r7 TP fairway wood is geared towards golfers with a driver swing speed of 90 MPH+ and offers a mid-height launch with low spin. As with TaylorMade's other "TP" equipment, it strives to find the delicate balance between forgiveness and workability, forsaking pure "game improvement" and trusting that the player wielding it has some clue what to do with it.
Hopefully, the golfer wielding the club also has a clue how to repeat a swing. Without changing the weights around (they came "14-2," or 14 grams in the heel, 2 grams in the toe), I took the club to the course and proceeded to miss everything left of Hillary.
Fortunately, my golf swing is fairly repeating. Since the r7 TP 3W was the only club to go left that day, I adjusted the weights and hit the range, alternating between my 3-wood (a Titleist 904F) and the TaylorMade r7. First I tried an 8-8 configuration, but still sniped a few left. I put the 2-gram and 14-gram weights back in, but with the 14-gram weight on the toe, and… magic!
The next time I took the TM r7 TP 3W on the course, I hit one of the best three-woods I've ever hit: a high, soft knuckleball that carried 240 yards into a two-club wind. The three minutes I spent looking for the ball before walking 30 yards ahead to find it through the fairway allowed me to consider just how far the ball flew. The club stayed in my bag a long time after that.
The club is made of titanium, so the sound at impact - more like that of a titanium driver than a steel fairway metal, naturally - takes some getting used to. The ball flight, however, doesn't take getting used to. From the tee or fairway, this club hits high floaters, and I mean that in a good way. Though the leading edge doesn't appear as low to the ground as my 904F, I never had a problem getting down to the ball. If anything, and if I had to find something to complain about (you know, for balance), it would be that you can't hit a low shot as easily as I'd like. Perhaps having all the weight in the toe is bound to force me to hit high knuckleballs that glide through the wind, but I miss being able to hit low shots, particularly when I'm not trying to reach a green or when I'm playing to a downhill fairway and want to get a little more roll.
The relative inability to work the ball up and down is not mirrored in an inability to work the ball left and right. Though the r7 TP fairway wood will resist turning the ball over in the direction of the lighter weight (left, in my 2-14 configuration), it can be done without undue effort. Turning the ball in the direction of the heavier weight is a matter of letting the club do what you've set it up to do.
The r7 TP fairway wood may not be the most forgiving fairway metal out there, but you can't expect a club with "TP" on it to behave like you would one geared for the 20-handicapper, either. The r7 TP is perhaps one of the most forgiving of the clubs geared towards lower handicappers, particularly on heel/toe misses. No doubt the TLC/perimeter weighting has a good bit to do with that. Misses up and down on the face were treated accordingly, though the r7 erred on the side of hitting the ball high.
The r7 TP fairway wood performed admirably not only from the fairway and tee, but from the rough as well. If you're looking for a club to get you out of gunky lies, well, look elsewhere. This one is still a three wood at heart, and f you use the club where you would normally use a three wood, you'll get the desired results. If you use it where a 5-iron is your best bet, well, just don't expect any miracles…
The r7 TP fairway wood is available with both both graphite and steel shafts in 2-wood (13°), 3-wood (15°), and 5-wood (17.5°) variations, righty or lefty. All come with a swing weight of D2 and vary in head volume (170, 169, and 143cc), length (43" through 42.5" in graphite, 42.25 through 41.75" in steel), and lie (57.5°, 57.5°, 58°).
The graphite shift is a Fujikura Vista Pro 80 weight 82 grams with an X, S, or R flex. The steel shaft is a True Temper Dynamic Gold weighing 124 grams with an X100, S300, or R300 flex. The tip size is steady at 0.335" for the do-it-yourselfers, and every club comes with the Tour Velvet 60R.
The r7 TP fairway wood also comes with the headcover seen above. It's a headcover, and it does its job. What you won't find with the r7 TP fairway wood: the wrench needed to change the position of the TLC cartridges (either you own an r7 driver and have a wrench already, you know someone with a wrench, or you are going to buy one for $50). One more thing: the r7 TP fairway wood comes with a price tag, and that price tag reads "$399."
In a static configuration, the r7 TP fairway wood is one of the best fairway metals on the market. If you're one to change the weights around frequently, then it may be the best on the market, bar none, simply because of the configuration options afforded to you.
At $399, the question of whether the r7 TP fairway wood is the right club for you may be a question your wife may be better suited to answer. If you've managed to stay single or have somehow gotten the wife to give in, why, the r7 TP fairway wood is possibly the best fairway metal out there today. TaylorMade gets a lot of flak for putting movable weights into everything, but so long as it keeps working, I've got no problem with it.