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TaylorMade R9 Iron Review

Jan. 7, 2010     By     Comments (42)

The R9 are said to be longer, more forgiving, have a better feel, and be more workable than any other game improvement club on the market. Do you believe the hype?

TaylorMade R9 Iron HeroTaylorMade seems to have made it its mission in recent years to reinvent what the phrase "classic golf club" means. For example, they have taken the pear-shaped driver and morphed it into a geometrical tinker toy that looks both modern and classic at the same time. Now, their researchers and designers have turned their attention to creating a classic/modern iron.

Given the success of the r7 line, the expectations for the TaylorMade R9 line could not be much higher. Is it possible for a club to gain 10% of distance over the already long r7? Can the R9 improve its forgiveness while incorporating several characteristics of a classic golf club? Can a game-improvement club have a soft feel? Since the initial announcement, the forum has been buzzing with golfers interested in whether the R9s can truly live up to those expectations. Read on to see some the answers that I found to those questions.

Design and Technology
Like the r7, the clubface of the R9 uses the inverted cone technology on the inner side of the clubface for consistent ball speed on off-center hits. Using that as their foundation, the new R9 irons long and mid irons were designed separately from the short irons to optimize performance in each club.

The 3- through 6-irons house a fully enclosed, foam-filled compartment located directly behind the clubface and beneath the cavity badge. TaylorMade refers to this chamber as the "Velocity Control Chamber" because it is meant to create a higher launch angle, more power, and optimal feel. Moreover, the weightless soft feel foam allows the engineers to have an ultrathin (2.0 mm) face that wraps around the topline and leading edge. When the face flexes at impact, it is meant to act like a thin-faced driver and result in a higher CoR, faster ball speed, and added distance.

TaylorMade Iron Cutaway

The virtually weightless foam originates as a powder that is sealed in this chamber, and then transforms into a foam substance after the clubhead is heated during production.

While the long- and mid-irons are meant to provide distance and forgiveness, the short irons are designed to increase feel and accuracy. The short irons feature a deep undercut cavity and a broad, low-CG sole which are meant to facilitate solid, spin-inducing contact. The teardrop shape and clearly delineated leading edge is meant to aid alignment. The R9 short irons also incorporate a vibration-dampening layer sandwiched between the backside of the clubface and the thin, protected black badge in the cavity as well as a visco-elastic adhesive made by 3M that is meant to further dampen vibration.

Last, the R9s come standard with the KBS 90 steel shaft with wall thickness that increases proportionately as shaft diameter decreases to increase club stability.

Esthetics
The TaylorMade r7 irons were a "supersized" iron that featured a thick topline, a wide sole, and some funky looking weighting in the cavity. While the look was unconventional, it was meant to provide the mid- to high-handicap golfer with maximum distance and forgiveness. Thankfully, virtually nothing of the esthetics of the r7 remains in the R9.

TaylorMade Iron Address

Other than the shear size of the clubface, the R9's simple teardrop shape was quite pleasing at address. The nickel chrome-plated stainless steel and pearl finish gives the club a softer look than its predecessor. In addition, R9 has a clearly delineated leading edge and beveled sole which should inspire confidence in many of the mid handicap golfers that do not like the super wide soles of many of the game improvement clubs on the market.

TaylorMade Iron Backs

The cavity is likely going to be the difference between whether you love or hate the R9. In my mind, the difference between the R9 and the r7 was subtlety. The new R9 cavity highlights the Inverted Cone Technology with a chrome arrow which sits on top of many small black ridges. While in pictures this may appear to be as distracting as the r7's graphics and tungsten weighting, in person the R9's cavity is an understated compliment to an already good looking club.

Performance
The performance of the R9s defied logic. They are oversized, game-improvement clubs. They are meant to hit the ball long which usually means that you sacrifice feel and workability.

My first shot with the R9s came on course from about 195 yards out to an elevated green. Normally, I would pull out a 5-iron and take a nice, easy swing expecting the ball to fade just a touch and land on the green dead. I took out an R9 5-iron, took a nice, easy swing, and watched the ball land about five yards over the green. This trend would continue for the rest of my day; any time I hit a 3-, 4-, or 5-iron I found that the ball was traveling much farther than expected despite a very similar trajectory. The 6-, 7-, and 8-irons all seemed to travel slightly farther than normal but at least the ball was landing on the back side of the green. Needless to say, this was not my best round but it certainly demonstrated the length of the R9s.

TaylorMade Iron Toes

The length though was not the only thing that I noticed that day. Yes, the ball was going over the green with the long irons but I was able to work the ball pretty well for a game-improvement club. Moreover, the club generated plenty of spin with the short irons and given the high trajectory of the long irons, the ball never seemed to have trouble holding the green. Keep in mind, this is not the kind of workability or spin that you would expect if you were hitting a forged club, but the R9 does spin more and is more workable than any other game improvement club that I have tried.

What was more surprising was the feel coming off of the face. Game improvement clubs are never supposed to feel like a forged club. Well, don't get your hopes up. Forged clubs are still softer than the R9s. However, the R9s are softer than pretty much any other game improvement club I have tried.

The feel is a little bit deceiving though. Perhaps I am masochistic but I do not like when I cannot feel my mishits. The R9s have a consistently soft feel. When you hit the ball on the sweetspot the feel is just as you would expect it - soft and smooth. When you hit the ball off the heel or toe of the club, the feel is - soft and smooth? You can tell that you mishit the ball but you really need to pay close attention. I could feel where the ball hit on the face but when I asked mid to high handicap golfers to tell me where the ball hit the clubface before looking at the impact tape not one of them guessed correctly.

TaylorMade R9 Back Angle

Needless to say, if the feel of the irons is this consistent across the clubface I was expecting the clubs to be very forgiving. As with every other test that I have done for the site, I grabbed a roll of impact tape and parked myself in front of a launch monitor for the day. Just to be a little more graphic, here is a summary of my results.

R9 Irons
Club  Center  Heel  Toe  Thick  Thin
----  ------  ----  ---  -----  ----
3I     228    218   223   221    219
5I     204    195   200   201    198
7I     171    163   167   167    165
9I     149    144   146   147    146

There is no doubt, the R9 irons are forgiving. Just to be sure, I wanted to see how the R9s forgiveness compared to the r7. After a couple hours of testing the r7s head to head with the R9. The results were pretty shocking.

r7 Irons
Club  Center  Heel  Toe  Thick  Thin
----  ------  ----  ---  -----  ----
3I     221    213   214   210    216
7I     161    154   155   149    154

Take a close look at the numbers above. The r7s are more forgiving than the R9s but a mishit on the R9 goes farther than the sweetspot of the r7. If you are confused, you are not alone. I had nearly a half dozen golfers hit the R9s and every one of them had identical results. More importantly, not one of the mid- to high-handicap golfers wanted to give the clubs back to me.

Specs and Extras
The R9 irons come standard with either the KBS steel 90 gram steel shaft (regular or stiff) or the Fujikura Motore graphite shaft (senior, regular, or stiff). MSRP is $999 for steel and $1249 for graphite.

TaylorMade Iron Soles

Standard specs for the irons are as follows:

Club  Length (in)   Loft (°)    Lie (°)    Offset (mm)
----  -----------   --------    -------    -----------
3       39.00         20.0       61.00         5.5
4       38.50         22.0       61.50         5.0
5       38.00         25.0       62.00         4.5
5       38.00         25.0       62.00         4.5
6       37.50         28.0       62.50         4.0
7       36.00         32.0       63.00         3.5
8       36.50         36.0       63.50         3.0
8       36.50         36.0       63.50         3.0
9       36.00         41.0       64.00         2.5
PW      35.75         46.0       64.50         2.0

Overall
The R9s performed above or beyond all my expectations. They are an oversized club that has feel. The long irons absolutely murder the golf ball and despite the slight drop in forgiveness over the r7 irons that came before, they are still quite forgiving. Moreover, the irons actually look good. If you are a mid- to high-handicap player, this is a set of clubs I would highly recommend.

Discussion

  1. Frank says:

    Isn't this the same report the 09 Burners got from everyone? What will be the difference between these clubs and 09 Burners? Where should a 20 handicapper look between the two products to find a difference? Length? Forgiveness? Workability? Cool factor?

  2. Snowman says:

    I'm an 8 Hdcp and have played the older R7 XD Irons. When I first saw a picture of the R9 irons, I totally did not like the looks of the Black in the back cavity. Went and checked them out at the golf store, and they look super sweet at address. You do not see any black and the shape and size of the head is very attractive to me. I'm seriously thinking about taking the plunge. Thanks for the review. Anyone have info on the KBS Shaft Flex? Seems to me that some of the shafts in other Taylormade products, play softer than labeled.... in other words, their "Taylormade" label Stiff Shafts play more like an R flex.

  3. bsettle says:

    I hit a couple of demo's of the "TP" model of the new R9's and I was not overly impressed, as a current R7 TP owner. They do look good and TaylorMade seems to have made the offset a little closer to a blade, which looks great, but the ball did not feel like it jumped off the face. When hit solid, my R7's feel incredible....did not get the same feeling with the R9 version.

  4. Scott says:

    I seriously gave these some thought... good review by the way. I'm deciding between these irons and the Mizuno Mp-58's and I'm wondering when we can expect a review on Mizuno's new line of irons (MP-58 & 68's) I know thats a bit of a difference but I'm ready to upgrade to more of a players iron and I've been anxiously awaiting your thought on the forgiveness and playability of Mizuno's newest thing out.

  5. Warren Wise says:

    I am looking at getting new irons. I definately want the R9's. But I am not sure whether to go graphite or steel. What are the benefits and advantages of each?

  6. J. Lawler says:

    I just wanted to comment on the TP version which I have recently hit and am still in shock.

    The R9TP's are truely awful. They are chunky, lumpy things with poor workability. Don't be fooled, the TM staff are not playing these. They have a special "B" head version because no tour pro could put up with the retail rubbish. TM are really moving away from traditional clubs in favour of "new technology". They are now becoming the Callaway of old, clubs that suit the masses and are easy to hit.

    With this move I just wish TM would put the so called TP logo and line in the bin and stop fooling the public.

    As a previous owner of some older, beautiful TP irons, i am really annoyed about the hype around these shovels

  7. David says:

    Great review! How are the r9 TPs compared to the r7 TPs?

  8. Michael OKC says:

    Great Launch angle, definitely a difference I could feel w/workability and shaping shots right off the bat from my previous X-22's. I hit them side by side on the range before purchasing the R9's. X22's are a great iron but I'm a guy that loves to switch equipment regularly and out of all the new lines out there, the R9 caught my eye for what appeals to my game and set-up. Very nice soft finish nickel/chrome and satin, easy to clean and seems durable after just one round on the course. Looking forward to getting to know these babies a lot better in the near future....like today! Great job Taylor Made. Made the switch from playing Callaways the past four years.

  9. Kevin says:

    Good review. A few things I'd like to hear a little more about:
    1. Can you tell me more about the flex, feel, and performance of the KBS shafts?
    2. Can you offer any comments about how these clubs will wear over time? Do the scuff easily? How much use did you put on them during your review, and how did they look after you were done with them?
    3. You mentioned the high trajectories you were getting from the long irons; how were the trajectories across the set?

  10. Rob Gibson says:

    The R9 iron heads look good, but why are Taylor Made using such cheap shafts and especially such cheap grips? Taylor Made should continue to use True Temper shafts and Golf Pride grips. I have been a fan of Taylor Made products and I find it very upsetting that a company like Taylor Made are using inferior components in there products.

  11. jf says:

    would you recommend this club for mid- to low handicappers?

  12. Jacob says:

    Inferior components? KBS shafts are one of the hottest shafts on the planet right now. They are awesome. I came from DGSL S300 shafts in my MP-58's to KBS Tour 90 5.5 and the difference is night and day. I now get that completely Smoooooooooth feeling that Mizuno's are known for, and the shaft made a lot of the difference. Don't knock 'em before you try 'em, they are the real deal. That's exactly what everyone said when Project X came out, and now True Temper owns them.

  13. Steve says:

    I have just taken the plunge and bought the R9 TP's. I play off 6 and have been using MP67's for the last couple of years.

    I have only played one round to date. But i was extremely impressed with these irons. I found them to be straighter than anything i have ever hit, and every hits feels silky smooth. The ball flight was quite high, but i didnt seem to be losing any distance - but it was a cold and windy day so not the best conditions.

    Let me get a few rounds under my belt, and ill post a better review - but. so far very good.

  14. Mark Falsing says:

    I'm thinking about purchasing these irons, as they do look great and feel great. However I am stuck between choosing these or the Titleist AP1 710's, which felt better but didn't carry as much distance. Has anyone else tried both clubs? If so please comment.

  15. Steve says:

    Ok, now have had a few rounds and still as impressed. Very straight, with a high ball flight, which worries me a little as i tend to hit the ball high anyway. I havent quite got to the point of trusting my yardage, but I am UK based and we are still playing off very wet conditions so I am not convinced i am getting the best strike. Either way, they fly off the face and feel very nice. I am pretty comfortable that as we get the better conditions (ie sunny days, not wet fairways, less wind) ill get on great with them. Dont like the 3 iron though, as at address is can see the cavity back, it just doesnt look right.

  16. Brad says:

    I recently conducted my own club comparison study at a local range and was very impressed with the R9 irons. I chose to not read any reviews prior to my study to avoid being swayed in any direction. I was looking for a game improvement set of irons club that was more forgiving than the AP2's I was currently swinging. Every thing mentioned in your review about the irons is true. They are longer, more forgiving and have a softer feel than any other cast club I have tried.
    Excellent review,...Excellent club.

  17. JOHN says:

    Brad

    I too currently have the AP2's and whilst I like the feel of them the loss of distance I got having changes from the 775cb has always ben a concern. I dropped about a club and a half distance throughout the set.

    How much extra distance were you getting back over the AP2's and are you still able to hit a knock down shot with the R9's. Where i play it always windy so it's a shot i play a lot.

  18. Brad says:

    John,

    The AP2's have the traditional look and feel of a forged club, which you just can't beat. When I hit them on the sweet spot I would not lose any distance. But if I missed, which is most the time, I would lose 5-15 yards.

    However, that being said, there comes a time in every golfers game when he has to face the fact that he needs some help and the R9's do just that.
    I found myself gaining 0-15 yards with the r9's. I am now learning to adjust to the increased distance.

    Keeping the ball down has never been a problem for me and the Project X shaft in the AP2's contributed to this. I chose the R9's with the KBS 90 shafts because that shaft helps get the ball up. If you are seeking to keep the trajectory lower I would seek out a different shaft, but still keep the R9 club head.

    Best of luck

  19. Dominic says:

    Can someone please tell me the difference between the Rps and the R9s TP? thanks!

  20. Steve says:

    Can someone please tell me the difference between the Rps and the R9s TP? thanks!

    Yes, the TP is the tour prefered model. ie slightly smaller and sits at address more like a blade. I went for the TP over my previous blades and they are working wonders.

  21. Steve says:

    Latest Review: Now had the Tp's for a few 'dry' rounds now and they are really hitting the spot with me. Now, i always accept that there is a honeymoon period with any new club - but these irons have transformed my confidence with my irons against my previous MP67 blades. I play off 6 but have been struggling with my game of late. The last two rounds have been 2 over and 3 over. These are just so much more forgiving that what i have been used to. My course has 4 long par 3's shortest is 178, all the others are 190+. I had a tendancy to pull my old clubs, which is a killer on our par 3's with serious punishment if you are off line. My bad shot with these irons is 5 yds off rather than 15yds.

    With the exception of the 3 iron, they sit really nicely, good solid ball flight, pretty long and for me have transformed my ball striking - I cant recommend these highly enough.

  22. Potomacgolfer says:

    Any thoughts as between R9s versus G15s? I have R7s in graphite but hit the long irons thin with too much draw despite proper fittings. Tried the R9s and G15s in steel at a demo day and liked them both -- but can't decide! Any thoughts?

  23. Mike says:

    What is yor comparison between the R9 and Mizuno MX300.
    I am currently using a forged blade,Mizuno MP32's regular fles 2* flat, and due to a back injury two years ago I no longer have the flexabilty to consistantly hit the blades andhave lost considerable distance.
    I was a 7 and dropping before my injury and have since dropped to a 12 and holding.
    I have tried the R9's and liked the feel with the KBS shafts but I would like your side by side comparison's on these two clubs.
    Please let me know your thought's betwwen the two clubs.

  24. Slicer says:

    "Thankfully, virtually nothing of the esthetics of the r7 remains in the R9.".......?

    IT IS A HIGH HANDICAP CLUB! Maybe you're not a high handicapper and can play with a players club, but there are MANY out there who are high handicappers and need high handicap clubs.....

  25. UK GOLF says:

    Is it better than Ping G15 Irons??

  26. Clint says:

    Taylormade R9 TP Irons
    Just received these irons from a reputable dealer on eBay. I am currently a 16 handicap, and was told by everyone that I wouldn't be able to hit theses player clubs. But I knew with my draw swing that I needed little to no offset on my irons. I found them very easy to hit.
    Easier than my Callaway X-16s. Way easier to get out of the rough with these things. Even my golfing buddies were converted after taking a few swings.
    The one big difference I noticed is that I can't go after the ball on the downswing as I did with the X-16's. You have to let the club do the work. But what is achieved is about 7- 10 yards more per club.
    If you don't slice your shots......I would recommend these to a 20 handicapper.
    I couldn't find any reviews on these clubs for mid-plus handicappers, so I wanted to get mine in.

  27. Andy says:

    Bought the R9's with graphite shafts two weeks ago and played several rounds in South Florida's hot weather since. My game has strayed into the 16 handicap range over the past several years, so I was seeking a game improvement iron that would help with distance and forgiveness.
    I found both attributes in the R9's, posting scores in the mid to low 80's over three rounds. I'm not a long hitter to begin with, so I probably have gained only 7-10 yards in additional distance, but the direction control and forgiveness are superior to any other irons I've played.
    I'll be happy if things continue as they are, but I'm quickly appreciating the fact that a straighter and more consistent hit off my irons makes a tremendous difference at the end of the day.

  28. Ray says:

    How about a review comparing these to the r9 TP's? Please.

  29. JJ says:

    I purchased the R9 irons with the stock graphite shaft about 5 months ago. I play to 18. The clubs are simply incredible. Off center hits go further, the feel is incredible ad all in all, I have a lot more confidence. The clubs feel and look right at address. The sand wedge does not impart as much spin as the older CG12 wedge I was using, but hey...I'm not a very good player either. I dont use the 4 iron too much so would have preferred an approach wedge. My full set is:
    Ping G5 driver
    Burner 3 wood
    Adams 3 iron hybrid
    4-pw R9
    Cleveland CG11 LW
    Odyssey #9 putter

    All stock shafts in regular flex.
    I swear by these clubs.

  30. Mike says:

    As a former 4hdcp and now 10hdcp, I have found that as my hdcp trends lower my equipment becomes blades and as it rises, I reach for a game improvement Iron. I purchased the R9's after hitting just about every club available. I am fortunate enough to live near a top 100 golf facility with a beautiful outdoor driving range with a fllght scope. This review is spot on! Great job Mr. O'Connell. To answer a few questions, after dozens of range sessions and 7 rounds the R9 still look new-very durable. The KBS Tour 90 shafts are amazing. Went with the regular flex which was a shock, but they are just so smooth, load so well and can handle alot of torque, hitting 6 iron 190. The r9/KBS also don't seem to be affected by the wind as much as my Ap2/S300. Very penetrating flight. All in all I'm thrilled with the R9's and sold my ap2's. If I can only resist the urge to change clubs when my hdcp gets low, I may reach a personnel low hdcp between 2-3 their that good!

  31. Joey says:

    Thanks for the review !
    I'm playing the RAC OS2 irons (I know, it's a bit outdated) and was considering switching to R7 irons, you know, with all those deals you can get on older clubs. Will I see a difference ? or should make a switch to the R9 ?

  32. JJ says:

    R9 vs. R7. See what you're more comfortable with. At the end of the day, any club is good only if you can hit it consistently. I tried the Burner and disliked it immediately, but fell in love with the R9. I have a buddy who had exactly the opposite reaction.

  33. Joe says:

    Hi, I just bought the R9TP, and on the range hitting the 5 iron, the head flew off. TM has not responded to my email, and I am getting seriously ticked because I had my daughter on one side of me and some other kids on the other side, someone could have been seriously hurt or killed. Are these things that cheaply built? Is their customer service that bad? I do like the look and the way they feel, but a head flying off is unacceptable. I played the same set of Hogans for about 15 years, and the same set of Dynapowers for 10 years before that, and NEVER had a head fly off an iron, Nor did any of my friends with Pings, Pennas, Armours, Staffs, Mizunos, and Adams. What is the deal?

  34. Clark says:

    Hi Joe, that is probably unusual for any club. But TaylorMade is notorious for not replying to emails. If you want to reach them, best to call them. Sorry about your experience. I have the R9 TP irons and am happy with them. However as mentioned, getting help in email from their customer service has always been like pulling teeth. They just won't reply no matter what the subject. Give them a call, and immediately ask to speak to someone in charge, or a supervisor. Good Luck.

  35. Jon says:

    I just picked up my fit set of r9's (4-aw stiff) two weeks ago and they feel much better than the r7's I had. I've played two rounds and have been to the range a couple of times. Ball flight is penetrating and feel much smoother than my last clubs.

    I gained ~10 yards with the long irons and a little less 7 iron down. The increase in distance is taking some getting used to, and the ball seems a little harder to work but overall I'm hitting the ball much better. I am pretty happy with the kbs shafts, although I don't know if I could really tell a lot of difference from the tt's on my last set. With the 100 bucks of free stuff Taylormade through in a feel like I got a steal at 799.

  36. Robert says:

    Just got a set (AW - 4I) of R9's as reviewed here. I was impressed by the way the ball seemed to jump off the R9's
    which I directly compaired to my Taylormade RAC LT irons.
    I did opt to keep my custom True Temper shafts and grips.

    I plan on working them out as soon as the shop has fitted
    the new heads to my shafts. Now my Driver, 3w, 5w, 4I-PW are all R9. Wedges are new desinged 52.56 & 60 Pings. Trouble hybrid is old Nike CPR 18 degree.
    All that equals "Happy Camper".

    Going to MB Sept. 10th 2010. I should know by then if I
    have to club down. The ball explodes off the face of these things. Will review after MB trip.

  37. Mike says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the x24's vs. diablo edge's vs. the r9s?

    I usually play at about a 20 hanicap

  38. Josh says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the x24's vs. diablo edge's vs. the r9s? I usually play at about a 20 hanicap

    Mike the X24 irons are great. There are a lot of reviews about them. In my opinion, they are much more forgiving across the entire face than the R9 irons are. They also are longer than the R9s. But I would take the R9s over the Edge irons. Those are very chunky looking and are best suited for golfers who need wide soles to get the ball in the air and not dig into the turf. I think they all do a good job getting the ball in the air. But the X24s have the added benefits of being the longest and most forgiving of the three. Try to demo them at a golf store neat you and see for yourself.

  39. J Camping says:

    Do those stats on for distances come from a machine that hits the ball? Because if those are those #'s are very very useful says alot about the improvements from the r9's to the r7's

  40. LTJ says:

    Have tried both the R9s and G15s, the G15s felt a little more forgiving and easier to hit, but they went shorter than the R9s. Also the G15s have a higher balloon trajectory, where the R9s have a little more penetrating trajectory. When it comes to "feel" they are both like any other game improvement club. But I felt the G15s easier than then R9s, its hard to tell where you misshit with the R9s. At address R9s is the best looking Iron, the G15s looks like a chunk of steel in comparison, and is not very pleasing to the eye. Overall they are both great Irons, and personally I havent decided yet myself, even though I like a more penetrating trajectory and a club that looks great at address, my feeling says that I would be better off picking G15s despite they look ugly, they just felt more easier to play. Both great clubs.

  41. kbolen says:

    AWESOME club is all i can say thr review is really on the money

  42. Got em, Love em. I tried many different sets from many top makers, but when i took these to the simulator i had only one line of flight show up on the screen, after my first 3 balls. Outside on the range it happened again. Great distance and straight to the pin ball after ball. I don't know if it's just the clubs or a feeling of confidence but i love knowing where my ball is going each time and again and at the end of the day the control equals a lower score each time again.
    They looked right and felt right from the start. Love em.

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