TaylorMade will make a black version of its R1 driver available to golfers at select retailers starting June 10.
Rumors that TaylorMade might release a black version of its R1 driver began to swirl on the Internet after an image of one appeared on the USGA's Conforming Driver list on April 27. Black has been the traditional color of metalwoods, but every TaylorMade driver has had a white crown since the introduction of the TaylorMade R11 in 2011.
"We have been paying attention to the golfers out there, and they've been screaming for a black version, so we're going to go ahead and make it," says Tom Kroll, TaylorMade's global product marketing manager for woods.
Although the black version of the R1 driver that appeared on the Conforming Driver list was a left-handed prototype featuring a 400-cc head, the TaylorMade R1 Black that will be available to the public has a 460-cc head and is identical to the white version in every way except for the color. Even the geometric pattern that stands out against the white crown of the original R1 has been replicated, but the black-on-black coloring makes it difficult to see. The R1 Black will cost $399.
Click here to see a photo gallery of the new TaylorMade R1 Black.
"There is no [performance] difference," Kroll says. "One of the cool things that we want to tell you is that the original R1 had 168 options [of adjustability]. We just created the 169th."
The TaylorMade R1 and R1 Black give golfers the ability to change the club's loft from 8 degrees to 12 degrees. Each R1 also can be adjusted to have a draw or fade bias by moving the 2- and 10-gram weights. In addition, players can select from seven, face-angle positions at address by adjusting a dial on the sole. The stock shaft in both clubs is the Aldila RIP Phenom.
Kroll would not rule out the possibility that more black drivers could be on the way from TaylorMade.
"We are going to pay very close attention to how this product is received," Kroll says. "We are hearing loud and clear that there is a percentage of the golfers out there that are hungry for the very conservative design and look of a black driver. I wouldn't rule [more black drivers] out, but this is going to be a very interesting product launch."
TaylorMade began promoting the benefits of a matte white crown and black face with the release of the R11 driver, claiming that the contrast helped golfers improve their alignment and aim.
Kroll says that he's aware of several retailers who started pre-order lists for a black R1 based solely on the rumors about the club. The first R1 Black drivers will hit the PGA Tour next week in Memphis. Consumers, however, will have to wait another few weeks to get their hands on them.