More than four years after the original TaylorMade r7 brought movable weights to golf, TaylorMade released what is most likely the last of the line this winter - the r7 Limited TP. It emerged a few months after the non-TP model, which hit stores in mid-September. TaylorMade also produced a limited edition of the Limited for Patriot Golf Day, which sported a Patriot Golf Day logo on the toe, the image of an F-16 jet etched onto the sole, and a specially-designed headcover in red, white and blue.
TaylorMade is known for releasing many models of clubs in rapid succession, which is why we have the r7 Limited TP review after the R9 driver's release (which will be reviewed, itself, shortly). Every time a new model comes out it tends to lower the retail price and resale value of the previous models. This can be frustrating to TaylorMade owners who want to upgrade and find that their old model has lost resale or trade-in value. On the other hand, virtually any golfer can find a recent model of TaylorMade driver that fits their game for a relative bargain.
So what kind of golfer will most benefit from the r7 Limited? Read on to find out.
Design and Technology
According to TaylorMade, by moving the weights around you can promote as much as a 35-yard change in left-right tendency in the r7 Limited. That's more than the r7 Quad promised, and the Limited accomplishes this with only three weights (a 16-gram weight and two 1-gram weights). This three-weight system is also used in the R9, by the way. TaylorMade claims that this three-weight system can actually create more horizontal variation in ball flight than the four-weight system. While that may be true, the stock weights offer just three combinations. Fine tuning may require the purchase of additional weights.
Making adjustments on the r7 Limited is extremely easy. To favor a fade, use the 16-gram weight in the toe. For a draw, use the 16-gram weight in the heel. For no draw or fade bias, use the 16-gram weight in the middle port.
There's more to the technology - thin walls and crowns, the placement of material in the clubface to expand the sweet spot - and more, but it's all fairly standard fare in the r7 line, and you can read about it here if you'd like.
TaylorMade seems to have embraced the triangle as their shape of choice for drivers, fairway woods, and to some extent, hybrids. The r7 Limited clubhead is a softened triangle with rounded angles. The new R9 features an even more softened triangle, though the shape is still recognizable, and the r7 Limited head from front to back is deeper than the R9. At first look, I would place the r7 Limited into the geometric, game-improvement school of drivers, but first looks can be deceiving.
Though there is more going on behind the face and on the bottom of the clubhead than I am used to, I had no trouble adjusting to looking down at the clubhead. It doesn't feel as large as some of the geometric drivers with square or u-shaped heads that are currently on the market.
Though the shape of the head is pretty close to that of the r7 CGB Max, I find the Limited much easier to look down at than the Max. It's at least in part due to the paint scheme, which is a nice dark charcoal that TaylorMade describes as "a radium ion-plated finish." The dark color serves to downplay the triangle shape and generally makes the Limited look like a smaller clubhead.
According to TaylorMade, the r7 Limited features a neutral face, even in the non-TP models. That puts it more in the "players" category of club than the "game improvement."
I took the r7 Limited TP down to Myrtle Beach in March for 144 holes of intensive research. Despite my end-of-winter swing, I was able to work into a groove (off and on) with the r7 Limited.
The TP version of the Limited offers two choices of stock shafts: the Diamana White 65 TP by Mitsubishi and the Fujikura Rombax 75 TP. I found the "S" Diamana White 65 TP shaft easy to load with plenty of muscle to launch the ball high and long. It's a solid choice for players with similar swing speeds to mine (100-105 mph) and the appropriate tempo.
The Limited continues TaylorMade's move toward three movable weights that the company used in the r7 CGB Max driver. These movable weights are arguably the main reason to consider the Limited over other similarly shaped drivers.
I was surprised that with the 16 gram weight in the center (neutral) setting, I found it a little difficult to consistently hit a fade. While my normal swing tends to produce a draw, I can usually hit a fade when I need to and often play a little fade off the tee to rule out the big hook. With the r7 Limited, my fade swing (holding off releasing the clubhead) tended to produce a straight shot. When I released the clubhead, I hit a little draw (or a hook if I got too handsy).
While this wasn't a great fit for my swing, slicers will find some help in this driver, and after I noticed the behavior, it wasn't tough to adjust. With the neutral setting already taking away any trouble on the right I could aim up the right third of the fairway to give myself plenty of room for the ball to move left. Overall, it worked out pretty well. With the drive aimed down the right side, even when I turned it over a bit too much and hit a hard diving hook the ball rarely wound up farther left than the rough.
I briefly tried the draw setup (16 g. weight in the heel port). But it made me even more prone to hitting hooks, so I quickly abandoned it. Those players who struggle with the slice should find that this setup straightens them out a little.
When I moved on to the toe setting, I thought I'd found the hot setup for my swing. Releasing the clubhead normally produced a long straight shot or power fade. I was also able to draw it a little when I needed to.
The only drawback to having the heavy weight in the toe came when I didn't release the club or get through the shot. On those occasions, the ball started right and kept going right, and had a good bit more altitude than my typical draw or cut. Basically, the ball left the premises in a hurry, stage right.
I came to prefer the occasional smother-hook to the odd block-push, because the block-push had a nasty habit of going OB or into water. While my hook in the Carolina pines tended to get knocked down by the branches before getting into too much trouble, the block push gets high enough to get over some of the trees and into some real ugly spots. And that is really the best aspect of having movable weights in a driver: you can pick your miss, which can be very useful on the course.
If the stock weight options don't seem optimal for you, additional weights may be the answer. Back in Ohio on a whim, I took out the 16 gram weight and one of the 1 gram weights and replaced them with a 10 gram in the center and an 8 gram in the toe. Bingo! For me, that combo worked great and made the driver feel more neutrally biased than when the 16 gram weight is in the center port. With this combo (and a ball position change), I started hitting straight, long drives that carry as far as many of my drives had previously finished rolling.
While much of this gain is due to moving the ball forward in my setup, the r7 Limited does generate a lot of carry. Lower spin has been a selling point of drivers in recent years, but the fact is you need some spin to generate lift and keep the ball aloft. Too much spin or too little spin are equally bad and will rob you of carry and distance. The Limited produces more spin than many drivers, which will help slow swing speed or low spin players keep the ball in the air longer.
The downside of the spin generated by the r7 Limited for my swing is that the ball did not always roll out as much as I'm used to and on drives into the wind the ball occasionally ballooned a bit. Again, players who naturally generate less spin will not experience this ballooning. Downwind the ball rode the breeze and seemed to fly forever. With no wind, the driver was similar in distance to my current driver. Apparently, the additional carry and reduced rollout offset each other, but carry is always more accurate than roll. As they say, you can carry a fairway bunker a lot more often than you can roll through one.
Specs and Extras
The introduction of the TaylorMade R9 has already driven down the advertised price of the Limited from $399.99 to $299.99 at most retailers (and lower at some others). The r7 Limited TP with its upgraded shaft is generally $100 more. The only obvious differences between the two versions of the r7 Limited are the shaft and "TP" logo on the toe.
The TaylorMade r7 Limited is available in 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, and 11.5° lofts with a 60 g., 45.5" Matrix X-CON 5.5 MOI shaft in "S," "R," and "M" versions. The TP is available in the same lofts, minus the 11.5°, with the Mitsubishi Diamana White 65 TP ("S" or "X") or the Fujikura Rombax 75 TP ("R," "S," or "X").
The Limited driver is available left-handed in 9.5° and 10.5° and 8.5°, 9.5°, and 10.5° in the TP. All Limiteds come from the factory with 59° lie and have a swingweight of D3.
I was happy to hear that the r7 Limited comes with a magnetic closure headcover. The best headcover I've ever had was an SMT headcover with a magnetic closure and plenty of room to easily load the driver. It worked great.
Alas, the r7 Limited headcover does not offer as much room, particularly in the neck. Loading the driver into the headcover can take a little longer than I'd like. The magnets hold the narrow neck closed well, but they also want to close it as you are trying to put the driver into it. Perhaps over time the headcover will lose its stiffness and load more easily, but for the time being it's a minor annoyance.
So did TaylorMade save the best r7 for last?
The answer depends on what kind of player you are. Suffice to say this is a very good driver, but one that will definitely work best for a certain type of golfer (as all clubs tend to do).
If you are a player who generates less than optimal spin with your driver, if your drives seem to go up and come right back down in comparison to those of your playing partners, or if you hit the ball lower than you'd, then the r7 Limited might just become your best friend. If you fit the profile, the r7 Limited should help you get more carry and more distance out of your drives.
Even if you don't exactly match this profile, there's still a lot to like in this driver. There's good distance to this driver, though it's not a flat out bomber. The adjustable weights can help you tailor the club to your swing or to virtually eliminate your worst misses. The clubhead is reasonably forgiving of off-center contact while rewarding shots hit flush. And for a club from the geometric school of driver design, the Limited has a far better sound and feel than most.
Still, the r7 Limited arrived so late in the r7 lifecycle that the R9 is probably going to take a chunk of the sales that might have gone to the Limited. However, golfers who don't need all the adjustability of the R9, and who could benefit from extra carry, might find just what they need in the r7 Limited. Best of all, they'll be able to find it at a discount.
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