2002: Business - TaylorMade to sell R500

Trying to capitalize quickly on the likelihood of a new COR limit, TaylorMade Golf announced it will ship to retailers Aug. 1 a line of “hot” drivers – the R500.

The clubs, which feature a thin face made of SP-700 alloy, approach the recommended COR limit of .860 proposed recently by the USGA and R&A.

Continuing the strategy unveiled with its predecessor, the 300 Series, the new line comes in three models, company officials said. Each of the versions has a different clubhead size: 510 (330cc), 540 (350cc) and 580 (400cc).

According to TaylorMade, the R500 has the largest COR zone – or sweetspot – in golf, “five times bigger” than the 300 Series.

The company set out to achieve “COR expansion” over a wider area of the face to maximize COR benefits even on mis-hits. That was achieved by using an “inverted cone technology,” which officials say allows the thickness of the face to thin out drastically from the center to the perimeter. The R500 Series also features a “tunable weight cartridge.”

TWC’s construction uses three rods of selected densities, encased in a urethane housing, creating cartridges covering a 12-gram weight span. The TWC “tunes” each head to a specific weight and allows for shaft adjustments (ie., length, swing weight), officials said.

In addition to a proprietary stock shaft, TaylorMade will offer 13 custom shafts. The club, available in various lofts, has a suggested retail price of $499.

Though several retailers said they were excited about the new driver, some worried about its expensive price and the impact it could have on sales of 300 Series models, which are still in abundant supply.

“Old technology never survives around new technology,” said Brad Polivka, director of purchasing at the Golf Shack in Rockford, Ill.

Derek Bild-stein, a buyer at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said TaylorMade needs to convey the benefits of COR to the consumer.

“They have to communicate that message,” he said.

– Gene Yasuda and Scott Godley

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