2002: TaylorMade makes a play with R500
TaylorMade is betting, as are other companies, that the USGA and R&A will enact a proposal allowing “hot” drivers worldwide for a five-year period beginning Jan. 1. If the coefficient of restitution (spring-like effect) is capped at .860, as expected, the company’s new R500 driver fits comfortably under the limit at about .852.
Following a strategy used in its 300 Series, TaylorMade is offering three separate models – the R510 (330cc), R540 (350cc) and R580 (400cc). The models are distinctly different in performance, according to TaylorMade.
The R540, for example, produces more spin, and thus a higher ball flight than the other two models. All three have deep faces, but the face of the R580 is deepest. For most golfers, the 580 will produce the least amount of spin. The R510 essentially is identical to the 300 Tour driver that has been used by Retief Goosen and other touring pros. It is preferred by many players seeking to maneuver the ball with a penetrating trajectory.
All three R500 drivers will be sold at a stock length of 45 inches, and each comes with a proprietary shaft designed to optimize performance. (Another version of the club – the 500 Series with .830 COR – is designed for tournament use among professionals and “highly skilled” players, and will be available on a custom-order basis.)
TaylorMade is touting the drivers’ Inverted Cone Technology.
This feature, the company says, produces an expanded sweet spot – from the size of a tee in the 300 Series to the size of a quarter in the R500 series. In theory, a bigger sweet spot (TaylorMade calls it the COR zone) can provide a huge benefit on off-center hits.
What is Inverted Cone Technology? Whereas TaylorMade’s 300 series contained a face with a constant thickness, the R500 series boasts a face that is thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges (picture a trampoline).
This is not a new concept. Ping has done the same thing since the introduction of its first TiSI driver. Callaway vigorously has promoted its use of Variable Face Thickness.
TaylorMade, though, says it has produced the most sophisticated face ever seen in golf.
“It’s incredibly sculpted and refined,” says John Hoeflich, senior director of product marketing. “Mis-hits are not only straighter, they’re longer. If you hit the ball a half-inch off-center, you will lose 3 miles an hour of ball speed. It used to be 7 miles an hour (with the 300).”
A variable weight cartridge in the back of the head helps TaylorMade achieve specific clubhead weights. In addition, it helps produce a particular sound. TaylorMade has turned much of its attention to the sound of its clubs when they hit the ball, as reflected in its new Rossa putters and RAC wedges.