Ever wonder what it feels like to hit a small, white sphere with a lit piece of dynamite? That’s pretty much the sensation you get when teeing off with the R9, the newest driver to come from the link masters at Taylor Made.
Okay, so maybe the R9 isn’t quite as destructive as a high-powered explosive, but it is lethal to a high handicap. Our average score dropped about three strokes, our average drive went up about 20 yards, our tee shots went straighter and hackers on the fairway stood slack-jawed when a wiry, pasty journalist managed to fire a 350-yard cannon shot from the blue box.
But it wasn’t all high fives and birdies. The first time we teed off, the R9 proved a bit hard to handle. We got the driver with a 9.5-degree spec and a stiff-flex graphite shaft. This configuration is typical for a golfer with a moderately fast swing who doesn’t hit with much of a draw or fade. But the first time we cracked the R9, shot after shot after shot sailed wide left. Even after adjusting swing and stance, the same problem occurred. Normally when you’re breaking in a new driver you’ve got to learn the subtle nuances of the club and make slight tweaks to your swing in order to maximize a power drive. But not with the R9.
Taylor Made has booted this “getting to know you” period out the window. Instead, the R9 offers several options for customizing the club face and loft and lie angles. Since our shots were careening into the left-hand portion of the driving range, we took the included torque wrench and cocked the club head a degree to the right. Bam, problem solved and shots straightened.
The R9 also embeds a 16-gram weight that can be installed in the heel, toe or back of the club head to affect the ball’s trajectory. We tinkered with moving this stud around and were able to perfect a wicked fade and a slick draw. But for the most part, we preferred a neutral trajectory and just left the weight in the rear position of the club head.
At the end of a round, the R9’s customization options are just candy sprinkles on the duffer’s equivalent of a banana split. Once you learn how to hit it properly, shots explode off the end of this stick and you’ll find your scores dropping and confidence increasing. At the end of the day, the R9 was so much fun we really didn’t want to use any other club — even while putting.