January 02, 2018
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- The most significant design change with the TaylorMade's new M3 and M4 drivers is a twist on bulge and roll. (Photos courtesy of TaylorMade)
Studying data from more than half a million shots from golfers can tell you a lot about driver technology. For TaylorMade, the data gleaned from looking closely at head presentation (in-out path, angle of attack, loft, impact location), initial launch conditions and final landing location of the golf ball was so telling that it forced the company to reconsider the traditional bulge and roll design on the driver face that's been around for over 100 years.
For most drivers, the consistent curve from heel to toe (known as the bulge) and crown to sole (roll) counteract the negative effects of spin and launch on mis-hits. However, as TaylorMade began to cull through a mountain of data, it noticed the bulge, in particular, was not designed in a manner that benefitted the two most common misses for the average golfer.
With an assist from Foresight Sports, who unveiled its GCQuad last year, TaylorMade found that, with traditional bulge, shots stuck high on the toe had a tendency to curve back too far to the left of center (8 yards), while shots that found the low heel tended to curve back too far right of center (6 yards).
"What we learned through Big Data was that the average amateur tends to swing outside to in with a closed face on high toe shots," said Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's VP of product creation, "and do the exact opposite when it comes to shots that strike the low heel. This wasn't something we were able to figure out overnight. It's only been within the last three years that we've been able to utilize this data in a way that allowed us to make these design changes."
The most significant design change with the TaylorMade's new M3 (replacing M1) and M4 (replacing M2) drivers is a twist on bulge and roll, aptly named Twist Face. The technology works in a way that the face curves more open slightly above center moving toward the toe. The exact opposite occurs in the bottom portion of the face where it curves more closed below center toward the heel.
The goal behind the curvature adjustments is to keep the ball online on off-center strikes. According to TaylorMade, Twist Face reduces mis-hits high on the toe from 8 yards left of target to 1 yard, and 2 yards right of target instead of 6 yards on low heel strikes.
"What we're trying to do is create a driver that's geared to benefit a golfer instead of a robot," Bazzel said. "With the Twist Face we believe we've accomplished exactly that."
In addition to Twist Face, both drivers feature the company's new Hammheard technology in the sole. The robust slot is broken into three zones by two beams that stabilize the structure — thereby allowing the face to be thinned out for increased ball speeds. The slot was also lengthened from 82mm to 100m — the large center section allows for ball speed protection on shots that end up low on the face — leading to an increase in forgiveness across the entire face.
While the new Twist Face and Hammerhead designs are only available in the M3 and M4 drivers, TaylorMade made significant changes across the board pertaining to each particular model. Here are some of the highlights.
The 460cc M3 replaces the adjustable M1 for 2018 and comes with a new Y-shaped track in the sole that replaces its T-track predecessor. The track houses two 11-gram weights and allows for nearly 1,110 possible settings; that number increases to roughly 13,000 options when the 12-way adjustable hosel is included — a number that's double what was offered with the 2017 M1.
The track shape gave designers the ability to move the CG position 36 percent further back in the rearward setting, boosting Moment of Inertia by 10 percent. The front was also increased by 83 percent. The CG was also lowered in the clubhead through a flatter sole curvature.
Discretionary weight was necessary to create theY-track and comes in the form of ultralight carbon fiber panels — the lightest in company history — in the crown and sole that reduced the weight of the entire structure while still maintaining overall strength and stability. To improve the overall aerodynamics of the head, the back section of the 5-layer carbon composite crown was raised to produce a more efficient design.
While not a noticeable change, TaylorMade switched the white paint on the titanium portion of the head for a silver that's reminiscent of the color first introduced with SLDR S. From a Tour perspective, TaylorMade anticipates M3 will be its most played driver this season.
The 460cc M3 driver ($500) is available Feb. 16 and comes in four loft options (8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees), and two lofts (9.5 and 10.5 degrees) in the smaller 440cc head. The stock shaft is Mitsubishi’s Tensei CK Red (high-launch), Blue (mid-launch) or White (low-launch).
The name has changed, but TaylorMade's M4 driver remains the most forgiving model in the lineup. The 460cc driver comes in a package that's 15 percent lighter than M3 and features a redesigned face that's 8 grams lighter compared to 2017 M2. The discretionary weight saved from the face, along with a thinner carbon composite crown and sole, made it possible to pack 41 grams of weight deeper in the rear perimeter, nearly doubling the weight found in last year's M2.
Slight improvements were made to the overall shape of the head to give it a sleeker, more streamlined look at address.
The D-Type won't appeal to every golfer, however, those who continually fight a slice should be intrigued by the heel-weighted M4. The driver offers 20 yards of additional left bias when compared to the standard M4 head.
The 460cc M4 retails for $430 and comes in three loft options (9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees), while the D-Type is offered in two lofts (10.5 and 12 degrees). The stock shaft in the standard head is Fujikura’s Atmos Red shaft and Matrix’s Platinum White Tie in the D-Type.
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