The new TaylorMade M3 and M4 family of metalwoods are led by a pair of drivers that seek to change the technology landscape of the category. But unlike others who have stretched the boundaries of new materials and construction techniques and mass properties, these new drivers are looking to mine something potentially deeper: data.
Both the M3 and M4 feature a unique multi-curved face design, what the company is calling “Twist Face”. Most drivers feature consistent curve from heel to toe (bulge) and from crown to sole (roll). The idea of bulge and roll is that the negative effects of spin and launch on off-centre hits are counteracted by the proper face curvature. This is particularly true for bulge, which curves toe and heel shots that are launching with sidespin back towards the centreline for increased accuracy.
Or so went conventional thinking.
TaylorMade’s team studied hundreds of thousands of shots from elite and amateur players and found that the conventional bulge curvature they’d been employing wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing. What the data was telling researchers is that golfers tended to swing outside to in with a closed face on high-face impacts, while doing just the opposite with low-face impacts.
“It’s only been within the past three years that we’ve had the ability to measure the impact location, the face to path, the loft at impact and that kind of information,” said Todd Beach, TaylorMade’s, senior vice president of research and development/engineering. “We’re now able to know ‘How did I present the club, where did I hit the ball?’ and all that and when you combine that with Big Data, it’s a whole new frontier in terms of what we can do in club design. It’s a really exciting new next level of what we can do.”
Beach said that while better players hit shots surprisingly off centre, average players do it more often and thus would benefit even more.
That new next level is a face that curves unlike any other driver in the game. Slightly above centre the face curves more open as it moves towards the toe. Slightly below centre, it curves more closed as it moves towards the heel. Essentially undetectable to the golfer’s eye at address, the effect ultimately is to produce off-centre hits that fly less offline than they would with traditional bulge and roll.
“Ultimately we’re twisting the face based on what golfers really do, not what robots do,” said TaylorMade’s Brian Bazzell, vice president of product creation, who indicated the design results in more consistent spin performance across the face, too.
TaylorMade M3 Driver
More noticeable than the Twist Face might be what’s going on with the sole and TaylorMade’s trademark weight and track system. Using two 11-gram sliding weights and a Y-shaped track, the M3’s adjustability accounts for nearly 1,100 possible settings, which combined with the company’s 12-way adjustable hosel yields nearly 13,000 potential setups. The other prominent feature on the M3 sole is a wide slot that’s supported by beams that create three zones, what the company is calling “Hammerhead”. The goal is to increase the area of the face that produces the fastest face flexing, while also maintaining good ball speeds on impacts low on the face.
TaylorMade M4 Driver
While the M3 driver gets all the attention for its maximum adjustability, the M4, the upgrade over last year’s M2, offers more forgiveness in a lighter overall package. The M4 is about 15 grams lighter overall than M3, which includes a face that weighs 17 percent less than the face on last year’s M2. Plus, as we’ve mentioned, it incorporates the unique Twist Face design for accuracy, and it employs the “Hammerhead” slot design for better ball speeds all across the face. The M4 features a larger but lighter and forgiving face, and it increases that forgiveness while actually slightly reducing the front-to-back appearance
TaylorMade M3 Fairway Wood and Hybrid
The rest of the line includes upgrades in the adjustability of the fairway wood thanks to a smaller weight screw. That allowed the sliding track on the carbon-composite-crowned M3 fairway wood to be located slightly forward of where it was on the M1, while also providing room for a longer slot. The M3 fairway woods (15, 17, and 19 degrees, with an adjustable hosel that changes loft by plus/minus two degrees; Mitsubishi Tensei Blue graphite shaft) use a high-strength C300 maraging steel for a thinner, more flexible face for better distance, as well.
RRP: M3 Fairway wood $499; M3 Hybrid RRP: $429
TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood and Hybrid
Both the M4 fairway wood and M4 Rescue hybrid offer the same approach to increasing forgiveness through the use of carbon fibre sections and pushing the saved weight to the rear of the club. By splitting the rear weight pad into two sections, that raises the moment of inertia by 12 percent while still keeping the centre of gravity low to control spin. The M4 fairway wood and hybrid also benefit from an improved sole channel for better ball speed performance across the face, especially on low-face impacts.