To say TaylorMade Golf made a big splash with its blonde-headed drivers is just so much dog-bites-man news by now. Well, you still can color me amazed, both in the product and the presentation.
I’m nearly a month into my latest driver love affair: the Burner SuperFast 2.0 TP driver. And this one is more than a spring fling.
There are two versions of the driver, as TaylorMade likes to do, and several design tweaks differentiate the “tour” from the civilian version. For me, the two key TP elements are the slightly open clubface and shorter, heavier, lower-torque Matrix shaft. (“Shorter” and “heavier” are relative because a 65-gram tour shaft at 45.5 inches isn’t exactly Hoganesque.) It’s a great set up, and particularly the face angle, as the miss I really want to avoid in my two-way arsenal of right-handed wrongness is to go yard over golf’s equivalent of the Green Monster.
First-round play confirmed what should be expected since the head cover and plastic wrap didn’t exactly come off until the tee: A mix of ball flights, from pushes the first few holes to a combination of tight draws and boring—not the ennui kind—cuts. I liked the trajectory, and most particularly with the latter. A frequent playing partner said I was “long.” Some shots were just that, maybe 10 yards farther down range than usual, and then I’d really get one on the nuts as if Scotty turned up the dial on the warp core.
This was good stuff, and as golf is a game of feel and anecdotal, visual evidence carries weight, we both thought the driver a good match for me. Numbers are a part of golf, too.
Subsequent work with a launch monitor verified what my friend and I were seeing in all aspects, from ball flight to trajectory to apparent ball speed. Solids hits were in the 260-265 yard range. Shots I screwed up rolled out to 240, 245 yards. We’ll ignore those the tour would lump in the “Double Bogey or Other” category. We won’t ignore the drives the computer said rocketed an additional 15-20 yards from the “good” stuff. The drives that looked different. The drives that felt different. And I knew exactly why.
“Centeredness of contact,” as a teaching friend loves to say.
A dry-erase eraser provided corroboration for what my hands (ears, actually) were saying: The “good” hits were slightly out toward the toe, the bombs were right on the screws, and those “screws” seem to cover far more of the face than I’m accustomed to. Ball speed on the center hits jumped as much as 10 percent from the toe-ier shots, regardless of swing speed, and ball speed plus launch angle and spin rate equals that all-important factor known as being able to call your best bud “Granny.”
In a comparative sense, using my current driver, a “hot” tour model from just two years ago and with a nearly identical shaft and face orientation, there is no comparison. Yardages across the gamut of hits were up significantly with the TaylorMade—5-7 percent for a baseline figure—and for those of us who paddle against the tide in the low double-digit boat, the benefit is most telling at the two extremes; it can save your ass or make you look like Dustin Johnson.
(So why don’t I just center-stripe it all of the time? Well, that’s a story for another day having to do with flexibility and core strength and how they play into maintaining posture on a more consistent basis. Stonehenge, tidal flux, string theory and the way my head is wired could be part of the equation, as well. And I intended this to be a piece about the new SuperFast 2.0 TP driver.)
Visually, TaylorMade hit it over the fence with the new gear, and particularly these snow-dusted drivers (and fairway woods). They’re cool to look at and unique. They also frame the ball perfectly. And they make the ball go far.
Empirically I see it in the numbers. Anecdotally I feel it on the course.
To hell with the numbers, golf is a game of sense and sensation, and as James Brown said …