TaylorMade R9 Driver Review

TaylorMade-adidas Golf is a pioneer in golf club adjustability when it introduced its r7 quad driver in 2004. The r7 quad incorporated TaylorMade’s Movable Weight Technology(MWT), which gave golfers the ability to change the clubhead’s center of gravity to promote different ball flights.

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2009 marks a dawn of a new era in golf club design and adjustability with the introduction of the R9 driver, that not only allows you to adjust the center of gravity, but also the face angle, loft, and lie angle of the R9 through its Flight Control Technology (FCT). The combination of the of Flight Control Technology and Movable Weight Technology promote up to 75 yards of side-to-side trajectory adjustability.

Look and Feel
At first glance the R9 driver features a new clubhead shape that is a blend of modern and classic designs in 422cc clubhead, that looks a lot like last year’s r7 limited driver and r7 SuperQuad, with its triangular shape, contoured corners, and similar graphics on the sole. In fact, TaylorMade calls it “New Classic” because it is at once modern and traditional, and should prove the test of time.

The R9 clubhead is constructed with the aid of TaylorMade’s Ultra-Thin Wall (UTW) technology, which allows the clubhead walls measuring as thin as 0.6 millimeters, with the saved weight redistributed to make the MWT and CG low as possible.

The Movable Weight Technology on the R9, features three weight ports (Center, Heel, and Toe) and cartidges. One 16-gram weight, and two 1-gram weights that can be adjusted using included torque wrench.

When you setup to the ball, R9’s smaller triangular shape took a little getting used to, espeically in this era of oversized 460cc clubheads. The R9 is equipped with a brand new shaft by Fujikura Golf-the 65-gram Fujikura Motore graphite shaft that is 45.25″ Long. The Fujikura Motore graphite shaft with High Intertia Tip (HIT) technology, is engineered with a new advanced tip construction that promotes faster ball speed. The added kick through the impact zone to promote increased ball speed and distance.

The Fujikura Motore shaft features a white graphic print on the top portion of the shaft, that uses a special “rotating graphic” that looks the same no matter what position the shaft is locked into. You’ll also notice that the grip is also graphic free, as to prevent distraction when the shaft is rotated.

As the shaft tapers down towards the hosel it begins to turn into a deep red and connects to the special metallic sleeve over the tip of the shaft.

Overall, its a really sharp looking driver that has a great throwback look to it packed with a lot of modern technology.

How Does FCT Work?
Up until now, if you wanted to adjust the face, loft, and lie angle, you needed to have that done by a club technician at your local golf shop. Or in the case of the PGA Tour Pro, you had this done at the TaylorMade Tour Trailer. This process requires a technician to immobilize the  clubhead and bend the hosel by hand.  Flight Control Technology eliminates the need of a tour technician to make adjustments quickly and accurately to the face, loft, and lie angles (Neutral-1 Flat Lie, Neutral Upright-1 Upright Lie, 1.0 Closed-.5 Flat Lie, 1.0 Closed-.5 Upright Lie, 2.0 Closed-Standard Lie, 1.0 Open-Flat Lie,1.0 Open-.5 Upright Lie, 2.0 Open-Standard Lie).

To adjust the face, loft, and lie angles, is quite simple process with the supplied R9 torque wrench, which provides 40 inch-pounds of torque. Just loosen the FCT bolt, remove the shaft from the head, rotate the sleeve and shaft into one of the eight clubhead positions and then locking the clubhead into position with the FCT bolt. The clubhead position adjustments were simple to make, like described, but I did find it a little tricky at times to line up the desired position with the clubhead. You’ll know that you have tightend the FCT bolt on tighly when you hear a loud snap.

When using the provided torque wrench, I was little nervous about loosening the FCT bolt, because I might lose it. But that’s not possible, since the FCT bolt cannot be removed from the clubhead completely. Using the same torque wrench you can also adjust the Movable weights on the R9, but these can be misplaced, so be careful where you do this.

I would really like for the torque wrench to be able to be stored in the clubhead cover, because having to fish it out of my golf bag anytime I want to makea an adjustment can be a bit of a hassle and easily misplaced.

Performance
What makes the R9 a fully adjustable driver is the combination of the FCT and MWT. As mentioned before, the R9 features three weight ports that can be adjusted. Put the 16-gram weight in the heel port to promote a draw, in the toe port to promote a fade, and in the middle for a neutral ball flight. By combining both the MWT and FCT you actually give yourself a ton of influence over the flight trajectory of your shots. According to TaylorMade testing, the R9 driver can promote up to 75 yards of side-to-side trajectory change, depending upon how the clubhead has been adjusted. If you take the eight positions of the FCT and multiply that with the three MWT configurations, you end up with twenty-four possible combinations.

In my tests, I didn’t notice too much of a variance in my shot trajectory to validate the 75 yards claim by TaylorMade, you’ll need to take their word for it. But what I did notice, is that shaping my shots was much easier to do with the combo of FCT and MWT. The only downside of so many options is that it took a lot of experimentation to find the right combination that worked best for my swing (neutral upright). Once, you have it dialed in your not going to want to change it.

In terms of the trajectory of my shots, I found that ball would fly off the face of the R9 and have a nice medium to low trajectory, similar to that of Tour player. Part of this can be attributed to triangular shape of the R9 that lowers the center of gravity lower in the face of the club that makes it easy to launch the ball.

The Inverted Cone Technology which has been used in other TaylorMade drivers, expands the area of the clubface that delivers high ball speed. The cone is actually milled directly onto the inner side of the clubface, which gives the R9 forgiveness on mis-hits, high MOI, and low CG. Now in terms of distance, the ball flies off the face of the R9 and travels a good distance, but not as far as I would like. I think part of it has to do with the lower trajectory ball flight and Fujikura Motore shaft. I need a softer tip shaft then the stock offerring on the R9.

Bottom line, the TaylorMade R9 driver is a great golf club that provides unprecendented amount of adjustability and customization quickly, and without the support of a tour van. If your a low-mid handicap golfer, who likes to fine tune their golf club, and wants a tour claiber flight trajectory, than checkout the R9 driver.

The TaylorMade R9 driver is available in 8.5, 9.5, and 10.5 (tested) degree lofts (9.5 and 10.5 left-handed), and in X, S, and R shaft flexes. MSRP $500

Author: Rob Hayashida

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