by Shawn Zawodni , Miles of Golf Club Fitter
It’s white! Actually the entire line of TaylorMade metal woods for 2011 are white. The reason for the white head, according to TaylorMade, is that it makes the head look larger and inspires confidence at address. It also has a matte finish that is designed to eliminate glare from the crown, no matter what angle the sun is at. The face, as well as some of the sole, is black creating a heavy contrast with the white crown. TaylorMade says that their tour players really like the contrast of the white crown with the black face, and that it makes it easier to align the face with the target.
The big news about the TaylorMade R11 driver is the amount of adjustability that is built into the club. The adjustable hosel is the same adjustable hosel as the R9 driver, however the labeling has changed. Instead of Left and Right on the hosel indicating a closed or open face, the hosel says Higher and Lower referring to the ball flight. For every degree the face is closed, it raises the effective loft of the driver, and conversely for opening the face. The R11 driver can be adjusted up to 1 full degree from its standard loft by adjusting the shaft. The new ground breaking adjustment that is an industry first is the adjustable sole plate that actually changed how the driver sits on the ground at address. The sole can be adjusted to sit closed 2*, open 2*, or neutral depending on preference or desired shot shape. If you are a player who hovers the club above the ball then the sole plate will not have any effect on the shot.
The TaylorMade R11 driver comes in two different configurations like all TaylorMade drivers, a standard version and a Tour Preferred (TP) model. There is no difference between the heads, however the TP driver has a premium shaft. The TP shaft list is extensive and offers all types of shafts with different weights, torques, flexes, and bend profiles to custom fit all different types of golfers.
The stock shaft is a proprietary Fujikura Blur shaft weighing in at 60 grams. The shaft has a medium-low torque of 3.5 degrees and creates a mid to mid-high launch. This is the shaft that was used for my testing. The available lofts are 8*, 9*, 10.5*, and 12*. As noted above, the loft can be adjusted as much as one degree in either direction to raise or lower ball flight and adjust spin up to 1000 rpm’s. I personally saw a 500 rpm difference in testing. The length of the driver is 45¾” for the stock driver and 45” for the TP.
The driver I tested in the Miles of Golf Cluboratory™ was the 9 degree R11 with the stock 60 gram X flex Fujikura Blur shaft. After adjusting to the different appearance of the club, the driver felt very comfortable in my hands. The Blur shaft feels stable throughout the swing and through impact. I first tested the driver with a neutral setup. The sole plate was set to neutral, the hosel was set to neutral, and the weight was in the heel, which is how it comes off of the shelf. The second setting I tested the driver in was all left. The hosel was set in the Higher position or closed, the sole plate was set to closed and the heavy weight was in the heel. The third test was with the driver in the all right position, the hosel was in the lower position or open, the sole plate was set to open, and the heavy weight is in the toe.
The performance data from a TrackMan™ launch monitor in the Miles of Golf Cluboratory™ was as follows:
|Ball Speed||Launch Angle||Spin Rate||Distance||Side Dispersion|
|Neutral||166.7 (mph)||10.6 (deg)||3175 (rpm)||293.6 (yds)||6.3 yds left|
|Closed (high)||166.7||9.3||3121||291.4||33.5 yds left|
|Open (low)||169.2||10.0||2990||301.6||1.2 yds left|
|Custom Fit||170.9||8.5||2690||307.4||6.1 yds right|
The launch angle changed 2 deg. for me between the neutral setting that launched the highest and the custom fit driver that launched the lowest. The direction also changed significantly between the different settings. With the driver in the full closed position, I averaged 33 yards left of the centerline. My natural shot with a driver is a draw to begin with and this just exaggerated it. There isn’t much difference between the Neutral and the Open positions for me in terms of direction, they are within 6 yards of each other, however there is a difference in speed and spin. The Open (low) position did launch 2.5mph faster than the neutral setting because of efficiency. Since my tendency is to shut the face down, an open face with the heavy weight out on the toe actually helped me keep the face square to my path creating a more solid shot and more ball speed. The reason the open setting spun 200 rpm’s lower than the neutral setting is because of the lower effective loft on the open driver. As the clubface is opened, the effective loft is lowered if the clubface is delivered back to square. The Closed (high) setting just went left for me. I think this setting will be great for people who have issues with a fade, or dare I say a slice. The final set-up was custom fit for me. I replaced the stock X flex shaft with a Mitsubishi Diamana Kaili 80 X. The shaft weighs 81 grams and has a very low 2.8 deg. of torque. The heavier, stiffer shaft helped lower my spin rate down to 2690rpms and straightened out the ball flight, creating a more penetrating flight that increased my total distance.
As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility in the setup of the TaylorMade R11 driver. It is imperative that this be correct for the driver to perform well for a player. Custom fitting the R11 driver to my swing helped dramatically. Having a club fit in the Miles of Golf Cluboratory™ is always a good idea, but with this club and all of its variables it is critical.
The R11 driver has been one of our most successful drivers in 2011 and we’re expecting sales to continue based on appearance, adjustability, and performance. The 100 yards of claimed adjustability will allow us to completely customize the driver for individuals of all swing types. I personally experienced about 40 yards of left to right movement and the adjustments really do make a difference in altering ball flight. If you’re a golfer who wants the ultimate in adjustability and ball flight optimization, then this driver should be high on your shopping list.