The TaylorMade R9 driver is labeled as the ultimate in adjustability with a claimed 75 yards in left to right movement. The R9 is approximately 420cc in size vs. the industry standard of 460cc’s. In theory this should mean a less forgiving head that is suited towards better players. Because the R9 has 8 different holsel positions which change the angle of the face, as well as 3 different weight settings which change the center of gravity, the driver can be optimized to fit anybody’s swing, low to high handicapped players (I’m not trying to sound like the commercial I promise).
The R9 as stated above is approximately 420cc in size. It has 8 different hosel positions ranging from neutral to 2* closed to 2* open as well as 2* upright moving in 1* increments. There are 3 movable weights in the R9 2 1 gram weights, and 1 16 gram weight. I will get into what the positions will do later in the review. The R9 is available in 3 lofts 8.5*, 9.5*, and 10.5*. The stock shaft is a proprietary Fujikura Motore 65 gram shaft that comes in ladies (55gm), M flex (senior), Regular, Stiff, and Extra Stiff flexes. The R9 TP is the Tour Preferred edition and comes with a premium shaft for $100 more. There are many TP shafts to chose from. The standard length is 45″.
With the R9 out for almost a full year now, we have been able to do extensive testing and analyzing. The ball speed off of this driver when contacted in the middle of the face is one of the highest ball speeds that we see during fittings. Ball speed wise the R9 is comparable to the Ping drivers, or the new Cobra ZL. I tested this driver in the 2* Open hosel position, with neutral weighting, and the stock X-Flex shaft. With a swing speed average of 115mph, I consistently produced ball speeds of 171mph, which means that this driver is performing at the USGA legal maximum. With a positive attack angle (club head traveling upward at impact) the R9 launched the ball high with a low amount of spin. For me, an average of +1* attack angle produced an average 11* launch angle and 2,500rpm of backspin. This equals high launch, low spin. A steep attack angle (club head traveling down at impact) produced a Very low penetrating shot that spun like I would have predicted with a steep attack angle. With a -3* attack angle I averaged 7.5* of launch with 3,300rpm of backspin. As for the left to right adjustability, it works. The 2* Open setting with neutral weighting was a perfect set up for me. When I left the face 2* open and put the 16gm weight in the toe (moving the center of gravity away from the rotating shaft, slowing the rotation of the club head) I tended to push the ball on average 25 yards right of my target line. When I put the face to the other extreme, 2* closed with the 16gm weight towards the heel (moving the center of gravity towards the shaft will speed the rotation of the club head) I hit massive hooks that averaged 40 yards left of my target. I have to put in a little note here that I have a tendency to hook the ball to begin with.
The R9 is a very predictable driver that can be customized to individual swings. If a person has trouble closing the face an impact resulting in a push or a slice, then the face angle as well as the center of gravity can be adjusted to correct for swing flaws. The head felt good, sounded good, and looked good. I was extremely pleased with how the R9 performed on our TrackMan launch monitor, and it met or exceeded all of my expectations. There are only a couple of downfalls to this driver: 1) The 420cc sized head isn’t as forgiving as a 460cc head, even with all of the adjustability. TaylorMade has release a 460cc version with the adjustable hosel, but without the adjustable weights for the person who does need the extra forgiveness. and 2) An individual who buys the driver without being properly fit may not know how to adjust the club, or what setting they may need. An individual may get frustrated because the driver may not perform up to its potential because it’s not fit properly. This is a great driver that will fit the majority of players, but remember the most important aspect when buying a club……GET FIT!!