TaylorMade M5 and M6 drivers
The new TaylorMade M5 and M6 drivers, the flagship products of the company’s new lineup of metalwoods that also includes fairway woods and hybrids, are about many things, but mostly they’re about being so fast they’re just this side of illegal.
Of course, they are ultimately legal and conforming to the rules of golf. But only after an intricate and complex manufacturing process that involves multiple conformance tests, cloud computing, robotic arms and a mysterious resin injected through two tiny holes in the clubface.
That process, say TaylorMade officials, not only makes the faces conform to the R&A and USGA’s test for spring-like effect, it also is an exhaustive effort to make every single M5 and M6 driver in every golf shop, tour stop and online warehouse closer to the edge of the rules than was possible before, not just for any previous TaylorMade driver but for any other driver on the market today.
“The idea was that we would take each and every head and go beyond the legal limit,” said Brian Bazzell, vice-president of product creation at TaylorMade. “We try to make every single one as consistent as possible. It’s really about the opportunity to affect the clubhead at the very last second. That’s the important thing here. I don’t care what you do at the middle of the development of this product, it’s really what you can do at the very last second to get this into a tighter tolerance.”
The theory is simple: it’s easier to make a driver face flex over the limit and then bring it back to a conforming state than to try to get right to the edge without going over. TaylorMade’s engineers believe the industry has been hamstrung by manufacturing tolerances based on the complex rules that govern how much face flexibility is allowed. Because traditional manufacturing methods for driver faces result in a range of flexibility measurements, manufacturers have to be conservative to make sure their drivers don’t end up being non-conforming. Depending how conservative they are, according to TaylorMade, they may end up well short of the conforming limit with a certain percentage of their finished heads.
TaylorMade’s workaround with the M5 and M6 is to push their heads over the limit and then bring them back by injecting a resin through two small holes in the face that slows down the flexing at precise amounts specific to how far over the limit each individual face is. Each head is tested for conformance to the spring-like effect rule during the manufacturing process, and then an algorithm determines how much resin is required to bring the head back under the speed limit. That amount is then transmitted through cloud-computing back to the robotic arms that inject the resin through the two ports in the face.
The new faces on the M5 and M6 aren’t merely closer to the limit, they also extend that fast section to a larger region of the face than before. TaylorMade officials say the faces on the M5 and M6 are now as much as 20 percent thinner than past versions and that the “sweet spot is 100 percent larger than the original M1 in 2015”.
That larger area means mis-hits towards the heel and toe will now flex similarly to centre hits. “Tour players don’t hit it in that area as much, but the amateur is probably getting a double benefit,” Bazzel said.
RRP: $829 (M5); $749 (M6).
TaylorMade TP5, TP5X balls employ “fastest material company has ever used in a golf ball”
The new TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x balls continue the company’s technological heritage of using a five-layer construction to optimise launch, spin and speed specifically for the requirements of wood, iron and wedge in your bag. But the latest iteration upgrade focuses on the layer just below the cover.
Simply put, says Eric Loper, director of golf ball research and development, “It’s the fastest material that TaylorMade has ever used in a golf ball.”
The way TaylorMade’s five-layer construction works starts with a soft inner core of very low compression, just 16 on the TP5 and 25 on the TP5x. The low compression keys a lower spin that is a key component of distance in the longer clubs in the bag. That core is surrounded by two layers of stiffer and more resilient rubber materials to provide speed. The cover is a soft cast urethane material to provide feel and spin on the shortest shots.
But it’s the fourth layer, the firm mantle between the soft cover and the ball’s three-part core, that is the difference maker for the 2019 TP5 and TP5x, Loper said. It’s a material his team has been researching for the past four years. While it’s been used in other industries – Loper wouldn’t say which ones – he said it hasn’t been used in golf before. TaylorMade is calling the resin material HFM, a reference to its high-flex modulus. A material with a high-flex modulus has a high resistance to bending or stress.
Loper said the new material is 30 percent stiffer than past mantle layers on TaylorMade balls, but simply being stiffer isn’t the achievement.
“We were looking for a material where we can increase the stiffness to get more ball speed but be able to maintain durability,” he said. “That is really the engineering challenge here: more rigid yet withstand that collision at impact.
“By making that HFM stiffer, it increases that spring co-efficient so when the ball returns to shape after being compressed, it comes off with more velocity. HFM more efficiently converts deflection into ballspeed.”
RRP: $74.95. Go to taylormadegolf.com.au for more