Welcome to Devil Ball's Proving Ground, where we put the latest golf gear through its paces. Today, we look at TaylorMade's R1 driver.
Tester — Shane Bacon — Handicap: +1.4
Target Golf Audience — All handicaps
There is little doubt that TaylorMade is the best marketing company in golf right now. No matter their product, the company goes well beyond what most would expect to show you that yes, this new club IS the best out there and you need to hit it. The r11 started this trend, RocketBallz backed it up and now we have the R1, the newest driver in a long line of great clubs that the company has put out there.
The first thing you notice is the graphics atop the crown of the club. This is a new thing for TaylorMade, who along with Adams, have gone with the graphics atop the golf clubs that distinguishes this apart from the previous white-headed golf clubs.
Initially I wasn't in love with the graphics (I'm old school, what can I say?), but a few swings with the R1 and your mind is immediately changed. The thing I liked the most about the graphics on the crown was how the white "points" you towards your target. A lot of times I have a hard time lining up, and the inverted arrow feel of the graphic gives you alignment help similar to what we first felt when introduced to the two-ball putter.
The "compass" on the bottom of the club was also something that might have looked a little different at first but was helpful the moment you started tinkering with the R1. I love how TaylorMade continues to try and make changing your club as easy as possible, and this is the easiest of all their drivers to change lofts and face angles.
One of the things I've always felt with the introduction of a white-headed golf club is how the color makes the driver feel "shorter." Obviously the shorter a driver is the more accurate it becomes, and while this doesn't actually take inches off the club, it has always felt a little shorter which in turn gives me more confidence standing over the ball that I'm going to hit fairways.
The first time I swung the R1 I smoked it down the middle of the fairway with a soft cut, the exact shot I hit when I'm confident over a golf club.
The R11s really improved miss-hits, but I found an even greater improvement when I didn't catch the R1 off the tee (find the toe or the heel and the ball can still catch up and find green grass, a bonus when you live in the desert like I do).
I also was impressed with how long the thing is when you catch it. A couple of times I really got into the R1 and found myself pleasantly surprised when I found the ball 8-10 yards longer than I normally hit it.
Also, and this is just a personal preference, but I love the orange that TaylorMade picked to crown the club, and really love looking down at the R1 when standing over a tee shot I might not be the most comfortable with.
TaylorMade can roll out a million commercials, ads, and promotions but if the club doesn't stand up against the competition it's all for nothing. That is definitely not the case with the R1. I love the look, have gotten used to the graphics, and can't seem to be on a driving range without pulling this thing out and pounding a few into the Arizona sunset just to watch the ball-flight I get with this golf club.
I have been a fan of the white-headed clubs and this is the best performing one TaylorMade has put on the market. People were wondering how they got the tour pros to paint their faces for the R1 commercials and simply put, they probably said if the tour pros don't do it they won't get one of these new drivers. That would be enough for me to cover my face in color.