Golf Driver Design in 2011 and What it Means for the Average Golfer

Every year new golf driver designs are introduced to wow consumers and drive them down to their local pro shop.  Credit cards in hand they line up to scoop up shiny new toys. Demand never seems to fall short when it comes to golf drivers.  Hey, according to some,  chicks dig the long ball.  2011 is shaping up no differently, and although some groundbreaking golf technology has been released, most of us will most likely still struggle to keep it in the short grass.

TaylorMade R11 golf club

TaylorMade’s new R11 driver with 3D Tuning is without a doubt the year’s most noteworthy achievement in golf club design.  The three dimensions of tuning that the new TaylorMade driver is touting include weight, loft, and face angle.  Let’s talk about the latter two of the three.  Loft and face angle in metal woods (and hybrid golf clubs for that matter) share a direct relationshipWhen you open the face angle of a metal wood you are actually decreasing the effective loft, and vise versa. This is true simply because if you want to get an open clubface back to square at impact you will actually need to close it – therein decreasing the effective loft.

You will notice this phenomenon if you check out the R11 website and do some messing around with the tuning options on the Flight Control Technology.  What is really different about the new R11 compared to last year’s R9 club is the new adjustable sole plate.  According to TaylorMade, the sole plate allows the face angle of the driver to be set open, closed or neutral once the loft is adjusted.  There is controversy here however, because of the direct relationship between face angle and loft.  How can you set the loft and then adjust the face angle without causing some disruption to your previous setting?  Perhaps TaylorMade has developed a way to make the face look open or closed to appease the complaints of some better players.  Pure marketing genius, and so is the white paint job by the way.  Visual performance of the golf driver or any golf equipment is all the rage these days you know – just look at the success of Srixon’s Tour Yellow ball.

TaylorMade-SuperTri R9

TaylorMade R9 club

Cleveland’s 2011 Launcher line, TaylorMade’s Burner 2.0, and Nike’s Machspeed Black line address another significant trend in golf driver technology.  They all claim to increase clubhead speed because of their ultra-lightweight golf driver design.  This works great for some, but if you grew up playing Walter Hagen blades that weighed in at about eight pounds each swinging a sub 300 gram driver is probably not going to be the answer for your game.

Nike-SQ Machspeed Black Square

Nike SQ Machspeed Black Square from the Black line

Before you go out and demo that new R11 and start wrenching away like a mad Nascar pit crew member, keep in mind the fact that many amateur golf players don’t hit the ball consistently enough to reap the benefits of the micro adjustments this or any other adjustable design club is capable of.  Try testing multiple golf drivers and think outside the box. Super seniors, who before struggled to carry the golf ball 150 yards, have success with X-stiff shafts and so called “tour” drivers. Athletes do fantastic things with so called senior or women’s golf clubs.  Don’t be afraid to use what works, and remember – it’s not the wand.


Dusting Johnson testing TaylorMade R11



Images by TaylorMade Golf Facebook Page, Equipio

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