Ahhhh, how the mighty have fallen. It just seems like yesterday in golf years that Taylor Made Golf Company could do no wrong. Having ridden the color white to well over a billion dollars in annual revenue with hundreds and hundreds of tour players on staff globally and pushing to a never before seen 61% market share in driver sales, TM was the envy of the golf equipment world when it comes to statistics and numbers in the world of golf club commerce.
Fast forward a little more than a couple of years and the hot shots from Carlsbad are no longer lunching on caviar while thumbing their nose at the folks from Callaway down the street. In the world of “what have you done for us lately”, former parent Adidas AG recently spun off TM for a little over $400 million, a fraction of their former market evaluation to a Wall St private equity firm that specializes in buying distressed subsidiaries of large corporations to tighten the screws to be able to sell them down the road for a profit.
Despite the turmoil amidst the fall from grace, the folks at TM, perhaps with a bit more of a sense of humility, are still working hard to create quality golf clubs. And in the end, since that is the expertise of your devoted golf club guru, Captain Clubmaker, let’s have a talk about TM’s flagship iron models, the M1 and M2, to let golfers know a little more to help make a decision to buy or not.
The golf industry loves to pigeonhole iron models as if to create big cubbyholes that match to the different types of golfers and their needs in playing the game. Golf Digest magazine perhaps has this classification terminology down cold as a result of their annual Hot List beauty pageant for golf clubs, AKA the award list of who buys the most ad space in Conde Nast’s consumer golf publication. (one of these days perhaps the good Captain will tell you avid golfers all about the Hot List beauty pageant from an inside view)
Among the iron set cubbyholes of “Players”, “Game Improvement” and “Super-Game Improvement”, the Taylor Made M1 Irons are slotted into the Game Improvement category while the M2 take it a step farther into the Super Game Improvement designation for irons.
In short, TM created the M1 for players who would love to use a Players iron but down deep know they need a good dose of extra help in the form of more distance and better off-center hit performance than is possible with a Players iron, while the M2 uses its larger size head, increased hosel offset, thicker topline and (ugh) even lower lofts to go after the middle to high handicap player who needs every possible bit of help he can buy.
Both M1 and M2 are said by TM to be a hotter face iron design, made possible by the slot technology the company first developed in 2014 for their former RCi Super Game Improvement irons. One long slot across the sole and separate slots on the toe and heel side of the face are said to increase face flexing, which in turn increases the ball speed for any given clubhead speed.
That means the M1 and M2 are supposed to have a higher COR face to hit the ball longer. Is that true?
Well, the proof of that is in the smash factor as measured with an accurate launch monitor, otherwise known as the ball speed divided by the clubhead speed. Every hit test that Captain Clubmaker has seen done by long time reputable golf club reviewers has shown the smash factor of the M1 and M2 slot head/slot face #7 irons is 1.36.
OK, is 1.36 for a #7-iron smash factor good or bad? Well . . . . . let’s just say that if you hit a 7-iron dead on center and the smash factor is 1.49, that means the clubhead has a COR of 0.830 which is right at the upper limit imposed for spring face conformity in the USGA/R&A Rules of Golf. Most typical thick face, forged carbon steel Players irons such as any used by PGA Tour players will show a smash factor of 1.33 for a 7-iron hit dead center.
So the M1 and M2 do have a tiny bit more spring face than a plain jane thick face forged iron, but not even close to what a small handful of high COR irons on the market today can achieve.
OK, so the spring face of the M1 and M2 irons is not exactly very “springy”. Where do they deliver their claim for increased distance for golfers?
Uhhhhh. . . . . does a 28.5* loft (M2) or a 30.5* loft (M1) on a #7 iron sound right/normal/hittable to you?
Well it seems to be when you are talking about Game Improvement (GI) or Super Game Improvement Irons (SGI) these days. After looking at a boatload of GI and SGI iron model specifications, your good Captain finds that the average 7 iron loft today for a GI or SGI iron is 30*, while the average 7 iron loft for a Players iron today is 34*. (BTW, just 30 years ago, the average loft of a 7 iron was 40*. I kid you not. That’s not an alternative fact, that is a REAL fact !)
Hmmmm. . . . . you do know that loft is the #1 determinant of shot distance in an iron, right? Lower loft in an iron = more distance. And you may not know it, but there is an old adage in the golf equipment industry that goes. . . . . “More Distance Sells More Golf Clubs Than All Other Factors Combined.” Which basically means if a golfer hits a new golf club farther than he hits the same number iron in his current set, as long as the discretionary dollars are intact in his account, he will more than likely buy the longer hitting clubs.
So, in all the technical hoopla of the TM M1 and M2 irons, it is not the “Speed Pocket Technology” or “Face Slots” or “Geocoustic Engineering” (boy I love those made up technical words!) that delivers the claim for more distance. Nope, it is the fact that the M2 #7 iron is really a 4-iron from 30 years ago while the M1 7 iron is kind of like in between a 4 and 5 iron from past days.
And by the way, the claim golf companies have been making for years that they need to lower loft to counteract the effect of the lower Center of Gravity in their new high tech design GI and SGI irons? Pretty much every PLAYERS iron ever made has a lower CG than pretty much every GI or SGI iron. And yet all the Players irons have more loft than the GI and SGI irons. That’s another fact you can take to the bank of golf club technology.
So here’s the deal for you golfers who are fans of TM or considering a set of M1 or M2 irons. I kid you not, the M1 and M2 are very well designed irons. And most likely if hitting a higher number into the green than what you are playing now is important, the M1 or M2 will do that. But here’s my cash savings tip – unless you have a 5 iron clubhead speed north of 90mph AND your handicap is less than all the fingers on one hand, do not even think about buying the 3, 4 and even the 5 iron in these sets. Why? Cuz the lofts are so low that it takes a very high clubhead speed AND very good ball striking skills to even try to hit these lowest of the low loft irons that are the M1 and M2.
Once again the Captain thanks you for your interest in the tools of the trade. Watch for me next time with more truthful and what I hope to be helpful information about those sticks we all love.