Having effectively invented the Rescue or hybrid category back in the 1990s, TaylorMade feel that there is another gap to target at the top end of the bag and hence we have the GAPR family of clubs, pronounced ‘gapper’ just to drive the point home.
TaylorMade say that gap you may or may not realise you had is between what they call your 'longest playable iron' and your shortest wood. This 'gap' probably has some long irons, hybrids or maybe even high lofted fairways in it currently and the 'playable iron' definition comes from the likely assertion that your 3 and 4 iron may carry the same distance if your launch conditions aren't right for them.
This is a fair call and my feeling for a long time has been that hybrid days are numbered for better players as distance irons become faster and more forgiving.
TaylorMade obviously think so too and there are three models of iron style hybrids in the GAPR range that cover different types of player, which sounds quite similar to the approach of the 2014 Adams Pro Series range, a brand that is now owned by TaylorMade.
The GAPRs all feature the same principle of a compact 455 Stainless steel head that is hollow and filled with SpeedFoam to help manage the sound and increase the ball speed.
The Centre of Gravity (CG) is set up to be low in each of the three models, but what varies is where the weight is placed as you can see from the cutaways above.
The face is made from C300 maraging steel that is stronger than usual and can therefore be made thinner to increase ball speed and the SpeedFoam in the head helps supports the face so it can be as thin as possible.
All the models come with a KBS Hybrid shaft as standard, which I have previously reviewed. This is one of the best hybrid shafts around because it has the lightness of graphite, but behaves more like an iron shaft, which is great for accuracy.
There are three models in the range and I will review them all separately so you can see which one might suit your game best.
TaylorMade GAPR LO Review
The LO version is the high profile one that you will probably see the tour pros using, especially on links courses.
It has the look of a hollow driving iron and certainly the feel and if you remember the Adams Idea Super DHy hybrid then you will know how this will look.
However unlike the Adams range, all the GAPR models come with an adjustable hosel to vary loft by +/- 1.5°, which combined with the hollow head makes them count as hybrids rather than irons for me.
This gives the LO a lot of options to vary the three head lofts of 17°, 19° and 22° in order to get the right shot shape and look at address. However due to the longer neck of an iron compared to a wood, if you deviate too far from the standard loft then the alignment of the head relative to the shaft can start to look odd, so I would suggest aiming for the right head loft with the need to adjust if possible.
At address it was compact but nothing you should be afraid of and with the low CG from the weight in the back of sole it was still very playable.
Unlike the other two models the weight screw goes into the rear of the head to create enough space in the sole for the Speed Pocket and to get the CG further back.
As you might expect from the LO, it is quite a low spinning club and will suit high swing speed players, and I mean 110mph driver swing speeds plus, as it can be hard work and not very forgiving to get going.
The KBS shaft is very good and slightly different to the standard KBS version in make up as well as in label colour. At 80g in stiff flex it does feel pretty rigid for the average player and in this set up contributes to give the LO its solid feel generally too.
It is the lowest flight of the three models so if you have the speed and want to hit stingers or just low shots into the wind then the LO is the one to go for.
TaylorMade GAPR MID Review
The GAPR MID is the model I feel that most single figure players should head for because the slightly deeper head has a deeper CG that helps get the ball up more easily.
It does look like a compact better players hybrid, but one that comes more from the iron side of things. The weight screw is now in the sole behind a slightly larger speed pocket than the LO because the deeper head creates the space for this.
Like the other models, the matt black finish and white line on the leading edge helps you line up easily and it was much easier to get going, even with the same 80g S flex KBS shaft.
Taking the MID on GC2 with Titleist Pro V1x balls, the trajectory was higher than the LO at the same loft and with my 100mph driver swing speed then I was getting the kind of trajectory that would land steeply enough as an approach stop on the green.
It was going further than the LO, principally due to the higher ball speed from the larger face and a better launch angle from the deeper CG.
The feel was still on the firm side and whilst the SpeedFoam does its job well it is more of a solid impact than a zing you would get from wood or a forged iron, or even the TaylorMade P790 UDI for that matter.
The sole is also wider and features the same style of Speed Pocket slot that the LO has to increase the ball speed with that faster face.
With more offset and a deeper head this is a more forgiving head all round and for most people who want an iron hybrid replacement then this is the one I would go for.
TaylorMade GAPR HI Hybrid Review
Compared to the other two models the HI looks more like a wood hybrid, but its shape and size it is quite similar to the TaylorMade M3 Rescue hybrid, which was the better players' option of the M3/M4 range.
The GAPR HI head is slightly shorter than the M3 and the set up makes it a bit more neutral than the M3, which was more of an anti-left hybrid.
This is because the deeper head allows the weight screw to the further back from the face to move the CG back to give different launch characteristics.
Compared to the other two models, the HI has a high square shaped face of a hybrid with a more cambered sole that helps its versatility from uneven lies.
Like Dustin Johnson at the TaylorMade launch event I attended to test the GAPRs, my first few shots with the HI went left and that is really because that deeper head shape, bigger offset and higher loft is going to increase launch and allow the face to turn over more easily than the LO and MID models.
On GC2 against the M3 adjusted to the same 20.5° loft with the same KBS shaft, the more compact HI was going about the same distance, but with a lower launch, peak height and landing angle. The M3 was much more forgiving though and with the lighter stock Tensei shaft in it also gained 3 yards on the GAPR Hi.
The HI feels very different to the other two models for me and feels like the younger daughter in the family with two elder brothers, left behind as the boys run off and do their own thing.
The feel was pretty solid again but with a little more cushioning and the flight was visibly higher than the other two models, so if you need the launch to get the landing angle then the HI would be the one to look at.
It is good to see TaylorMade going back to their roots and creating a driving iron club that is similar to the original Rescue that I remember playing with many moons ago.
The range is focused on single figure players and seems a little on the pricey side, with a more premium hybrid price than a custom order iron price, so whether your set gap requires more than one GAPR may be dictated in part by this.
The lofts and shaft lengths are matched across the three models so that you can mix and match to get the ideal GAPR set for you.
As mentioned above, the MID is probably the one most single figure players should go for as it fits the driving iron requirements very well, even if the feel could be more friendly.
The LO is an interesting option for better players who want to hit it low and have the club head speed, but if you want iron performance then the P790 UDI is probably better through firm turf, feels better and is cheaper too.
For even less you can also get a 18° M3 3-iron with an 80g Tensei shaft that will mirror the set up of the LO and do the same job, so there are plenty of options here from TaylorMade so it will come down to personal preference and performance.
The HI is also a good club, but if you are considering it I would check it out against the M3 hybrid and maybe even a 19° M4 4-iron as they all bring varying levels of forgiveness and different flights and the decision may be more about personal preference if the MID and LO are not right for you.
This is the basis of the gapping story with the GAPR to fill the 180 to 220 yard area of your bag, which I am not sure is being under-served by today's distance long irons, but did need some more iron style hybrids to choose from as hybrids have been getting too ‘woody’ for better players for some time.
If that is you then TaylorMade can offer you more options to help fill that golfing GAPR in your life.