As we approach the end of 2013, you may be asking what is new with the 4th driver TaylorMade have announced this year following the TaylorMade Black R1 Driver, the TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Driver and the
TaylorMade SLDR Driver. A fair question and one for which TaylorMade has the answer in its pocket.
That is because the Speed Pocket that you know and love from the previous TaylorMade RocketBallz and RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods has now found its way into the JetSpeed driver.
TaylorMade's speed pocket is a groove cut into the sole of the club to allow the face to flex more. It also moves the centre of gravity (CG) closer to the face and this combination increases ball speed and reduces spin for greater distance.
So why is this news, as surely that could have done it by now? Well they could have, but as all driver faces are already at the legal speed limit to do so would have put it over the top, so it required some re-engineering.
Effectively what they have done is to let the speed pocket increase performance on off centre and particularly low hits on the face without increasing the ball speed from the middle.
Therefore I went out and teed the ball lower than normal to see what happend and I can say that they all sailed happily off into the sunset. The SpeedPocket just made every shot that was low or to the sides feel like it came out of somewhere nearer the middle. Indeed the feel and sound was probably the best of all the drivers they have launched this year.
I also tested the JetSpeed on a Flightscope against the SLDR driver and it confirmed that the former is a higher spinning driver than the latter. Now the SLDR is very low spin which is why they are telling everyone to loft up, but the JetSpeed performed more like a 'normal' driver for ball spin and launch so this should suit amateur golfers more as it will enable them to get the ball up in the air.
Even so you may still have to increase the loft on the JetSpeed from your usual loft as having the CG lower and closer to the face means that it will need a little more loft to get the ball on the perfect trajectory. There are 3 lofts available at 9.5°, 10.5° and a HL 13° and each one has an adjustable hosel that can be changed up or down 1.5° in 3 increments.
It is very easy to unscrew the hosel to adjust the loft and the options are marked as 2 dashes between standard and +/- 1.5°. Without getting too technical this is because the actual lofts on these marks may not be exactly 0.5° each due to the way these hosels work.
They use an off-centre bore for the screw, so therefore the actual loft on the face could be say 10° and this is then offset with the least adjustment of say -0.5° to 9.5° marked loft on the head.
Everything other hosel position thereafter is relative to this so when you are adjusting the head up one or two dashes then you are somewhere between 9.5° and 11° but it does not say exactly where.
This gives you a lot of options and some may find this disconcerting, so it would be wise to get custom fitted when you buy this driver to ensure you get the right head and adjusted loft.
When you change the loft you will change the lie of the club and whilst there is also an upright lie option on the hosel, it is still fixed with the loft so it you need a neutral lie, then try and get the head loft nearest to your required actual loft.
The other big change is the black head and silver face, which first re-appeared on the SLDR range. It still has the visual contrast that helps alignment, but is more mainstream than the previous white headed models. Also familiar is the head graphics on the crown which are remarkably similar to the 2007 TaylorMade Burner 460 driver with a few dashes of the current corporate colour of blue.
Even the headcover is the same black/white/blue as the SLDR driver. Not exactly the edginess that we have come to expect from TaylorMade, but I actually quite like it and I think more golfers will too.
Weight is another key factor these days and at just under 300 grams, the JetSpeed driver felt very light. The 46 inch Matrix Velox T49 shaft is longer than standard for some extra ball speed and is very light at just 49 grams. The feel and stability is very good but I had a little extra shot dispersion compared to 45 inch drivers, which is not unusual.
In conclusion, the TaylorMade Jetspeed driver will suit more amateur golfers than the SLDR, as the higher spinning face will suit those whose driver clubhead speed is under 95mph. The low and front CG is a very different set up to the low and back CG of the RBZ Stage 2 driver so you do have a lot of choice at present and if you want a TaylorMade driver then some professional advice on all these models is a must.
The technology is sound and does deliver benefits in a package that has the almost reassuring looks of something familiar. It will be interesting to see if the low front CG approach is the future or a fad, but if you find that the JetSpeed driver works for you then it will be a good buy.