When manufacturers try to add forgiving or distance features into irons aimed at better players, occasionally something has to give in terms of looks or feel. However as manufacturing techniques improve that trade-off is becoming less of an issue as the TaylorMade M1 irons demonstrate.
In terms of head size, the M1 are in the hybrid/blade cavity sector that a lot of single figure handicappers prefer.
The wedge is reasonably compact and as you go up the set, the relatively small offset and head length does increase slightly, but not at the expense of the looks.
The M1 has a mid-sized top line at address and the satin chrome finish is oozing class and sits very well behind the ball.
Like a swan, all looks serene from above, but under the surface there is a lot of technology at work to lower the CG so that the M1 irons launch high with as much speed as possible and then land steeply.
First up is the Fluted Hosel which was on the M2 irons previously and involves a couple of cut out sections on the underside of the hosel to save a couple of grams. There is now also a notch in the hosel to enable fitters to adjust the lie more easily.
In a concession to better player looks, they have not continued this on the front of the hosel like the M2 irons so it can't be seen at address. It does look better, but if you a looking at the hosel when you play, then you are proabably looking at the wrong thing.
The CG is further lowered by a shallower face with a thinner top line and a 15g high density tungsten weight that is added into the toe of the 7 to 3 irons.
As well lowering the CG, it also centres it more in the face and improves the MOI to make it more forgiving.
It sounds like I am comparing this to a previous model, when this is actually the first M1 iron. However in some ways I am because the M1 continues on from where the excellent M2 Tour iron left off.
Therefore it still has the Speed Pocket with a 33% thinner front wall in the sole of the 7 iron upwards to increase ball speed on those low face strikes.
In addition the Face Slots return to this category of iron from 8 iron upwards in order to give that extra forgiveness if you do stray from the centre as they protect against any loss of ball speed.
This is lifting a little from the TaylorMade PSi iron too, but in the M1 the feel is a lot better as the faces seem a little more lively.
Compared to the M2 2017 iron, the M1 is just that little bit more compact with a shorter head, thinner top line and thinner face slots.
All these cavities can create hollow sound issues, but the 3D Fin badge and Hybrar Damper in the cavity support the face and neutralise any unwanted frequencies and the resulting sonar sensations are what you would expect from a better player's iron.
The sole features a 3 way bevel to help the club go through the turf more easily and combine the benefits of a wider sole with one that will play narrower than it looks thanks to the thinner centre section.
The feel through the set was also more consistent than past sets that have combined various styles of slotted and non-slotted heads.
The almost closed cavity wedge was quite compact and had that solid cavity back feel and when you went to the 7-iron with the Speed Pocket and the Face Slots it did sound a little hollower, but not by much.
As you went up the longer irons with their larger faces started to have a nice bit of zip about them and for your average amateur this is where the benefit will come from the extra ball speed generating the necessary launch.
The M1 comes with the True Temper XP95 steel shaft or the MRC Kuro Kage Silver graphite shaft as standard, which are lighter than most better player shafts in order to work with the heads to deliver that ball speed.
TaylorMade has been trying for some time to combine forgiving technologies from their distance irons with the better player styling of their cavity back player irons.
With the M2 Tour and the PSi, either the looks or the flow of the set got in the way, but with the M1 irons, TaylorMade has created an excellent looking, feeling and sounding set that gives better players the option of performance with forgiveness.