When you first see the TaylorMade R1 driver you are probably going to do a double take. The graphics on the crown may dissuade some but if this is the case, then put this thought to one side and try the R1 driver as you will forget about the looks once you hit it.
Compared to the R11s the R1 feels more forgiving and the sound at impact is a loud, but strangely likeable, high pitched crash that forcefully announces that you are on the tee and have just pulverised the ball. The 460cc head features a wide deep forgiving face that should benefit all mid to low handicappers. The aerodynamics of have been improved through the use of a thick/thin crown and it seems to make the R1 driver feel a bit more lively than the R11s.
So why is it not the R12? Well the R1 has a much wider range of adjustable options so TaylorMade say that this is ‘one driver for everyone’. There are 12 different loft settings over a range of 8 to 12 degrees including 2 upright positions. This means that there will only be one model and then you change the loft to suit.
When you change the loft you will also be changing the face angle of the club so if you don’t like the way it sits at address then you use the new sole plate to adjust that too. This is the standout feature on the sole of the driver and looks like a compass as it offers 7 positions of a range of plus or minus 3 degrees. It does look better than the previous version and is a little more exposed so it does have a greater effect.
There are various solutions to the adjusted face angle issue and because this club has two points of contact with the ground at address under the face and the sole plate then this is TaylorMade’s answer. As we have mentioned in previous reviews, we don’t really get this method of adjustment as the lie and loft are locked together and just changing the face angle at address does not affect this. However unless you are going to the lowest or highest loft settings then the face angle does not move too much, so the sole plate may not be that much of an issue.
There are also a 13 and 1 gram weight in each side of the sole for you to further tinker with the weight distribution to fine tune the left to right shot shape of your R1 driver. These are positioned slightly lower on the sole of the R1 than before, to lower the centre of gravity and and reduce spin.
Research from TaylorMade found that 80% of people play with the wrong loft, with 35% by more than 2 degrees, so it is essential to go through some form of custom fitting process to get the right setting for your swing. TaylorMade say there will also be a telephone support line with tuning experts to help you do this and the head cover will have a dial on it so you can record your preferred settings, which are nice touches.
To simplify the process TaylorMade have thankfully dispensed with all their ‘technology’ abbreviations such as FCT, ASP, MWT and have just labelled them according to what they control, namely loft, face angle, and shot shape. The lofts are now also marked on the hosel which makes the whole process clearer than before.
The standard R1 driver comes with the excellent Aldila RIP Phenom 55g gram shaft that is very light and stable. The TP version comes with a more expensive and slightly heavier 65 gram shaft.
Overall we are not mad about the sole plate or the graphics, but once you hit it you don’t really notice them at all as the performance of the R1 driver is excellent. If anything the darker graphics at the back of the crown focus your attention on the smaller white triangle at the front of the crown that then makes the head seem smaller.
The TaylorMade R1 driver is pricey but the sound, feel, forgiveness and loft options are all top drawer and in our opinion this is one of the better drivers TaylorMade have created in recent years.