Martin Hopley
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Unfortunately I am old enough to remember when TaylorMade introduced the first R series driver with the R300 series. Since then they have given us the R500, R5, R7, R9, R11 and then the chronologically challenged R1 before surprisingly ditching the R name for the loft up message of the SLDR driver.

The SLDR driver may not have been the most commercially successful driver TaylorMade has ever done, but it did herald their new philosophy of low forward centre of gravity (CG) and low spin for more distance.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Sole

Now TaylorMade return to the R brand name that served them so well in the past with the R15 driver and are building on the low forward CG message to hopefully get the best of both worlds.

It is good to see the R name back and the larger profile of the R15 quickly sets it apart from the taller and more compact SLDR, even though both are 460cc heads.

TaylorMade R15 SLDR Driver Toe View

As you can see the white crown is back too. Having been told white was the answer to all alignment issues with R11, TaylorMade went to the dark side with the black crowned SLDR and now the R15 is back in white. With a black option, just in case.

TaylorMade R15 SLDR Driver Address

I am easy about this, as having a white crown and a black face does make it easier to align, but why then does the R15 with the black crown have a black face rather than a silver one like the SLDR? It could be a trend thing or maybe black R drivers are destined to be dark, as the R1 Black had a black face too.

At least they are going back to what they know works and more importantly sells, even if at first glance there is not much visual difference in the crown graphics from the R11 driver to the R15 and its plain white head.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Address

Enough about colours and names, the real difference with the R15 driver is the Front Track, which has evolved from the SLDR by making it longer and adding a second weight. The SLDR has one 20g weight whereas the R15 has two 12.5g weights giving you an extra 5g of CG moving fun.

TaylorMade R15 Driver SLDR Sole View

The Front Track is also 12mm closer to the front edge of the R15 face, so now the channel acts like a Speed Pocket to allow the face to flex a bit more so you get less fall in ball speed and hence distance on off centre hits. This design also moves 40g of weight closer to the face than on the SLDR, resulting in 75% of the total mass of the driver being low and forward.

This is where the low and forward CG message comes in as that is good for ball speed and distance, but sometimes not great for forgiveness. I had to check this out.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Review

Right from the first swing I could tell this was a completely different club to the SLDR. For starters it was much easier to get it in the air. Compared to the SLDR in the same loft setting, the flight was much higher wherever I hit it on the face and the face was more forgiving too.

The SLDR was good if you hit it out of the middle, preferably with a higher swing speed. If you didn't, then the performance suffered and this is where the R15 driver makes the difference by giving more forgiveness and a better flight with less effort.

Using Trackman I could see that the spin rates were about the same as the SLDR with the two R15 weights together in the neutral setting in the middle.

The sound throughout was really good without being too high pitched or shouty, which some TaylorMade drivers have been in the past.

The two sliding weights on the sole also make a difference. I started with them both in the middle and the effect was to give a much more solid strike as the mass is directly behind the ball, which should in turn give more distance.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Weights Move

Unscrewing with the supplied wrench and sliding both weights together to the full draw and fade setting did change the shape of shot I produced, but in a reasonably subtle way. With the weights towards the heel it had the effect of changing a straight shot to a draw rather than anything that will straighten up a raging slice or vice versa.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Weights Move

I then moved the weights apart with one at each end for the most forgivness as the stability of the head is increased in this setting. On Trackman it showed an increase of 300 rpm in ball spin and a 7% increase in trajectory height compared to having the weights in neutral, which is what I expected, so the Front Track is doing its job. Again it did feel more forgiving and the sound was a little hollower than the nice solid, but fairly muted sound of the neutral middle setting.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Weights Apart

What I do like is the option to tighten the weights at any point along the Front Track and there are 21 possible choices. This enables you to fine tune the CG location so you can get exactly the right balance of weight from heel to toe in a place that makes it the best club for you, rather than the nearest best alternative determined by the manufacturer.

There is also an adjustable hosel allowing up to +/- 2° of loft changes with a standard or upright lie and that is all in one head. In addtion there is a choice of 4 heads in lofts from 9.5° to a new high of 14° in both colours, plus a 430cc head option in white only. Therefore custom fitting of your R15 driver is esential to get the right head, then the right loft, lie and weight settings to get the best out of it.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Hosel

The R15 shaft is a similar Fujikura Speeder 57g to the SLDR and the length is a manageable 45.5 inches, which was one of the best things about the SLDR and is great to see this being continued.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Fujikura Shaft

The final touch that is worthy of mention is the retro white headcover that has a leather look and feel. It looks very classy even though it does not have a shaft sleeve, but most golf bags these days should have enough protection. I am not sure how white it will stay on the courses I play, but it does look good out of the box and stays on the club well.

TaylorMade R15 Driver Headcover

When you take that lovely headcover off to reveal the new Front Track, you get this feeling the the R15 is all business, as R drivers have been in the past. And when it comes to the business end of the driver then it does deliver, which it really has to as this is not a cheap driver and visually it looks like the R11.

The R15 is much easier to get going than the SLDR and the adjustabiity from the sliding track and the 4 loft options should enable you to get the most distance from your swing and provide a good level of forgiveness.

In the last year the driver market has seen a re-alignment and there are several good models out there with different CG strategies on how to pulverise a golf ball. TaylorMade may have gone back in time to the R name to go forward, but with the R15 driver they have a quality driver that will be a strong contender for the number one sales position.

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
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TaylorMade R15 Driver - Product Details

Launch UK09 January 2015
Launch RRP£369
Handicap Range
Low
High
GolferMens, Women
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Left Handed Lofts9.5°, 10.5°, 12°, 14°
Right Handed Lofts9.5°, 10.5°, 12°, 14°
MaterialTitanium
Colour OptionsWhite, Black
Head Volume460 cc
Club Length45.5 inches
Swing WeightD4
AdjustabilityLoft, Face Angle, Weight
Shaft NameTM Fuji Speeder 57 Evolution
Shaft TypesGraphite
Shaft FlexLight, Ladies, Regular, Stiff, X Stiff
Shaft Weight57g
GripLamkin UTx
Manufacturer's WebsiteTaylorMade Website

User Reviews

August 2016

Got the R15 as a gift for my birthday. Was previously not using a driver due to my terrible slice. Got the club set up in the first round that I played with it and haven't looked back since. I cannot express in words the way this club has changed my game. I would use an iron off the tee box, so the addition of this club to my bag is GREAT! Highly recommend

March 2016

Just purchased this club after trying it and I was impressed by the lower spin rate and high percentage of shots right down the middle. It has a nice feel as well. It will be a month before I can get out on the course up here in Canada but I definitely have a good feeling about it after reading all the great reviews it has received.

February 2016

Was playing the R9 and I lliked it but then I read about the R15 and decided to try it. I love the ability the club has to correct my swing and I am now straighter and longer than ever. Took a few adjustments to get what I wanted, usually had a slight fade right, now I am down the middle and long. Love this club.

November 2015

I've had this club for 2 weeks now and I am very pleased with the results. I was using a Callaway FTi Squarehead which i could smash quite well but wasn't always forgiving. I did love the sound though as everybody agreed that it sounded like I was hitting a golf ball with a frying pan! With the R15 the strike seems more solid and I am driving straighter. I have the weights in the middle at the moment but I will play around with them over the next few weeks to optimise my shot shape. I tend to fade the ball to not quite a slice. Playing off twelve I am hoping the added 15-20yds will help in handicap reduction. The best part though is it only cost me £115 as I had £110 in winnings at the club! :)

October 2015

Just bought one of the 14 degree drivers. I am 54, Playing off 25, and only being able to hit woods since Jan 2015, I have struggled finding a driver/shaft combo to stop my slice. Delivered Friday, dialled in this morning before a comp. 60 balls later, I had this driver set up for the perfect strike. I drove 75% fairways, and increased my distance by a clear and consistent 30 yds. The feel is light (stock M shaft), the swing effortless, and the noise on strike a real ding....so pleased to have tried something different, and at the same time, dropped two shaft strengths, to an M (on simulator I was recorded striking the ball on average 105mph, hence stiff shaft). With the Mature stock shaft, the release is a lot better, the height phenomenal, and the increased distance. I was even calling the shot, before it was played. I am going to drop a few handicaps soon, with this shot saver (my mid and short game have always been better than my wayward drives). A definite buy, and no reason to search for a new driver anymore. Me and R15 are going to grow old together!

September 2015

I bought this club just from appearance and specs without ever having hit a ball with it. I took it to the range immediately after I bought it and the performance was better than I could have imagined. With the weights set on neutral I can work the ball both right and left, something I thought, at age 63 and way out of good golf shape, I would never be able to do again. Even on sale not an inexpensive club but worth every penny as far as I am concerned.

September 2015

The best driver I've ever hit. I am able to average 310 yards off the tee from a previous average of 290. Shot accuracy is also better and I can honestly say that I don't see myself buying a new driver for many years. After all, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

May 2015

Just purchased a R15 was gaming a SLDR previously and there is a very big diference in forgiveness. Prior to my purchase I haven't won at our club since last year. I'm an 18 handicap and definitely would do with golf lessons instead of buying clubs but this club kept me in the fairway in torrential rain and wind. Because of rain gear and being soaking wet I could only half swing but I was still getting surprisingly good distance so I can't wait for the dryer conditions. Hate the head cover though going to change as soon as possible.

May 2015

Always used Cobra drivers but got set up properly with the R15 and have added 15 to 20 metres off the tee. Very impressed after 2 round.

April 2015

I bought it and I started using it and I noticed that my drive seems longer and it WAY straighter. I had the Cobra Amp Cell, it's an amazing club it just wasn't right for me. But with my Cobra I would either pull it horribly or I would slice it horribly. But with the R15 it's straighter and longer. I love how you can split the weights for more stability!!! I really think that helped me. Everyone should try it. So go do yourself a favor and get the R15.

April 2015

I have a SLDR which served me well. I purchased an R15 and I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I've never been this accurate nor ever hit this distance. With the R15 and RSI1 Graphite clubs that I purchased, even though it's early in the season, I'm seeing a huge difference in my game. "Triple Dog Dare You" to try it for yourself.

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