TaylorMade has launched it's brand new SIM iron range for 2020 with the promise that you no longer have to chose between distance and feel.
Whilst the M-Range has undoubtedly been one of TaylorMade's best ever sellers, it was time to move on and this affords the brand the opportunity to give it's leading iron and wood range a bit of a shake-up, with a new marketing story to boot, of course...
As soon as the SIM Max and SIM Max OS arrived at Golfalot HQ, I couldn’t wait to give these game-improvement irons a try.
What's It All About?
First things first, SIM stands for 'Shape in Motion' and builds upon the initial performance gains of the Speed Bridge technology from the M5 and M6 irons, combining precise design with a number of other new enhancements to create a forged-like feel and sound in what is essentially a distance iron.
The SIM Max model is designed for a golfer who wants all-round performance from a game-improvement iron. These irons should be ideal for mid handicappers wanting faster ball speeds, high launch and a little more forgiveness.
The Speed Bridge, clearly visible as a bar running from top to bottom on the cavity back of the iron, has been refined for 2020 but still promises to add stability to the face whilst supporting the topline.
The result of this is to reduce unwanted vibrations, creating the "better player's iron" feel and also provide a little extra ball speed thanks to its combination with the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket.
Without boring you too much with the details, this essentially works by separating the leading edge from the sole of the iron, creating a face which is free-floating and more flexible. This should give you extra distance thanks to enhanced ball speed, whilst also adding forgiveness on strikes lower in the face.
New for 2020 is the ECHO Damping System, which sits inside the head and runs from heel to toe to help mitigate vibrations felt at impact. There are channels which wrap around the whole head and this allows the damper to compress at impact, which produces a sound similar to a forged iron.
This combines with an ultra-thin 1.5mm face, even thinner than the M5 and M6 irons, for greater flexibility across the face.
TaylorMade is claiming that this means you no longer need to compromise when buying irons. There was even a video produced where Tiger, DJ and co hit these new irons blindfolded. They couldn’t hear or feel the difference between the SIM and a forged club. Pretty impressive stuff!
Last but not least, TaylorMade's Inverted Cone Technology is positioned in a different place in each iron, to best increase the sweet spot and to provide a little more assistance on mis-hits.
TaylorMade has discovered that longer irons tend to be struck more often from the toe, which leads to the ball missing out to the right. In the SIM Max irons, the ICT has been moved slightly towards the toe to try and encourage more of a draw shape in these irons.
Firstly I took both sets of irons down to a freezing cold Prestbury Golf Club for some on-course testing in a number of different scenarios, before heading to The Range Manchester to use their Foresight GC2 Technology and get some real data.
The main aim was to see whether the changes TaylorMade has implemented for 2020 really did make a noticeable difference to the sound and feel of the iron in comparison to last year, whilst also taking note of the ball speed and distances recorded too.
TaylorMade SIM Max Irons Review
The black, red and white colourway from the M5/M6 has been replaced by a softer blue, grey and black which is very easy on the eye and sits nicely alongside the new SIM Drivers. One of the first things that impressed me was that the top line of the iron was thinner than I had expected.
This, along with not being able to see the back cavity at address, is something that leads to a good first impression. I couldn’t see the cavity even on the longer irons and it actually added to the whole game-improvement-that-feels-like-a-forged-iron idea that TaylorMade is going for.
To be honest, the sound of an iron is something I have never really taken too much notice of because I've always used forged irons, so I'd never really seen an example of why ECHO Damping technology would be required until now. But with distance beginning to reach some limitation in irons recently, this is an area that a lot of manufacturers are looking to make improvements.
Having hit the M5 I was shocked by the cracking, high pitched noise which echoed around the simulator bay. The biggest compliment I can give the SIM Max irons is that they felt and sounded like the ones I had hit all of my professional life.
They were very easy to shape and felt soft whilst still achieving good numbers in launch, ball speed and distance. Maybe TaylorMade do know what they're talking about...
I was happy with the dispersion both at The Range and during my on-course testing and felt that I could hit these irons any shape that I wanted. I didn’t find them as long as I would have hoped for a performance club though, so I would suggest that if you're looking for some real distance gains then you'd be better considering the Max OS irons, or even the Cobra Speedzone and Callaway Epic Forged models.
The Foresight numbers showed that during testing I had produced an average ball speed of 104 mph which was marginally less than the M5. The SIM Max peaked at 1 yard higher than the M5 although the launch angle was almost identical, and this resulted in a marginal gain in carry too.
The only real noticeable difference was the spin rate, which has dropped alarmingly to 4766 rpm in the SIM Max compared to 5500 rpm in the M5.
The SIM Max irons performed nicely on the golf course with good levels of forgiveness, even though the ball flight and distance were not drastically dissimilar to my current iron.
They were consistently averaging around 5 yards shorter than the Max OS, although some of that is due to the slightly stronger lofts.
TaylorMade SIM Max Irons Verdict
TaylorMade has worked hard to improve both the sound and feel in the SIM iron range and they have definitely achieved this, as they really did remind me of a forged iron in that area.
However the ball speed wasn’t any different when compared to the M5 so it's hard see whether the thinner face and Speed Pocket technology is having a great effect or not. However, with the peak height being a little higher there's no doubting I had a marginal distance gain over the M5 iron.
For me the Max OS is better looking and sounding than the M5 and M6 irons, but if you aren’t fussed about cosmetics and haven’t even realised your game-improvement irons are noisy then it may not be worth changing.
However, I do urge you to try TaylorMade's new offerings as once you hit the new clubs and realise what they could feel like, it may sway you. They're also a little cheaper than last year's M6 iron model and so if you're upgrading from an older set then it probably makes sense to get the latest model.
Would I Use Them?
Personally I’d stick with the M5 if you're just interested in performance, or play the Max OS if you wanted to maximise performance and feel.
There isn’t enough difference in the two cosmetically to not go with the longer and higher flying OS model if you need maximum help, or take the sleeker, better-looking 2019 P790s.
If you go back to my P790 2019 irons review you will see ball speeds are higher with them than the SIM Max, although that could be down to that fact I reviewed the P790s during summer therefore I was a little looser due to the time of year!
- Sounds and feels more like a forged iron - TaylorMade have achieved what they set out to do here.
- Price is reduced compared to last year
- Look at address was not as chunky as I expected
- I don’t think the performance stands out enough
- I’d buy the Max OS for similar feel with more forgiveness and distance
- No gains on ball speed during testing