When I think about 'distance irons' I immediately think of TaylorMade. They pack them full of technology and worry about the looks later, but you can't deny that they are really effective in giving golfers more forgiveness and more yardage.
2021 sees the launch of the SIM2 product range and this year's new distance irons are once again named Max and Max OS (oversized).
Now I was impressed by last year's offering in terms of performance, to the point that I recommended them to a student of mine. The SIM Max OS irons have changed his iron game forever, bumping him up to that 7 iron 150 yard carry which was unattainable with his forged clubs.
What's It All About?
The key for TaylorMade in this years irons is, as you may expect, distance, forgiveness and improving performance on off-centre strikes - something which can be common for the target market of high handicappers.
If you know anything about golf equipment in recent years, then you'll know that TaylorMade aren't afraid to go bold with their marketing of new products and the SIM2 range appears to be no different, with the SIM2 Max carrying the slogan "Don't just want better shots, expect them".
An all-new multi-material Cap Back Design uses high strength stainless still with ultralight polymers to lower the CG and encourage maximum distance, forgiveness and feel. The design spans across the whole cavity in order to provide stability across the top line from heel to toe, and works in unison with the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket to increase flexibility and boost ball speed.
The SIM2 Max features a thinner and faster face which provides more flexion for hotter results, and has been designed as close as possible to the legal limit.
TaylorMade has also worked to improve the Echo Damping System first seen in the SIM irons of last year, with a more concentrated 'Hybar' material for 2021 for a softer feel with less vibrations, and TaylorMade says that this give you the feel of a forged iron but with more flex for faster speeds.
Finally, an updated Progressive ICT technology is said to provide a 10% increase in the sweet spot from SIM to SIM2, and this is gradually shifted towards the toe in the longer irons to promote a neutral ball flight and help avoid the 'big right miss' without the need for lots of offset.
I tested the SIM2 Max Irons inside on Trackman with Titleist Pro V1x’s before visiting Prestbury Golf Club to see how they would really perform out on the course, comparing them to the slightly bigger SIM2 Max OS Irons as well as last year's SIM Max irons. Have TaylorMade managed to make a real improvement in just 12 months?
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TaylorMade SIM2 Max Irons Review
Looks and Feel
Firstly I think the new head design is an improvement on last year, especially thanks to the new cap on the back which fills the space behind the Speed Bridge and makes the iron look premium whilst also solving the issue of getting mud stuck behind there.
We're getting to a stage in golf equipment now where there's not too much more that companies can do in terms of generating distance, so now it is just as important to pay attention the looks and refining the head.
The SIM2 Max has a slightly more compact head than the OS, and you can see that there's a slight difference in loft between the two models particularly in the shorter irons, with the wedge around 1.5 degrees stronger in the OS. The Speed Bridge also becomes visible in the longer irons so if you're easily distracted by head designs at address then it may be worth thinking about.
The Max iron is not quite as loud as the OS but I have to say that both SIM ranges in the last two years have really improved upon the sound of the M5 and M6, so the Echo Damping is doing it's bit.
TaylorMade are promising forged-like feel with these irons but I have to say both the SIM2 Max and Max OS are like night and day in comparison to the P7MB or P7MC that I tested last year, so I'm not too sure about that claim...
With a club like this, you'd be expecting to get plenty of distance without having to put in any more effort than usual, and that is pretty much what I saw during my testing.
They're easy to hit, they launch easily and there's plenty of forgiveness so that it feels as if the club does the work for you, which to the type of golfers these irons are aimed at, is a brilliant thing.
My Trackman session showed that I was able to achieve a very decent average carry distance of 150 yards with a 6 iron, topping out at 160 carry on a good hit which is exactly what you'd expect to see.
I was also impressed to see that the spin rate was averaging nearly 5500rpm which gives you more confidence of being able to hold a green with your approach shots. It's not very long ago that you'd see spin rates below 4000rpm with long irons in this type of game improvement iron.
Out on the course, I felt confident with these clubs and less fearful of the left strike with the SIM2 Max than with the SIM2 Max OS, which is chunkier and a little more offset. I found shaping them easy enough and so I decided to put them to the test in a number of different scenarios.
Scenario 1 - Downhill lie, with the ball below my feet. My 4 iron flew low, with a cut flight, and the most impressive thing for me was the distance I was able to hit it. 160 carry with 4 iron outside in the wet winter weather was no problem at all.
Scenario 2 - A tee shot on the 10th at Prestbury GC, using an 8 iron from 130 yards downwind to a left flag. I played for a slight draw which I managed and it landed safely on the green, a reassuring sign that you can still maintain some distance control.
Scenario 3 - Pitch shots from 85 yards into the 11th green. There felt like a nice stability to the face and flight was straight, with a nice easy spring at impact. The greens were wet so that ball stopped within a yard or two, although you'd probably expect to get a little more spin with a more bladed iron that has weaker lofts.
Scenario 4 - Hitting some chip shots from around the green, the added bulk and stronger lofts meant that these were quite difficult to play delicately and so a few finished some way past the flag. The bigger head was also not ideal from poor lies as I couldn’t get the club to the back of the ball.
TaylorMade SIM2 Max Irons Verdict
These are the ultimate distance and forgiveness irons, and so if you are somebody who is looking for this combination then you're in the right place.
There are plenty of irons in the P range for the better, faster swing speed player. The SIM2 range once again has a clear gain in the launch, distance and forgiveness, and it is obvious that the progression from Max to OS appears in the performance of the irons.
Max is a step up from P790 and Max OS is a step up from Max due to its added length and focus on trying to encourage more of a draw bias to your shots.
They both go a touch further than their predecessor (3/5 yards) with a better spin rate to help them stop more quickly on the greens. The looks and feel have slightly improved, also showing that TaylorMade's strategy of marginal gains is working.
At £899, the SIM2 Max is the same price as last year's irons and with a new KBS MT shaft suited especially to these irons they’re certainly worth a test.
I don’t think TaylorMade expect you to switch out of SIM to SIM2 but if you have old irons or hand me downs that aren’t forgiving enough for you then these can seriously change your game and make you enjoy it a lot more.
Can you buy distance and a better golf game? I think these irons prove that you can.
Who Is It Aimed At?
You have to think of where you want the wins and losses in your iron. If you are looking to buy these then your focus should be on forgiveness and distance, so from tee to green you have a huge advantage.
That does become less as you get closer to and around the greens. If you are somebody who struggles to reach greens and leaves pitch shots short then the spring off these faces will help you. You are encouraged to stick with the same model into the wedges rather than buying bladed wedges, so that lofts are matched. Imagine changing from a 43 degree Pitching Wedge to a MG2 Gap Wedge at 52 degrees - the difference in lofts, yardages and forgiveness would be huge.
This is an area I think TaylorMade can look to in the future, or perhaps you could decide combo into P790 in the wedges. As of right now they have the same distance elements in their long irons as short irons, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a touch more feel and shaping in the head for those more creative shots closer to the green?
Would I Use Them?
No I wouldn’t but they aren’t aimed at a professional golfer, they’re aimed to help beginners, people that don’t play too often and/or those that strike the ball inconsistently.
If you want to help get rid of those short right misses then these are the clubs for you.
SIM2 Max Irons Pros
- Provides easy launch and distance
- Looks better than last year's model
- Forgiving across the face
- Lives up to most of TaylorMade's claims
SIM2 Max Irons Cons
- Not much feel on shorter shots around the green
- Lofts are too strong for real creative workability
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