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 recommend 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.
Can the new update to TaylorMade's biggest, longest and most forgiving iron model help make life even easier on the course for higher handicappers whilst looking that little bit better?
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.
If you know anything about golf equipment, 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 OS irons 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 topline from heel to toe, and works in unison with the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket to increase flexibility and boost ball speed.
The SIM2 Max irons feature 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.
The SIM2 Max OS Irons get all of the same technologies that are in the standard Max iron head, but in an oversized shape with a lower CG to produce the longest and most stable iron in the TaylorMade range.
It features a wider sole, stronger lofts and is more draw-bias compared to SIM2 Max.
I tested the SIM2 Max OS 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 SIM2 Max Irons as well as last year's SIM irons.
Are these chunkier irons really necessary, or will most golfers prefer the look and performance of the SIM2 Max?
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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 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.
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 OS certainly has a louder sound than the Max but I have to say that after trying the M6 irons last year I'm impressed by how much the sound has massively improved in the SIM range.
Testing on Trackman proved that there was a notable step up in distance and forgiveness with the Max OS irons even in comparison to the Max. The difference between the shortest and longest carry was just 6 yards, and the average carry was about 3 yards further than the Max at 153.7 yards.
The flight did tend to want to go left but I wouldn't say it was any more so than with the Max iron, which is reassuring when you consider the extra offset and so you shouldn't let it put you off.
Like the SIM2 Max, the spin rates were once again above 5000rpm which is pretty good for such a strong lofted 6 iron, whilst the peak height was identical with both irons. So you're getting a little more distance and the same height, which means in theory it should stop at a similar rate on the green.
I then tried the OS against the P7MB to test TaylorMade's claim of a 'forged-like feel'. I knew there would be a difference in carry distance (around 15 yards with an 8 iron) but has the new Echo Damping Technology made the iron any closer in feel to the MB?
The answer is they still feel very different, the ball seems to flash off the face of the OS and stay on the face longer on the MB. I can feel exactly the direction and length on the MB, with the OS I'm not as sure as even those shots that I thought I didn't quite catch still sailed within 2/3 yards of a good one. Sound-wise the MB was lower pitched and more of a thud, so I'd say the jury's out on that one.
I tried these in direct comparison to the Max, and flipping between the two I had to keep checking to make sure I had the right one in my hands. This proves that the larger OS head is only really a slight change, and I do think some golfers would struggle to even notice the difference without it being pointed out.
Things do become a little more notable at the top of the bag. With 4 iron you can start to see the strength of the loft and the bulk at the back of the head. The wedge also looks strong at 42 degrees, but then I am used to looking down on a 47 degree PW.
As with the SIM2 Max Irons, I put the Max OS through a number of different on-course scenarios to see how they perform in real situations:
Scenario 1 - Downhill lie, ball below my feet. My 4 iron flew higher and turned more left to right than I would expect, whilst I didn’t get the same distance as with the Max. This is probably due to the larger head shape meant that the sole dug into the down slope more easily, stopping the clubhead from turning over quite so easily.
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 but ended up overcooking it and missing long and left of the green - note to self, you don't need to try and draw these clubs as the offset is there for you. So I tried again, aiming for the middle of the green. The ball turned over a little towards the flag and landed at the back of the green, about 5 yards longer than the Max. The conditions were wet but I was still happy to see a pretty instant 'stop and drop' from the 8 iron.
Scenario 3 - Pitch shots from 85 yards into the 11th green. I chunked the first one of these shoes a little, but it managed to hold on to the front edge of the green. The next one turned over long and left of the flag and the third took a hop forward and hit the pin. There was a definite difference in turf interaction and the flight wanting to be more left biased compared to the Max, and the shots felt a little fiery as they came off the face. If you've been using bladed short irons or wedges, this would take a bit of getting used to.
Scenario 4 - Hitting chip shots from around the green, they were all finishing past the flag like with the Max irons as I wasn't used to the lofts and extra bulk. You won’t be nervous about making contact, it’s just that if the contact is too good it's easy to be heavy handed.
TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS 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 OS is the same price as both this year's Max and last year's irons and with a new KBS MT shaft suited especially to these irons, they’re certainly worth a test for ultimate game-improvement.
I don’t think TaylorMade expect you to switch straight 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 Are They 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 OS Irons Pros
- Lives up to most of TaylorMade's promises (besides the forged-like feel)
- Looks better than the 2020 SIM Max OS
- The longest and most forgiving iron in TaylorMade's range
- More stop on the greens that I feared
SIM2 Max OS Irons Cons
- Not much feel around the greens
- Lofts are very strong which could cause issues in your set makeup
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