“Paint It Black” isn’t just a depressing rocker from the Rolling Stones. It’s now a full-fledged movement by OEMs looking to inject a little life into irons in the middle of their product cycle. You can count Callaway, PXG and Hogan among those who've introduced black versions of current product, while Cobra made black the primary color for its King Forged TEC and King Pro irons from the get-go.
So why shouldn’t TaylorMade get in on the fun, too?
Especially if it gives legal rival PXG a wee bit of a tweak.
The Dark Side
Yup, TaylorMade’s P790 distance iron, the one that started all the legal hubbub with PXG, is now available in black, with what TM is calling a “premium high-gloss PVD finish.” All-black True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 shafts round out the look, which TaylorMade says – honest to God – “inspires and intimidates.”
There’s no need to give you the SpeedFoam-heavy rundown on the P790 (you can read that here), but leave it to TaylorMade to spin black as a performance enhancing hue.
“The new appearance brings out the soul of what P790 truly represents by creating a look and feel that inspires an aggressive mindset, enabling the boldest of players to attack the course with confidence.” – Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade Director of Product Creation, in a company press release
That added boldness and confidence does come at a price. The standard chrome P790’s, which presumably are now for the cautious and meek, retail at $1,299.99. Aggression and confidence adds three bills to the price tag, as the new P790’s in black go for $1,599.99.
Baby’s In Black
When it comes to finishes, there’s black and then there’s black. The biggest concern is how long the finish actually stays intact, and TaylorMade has chosen the low road by using a PVD finish. Wear tests show black oxide or black nickel start showing wear after roughly 100 to 300 cycles, or pretty much once you take the plastic off. Diamond Black Metal – used by Cobra and Hogan –actually penetrates into the steel and is incredibly durable, lasting upwards of 4800 cycles before showing wear.
PVD, a relatively thin coating over the steel, lasts roughly 700 cycles in wear tests. It's pretty much the least expensive way to go black, which is fitting as TaylorMade is positioning P790 as a sort of PXG Light. For the record, Callaway uses PVD on its Rogue Pro Black irons, while PXG uses Diamond-Like Carbon, or DLC, for the black versions of its irons.
TM claims P790 is #1 in the players distance iron category, a relatively new classification for irons that go far but don’t necessarily look or feel like Game Improvement or Super Game Improvement sticks. Others in the category include PING’s G700 and the Callaway Rogue Pro, Titleist AP3 and Wilson C300.
Overall, TaylorMade remains #2 in irons, behind Callaway.
Price & Availability
As we said earlier, the P790 Black retails for $1,599.99, with the all-black True Temper DG 105 shaft and black-and-organge Golf Pride Tour Velvet grip standard. They’re available on the TaylorMade website starting today.
It sure looks as though “Paint It Black” has gone from fad to trend with OEMs and, realistically, it does breathe a little new life into the second year of product cycles. And there's always a nice little price bump that goes along with it, which OEMs always welcome. Sure, it’s a gimmick, but it’s better than flooding the market with new irons.
And hey, black irons with a red putter? It’s Tiger’s Sunday dress code.
So, thoughts on the new black P790’s?