TaylorMade's release of the P790 irons marks its entry into the forged distance category, and with that comes inevitable comparisons to existing models - Callaway Apex CF 16, Epon 503, and most notably, PXG’s 0311 series.
The P790 brings hollow-body construction, a thin face, and a new proprietary polyurethane filling called SpeedFoam (it’s foam, and it’s fast – TaylorMade does not have all the best words) all wrapped up in a compact, player-oriented package.
It’s a story that may sounds familiar, and it’s no doubt is raising some eyebrows at PXG as well. Similar isn’t the same, but it’s worth mentioning that PXG believed its patents were broad enough to guarantee it would be 20 years before we saw anything similar. It took TaylorMade two and a half.
Like other OEM's, the goal of a forged distance iron is to retain a shape and aesthetic preferred by better players while leveraging thinner faces to produce more ball speed (and thus more distance).
To that end, the P790 melds a 1.75 mm thick face (3-7 iron) made from 4140 forged carbon steel with an 8620 carbon steel body. By comparison, PXG’s 0311 irons have a face thickness of 1.47 mm.
As with many other recent TaylorMade offerings, the P790 3-7 irons offer a speed slot (but no face slots), purportedly to help increase ball speed on thin shots.
As is typical, where loft becomes the dominant contributor to distance (the 8-PW) no slot is needed. In those short irons, the face is thicker and the hosel longer to help raise the CG and provide more control over trajectory and shot shape.
The complex construction of a hollow-body iron leaves a literal void to be filled. Because feel is so subjective, it’s hard to assess whether the dampening effect of the SpeedFoam insert will be praised or loathed. Some OEM’s are trying to remove or dampen feel (as is often the trade-off with hollow-body irons) while others (Mizuno) are working to refine and enhance the feel at impact. That said, experience would suggest the P790 won’t feel the same as a one-piece forged blade or players CB. Whether that’s a good different will certainly be the topic of some discussion.
The SpeedFoam name itself is pure RBZ-era cheese, and we’d hope TaylorMade was aware of Dial’s identically named body wash. FYI, it offers odor-controlling benefits that the irons almost certainly don’t.
Normally the kind of thing that’s just good enough for a few laughs, the moniker is especially curious given that TaylorMade has been actively attempting to restore the authenticity of its brand after a run of questionable product nomenclature (JetSpeed anyone?) and a drop in market share. Old habits die hard, I suppose. At least the name is memorable and, like its namesake body wash, perhaps the consumer will find it refreshing.
Compared with previous generations of irons, TaylorMade’s focus on producing a good-looking iron (by anyone’s definition) appears to be paying off. The aesthetic refinement which TaylorMade started with the “P” series (P770, P750) irons last year takes another step forward in the P790 series. The lines are bold, yet clean, and the entire package continues TaylorMade’s push towards more refined irons. The result is a look which is both uniquely TaylorMade and entirely classy – even with the inclusion of SpeedFoam.
A Growing Segment
The increasing prevalence of forged distance irons across the industry is noteworthy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is it continues to validate the existence of this market contingent; the modern version of which was uncovered and exposed by PXG.
We termed this the PXG Effect.
Considering the direction of TaylorMade’s iron releases, what do you think? Are they on to something unique or is the P790 just diet PXG?
Pricing and Availability
The P790 ($1300 for a set of 8) comes stock with Dynamic Gold 105 shafts and will be available the same date as Mizuno’s MP-18 series, September 15th.