It’s easy to criticize TaylorMade for producing too much product and releasing it too often. Once upon a time, it was a repeat offender, seemingly doing little more than changing product names while pumping out more of the same. Who remembers the Penta and Lethal golf balls or PSi, and RSi iron families. No, thought not.
Actually, we kinda liked Lethal (the ball, not the name).
With the new P·790, however, TaylorMade is playing it just right. P·790 has been a smash hit. The Bob Parson-baiting speed foam-filled irons have been on the company biggest success stories in the iron category, offering high-speed performance arguably unmatched by anything else on the market.
So rather than just change the name of the P·790, TaylorMade is keeping it around for this new version of its biggest selling iron model. At first glance, you might think that not much has changed. The new model is visually cleaner than the original, and interestingly forgoes the word TaylorMade anywhere on the golf club in favor of the company’s T logo on the toe.
The weight port has moved down lower in the head, and the top line of the back of the club look slightly more defined, but give or take, TaylorMade has made as few visual changes to this set as possible.
Design-wise, offset has been reduced – especially in the longer irons – and the short irons have been made a fraction shorter from heel to toe. This should help P·790 appeal to a broader range of golfers, though sales suggest appeal was already reasonably broad. The toe height has been increased a smidge to improve look at the address. Finally, the sole has been refined with the aim of stopping the club from digging. Improved turf interaction is all the rage these days.
Held separately, it would be hard to tell the difference, but looking side by side, the changes are reasonably apparent.
Under the hood, the changes are more substantial, but they still qualify as refinements rather than a complete overhaul. Obvious upgrades include a 7% thinner face to create a bit more speed and a few more yards. This is, afterall, a distance iron. A 15% increase in tungsten helps raise launch, increase the MOI, and help overcome the impact of stronger static lofts.
Since 2002, TaylorMade golf clubs have included inverted Cone Technology since 2002, but this is the first time TaylorMade has used it progressively; moving it further towards the toe in the long irons, to help control leaky shots to the right.
TaylorMade didn’t need to reinvent the wheel when it came to The P·790 irons. They’re still stuffed with Speed Foam. They still have the cut-through slot. They feature a forged 8620 body so they can be adjusted easily, and a thin forged HS Steel face for faster ball speeds. They look good, and the ball flies off the face. None of that has changed with this new version. If you already own P·790, you’ll likely have little inclination to upgrade. If you are feeling the itch, it’s fair to say the new P·790 retains all of the appeal of the original.
Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The stock shafts are True Temper’s Dynamic Gold 105 VSS (steel) or UST Mamiya’s Recoil 760/780 ES SmacWrap (Graphite). The stock grip is Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grips.
Retail Price is $1,400 with steel and $1,600 with graphite. Pre-orders begin August 19th. Full availability begins September 6th.
As you’d likely expect, TaylorMade is offering complementary P·790 UDI driving iron. The primary difference between the UDI and the other P·790 irons is that the UDI offers a smaller inverted cone to allow the face to flex face more at impact. That’s literally the only thing that’s different. That, and it comes with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black shaft that’s slightly heavier than what was in the previous UDI. Only available in a 17 °, 2-iron option, there’s little reason why it’s marketed separately from the rest of the set.
The stock shaft is Project X’s HZRDUS Smoke Black in 90g (S) or 105g (X). The stock grip is a Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 Grip. Retail price is $229. Available September 6th.
If the P·790 has bored you to sleep with its sea of sameness, the P·790 Ti might just wake your ass up. The P·790 might have agitated PXG with its design, but TaylorMade didn’t try and compete on price. This time around, like Callaway and Titleist, TaylorMade is using Titanium and Tunstgen as the excuse to chase some of that top dollar business.
Titanium irons aren’t exactly new to the golf business. The Ray Cook Titanic and Tommy Armour Ti100’s are early examples that spring to mind. But titanium is expensive, and it doesn’t bend easily, making loft and lie adjustments a pain in the ass. It’s much more brittle than steel t00, but that hasn’t stopped TaylorMade from using the material as the foundation of the new P·790 Ti.
TaylorMade is using 9-1-1 titanium. It’s an ultralight material that allowed TaylorMade’s engineers to use more tungsten than they’ve ever used before. In the long irons, the amount of Tungsten used pushes just shy of 120g. Titleist used a massive amount of tungsten in its CNCPT irons, TaylorMade is using even more. While there are certainly some bragging rights involved, all that tungsten isn’t just for show. It’s a highly effective means for driving the center of gravity low and back, which provides higher launch despite stronger lofts.
The Ti version is slightly larger than the standard P·790 irons. The face is 2mm taller, the blades are 2mm longer, there’s a bit more offset, and a wider sole. What the P·790 Ti retains the clean lines of the standard version, it’s more or less what you should expect considering where it fits in the lineup. It’s an iron designed for forgiveness, but true to the P·790, it won’t leave you looking like you’re toting around a bag full of shovels. The only thing oversized here is the price tag.
We think it’s a great looking iron, and the visible technology that comes via the tungsten bar is well executed. The one knock on the P·790 Ti is that in golf market where golfers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of custom fitting, it’s hard to justify a design that can only be bent 2° degrees – especially at this price point. As we’ve said, it’s much easier for a premium brand like PXG to enter the mainstream than it is for mainstream brands to go premium. It remains to be seen if the TaylorMade brand carries the cache to compete with PXG on its home turf.
P·790 Ti is an iron we want to like, and we applaud TaylorMade for doing something fundamentally different from its competitors, but there are some flaws in the approach which may prove challenging to overcome in the market.
The P·790 Ti is available in 4-PW/AW with Nippon 950GH NEO steel shafts or Mitsubishi’s MMT graphite shafts in 75g (S), 65g (R) and 55g (A) flexes. Once again, Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet 360 is the stock grip
Retail price is $2800 steel and $3000 graphite. Availability begins November 8th.