TaylorMade’s M2 Fairway Wood is 13.1 Yards Longer than RocketBallz!
Holy hell, what a claim. You don’t see many like this these days.
Despite what you may believe, the era of 10 More Yards (be they real or imagined) has mostly been over for a while. Almost nobody promises absolute distance anymore. With the possible exception of Callaway’s fairly non-specific “Up to 2 clubs longer” claim that accompanied the launch of the Big Bertha irons, we haven’t seen a statement this bold since TaylorMade proclaimed RBZ Stage 2 to be 10 Yards Longer than the original RocketBallz.
In case you missed it, here’s the video where TaylorMade makes the claim that caught our reader’s attention.
TaylorMade’s Fine Print
Now is probably the time to discuss the fine print. Here it is:
For those of you who aren’t graphically-inclined, here’s the plain text version:
DISTANCE CLAIM BASED ON ROBOT TESTING OF 3-WOODS AT TOUR PLAYER HEAD SPEED
We’d suggest that the phrase tour player head speed lacks the specificity that should accompany any claim of this nature, so we reached out to both TaylorMade’s Chief Marketing Officer and its PR Manager to see if either would be willing to provide us with a definition, or a specific number (presumably in miles per hour). We also asked for specifics around shaft lengths and flex (less important in a robot test), while inviting TaylorMade to share any other relevant information, pertinent details, etc. about its test conditions.
Those emails were not returned.
You’ve frequently asked us to test older models against new ones, and given the bravado of TaylorMade’s claim, coupled with the ambiguity of its fine print, we thought this would be something you guys would really be interested in seeing. We put together a test to learn what kind of performance differences actually exist between the two.
One quick note about our respective tests; while TaylorMade used its robot, we used actual human golfers.
How We Tested
- MyGolfSpy purchased 15° RocketBallz and M2 Fairway Woods from an authorized TaylorMade dealer.
- Both fairway woods were stock, off-the-rack models. Stock shafts, stock length in stiff flex. It should be noted that the stock length of the RBZ is ¼” longer than the M2.
- 10 golfers, all single-digit handicap golfers with above average head speed (95-115 MPH 3-Wood Speed) participated in this test.
- All shots were hit from a tee since that’s what’s shown in the video, and that’s how robot testing is generally done.
- Each tester hit 14 shots with each club (rotating between clubs after each 3-4 shot sequence).
- Any gross mishits and shots resting more than 50 yards from the center line were eliminated and were not counted among the 14 shots.
- Remaining outliers were identified using Median Absolute Deviation (both distance and offline), and dropped prior to our averages being calculated.
- All testers hit TaylorMade Tour Preferred X golf balls.
- Ball and clubhead data were recorded using ForeSight GC2 Launch Monitor with HMT.
We have broken the data down several different ways in order to determine where TaylorMade’s claims can withstand the scrutiny of player testing, and where those claims might fall short. Without a concrete definition of Tour Player Speed (and other specifics of TaylorMade’s test), the validity of the company’s claim is open to interpretation.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers TaylorMade provides in its video.
Here are the results of our test:
TOUR PLAYER SPEED
As noted, 4 of our testers are solidly within the Tour Player Speed definition based on actual tour player average ball speed with a 3-Wood. An additional tester generates what we think qualifies as tour player head speed, however, his resulting ball speed does not meet our definition of tour level. His exclusion from this dataset adds to the M2’s distance advantage.
- At “tour speed” the M2 produced, on average, 10.54 yards more carry and 12.31 more total distance.
- Both head and ball speeds favored the RBZ (again likely due to shaft length), M2’s distance advantage is the result of higher launch with significantly less spin.
- While not quite 13.1 yards, the 12.32 difference is impressive and does get us close to TaylorMade’s number.
- When we reduce the dataset such that it contains only the 3 testers that generate 160 MPH (or more) ball speed with a 3-wood (above the PGA Tour average) the M2 is shown to produce 12.65 yards more carry, and 14.71 yards more total distance.
- This represents a significant distance increase, which suggests that TaylorMade’s specific claim is likely valid.
Our testing pool, which contains 4 golfers who we would place solidly in the tour head speed category (actually, we base that determination on ball speed) and 6 who we would place below that threshold, generated significantly more distance than TaylorMade’s tour-head-speed-configured robot. If nothing else this illustrates how important it is to define a term like tour player head speed.
- Despite producing lower clubhead and ball speeds, across all testers, the M2 produced 5.77 yards more carry, and 7.3 yards more total distance.
- Once again, M2’s speed deficits can be attributed to RBZ’s longer stock shaft which produces greater club head speed, and consequently, greater ball speed.
- M2 distance benefits can be attributed to higher launch angles and significantly lower spin.
BELOW TOUR SPEED ONLY
While the golfers who participated in this test produce greater than average (by normal golfer standards) head speed, we wanted to breakout the data for our 6 non-tour speed golfers to get a rough sense of the performance differences at non-tour speeds.
It should also be noted that this non-tour group produced the average distance numbers most similar to the ones proved as the basis for TaylorMade’s claim.
- Within this set, the M2 was shown to produce 3.71 yards more carry, and only 5.13 more yards total distance.
- As with our other segments, club and ball speed favored the RBZ while the M2 benefits from higher launch with significantly lower spin.
- The data suggests that golfers with below tour-level head (and ball speed) are unlikely to gain 13.1 yards.
Slower Swing Speeds ONLY
Finally, while even our lowest swing speed testers are well above the average for the entire population of golfers, we wanted to see how the data shakes out at club speeds below 100 MPH.
- Among our slowest swing speed testers, the M2 was shown to produce 6.55 yards more carry, and was, on average, 7.53 yards longer (total distance).
- The jump from the previous chart can be attributed to the fact that golfers in this group were the only ones to produce both more club speed and ball speed with the M2.
- While not 13.1 yards, the data suggests significant distance gains are attainable for some golfers with club head speeds in the mid-90s.
Average carry and distance numbers provided in the TaylorMade video fall well short of what would be produced under any reasonable definition of tour player head speed.
The two most likely explanations for the discrepancy are:
Wind: The video suggests that robot testing took place at the TaylorMade Kingdom in Carlsbad, California. The range at the Kingdom plays into a head wind. Particularly strong winds could account for the the dramatic difference between our Tour Speed numbers and TaylorMade’s.
Specific and Unreported Test Conditions: It’s well-known inside industry circles that golf companies routinely devise test scenarios that will benefit the club for which they are making a specific claim. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that TaylorMade’s data is based on specific, non-centered contact, which would explain how it was able to achieve a 13.1 yard advantage despite carry and distance numbers that fall well below expectations for tour player head speed.
- The validity of TaylorMade’s M2 distance claims hinges on how it defines Tour Player Head Speed. Thus far, TaylorMade has not provided that information.
- A distance advantage of 13.1 yards is likely attainable when 3-Wood ball speed approaches 160 MPH; 2MPH above the actual tour player average.
- At Tour-level ball speeds, the M2 Fairway Wood was 12.32 longer than RBZ; a significant distance gain.
- While TaylorMade’s claims do not specifically address expectations for non-tour speed golfers, with data from all testers considered, M2’s distance advantage is 7.3 yards.
- M2’s comparative distance advantage will generally decrease as ball speed decreases, making it unlikely that an average golfer will gain 13.1 yards with the M2 (when compared to the RBZ).
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