Putters, drivers, and wedges are clubs that golfers tend to change on a regular basis, but irons often stay in the bag much longer.
Why? Because usually it's more difficult for players, recreational and professional, to find a set of irons that they like and that truly fits their needs and their games.
With that in mind, for 2016, TaylorMade was determined to give every golfer, regardless of ability level, a great fit in terms of a new set of irons, whether that player needed a game-improvement club, a players club, or something that fell somewhere more in between on either side of the spectrum.
With the creation of M2, M2 Tour, and PSi, Taylormade has accomplished its goal, albeit in contrasting ways.
- Different Starting Points
- M2 and M2 Tour Technology
- Big Distance But Controlled Distance
- PSi Technology
- M2, M2 Tour, and PSi Review
When it comes to a game-improvement iron, TaylorMade's engineers are thinking technology first and then looking for ways to improve look and feel, two areas that typically have been lacking when it comes to game-improvement clubs through the years.
"There's more technology for the average player," said TaylorMade's Senior Director of Global Irons Tomo Bystedt, when talking about M2 and M2 Tour. "These are game-improvement irons that offer the distance and ball speeds that the average golfer needs but also have good feel and a clean look."
With a players club, meanwhile, it's look and feel that will always come first when TaylorMade works on a new product. And with PSi, that included significant input from touring professionals, as tour-inspired shaping was non-negotiable.
When the engineers have the feel and look dialed in, it's at that point that they explore ways to incorporate technological advances without making compromises to the feel and look they worked so hard to achieve.
"The first thing a (better) player does when he gets an iron is he looks at it," said TaylorMade Vice President of Tour Operations Keith Sbarbaro, who has worked with TaylorMade's touring professionals for nearly two decades. "They look at the topline; they look at the sole. If it doesn't get past the visual inspection, they don't even want to hit it.
"Even though I see the performance advantage, it doesn't matter until we get the look and feel right. Then you add the performance, and now we've got an iron."
Taylormade M2 Tour Irons
In terms of performance when it comes to M2 and M2 Tour, TaylorMade is promising irons that deliver high launch and maximum distance, a combination that has been achieved through advanced technology, some of which has been in the works for several years.
For example, in the M2 iron, TaylorMade is utilizing its Thick-Thin Fluted Hosel design, which Bystedt said the company began refining more than four years ago. This feature removes weight from the hosel and distributes it in the lower portion of the clubhead. The result is a lower center of gravity for the M2, which creates higher launch angles and faster ball speeds.
Other technological features that can be found in both the M2 and M2 Tour irons include the 360° Undercut and Speed Pocket. The Undercut removes weight from the topline to also aid in lowering the center of gravity. It also expands the unsupported area of the clubface to keep ball speeds high on off-center contact. The Speed Pocket, meanwhile, helps both M2 models maintain high launch angles and ball speeds for shots struck low on the face.
Additionally, TaylorMade has incorporated a Sound Management System in each model to improve overall feel by removing unwanted vibrations.
TGW Customer Feedback on the TaylorMade M2, M2 Tour, PSi, and PSi Tour Irons
It's also worth noting that because ball speeds and launch angles are so enhanced through technology, Taylormade is utilizing stronger lofts in the both the M2 and M2 Tour to help players control distance and maintain appropriate yardage gaps between each club. For example, in today's marketplace the average pitching wedge loft would be somewhere in the 46-48 degree range. In the M2, the pitching wedge loft is 43.5 degrees, while it's 45 degrees in the M2 Tour.
Given the stronger lofts and the higher ball speeds that the M2 creates, this iron might not be the best fit for the longest hitters, who could wind up with significant distance gaps between clubs.
"The M2 isn't a club that we'll put in the hands of a tour player," Bystedt said. "It's so long that it will create gapping problems for a tour player, who doesn't need the distance. This club is for the player who wants more distance and the ability to hit the ball higher."
The M2 Tour, however, would be a sound choice for lower-handicap players, even longer hitters. It is a game-improvement offering, but it was designed to have some players club attributes while maintaining the forgiveness, launch conditions, and ball speeds to make the game more enjoyable.
"The M2 Tour, we like to describe as small profile, small package, big distance," Bystedt said. "We're actually getting a lot of requests from guys on the Champions Tour to try this iron."
TGW Customer Feedback on the TaylorMade PSi Irons
While TaylorMade was thrilled with the look and feel of PSi from a design standpoint, without improved playability the company would have failed in its ultimate goal for that iron. The improved performance that PSi delivers is the result of a number of features, most notably design attributes that have been implemented to improve forgiveness.
Face Slots and Speed Pockets are two of the most important design elements. The Speed Pocket on the sole of the club helps keep ball speeds high on shots struck low on the clubface, while the Face Slots exist just outside of the grooves to maintain faster ball speeds on shots hit off the heel or toe.
Also of note, a progressive CG (center of gravity) placement has been utilized in PSi to help control launch angles, most notably offering higher launch conditions in the longer irons. Additionally, a progressive design in terms of blade length and offset help improve playability in the long and mid irons, while a 360° Undercut design also helps lower the center of gravity, which creates optimal distance and trajectory with each club.
PSi also provides the soft, solid feel most typically found in a true muscleback design. And while these aren't musclebacks in construction, forging in the short irons helps enhance sound and feel, as does the use of a multi-material badge, especially in the longer irons, which are not forged but offer the same feel.
"PSi are the most complete players irons we've ever created," said Bystedt. "Better players have always had to compromise when it comes to their iron. Thanks to our new multi-material badge, innovative new slot technology, and a tour-inspired shape, better players no longer have to settle."
I was in Carlsbad, California with TGW colleagues in early March to visit the TaylorMade headquarters and explore the company's 2016 product lines.
As part of the day's events, I had the opportunity to demo these three sets of irons at TaylorMade's renowned testing and fitting center, The Kingdom.
If you're considering a switch to the M2, M2 Tour, or PSi irons, here's some feedback that might help you make a decision.
There's no question that TaylorMade has succeeded in terms of creating a cleaner look in a game-improvement iron. Yes, the M2 has a thicker topline and longer blade than you might find in some irons, but there's far less offset than one might expect in this category and the iron's darker finish gives it a more compact look. At address, the clubface frames the ball nicely and none of the mass behind the clubhead is visible.
The M2 Tour, meanwhile, is even more streamlined. The blade isn't as long, the topline is thinner, and there's even less offset. The dark finish makes for a sleek look, and the M2 Tour looks as much like a players club as a game-improvement iron at address.
As for PSi, my first impression was that these were stunning golf clubs visually. The finish and design are sleek, and at address there's no mistaking that PSi is a true players iron. I did have some concern before testing about how I would feel about the Speed Pocket and Face Slots, but I didn't find them at all distracting. If anything, it gave the irons what I would describe as a modern, fast look that only helped to inspire confidence that they would perform as advertised.
Not surprisIngly, I found that the M2, M2 Tour, and PSi irons all had distinctly different feels. With the M2, there was a discernable click, both in terms of sound and feel, on pretty much every strike, whether I found the center of the face or made contact more toward the heel or toe. The click wasn't harsh, loud, or distracting by any means, just noticeable and consistent.
With the M2 Tour, on solidly struck shots, there was a more muted sound and feel, something more reminiscent of what I'd expect from a forged cavity back for example. On off-center hits, however, the slight click that I experienced in the M2 was noticeable. But overall, how solid the irons felt came as a pleasant surprise in terms of my expectations. I also was appreciative of the fact that in a game-improvement iron I was able to get valuable feedback on shots that weren't struck perfectly.
Given what TaylorMade said to expect, I had high expectations for what the PSi irons would feel like at impact, and they did not disappoint. The feel and sound were amazing. Even though only the short irons are forged, the sound and feel in the longer irons was still soft and solid. I won't pretend to understand all the technical ins and outs of the multi-material badge that has been utilized in PSi, but it works, and I came away highly impressed that a players iron with so much technology packed into it could still feel like a blade.
TaylorMade said the M2 irons would launch high and go forever, and they did just that. I was amazed at how little I had to work to launch the ball effortlessly, even with the mid- and long-irons. And while I hit these irons very high through the set, they didn't balloon at all. I was hitting directly into a 10-12 MPH wind during testing and came away impressed at how stable the ball flight was. The iron distances were also extremely long, probably two clubs longer than what I'm used to in my current set. Most impressively, shots that I missed seemed to carry as far as solidly struck shots and the dispersion was tight. It was somewhat challenging to curve the ball with the M2, or knock it down. The ball simply wanted to fly long, high, and straight.
The M2 Tour was also impressive in terms of how easy it was to launch the ball high. And like the M2, the distance also was impressive, as was the overall forgiveness. As mentioned previously, an off-center hit was easier to discern in terms of feel with the M2 Tour, but the overall result rarely suffered. Additionally, however, I found that the M2 Tour had an aspect of workability that wasn't as prevalent in the M2, as it was easy to hit knockdown shots, as well as fades and draws.
PSi, meanwhile, was a revelation in terms of performance. Through the set, these clubs were easy to hit and offered high, stable launch conditions. The ball didn't balloon at all in the wind, and from a distance standpoint I hit the PSi about a club longer than the irons I'm playing now, which probably can be attributed in part to the design and in part to the slightly stronger lofts. Equally impressive was the fact that I was still able to shape shots with both the long and short irons, and I had no problem flighting the ball down when I wanted.
TaylorMade has done some quality work with the M2, M2 Tour, and PSi irons. To varying degrees, these are all player-friendly irons that will make the game more fun for a lot of golfers, and even the M2 lines will fit more than just high-handicap players. In fact, one of TaylorMade's professional fitters at The Kingdom, a scratch player mind you, told me that he had just put the M2 Tours in his bag, adding that, "I just couldn't pass up the forgiveness."
So which model might be the right choice for you? If you're someone who's just getting started in the game or who needs a little extra help in creating distance and height with your irons, the M2 deserves a closer look, as TaylorMade definitely succeeded in terms of what it set out to do with this product. Additionally, the forgiveness that these irons provide is impressive, and the good news is that aesthetics haven't been completely sacrificed for performance.
In terms of the M2 Tour, this is a club that I expect will end up in the bags of players with dramatically varying profiles. A high-handicap player who values a clean look will still benefit from the technological features of the M2 Tour, while lower- and mid-handicap players will enjoy the forgiveness that these irons provide without having to sacrifice look, feel, or workability. This is a product that simply oozes versatility. As a low single-digit handicapper, I would have no qualms from a feel, look, or performance standpoint about putting the M2 Tour into play.
As far as PSi is concerned, TaylorMade delivered on its promise to never sacrifice look or feel in a players iron while still being able to incorporate improved performance, creating an excellent option for better players. These are irons that look fantastic and perform at a high level. PSi offers the amazing feel and performance of a true players club while still offering some of the benefits of enhanced technology. It's a great club and would be an excellent fit for any good player.