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The TaylorMade R15 driver, their latest sliding weight driver, is very low spin, but it’s still relatively unforgiving.
After an extended hiatus (that’s sarcasm, folks, it’s been a year), TaylorMade has brought back the R series of metalwoods. The R15 driver takes last years SLD-ing weight and splits it into two. Can that make the R15 accessible to players who found the SLDR too demanding? We tested it to find out.
Despite a distinct lack of demand for it, TaylorMade is returning to a white crown for their 2015 drivers. The 460 cc version of the R15 also comes in black, but the AeroBurner and R15 430 are white only. One note on the black R15: the black crown makes the aligmment aid look even more heel-biased than the white crown.
Though I’m no fan of the white crown, the overall look of the R15 is hard to find fault with as it’s very middle-of-the-road. The size is average in every direction – heel to toe, front to back, and face height – and it has a round shape that TaylorMade fans will find familiar. One thing I do like it that TaylorMade is sticking with the toned-down crown graphics: there’s only a “T” alignment aid, a thin stripe, and some barely-noticeable writing around the back.
Sound & Feel
Much like the look, the sound of the TaylorMade R15 is very typical for a modern driver. It’s a metallic crack that’s medium in tone and volume. I expect most golfers will like it.
When it comes to feel, the sliding weights make a huge difference. With the weights together, the club head feels heavy during the swing. With the weights apart, it feels lighter.
I was very surprised by the way that the weights affected the feedback. I expected that with the weights apart – the “forgiving” setting – the feedback would be dulled down, and with the weights together, the feedback would be enhanced. What I found was that when the weights were apart, the feedback was average – small mishits felt good, but bigger mishits were easy to identify. When the weights were together I felt that the feedback was “wrong.” I hit shots that felt and sounded great only to find smash factors in the 1.3 range (very poor, indicative of a substantial mishit). I also hit shots that felt and sounded awful but registered smash factors near 1.5 (nearly perfect). I would have written this off as a personal problem, but two experienced fitters had the same reactions to the sounds that were being produced.
The major selling point of the TaylorMade R15 is low spin, and it does deliver on that. I hit numerous shots that were below 2000 RPM. However, I also hit some very high spinning shots, hence the average spin that you see above. This is likely to be one of the lowest-spinning drivers of 2015 along with the PING G30 and the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond. If you need to drop spin to gain distance, the R15 is a driver you should try, but do make sure you’re getting consistently low spin.
The sliding weights do make a major difference in how this club performs. With the weights apart, this driver has average forgiveness – the lowest my smash factor got was 1.43. With the weights together, however, the forgiveness is poor – I saw smash factors as low as 1.33. In both settings, I also hit shots that were a “perfect” 1.5 smash factor.
The bottom line is that if you are an average or below-average driver, this is not your driver. If you’re hitting the sweet spot consistently, the R15 could be very good for you.
The TaylorMade R15 is, in some ways, an upgrade over last year’s SLDR, but it still doesn’t offer the forgiveness to make it a fit for most golfers. There’s no question that the sliding weights will impact ball flight and feel, so it’s important that you find a good setting (preferably with a fitter) before you make a purchase.