TaylorMade's new driver may be named R1, but the number associated with it that you really need to know is 168--as in the number of ways the adjustable driver can be tuned.
The most-notable adjustable aspect of the R1 is its loft sleeve. The club has no loft stamped on it because it has the ability to be adjusted for loft and set anywhere between 8 and 12 degrees. Normally increasing loft closes the face angle and decreasing loft opens it. However the adjustable soleplate offers seven settings that can independently alter face angle to the desired position. Those seeking more subtle adjustments to their ballflight have the ability to take advantage of a pair of movable weights.
A redesigned sole enhanced the aerodynamics, increasing speed by half a mile per hour. The thick-thin crown technology saved weight in the crown that was redistributed elsewhere to lower the center of gravity and move it closer to the face. The former promotes a higher launcher angle while the latter increases ball speed. The crown features a white matte finish to help eliminate glare, while a black, orange and gray graphic helps frame the remaining white area, producing a V shape. According to TaylorMade, the more reference points on the crown the easier it becomes for players to focus and align the club. The company says it went through 80 different designs for the crown before settling on the final graphics.
The shaft is an Aldila RIP Phenom that weighs 55 grams but is weighted to produce the feel of a shaft 10 grams heavier. The sound of the club also is slightly louder than previous TaylorMade drivers. To achieve this the company's engineers designed the most elaborate internal rib system of any TaylorMade driver.
The idea of a single driver head with multiple lofts was borne out of TaylorMade research with 800 everyday golfers. The results revealed that 80 percent of players were in the wrong loft and that 24 percent had the incorrect loft by at least 2 degrees. The test group also showed that 52 percent needed more loft while only 28 percent required less loft.
The driver will be available at retail Feb. 1 with a street price of $399.