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Anyone who takes their golf game mildly seriously has been there before: You’re at the store, picking up drivers, checking out the intricacies of each clubhead, setting each one down to get a glimpse of the setup, picturing the first tee ahead of you, and wondering, “Is this my ticket to the longball?”
It’s a nerve-wracking experience. Where the pros fine-tune every millimeter of every club in their bag and understand the role each plays, the amateur is fixated on the driver. And for good reason: Each tee, on every hole, is your first chance at shooting a decent score. A bad drive can make or break you—and in the volatile mind of an amateur golfer, throw off your round completely. So how can you be sure you’re picking up the right stick?
Sure, in 2019, launch monitors and stat tracking help us fit ourselves to what we think is the perfect driver, but not all drivers are created equal—not even when they’re the same exact club. That’s because machines don’t make clubs, humans do, explains Tomo Bystedt, Senior Director of Product Creation at TaylorMade. “Because of the nature of manufacturing, there’s going to be some slight variation in the final product,” he says. “It’s not that the clubs aren’t good, but there’s still some level of variability in the clubs. That really limits your ability to push super close to the limit of the rules the USGA sets out.”
TaylorMade’s M5 driver changed all that. Or, rather, the clubface of the TaylorMade M5 driver changed that. This is how TaylorMade did it—and why you should put the M5 in your bag.
It’s the fastest clubface you’ll find (legally speaking, of course).
Every driver has a legal limit to how “fast” the face can be—”fast” meaning how quickly the clubface retracts and rebounds upon impact with that tiny white ball. You can’t see it with the naked eye, but it happens. Every golf equipment company in the world aims to get as close to that legal limit as possible; surely, Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson’s clubs hit it. Of the bazillion drivers that come off the assembly line, no two clubfaces have exactly the same speed though. If you and I went to the store and each bought the same driver, they’d have different face speeds, albeit a minuscule difference. But in a game of millimeters, the smallest adjustments can make a big impact. TaylorMade knows that.
With the M5, TaylorMade flipped the process on its head, producing every M5 clubface to go beyond said legal limit. Then, using what it calls Speed Injection, it injected resin into those two tiny red holes you see on the face to slow the speed down until it falls just beneath the limit. That means every M5 driver that comes off the line is not only equally fast, but as fast as it’s legally allowed to be.
It’s the exact driver TaylorMade pros play (including Tiger Woods).
I’ll speak for all golfers when I say that I’ve always wondered what modifications the pros make to their clubs to fine-tune their games to play at that level. So I asked Bystedt how close an M5 I might see in the wild is to the one that, say, Tiger Woods used to win the Masters this year. “You could literally take your club down to Bethpage tomorrow and swap it out for [a pro]’s head, and you’d be using the exact same driver with the exact same face speed,” he says. “That’s really the beauty of this system.”
If Tiger’s historic victory isn’t enough to sell you, consider Dustin Johnson, currently tied for 12th on the tour in driving distance this season. Johnson plays TaylorMade, and his distance gives him incredible advantage. Watch what he did with his distance here after Jordan Speith hit what looked like an unbeatable drive during a playoff at the Northern Trust in 2017. (Johnson was playing TaylorMade’s M1 driver at the time.)
It’ll give you confidence. Sometimes, that’s more important than skill.
Bobby Jones famously said, “Golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course—the one between your ears,” and he couldn’t have been more correct. There are few more nerve-wracking shots than that first drive on the first hole of the day. Hit it well and your confidence is off to a great start. Hit it poorly and you may spend 17 more holes trying to fix it. Swing mechanics aside, if you can see the shot, and know you’re going to hit it well, it can make a world of difference.
With a club like TaylorMade’s M5 in the bag, you can go forth confidently, because the folks at TaylorMade thought about the details ahead of time—including the sound the club makes. “We try to make sure that the club isn’t going to be responsible for a shot not ending up in an optimal location,” Bystedt says. “The sound of the clubs is very important for us. We have a whole engineering team that focuses on sound specifically. The feedback that you get when you hit a drive should [sound] solid, not be too loud, and it should [sound] like it’s coming off hot.”
Sounds good to me.