TaylorMade M1 Driver Review
In January of 2016, TaylorMade Golf introduced the M Family of metalwoods incorporating the use of carbon fiber with titanium to form a potent multi- material tee box launcher. This past December at Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach (just minutes from LinksNation HQ) and weeks later at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, TaylorMade unveiled the 2nd generation of M metalwoods. By now you’ve seen them on tour and maybe even in your local retail shop, but what has changed since the original?
2017 / 2016
The new 2017 model on the left has a 6 layer carbon crown design featuring a slimmed down and flared white front section (Original 2016 model is pictured on the right). Does the new one look better, go farther, feel better? Some of those answers are subjective to the individual, but one thing is for sure, the bar was raised awfully high with the original ’16 models, they are absolute monsters off the box.
Any time you’re conducting a review of a product known for being the industry leader for well over a decade, there’s a certain buzz and excitement that follows – and let’s be honest, what golfer doesn’t get excited over testing new drivers. We headed to PGA Village (PGA of America’s flagship property) in Port St.Lucie and their state of the art Foresight Sports Performance center for testing, then a round on the Wannamaker course.
The success of M1/M2 in 2016 was huge, elevating the #1 Driver in Golf to another stratosphere of big stick domination. So what could the R&D Team at TMAG possibly do to further the success of the M Family? The new slogan for 2017 – “Same Letter. Better Everything”. That’s great marketing, but will the performance bear it out? One thing is fact, the adjustability quotient has taken another leap forward. TM engineers saved 3 grams of weight by using a lighter 9-1-1 titanium alloy core skeleton paired with a carbon toe panel (’17 M1 has 43% more carbon fiber than last years model) which allows for a larger T track – providing even greater adjustability. (3 grams doesn’t seem like much to you and I, but in the engineering world it’s gold. These brainiacs fight for every milligram to improve their golf products).
The new T-track (shown in neutral setting) allows for 64% more front to back movement than the ’16 M1. As far as method of adjustability, nothing has changed – move the 12 gram weight back = higher launch/greater forgiveness, move it forward = lower launch/less spin. Move the 15 gram weight to the heel = more draw bias, towards the toe = more fade.
This view illustrates the refined sole design, as you can see the sole plate lips over the weight on each track, this equals less debris caught in the T-track and a sleeker sole. Streamlined from the original M1.
The original M2 was our pick for the Best Driver of the Year in 2016, and quite simply it produced performance #’s that no driver in our stead ever has – EVER. In our opinion, it also produces the ideal sound and feel at impact. So the new M models have a ton to live up to.
Stock shaft offerings for the 2017 M1/M2 : Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage TiNi (shown above), Project X HZRDUS and Fujikura XLR8 56. Select shafts from Aldila, Fujikura, Matrix, UST, and Mitsubishi are available at no up charge.
Certainly appearance is subjective, some prefer last years traditional red/black color scheme over this years lime/charcoal combination. Personally, the color means less to me than the design aspects, and the more I look at the new models (M2 also shown) it reminds me of a high performance sports car – inspiring confidence.
M1 nameplate located on the rear section of the crown adds a nice touch.
Foresight Performance Testing
Pictured above, a staff member at the PGA Learning Center works on his game as we set up shop on the adjoining Foresight Simulator. We’ve discussed innovation and appearance of M1, but we all know fancy claims and good looks won’t get you onto the shortgrass or produce distance gains. It was time to get to work . . .
Needing a base of comparison the testing began with my gamer (’16 M2) that’s equipped with an Aldila Rogue Silver 110msi stiff flex shaft. Although my swing speed usually tops out around 107 mph for step on it all out swings, my normal playing gear is right about 103 mph. Consistency & accuracy were the objectives here, so after a dozen or so swings reaching normal speed and distance #’s, we went straight at it with the new M1.
*Just a bit of background on my game: I’m a scratch player who prefers to work the ball, but have recently gone back to my natural right to left “push draw” – which means I start my ball barely right of target and it peels off just left of it’s starting point. I never want to see a pull, not even when I play a fade. My miss often stays straight or is a block right. When the miss goes both ways it’s a smoke & mirrors day for me at best. If the adjustabilty of M1 can narrow in the miss and tighten dispersion all while giving me the same carry and roll as the gamer then we’ll give it a huge thumbs up.
Within a half dozen swings after switching to M1, it was evident that the Mitsubishi Kuro Kage wasn’t the correct fit for my aggressive transition. Spin rates, launch angle and dispersion were all over the place. A quick swap into the Aldila Rogue, and instantly the #’s were nearly identical with the M2 gamer. After some fine tuning, we got the settings dialed in (I prefer a slightly open face and an upright lie angle) and the data showed a very tight dispersion pattern. In order to keep the testing non-bias for either model we alternated back and forth between heads after every 5 swings (once finished and the data collected, we eliminated the single best and worst extremes with each), and here were the final results via Foresight.
The Foresight results produced virtually identical performance stats (with launch angle being the only real significant difference). What does this mean? It means on paper the new M1 is on par with the absolute best driver that we’ve ever tested. Driver performance on an an indoor launch monitor is just one element of testing, these stats are just the beginning. The “reality” test would be out on the course, and luckily we had an afternoon tee time set up on the Fazio designed Wannamaker course next door at PGA Golf Club.
The original M metalwoods produce my personal favorite sound and feel of any driver previously tested or gamed here at LinksNation (2014 SLDR 460 gets runner-up honors) and that’s saying a bunch. The best way to describe the sound is as a muted thwack with a springy feel off the sweetspot when it compresses the ball at 100+ mph at impact. The new M1 feels really solid at impact and has a slightly louder thwack, somewhere similar to the SLDR.
On Course Performance
It was finally time to put the new TM weaponry to the real exam and see if it could be trusted under pressure in real conditions. It was blowing 20 mph all day on the Wannamaker course with intermittent precipitation, so this would be a stern test. Immediately the M1 impressed in a large way, rippin slight draws through even the toughest left to right crosswinds (typically the toughest wind for right handers). M1 showed it could launch high if need be, but its natural tendency (under this operator’s guidance) was a medium trajectory flat bullet. So far so good . . .
Take a good look at the picture above, the 15th at Fazio’s Wannamaker is where it was put up or shut time for the industry leader’s new crown jewel. The tee box is actually 150 yds back and tucked to the right of this view with the entire carry over water. At 271 yards to the front pin, it would normally be nothing more than hybrid and wedge, but this was a driver test not a stroke play event, so taking on “Fools Gold” was mandatory.
A flared crop duster to the right would certainly end up in the water hazard, and at 255 yds to the front edge into the cross breeze it would take something solid. I decided to take dead aim at the mound just left of the green figuring a slight push would be online with the flag, a straight ball would possibly bounce back towards the green, and a draw would end up pin high in the swale leaving a tough but do-able up n down. The tee shot was struck solid and flew right at the intended target, it had a slight draw of about 3 yds and carried to the mound pin high and bounced down into the swale exactly the correct distance. After a decent lob shot and two putt for par, the questions were answered . . .
This was not the usual “get used to the driver somewhere on the front 9” type of experience that often accompanies new driver on the course testing, it was an instant love affair of long and precise tee shots all day long. Basically point and shoot from the every tee box, golf journalists Len Ziehm and Dan Hauser were first hand witnesses to the M1 highlights, “get your own”, I said. The exam was passed and with honors.
Certainly the Indian has something to do with how a test subject performs, but after you’ve done enough of these reviews you know a blue ribbon arrow when you see one. The ’17 M1 is just that – worthy.
Is the Gen2 version an upgrade though? That depends on exactly where you stand. If you’re already gaming the original M1/M2 driver, than any type of distance upgrade is likely to be minimal at best, but if you’re in the market and want the very latest top of the line technology, it’s a no brainer – but keep this in mind, the proper shaft and head model are absolutely critical as we detailed during testing. GET PROPERLY FIT, it WILL change your game.
Value wise, there are good deals to be had on the original M drivers Dustin won the U.S Open with, JDay ruled the world rankings with and Justin Rose won the Gold Medal with – TM is the #1 driver brand in the game and for good reason. As far as my gamer is concerned, the testing will continue as we try to figure out exactly which one to go with, but as of this moment there’s a refined new “M” in the bag . . .
For more info on M1 and Taylormade products: http://taylormadegolf.com/
You can check out a video from Golf Life on the Taylormade M1 Driver here.
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com