By now you’re aware that TaylorMade’s latest “M Family” of metalwoods has moved on from the M1/M2 nameplates and has been replaced with the latest editions in the form of M3 and TaylorMade M4. In this review, we focus specifically on the mega forgiving but minimally adjustable M4 (which is the replacement for the previous M2 model).
What’s New for 2018?
The first thing you might notice is the TaylorMade M4 logo looks very similar to that of a certain line of high-performance European luxury brand automobiles whose slogan is “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. Perhaps the similarity is coincidence but we know better. Beyond the new graphics, there just happens to be some serious innovation going on here. New for 2018, Taylor-Made introduced TWIST FACE technology for greater accuracy, a new slot technology called “HAMMERHEAD” (shown above), for better ball speeds on primarily on lower face strikes, and it’s second addition of its Geocoustic sound enhancing shaped clubhead.
The new silver crown on the latest M metalwoods looks every bit as sporty as the past versions with white trim. Notice the newly raised crown ridge on the toe portion of the carbon-fiber section, a subtle uptick in aerodynamics.
M4 features a red accent at the back of the crown (M3 has blue).
If there’s a better looking big stick on the market, I’ve yet to see it. It should be no surprise that we gave M4 an A+ in the looks department.
TWIST FACE on the TaylorMade M4 is really what the buzz is all about with the M3 & M4. Since the drivers of today all deliver big on distance, TaylorMade set out to create a way to help keep that distance in the shortgrass. I’ll attempt to give you the abridged version. Typically the two most common types of mishits for golfers with the driver are: High toe hit- (typically an inside out swing path) results in a low ball flight that dives left. Low heel hit – (typically an outside in path) produces a high spinning floater that sails way right. In traditional bulge and roll technology (that has been the standard for what seems like forever), that was created based on robot testing, these same mishits would curve back towards the target (it seemed like legit data), but in real human swings that vary in path, angle of attack and face direction, these shots more often than not would produce results with far worse results than the old “Iron Byron” robot showed.
TaylorMade tested tens of thousands of human swings and their data showed that some things could be changed in order to help bring those typical mis-hits closer to the fairway. Hence, Twist Face was born and introduced in the new M3 and TaylorMade M4.
So, How does the TWIST FACE concept work?
Providing a slightly more open high toe section with a fraction more loft, TWIST FACE is designed to enable the toe hit to start slightly more to the right (instead of that diving hook that finds the hazard or OB stakes left) veering it’s way back closer towards the fairway. To the other extreme, the low heel hit will play in more of a closed position – lessening the high right “crop duster” that plagues so many (including some of the world’s best like Rory McIlroy).
Can you actually see TWIST FACE on the TaylorMade M4? No, what you see on the commercial and in advertisements is an exaggerated example of the technology – it’s not noticeable to the naked eye (The actual amount of twist in each clubface area is less than a degree). Does it really work? We’ll discuss our findings during the test portion of this review.
The 41-gram rear weight bumper helps boost MOI making the TaylorMade M4 TM’s most forgiving driver. Geocoustic isn’t a new feature for TaylorMade, but it returns in an updated version for ’18 after being introduced in last year’s M2. Geocoustic is advanced sole shaping that delivers a sound that’s a bit more explosive than most TaylorMade drivers of the past, we really liked the bold tone of impact – it’s a subliminal anthem directed at your foursome serving notice that you just crushed one deep. According to TaylorMade, “As a by-product (of Geocoustic), the sole contouring frees up volume in the clubhead, allowing us to produce a bigger clubface with a 67% larger sweet spot.” Who doesn’t like a larger sweet spot?
TaylorMade’s other innovation that’s been overlooked by many industry folks is their new HAMMERHEAD slot technology. In my opinion, it just might be the most significant, and here’s why: 1) It’s not a secret that last year, TaylorMade’s chief rival – Callaway introduced their “Jailbreak Technology” in their EPIC model. The rest is history, TaylorMade lost its hold on as the No.1 driver status (that it had for well over a decade). 2) TaylorMade M4 had to make a counterpunch and create a technology of their own that accomplishes at least the same level of performance. Brand loyalty is huge, but losing yards can threaten even the most loyal consumer. There was no choice, HAMMERHEAD is the correct volley for TaylorMade just from an actual performance comparison standpoint. 2b) TWIST FACE is a big deal for TM to get back on top in the marketplace, but HAMMERHEAD is like the O-Line on a football team, nobody pays any attention to it, until you don’t have a good one. Without it, you’re toast.
With so many of us product reviewers using incredible new technologies to track performance data, keeping ball speeds up even on those low face hits (distance killers) is essential. Anyone can create a driver that goes far when hit dead center, but when you can produce nearly the same yardage when hit all over the face, you’ve got a keeper. B+ on the Innovation ledger.
Gametime Setup/Stock offering
Sharp and clean at address (a solid A grade here), the M4 sets up really square. Fujikura Atmos Red comes standard as the stock powerplant offering on M4 (Mitsubishi Tensei White comes standard on the new M3). Atmos is geared towards fitting a wider spectrum of golfers, so due to its slightly softer profile and its high launch/mid spin, we had ours delivered in X flex. If you prefer TM offers customizing your M4 with Fujikura, Aldila, Matrix, Oban, True Temper, UST, Graphite Design and Mitsibishi as your choices of upgrade in shaft (most with no upcharge).
Our indoor test center was the PGA Learning Center in Port St.Lucie, technology powered by Foresight Sports GC Quad.
Testing is always a pleasure at the PGA Learning Center in Port St.Lucie on their Foresight GC Quad. The TaylorMade M4 produced consistent results. Throwing out the longest/shortest drives, the average = 102.3 mph swing speed, 152 ball speed, 13.6 launch, 2336 backspin, 236L side spin (draw), 252 yards carry/283 total yards (10 yards left of the centerline). Typically about as good as I can do from a performance standpoint.
I was most interested in what HAMMERHEAD and TWIST FACE would do for my misses. The new slot technology actually did show improvement on those low face hits that for me are normally about a 10% drain of carry distance (with last years TM model). Instead, with M4 it was closer to a 3% loss of carry. Wow! That could be the difference between carrying it over a hazard or bunker (before 225 yards – now 245).
I tried to discern if TWIST FACE was influencing the flight shape of my mishits in the simulator, but since you don’t get a true sense of ball flight indoors, I took the testing outdoors for multiple sessions both on the range and in game mode. What I found was interesting, it did seem like my high toe hits stayed right of what I expected when I was sure the hard draw would be the result. When I’m swinging well, the mid-high toe portion of the face is where I’ll tend to miss, but a few shots that came out of that spot (that usually comeback left) just stayed right. In other words my typical push draw just simply became a push. I noticed nothing different when I came out of swing and caught the shot on the low heel- still a spinny up shooter that looks like a right handed batter that pushed one towards “Pesky’s Pole”. So after several rounds, I collected no definitive data or opinion on TWIST FACE. It’s my belief that it may help a slight miss off the high toe, but also don’t expect that topspin push draw to come back as much. My suggestion: with TWIST FACE learn to aim a bit more down the middle. Is that such a bad thing . . .
The TaylorMade M4 is worthy . For those who want the latest tee box basher with the sound and feel we’ve come to expect from TaylorMade it passes all of the exams. Throw in ample forgiveness and performance minus all of the uber adjustability options (and at a cheaper price $429 to M3 at $499). Somehow, Bazzel, Tomo and the guys at TaylorMade are still finding ways to create better drivers. How much better is it than prior M products is up for debate, but if you’re still gaming outdated technology, the TaylorMade M4 could be the right choice for your game this summer (overall grade A-). As always, to make sure you get in the right set up for your game, go get fit by a certified club fitter.
For more info on TaylorMade products: taylormadegolf.com/