Golf is so popular, in part, because, unlike other sports, there are moments when an amateur can do what a pro can do. Of course, ability and a willingness to practice the golf swing matter greatly in how well someone performs on the links, but nothing matters as much as having leading edge golf equipment. And no company embodies technology innovation in golf more than TaylorMade.
Whether its TaylorMade drivers or putters, golf balls, footwear or apparel, the company, based in Carlsbad, Calif., has always challenged conventional thinking and invested heavily in research and development. Take, for example, the amazingly successful introduction and widespread adoption of the r7 quad driver. This high-end golf club utilizes revolutionary technology that can significantly improve the distance and accuracy a player can achieve off the tee.
Almost overnight the r7 became the number one driver model on the PGA Tour last year at the EDS Byron Nelson Classic. Sergio Garcia gave the r7 its first win in only its fifth week after introduction. The r7 has been the number one driver model on the PGA Tour ever since, relates John Steinbach, director of public relations. An even more impressive statistic is that the r7 has beaten or tied every other manufacturer’s entire driver brand count in 34 out of 37 events to date this year on the PGA Tour. “At TaylorMade, we do more than imagine revolutionary performance technologies, we make them reality,” said Mark King, President and CEO. “The r7 quad was conceived and created by the brightest minds in the golf industry, and we’re confident that it will help golfers to realize their true potential in terms of distance and accuracy off the tee.”
TaylorMade-adidas Golf, one of the largest golf club manufacturers in the world, is a subsidiary of adidas-Salomon A.G. When TaylorMade, Salomon and adidas joined forces in 1998 it brought together some of the most innovative companies in their fields. The adidas Group is one of the world’s largest producers of sports clothing and shoes with sales topping $6 billion each year. Across the planet, the adidas name is synonymous with soccer, as well as high performance footwear for a vast variety of sports, including golf. Salomon is known as the worldwide leader in skiing and snowboarding.
TaylorMade was founded by Gary Adams, an entrepreneur whose father was a local golf pro in McHenry, Ill. Adams began the business in 1979 by believing that metal woods, once used only by non-golfers at driving ranges, could replace traditional woods. He teamed up with an aerospace engineer from Portland, Ore., to make the first TaylorMade metal woods. The companies didn’t take off until Jim Simons won the Bing Crosby Pro Am at Pebble Beach in 1982 using TaylorMade metal woods. Even though pro Ron Streck had won the Houston Open a year earlier using TaylorMade metal woods, it was the high-profile, nationally televised Simons victory that immediately influenced golfers around the world to consider switching from regular woods to metal woods. Says Steinbach, TaylorMade took notice of the way in which non-professionals would adopt innovative products used by pros, a phenomenon he called the “pyramid of influence.” Today, stars Retief Goosen, Kenny Perry, Dave Stockton, Natalie Gulbis, Sergio Garcia and Paula Creamer use TaylorMade clubs. With such acceptance at the highest level of the game, more than just pros began to buy into the latest TaylorMade technological advancement.
A little TLC
Based on a remarkable new technology called TaylorMade Launch Control (TLC), the r7 gives players the freedom to change the driver’s launch conditions by redistributing 24 grams of discretionary weight in a variety of ways. While the average driver delivers a single set of launch conditions, the r7 quad delivers six, allowing the player to choose the one that generates maximum distance, accuracy and workability. “If your driver’s launch conditions don’t match up with your individual swing characteristics, you’re losing distance,” said Chief Technical Officer Dr. Benoit Vincent. “By providing a range of launch conditions in one club, we’ve given players the opportunity to find a combination of spin-rate and launch angle that will allow them to achieve maximum distance and accuracy.”
Like many clubs created by TaylorMade, the r7 quad was inspired by the suggestions of tour professionals. TaylorMade engineers wondered if it was possible to devise a driver that could deliver multiple launch conditions. The idea for the r7 quad gained momentum when TaylorMade’s R&D staff began exploring methods to redistribute clubhead weight in order to enhance driver performance.
To make it possible to redistribute clubhead weight, TaylorMade engineers devised a system of four ports, called TLC ports, which are located in the sole of the clubhead. At the same time they developed differently weighted cartridges, called TLC cartridges, which can easily be installed in the TLC ports and removed again. Installing different-weighted TLC cartridges in different configurations in the TLC ports shifts the center of gravity (CG) toward the front or the back or toward the heel or the toe. Each CG location delivers a new set of launch conditions based upon the player’s personal performanceneeds. “There are many, many golfers who have played the game for years with drivers whose launch conditions aren’t close to being right for them,” says Senior Vice President of Brand Management and Creation Sean Toulon. “These players are sitting on distance reserves that are waiting to be tapped by a driver that will provide them launch conditions that fit their swing. TLC allows you to easily switch between several sets of launch conditions. It allows you to find the launch conditions that work best with your swing so that you can exercise your true distance potential.”
From tee to green
Although TaylorMade is most widely known for its superior drivers, the company has proven itself equally innovative in other areas. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Maxfli Golf, has introduced a premium, tour-caliber golf ball called BlackMAX that’s engineered to compete with the Titleist Pro V1, Titleist Pro V1x and Callaway HX Tour.
BlackMAX is a multilayer ball, its parts including a large Neodymium rubber core, a firm, thin ionomer mantle and an ultra-thin cast thermoset urethane cover. Neodymium rubber is an uncommon core material because it is the most difficult polybutadiene rubber to process, yet Maxfli chose this material because it offers a superior combination of high Coefficient of Restitution (COR) and low compression. That equals high velocity off the clubface, yet soft feel at impact.
BlackMAX’s thin ionomer mantle serves a dual function. Off the driver it works with the core to help minimize backspin. Low spin-rate, when combined with a high launch angle, creates launch conditions that promote maximum distance. Off the irons, especially short irons, BlackMAX’s soft urethane cover is compressed between the mantle and the clubface, giving the clubface traction as it strikes the ball with downward force. That creates sufficient backspin to make the ball “grab” the green and quickly come to a stop. “The degree of spin that BlackMAX delivers off wedges is crucial,” says Dean Snell, senior director of golf ball R&D. “Many players find that other balls in this category tend to spin too much, making it difficult to put the ball close to the flag. BlackMAX is engineered to bounce once and stop quickly without rolling too long but also without spinning back too far. We call it ‘spin control,’ and it makes it easier to put the ball near the hole on shots in the scoring zone, from about 100 yards and less.”
Yet another innovation is the Tour 360, a tour-level product built with the serious athlete in mind. It won the prestigious ispovision Global SportStyle Award this year for Men’s Footwear. The 360 comes from the combination of technologies it employs and the way that they “surround” the foot, providing tremendous stability and support. In fact, the Tour 360 offers the most comprehensive package of performance technologies of any shoe that adidas Golf has ever introduced. New technologies include:
• 360 wrap with independent forefoot and heel: Delivers exceptional support that helps to keep the foot centered within the shoe, ensuring a solid hitting platform and enhanced stability.
• 3D Fit Foam Sock Liner: The new sock liner features three different densities of foam. The first density is a base layer of polyurethane that delivers long-lasting support from heel-to-toe; the second density is a cushioning foam layer in the heel for added comfort; the third density is a memory-foam layer positioned in the forefoot to create a personalized fit.
• Anti-Clog Outsole: The clear TPU outsole features improved spacing between the lugs, a smooth surface and an absence of sharp angles, all of which work together to reduce the likelihood of grass and debris catching, clogging and sticking to the outsole. Less clogging promotes better traction from shot to shot.
• TPU Toe-Drag: Protects the leather from the normal wear and tear on the toe that occurs during the follow-through, when the weight is shifted fully onto the left foot (for right-handed players) and the right toe drags.
• “No-Slip” Tongue: The no-slip pattern on the top of the tongue keeps the tongue centered on top of the foot for increased comfort.
• Performance Lining: The two-material lining is a first for adidas Golf. Placing ultra-suede leather in the collar, heel and tongue provides a luxurious feel while minimizing the movement of the foot within the shoe. A moisture-wicking mesh lining encases the rest of the foot to help keep the foot cool, dry and comfortable.
Other products include two new hybrid models, one of which is the Rescue dual TP. Engineered for skilled players, the Rescue dual TP incorporates TaylorMade’s movable weight technology, and also features two TaylorMade Launch Control (TLC) ports positioned low in the back of the clubhead, near the heel and toe. Installing TLC cartridges of differing weights in the TLC ports allows the player to move the clubhead’s CG toward the toe or the heel to promote varying degrees of draw bias and fade bias, as well as to promote a neutral, or straight, ball flight. Likewise, players can change the Rescue dual TP’s swing weight, depending on the combined weight of the TLC cartridges installed in the TLC ports.
A clear expression of TaylorMade’s commitment to providing tour pros and skilled players with an iron that combines beauty, playability and workability is inherent in the company’s new rac Forged TP. The letters TP stand for “Tour Preferred” because, like the rest of TaylorMade’s renowned TP line of golf equipment, every aspect of the rac Forged TP was honed with the input and feedback of some of the best tour pros in the world. It is, in both looks and performance, a clear expression of TaylorMade’s commitment to melding authenticity with high performance.
The Forged TP incorporates a new, superior application of TaylorMade’s patented rac technology, which allows TaylorMade engineers to direct impact vibration to strategic areas of the clubhead to deliver unparalleled feel. In the two years since it was introduced, TaylorMade engineers have perfected the use of rac technology, resulting in more effective vibration control. Key to this superior rac performance is the shape of the Forged TP’s cavity pad and its precisely designed Feel Pockets. These Feel Pockets work in concert with the muscular cavity pad to efficiently dispose of unwanted vibration to promote extraordinary feel at impact – the kind of feel associated with a traditional muscleback blade.
So whether it’s driving like a pro from the tee with an r7 or holing a putt with a Rossa, TalorMade’s premier putting brand, great golfers and those yearning to be great have one thing in common, the desire to use the best equipment to give them an edge. And week in and week out on the pro tour or among friends on the fairways its TaylorMade that usually sits atop the leader board.