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When the TaylorMade R9 landed in the Golf Monthly office there were no shortage of possible takers. The simple, classic looks combined with face and weight adjustability meant that just about every member of the GM team (high and low handicappers alike) could see a possible benefit of having it in the bag.
But having travelled to Spain to be there as it was secretly unveiled to Sergio Garcia, written a three page world exclusive feature about the R9 and then attended the official launch in Dubai, I felt it was my right to be the first to take it for a spin. Needless to say, the R9 spent just a few hours in the office before it made its way into my bag!
On Friday the GM team travelled to Remedy Oak in Dorset for our first official office ‘Order of Merit’ event of the year and so I had the chance to see it in action. The first thing I noticed is that the impact noise is ‘duller’ than previous r7 offerings - this gives it an extremely powerful feel. I found it produced good distance (although not noticeably longer then my previous model) and impressive control. As I became more confident with my driving I felt comfortable shaping the ball off the tee with the R9 – a very helpful attribute on a tight tree-lined course.
Overall, the TaylorMade R9 is a very impressive driver that looks as good in the bag as it does behind the ball. Set to a neutral setting on the course, I had previously tinkered with the weights and face angle on the range. This is really good fun to do and will certainly help many golfers find benefits such as straighting up a crooked flight. For anyone looking in the driver market, this is well worth a try!
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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