CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Standing over the ball, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. And that's the point.
TaylorMade's M1 driver, which has been an overwhelming success since launch, now has a sibling, named M2.
The M1, which PGA champion Jason Day put in the bag and won with at the BMW Championship in September, represented a watershed moment for the company -- not only in terms of restoring what the company feels is its rightful place in the market but also in terms of how it packages technology in a driver.
M1 was the company's first driver to use carbon-fiber materials in the crown, moving on from titanium after their engineers came to the conclusion that they couldn't stretch it any thinner and improve overall performance. The T-track adjustability system on the sole offered a refined packaging that gave the golfer more on-board options to custom fit the product in real time. Consider it TaylorMade's Bentley. And it carries a Bentley price tag. At $500 (OK, $499), M1 was a clear indication that modern technology needed a modern price.
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However, millions of golfers aren't ready, willing or able to pay quite that much for a new driver, even one considered on the cutting edge. That's where M2 fits.
The company positions M2 as a driver that sports similar technology as M1 -- namely, the carbon-fiber crown and the 5 grams of weight savings it offers -- but at a more every-golfer price point: $400.
The idea behind M2 is to take the discretionary weight savings from the carbon-fiber crown and leaving out the T-track system and putting it low and back to drive the center of gravity in the same direction. TaylorMade engineers brought in a redesigned SpeedPocket to help deliver more ball speed at impact, reduce spin and protect against off-center hits. Trademark inverted-cone technology has been refined and has enlarged the M2 driver's sweet spot.
The M2 driver -- available in 9.5-, 10.5- and 12-degree stock lofts -- also has 12 hosel-based adjustments, which was something missing in the AeroBurner line, which M2 essentially replaces. Golfer feedback was clear: Hosel adjustability was a must, and they brought it back after offering a second-tier bonded driver.
The stock shafts with M2 are Fujikura Pro, with the 60 in extra stiff and stiff options and the 50 in regular. A TaylorMade M2 Rexx 45 shaft comes in ladies flex. Continuing what has become a short-term (read: this isn't going to last forever) trend in the industry, TaylorMade is offering more than 30 aftermarket shafts without an up-charge.
So, why stick the M name on another product line? TaylorMade believes strongly in the concepts behind the M1 line, and they wanted to carry that through to a line that's more affordable and designed to enhance the weaknesses shared by a broad set of golfers. Rather than trying to differentiate its offerings by name -- and maybe shooting themselves in the foot in the process -- TaylorMade chose to corral its top two products into one family so as to join them together. That idea carries through the rest of the M2 line, including fairway woods, hybrids and irons -- the last of which we'll cover in a separate piece.
The M2 fairway woods may well be the stars of the new line. The company touts them as their longest-ever fairway wood -- a claim that typically draws rolling eyes, but testing revealed these fairways to have massive distance. That's appealing to about a 60-40 split of TaylorMade's tour staff, which is divided into players who want max distance with their fairways and players who want their fairways to fit within a specific range of distance.
The idea was to create a head with a shallower face and overall height while speading out for a larger footprint. The carbon-fiber crown carries through from the M drivers and is bonded to a heavy steel body, while a nickel-cobalt C300 face combines with the company's most flexible SpeedPocket. In the process of trying to push the pocket technology further and to its maximum flexibility, TaylorMade engineers learned that the pursuit of flex was negatively impacting sound and feel. Thinking they had to pull back for this M2 line, they stumbled on an answer: a fluted hosel. The hosel is elongated compared to other generations of fairways, but the fluting saved 3 grams that could be put back into the head to maintain center of gravity projections.
The M2 fairway woods are bonded, sans an adjustable hosel sleeve.
They retail for $250 and are available in 15-, 16.5-, 18-, 21- and 24- (RH only) degree options and come stock with a TaylorMade Reax 65 (S, X), 55 (R, M) or 45 (L) shaft.
The M2 hybrids ($200 each) fit the family, but they have a distinctive look and design all their own. Most notably, the hybrids don't have a carbon-fiber crown, and they have an all-black look at address, even without so much as an alignment marker or company logo on top. Like the AeroBurner product it replaces, the M2 hybrids have a fairway wood-like profile for high launch and distance.
The latest generation SpeedPocket and fluted hosel carry down from the fairway woods, and the hybrids are bonded.
The M2 hybrids come in four lofts: 19-, 22-, 25- (RH only) and 28- (RH only) degrees with the stock TaylorMade Reax 45 (L), 55 (M), 65 (R) or 75 (S) shaft.