Most golfers say the one thing they want, more than anything else, from their equipment is distance. Feel comes up a lot. Accuracy does, too. But the most common response is wanting to hit the ball longer.
The pursuit of distance -- without sacrificing the as-important-but-less-mentioned other traits -- has taken TaylorMade some fascinating places with its design. As always, though, the next iteration of their game-improvement iron design packages what they've long known and what they've recently learned into their next step forward.
That next step forward is away from the now-discarded M line and into the new flagship brand, SIM, which stands for Shape in Motion.
With the M line, the differentiation between the two annual models (M1 vs. M2, M3 vs. M4, M5 vs. M6) wasn't immediately easy for a consumer to understand. The irons often boasted similar features, but the odd-numbered irons were more compact and for slightly better players, while the even-numbered irons had a bigger profile and had more obvious game-improvement features. Now, with the SIM Max and SIM Max OS irons, the differentiation seems clearer: The OS irons are for players who need a little more help. From a marketing standpoint, that's a win.
From a design standpoint, the two irons still continue to share many of the same design features. The callout feature in these irons is an improved carryover from the M5-M6 line: Speed Bridge. Designers at TaylorMade created Speed Bridge as a way to offer more stability in their distance irons as thinner and thinner faces created stability challenges with the topline of the club and the perimeter of the clubface. By connecting the topline to the back of the iron, engineers could pursue thinner faces, more weight savings and increase ball speeds without worry about a face caving in.
The Speed Bridge has been improved in the SIM line, taking what the company learned from the M5/M6 irons. The face is now thinner (1.5 mm) than the M6 irons, and a heel-to-toe Thru-Slot Speed Pocket slot is in the 4-8 irons for face flexibility, particularly on low-struck shots. Not only does Speed Bridge provide structural stability, but it helps dampen vibration.
Both sets of irons feature a progressive draw bias, moving the Inverted Cone Technology on each iron, getting further out toward the toe in the longer irons, which is where a golfer typically misses with those clubs. The long irons also have thinner toplines than the M6.
The overall package represents a weight savings, too, to reposition for more forgiveness and lower center of gravity.
A fluted hosel saves further weight and also allows for easier customization through bending.
On the inside of the iron, a new ECHO Damping System stretches across the entire face and has what's dubbed Vibration Damping Channels that wrap around the entire structure for compression in the right places -- delivering "forged-like" feel in terms of recorded numbers and allowing the face and damping material to move without working against each other.
The SIM Max OS is basically SIM Max but bigger: specifically 1 mm taller in the toe and heel with 1 mm further of offset compared to SIM Max. The sole is wider but doesn't look that way thanks to a rear sole chamfer. The lofts are a touch stronger, too, but TaylorMade has sometimes used a correlation between lower CG and lower lofts to keep apex trajectory in check.
The TaylorMade SIM Max and SIM Max OS irons are available for pre-order now and available for retail on Feb. 7 for $900 with stock KBS Max 85 in steel shafts and for $1,000 in stock Ventus Blue in graphite shafts.