TaylorMade Golf is back with new drivers for 2018, carrying forward the M line with the M3 and M4 drivers. And the thing you'll hear about most with these drivers is Twist Face. Twist Face, Twist Face, Twist Face.
And for good reason.
With M3 and M4, TaylorMade is betting that you're going to love hitting all of your bad drives better, and they're banking on Twist Face as a compelling answer to those problems.
So how did Twist Face come about? First, a little history lesson.
For a century, golf driver faces have been fashioned with some rendition of bulge and roll. Bulge is a curvature from heel to tee which helps reduce side-to-side dispersion. Roll is the curvature of the face from crown to sole which helps deliver ideal ball flight. There have been variations on bulge-and-roll, but the technology has pretty well been a mainstay since persimmon and hickory met. On testing robots, companies like TaylorMade would test bulge-and-roll on shots struck off-center (but still swung well), and they'd see the ball come back to the center line. It was great. But why weren't golfers experiencing the same low dispersion as a robot? That seems self-evident -- we're not robots --- but the thinking led to some digging which led to a lot of data.
Looking at 100,000s of shots on launch monitors like TrackMan and the GC Quad and then looking at impact location, the company began to realize golfers hit the ball in a specific, diagonal pattern along the face. You either hit the ball in the center of the face (yay!), the upper toe (snap hook) or the low heel (high fade, usually). You don't really hit the ball on the low toe or high heel. However, bulge-and-roll in those places wasn't producing that 0-sum dispersion from a robot.
Hence, Twist Face was born as TaylorMade's solution.
With Twist Face, the face design is, well, twisted to look kind of like a Pringles chip. On the center of the face, the ideal strike zone, the face has a more traditional center spot. It works; don't mess with it. However, on the upper toe, TaylorMade has added more loft. When you hit that scummy duck hook, it typically goes low and left and dies quickly. Now, with this added loft, there's a little more spin, a little more height, some more distance and less average dispersion. On the low heel, TaylorMade's Twist Face has less loft, meaning you'll hit that high, weak fade a little less to the right and with a slightly more boring trajectory so it flies farther.
As it turns out, the duck hook kills the most distance and flies the most offline. TaylorMade's Twist Face takes their average 8-yard-left dispersion on duck-hooks and drops it down to an average of 2 yards left of center. On the heel shot, the traditional bulge-and-roll offered slightly less dispersion, about 6 yards right on average. With Twist Face, that's down to 1 yard. So, from 14 yards of total average dispersion to 3 yards.
After experiencing Twist Face in a 45-minute fitting session at TaylorMade's The Kingdom in Carlsbad, Calif., I saw the benefits first-hand. Particularly with duck hooks, Twist Face seems to allow the ball to hang in the air longer and not fly as wildly offline. Bad swings are still bad swings, and they'll still produce bad results, but the results will be less bad. The not-so-bad swings will still produce not-so-bad results, but they'll be closer to the intended line. And great drives go as far as ever. I got one out of the range on a hop, something I hadn't done with several other drivers at The Kingdom in the past.
You won't notice Twist Face. The way the club has been designed, TaylorMade has taken the visual cues of what's happening in the face out of the equation. It's not a distraction. You'll even spend some time trying to figure out if the face is really curved differently. It is. Just trust it, or you'll stare at a prop-sized exaggeration of the technology like I did for an hour.
So, Twist Face is going to be part of TaylorMade's driver plans from now on, the company says. They're not in the M3 or M4 fairway woods for a few reasons: They haven't miniaturized it yet for fairways, and the need isn't as great as with driver. But that's coming, and, too, an over-time evolution of the material design of Twist Face.
TaylorMade's M3 and M4 drivers are fascinating, and they have an intriguing tech story. The question is: Will you buy what is billed as a straighter driver, or will you chase more distance on those often elusive center strikes?