Here's the thing about metalwoods: They're almost always behind the times when compared with their far more popular driver cousins. And it's for good reason. Drivers make the sale, and it's a little bit easier to play with new concepts in a 460cc head as opposed to a fairway wood that isn't used as often, doesn't go as far and is less than half the size.
However, for a lot of golfers, having a handy-dandy metalwood can be a game-changing development. They just often have to wait a generation or two to get similar benefits from the 1-wood in their bag.
The remarkable story with TaylorMade's M5 and M6 fairway woods is the company is taking the leap and going from steel to titanium. Most -- not all, but most -- major manufacturers use some form of high-strength or maraging steel to build their fairways. It's a little cheaper, but they figure the golfer won't fork over the added cost to have titanium in a club they might hit a few times per round. TaylorMade is taking the gamble the golfer wants the benefit and will pay for the material.
M5 fairway woods
In the M5 fairways, the company is replacing the steel body with titanium, giving them dramatically more discretionary weight to use for a massive 65-gram steel sole weight that can shift shot-shape bias along the sole. The shape of the weight affords a more forward and lower center of gravity for higher launch conditions and more consistent ball speeds.
The M5 fairway wood -- as well the M6 fairway wood -- boasts Twist Face for the first time. Although the face is smaller, the twist is bigger, and for good reason: fairway woods usually interact with the turf more, meaning there's going to be more club twisting through the swing.
The new build comes with a new sticker price: $400 per club. The M5 fairways are available for pre-order on Jan. 18 and at retail on Feb. 1 in a new Rocket 3 14-degree head (though there's no high-launch 13.5 or 13 option), as well 15- and 18-degree heads. The stock offering is the Mitsubishi CK Tensei Orange 75 (X) and 65 (S, R) with a variety of other options available at no upcharge.
The M6 fairway, while boasting Twist Face, is not all titanium. It's a blend of high-strength C330 steel and the 5-layer carbon-fiber crown. The story with the M6 is an improved speed pocket, filled with a TPU cover for better turf interaction while allowing the face to flex more on low-face hits. The center of gravity has been moved toward the center of the face for maximum ball speed at impact. A D-Type draw-biased version of the fairway is available to give up to 15 yards of side-to-side cover for players who slice.
The M6 and M6 D-Type fairways are $300 each, with the same availability dates. The M6 will offer 14-, 15-, 18-, 21- and 24-degree heads with Fujikura’s Atmos Orange FW shaft in S, R and A-flexes. The M6 D-Type will be offered in 16-, 19- and 22-degree lofts and come stock with the Project X EvenFlow Max Carry 50 shaft in S-, R- and A-flexes.
Hybrids (Rescues, in TaylorMade parlance)
For the new lineup, there's only an M6 Rescue for 2019. No M5. With the GAPR lineup, it makes sense to not bother with an M5 Rescue. Besides, the even-numbered M hybrid has always been bigger and more metalwood-like.
The M6 hybrid has Twist Face, like its metalwood cousin, but it's an all-steel operator. The Speed Pocket has been improved, like the fairway wood, to sit flush with a TPU cover for better turf interaction.
The M6 Rescue will run $250 each and is available in 19-, 22-, 25-, 28- and 31-degree heads with a stock Fujikura Atmos Orange HY shaft in S-, R- and A-flex for men. For women, the M6 Rescue will come in 22-, 25-, 28- and 31-degree heads with a stock proprietary TaylorMade Tuned Performance 45-gram L-flex shaft.