The new TaylorMade M3 and M4 family of woods are led by a pair of drivers that seek to change the technology landscape of the category.
But unlike others who have stretched the boundaries of new materials and construction techniques and mass properties, these new drivers are looking to mine something potentially deeper: data.
Both the M3 and M4 feature a unique multi-curved face design, what the company is calling “Twist Face.” Most drivers feature consistent curve from heel to toe (bulge) and from crown to sole (roll). The idea of bulge and roll is that the negative effects of spin and launch on off-center hits are counteracted by the proper face curvature. This is particularly true for bulge, which curves toe and heel shots that are launching with sidespin back toward the centerline for increased accuracy.
Or so went conventional thinking.
TaylorMade’s team studied hundreds of thousands of shots from elite and amateur players and found that the conventional bulge curvature they’d been employing wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing. Crediting research with Foresight Sports launch monitors that allowed engineers to match multiple elements of clubhead information with downrange dispersion, the numbers showed that shots hit high across the face tended to curve back too far to the left of center, while shots hit low on the face tended to curve back too far right of center (for a right-handed swing, the opposite would be true for a left-handed swing).
What the data was telling researchers is that golfers tended to swing outside to in with a closed face on high-face impacts, while doing just the opposite with low-face impacts.
“It’s only been within the last three years that we’ve had the ability to measure the impact location, the face to path, the loft at impact and that kind of information,” said Todd Beach, TaylorMade’s, senior vice president of research and development/engineering. “We’re now able to know ‘How did I present the club, where did I hit the ball and all that and when you combine that with Big Data, it’s a whole new frontier in terms of what we can do in club design. It’s a really exciting new next level of what we can do.
“This was something we didn’t even know was going on, and it took thousands and thousands of shots before we started seeing these trends.”
Beach said that while better players hit shots surprisingly off center, average players do it more often and thus would benefit even more.