TAYLORMADE r7 XD Irons 3-PW w/Steel Shaft
Find it at Global Golf
Teacher’s Comments: An apparent oxymoron: a good looking set of game improvement irons. These clubs are just begging to be hit hard.
Thanks to the nice spring weather we’ve had here in Michigan, I’ve now had a chance to play five complete rounds with the new TaylorMade R7 XD Irons.
I’ll have to admit that after the first round, I was not at all sure that these irons were good for me. I got good distance but the balls tended to fly every which way but straight. But I thought that it could just be spring rust, so I played on.
Things didn’t improve on the second round. I loved the R7XD sand and pitching wedges, and the seven iron was a perfect chipping and pitching weapon, but I couldn’t get any of the rest of the clubs to behave on a full swing.
Finally, on the third hole of the third round, I got angry at them. I was around 155 to the hole on a slight uphill lie. Normally a six: but I felt like whacking something hard and pulled out the seven. Making a full turn, I laid into the ball hard. That’s normally a disastrous recipe for me, but I didn’t care. And to my surprise, the ball took off like it was shot out of a howitzer and flew straight at the pin, landing behind the hole
That’s interesting, I thought. I finished the hole for a par. On the next, I hit a good drive that left me in the fairway. Again, I took one club less and belted it. Same good result.
As it turns out, that’s the secret: these clubs are just begging to be hit hard. The perimeter weighting keeps the ball on line, and the wide soles prevent digging—even on Michigan’s soft spring fairways. Even better, the tuned performance cartridge keeps the impact from sending shockwaves through your arms.
So I’ve continued to hit them hard, and they have continued to please. They balls fly very straight, but by adjusting my setup, I also have been able to hit a slight fade. I couldn’t tell you whether the clubs would permit a draw. I have never been able to hit a draw. This is not to say that you need to put any extraordinary effort into hitting them. You just need to make the full turn, swing and follow-through that your swing coach has always encouraged. These clubs decisively reward a solid swing.
Two things about these irons stand out for me. The first is that they are very forgiving. With my prior set, an aggressive swing was often rewarded with an off-line shot. I often would often hold back a bit to ensure clean contact on the sweet spot. With the R7 XDs, I don’t worry about it. They’re very forgiving. The forgiveness of these irons is something akin to the forgiveness of the TaylorMade drivers. I don’t seem to be able to hit a truly bad shot with my R7 driver. And in 2+ rounds with the R7 XD irons, I have not hit a bad shot (not all were great, but none were truly bad).
TaylorMade says that the R7XD irons’ forgiveness is due to the application of their Inverted Cone Technology (what makes their drivers so forgiving) to their irons. The Inverted Cone is milled onto the back side of the titanium clubface. From the back it looks less like a cone than like a series of small terraces. The cone is said to increase the club’s sweet spot, which means that the club will deliver more ball speed across a wider area of the club face. TaylorMade was able to mill the back side of the clubface because the head is actually constructed from two pieces. The face is a lightweight, thin piece of titanium. And the body is a steel frame. And therein lies another key to the club’s forgiveness. Weight savings from the face are allocated to the perimeter of the irons, increasing the moment of inertia (resistance to twisting). This helps to keep the ball on line on off center hits.
More weight is saved and redistributed as a result of what TaylorMade calls its Tuned Performance Cartridge. The other thing that stands out for me is the distance. I’m about three quarters of a club longer with the R7 XDs than I was with my Snake Eyes forged irons.(note that the Snake Eyes had R-Flex graphite shafts, and the XDs have stiff steel.) My old 150 yard reference club was an easy six or a hard seven. Now, a six is just too long for 150. Part of that, I am sure, is due to the fact that I am hitting them harder. The forgiveness of these irons makes it easy to do that. The other part probably has to do with TaylorMade’s management of launch conditions—what gives these clubs the R7 designation. With all of the high tech built into them, these clubs make it very easy to get the ball up high into the air. To compensate for that, TaylorMade strengthened the lofts. The result is a ball that gets up easily and yet has a boring trajectory.
As you can tell, I like these clubs a lot. On a 7,000+ yard prairie course last week, in the teeth of a strong wind, I shot a 93. The fact that I was able to control the ball flight with all of those powerful cross, facing and tail winds, speaks volumes.
A final word about the club’s cosmetics: Overall, I think that these are a good looking set. They don’t have the elegance of a classic set of blades, but neither do they have the volkswagen-on-a-stick look that other game-improvement irons possess. TaylorMade says that they have a “thick topline”, and I suppose that they do, but when standing at address, I really don’t notice it. There’s enough roundness to the lines to take the edge off of it. I especially appreciate the understated R7XD logo on the back. The designers have stifled the urge to paste a garish R7 label on the backside. Instead, they positioned a small, triangular medallion. Nice.