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It hasn’t been the kind of year TaylorMade adidas Golf was looking for. Others can certainly relate, just perhaps not on the scale TMaG has seen its business drop off. Many in the industry have wondered how the company will respond to its first down year in a long time. The first clues have surfaced as TaylorMade announced RSi irons featuring Face Slot Technology.
In an interesting twist, the teaser campaign leading up to the announcement was titled mis-hits happen, which could be one way to explain the company’s performance in 2014. Nevertheless, TMaG has revealed its next generation of irons to help improve not only recreational players’ games but company revenues too. According to TaylorMade, 76% of all iron shots are mis-hits struck outside the center of the face. This discovery led the company to the development of a new technology, designed to improve consistency and distance on off-center hits.
“Face Slot Technology provides greater consistency across the face, giving players improved performance on mis-hits,” said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade’s Director of Product Creation for Irons, Putters & Wedges. “No golfer is perfect, not even the best players in the world hit the center of the club every time. So with RSi, we’re giving all golfers a technology that can help their mis-hits perform more like pure strikes.”
The company has taken what it’s learned from the development of the Speed Pocket technology (introduced two years ago) and applied it to the iron face to activate the toe and heel areas to provide more uniform flexion across the face and protect ball speed on off-center hits. Only available with RSi, Face Slots are found in the 3-8 irons. Positioned at the toe and heel, just outside the score lines and vertically spanning 35 to 38mm (depending on the iron number), the slots are cut all the way through the face and filled with an epoxy compound. The heel and toe slots allow the face to flex easily and protect ball speed for more consistent distance across the face. In addition to Face Slots, the RSi iron features ThruSlot technology – engineered to activate the lower portion of the face by minimizing speed reduction and creating higher launch on shots hit below center. Like Face Slots, the Speed Pocket (found in the 3-7 irons), according to TaylorMade, protects ball speed, launch angle and spin rate, especially on shots struck low on the face.
The family of RSi irons features three models; each designed to appeal to the performance needs of different player types. RSi 1 features TaylorMade’s Advanced Face Design – the company’s thinnest face ever, a deep undercut and Inverted Cone Technology (to extend the COR zone) in order to promote greater ball speed. In addition, a stabilized head structure and multiple dampening systems resulted in improved sound and feel. The new Reax 90 steel shaft from True Temper helps optimize ball flight for max distance and performance.
The most resounding characteristic of the RSi 2, according to TaylorMade, is the Progressive Multi-Material Construction. The 3-5 irons are cast from 450 stainless steel with tungsten weighting to promote a lower CG and slightly higher flight. The mid irons (6-7) are cast of 450 stainless steel, as well. The high-strength material allowed engineers to make the face thinner, TaylorMade said, undercuts deeper and accommodate slot technology. The short irons (8, 9, PW) incorporate forged faces to promote feel and accuracy; and the wedges are completely forged, giving them the look, feel and workability desired by better players. RSi 2 irons come stock with the all-new KBS Tour 105 shaft. “The RSi 2 provides the ideal blend of performance and beauty,” said Bystedt. “We have combined a progressive multi-material construction with our most innovative performance technologies to provide the best of all worlds in a slim, beautiful package.”
The RSi TP irons combine the forged look and feel preferred by better players with Face Slot Technology. An advanced two-piece construction blends a premium 1025 forged carbon steel hosel/face with a 431 stainless steel back using plasma welding in the 3-7 irons. This construction provides the precision and feel of a forged iron with the advanced geometry of cast irons. The short irons (8-PW) are classic forged heads with a slight muscle cavity.  RSi TP irons come stock with the Tour-proven KBS Tour Steel Shaft.
“The RSi TP irons were developed to deliver launch, consistency and feel to take performance to the next level for our Tour Professionals,” added Bystedt. “The shapes of these irons will be instantly pleasing to better players and will have the feel and workability that golfers expect in a forged product. It really is the best combination of performance, look and feel that we’ve created for the world’s best players.”
Both RSi 1 ($799 steel; $899 graphite) and RSi 2 ($999 steel; $1199 graphite) will be available to demo at select TaylorMade retailers on October 15, 2014. Sets (3-PW) can be purchased beginning on November 14, 2014. Individual gap, sand and lob wedges will be available in the RSi 1; while only gap and sand wedges will be available in RSi 2. RSi TP ($1199) will be at retail starting on January 15, 2015.