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Home Here We Go Again

You knew it was coming; it was only a matter of time. Perhaps the real question was whether they were going to include the kitchen sink? While there is still time left in the calendar year, TaylorMade’s fate has been known for some time. Sales have slumped due to the excess inventory it thrust on retailers starting a year ago. Yet, it doesn’t take an Economics Professor from M.I.T. to figure out the company was going to move forward as if nothing had happened. What will it take to turn the ship around and get its sales going in the right direction again? Recently, Herbert Hainer, adidas CEO attempted to calm the investment community when he said, “At TaylorMade-adidas Golf we have a very clean inventory.” It doesn’t speak to golf’s retailers, but that has never stopped it from doing what it wants.

And a week later its business as usual as TaylorMade announced its new R15 Series driver in Japan and now the American version has been unveiled. The company is borrowing on its illustrious past in an effort to rekindle interest with retailers and in turn consumers. The R Series has been a trusted ally for TaylorMade for many years as has been Burner, both of which are being re-enlisted for duty in 2015. TaylorMade is going with a double barrel approach for 2015 as it looks to push its way back into the conversation.

The R15 driver (available Jan. 9, 2015) comes in two head sizes (430cc and 460cc) and crown colors (black and white). The company is returning to its roots with the return of the non-glare, matte white crown that was originally introduced with the R11 driver in 2011 and was a part of the line until 2013 with the release of R1. 

r15burnerWhat is new to the R15 driver is the addition of a new Front Track system that features two 12.5-gram sliding weights (25 grams total) that shift the CG horizontally towards the heel or toe along a weight track to promote a fade or draw. For those wondering, the SLDR has one 20-gram weight. In the R15 the weights can also be split up and positioned in the extreme corners of the heel and toe for perimeter weighting and stability if players want.

The R15 continues on TMaG’s path of a center of gravity that's lower and more forward. The R15 460 ($429 retail) will be available in four lofts: 9.5, 10.5, 12 and 14 degrees with a white or gloss black crown and Fujikura's Speeder 57 Evolution shaft. The R15 430 (also $429) will be available in three lofts: 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees also with a white crown and Fujikura Speeder 67 Evolution shaft. TaylorMade said it would also offer an R15 Tour Preferred version ($499) that features an aftermarket Speeder Evolution 661 Tour Spec shaft and Lamkin UTx grip. More than 20 custom TP shafts are also available at no upcharge.

Similar to the weight track in the sole of the R15 driver, the R15 fairway wood features a 25-gram tungsten weight that can that can be positioned to produce a draw or fade. The track also has another benefit, according to the company, acting as a Speed Pocket that increases the sweet spot and decreases spin rate. 

Consumers will have four lofts to choose from in the TaylorMade's R15 fairway wood ($279, TP $349) at 15, 16.5, 19 and 20.5 degrees. It comes with an adjustable loft sleeve (plus or minus two degrees) and Fujikura's Speeder shaft. 

The R15 Rescue ($219, TP $289) features a 3-degree loft sleeve, an open channel Speed Pocket and a Fujikura's Speeder 77 shaft. Its head is only 99ccs and appears more “peanut” like in its shape.

According to TaylorMade, the name AeroBurner comes from the product's "advanced aerodynamics," a performance variable that TaylorMade's R&D department has used in the past to design faster driver heads. To improve the club head speed in the driver, fairway wood and rescue clubs, a small fin, called an "Aero hosel" was added to the heel of the club that reduces drag during the downswing, according to the company. A raised center crown and rounded toe section also help improve the aerodynamics of the club, TaylorMade said. 

Along with an aerodynamic design, the AeroBurner line has the largest Speed Pocket that TaylorMade says it has ever produced. The Speed Pocket in the sole allows the lower portion of the face to flex more “effectively” at impact.

TaylorMade's 460cc AeroBurner driver ($300), will be available at retail starting on Jan. 9, 2015. The driver will be available in four lofts (9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees) as well as a High Loft version. Remember the Loft Up campaign from not so long ago? The AeroBurner driver will also come in a Tour Preferred version (of course it will) that has a Matrix Ozik 6X4 White Tie shaft and longer .335 hosel that allows for a variety of TP shaft offerings. It will have a  $70 upcharge.

The AeroBurner fairway wood is a blend of two of TaylorMade's past iterations, incorporating the RocketBallz fairway channel and the through slot of the JetSpeed fairway wood. Combining the two designs creates a larger Speed Pocket in combination with an extremely low and forward center of gravity (CG), TaylorMade said. The face size of the fairway wood is also 2.5mm shallower for better playability from the turf, and the sweet spot (COR) it's reportedly double the size, once again according to TaylorMade.  
AeroBurner (retail $230) fairway metals are standard with a 43.25-inch Matrix Speed RUL-Z 60 shaft that's shorter than previous fairway wood offerings. The fairway wood comes in four models (3, 3-HL, 5, 5-HL and 7) with a non-adjustable hosel. 

The AeroBurner Rescue ($200 with a Matrix RUL-Z 70 shaft) has a larger open channel Speed Pocket; a white crown and black contrasting face; and a crown alignment. It is shortened by 1/2-inch to improve playability and forgiveness, according to the company.

In addition to the standard version, TaylorMade will offer an AeroBurner TP fairway wood ($300) and TP Rescue ($270) that sit two degrees flatter and one degree more open. The TP fairway (Matrix Ozik 7X4 White Tie shaft) has a more compact head shape and deeper face that make it a preferred option off the tee, according to its creators, while the TP Rescue features Matrix's Ozik HX4 White Tie shaft.

As many in the United States get their first taste of winter weather, it only seems fitting that another equipment company would announce multiple new drivers, fairways and hybrids on the way. Maybe its deja vu all over again but it does already feel eerily similar to how 2013 ended.