- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Perhaps it’s only fitting that the company that introduced the metalwood to golf in 1979 again has revolutionized the equipment industry.

A little more than a year ago, TaylorMade’s r7 Quad driver debuted at the MCI Heritage Classic in the hands of Retief Goosen. More than 50 worldwide tour wins and three major championships later, the r7 Quad is the runaway favorite among PGA Tour players and the planet’s most popular club among amateurs.

From scratch stallions to single-digit players to high handicappers, nearly everyone who tries the r7 Quad and its Launch Control technology raves about the club.

“Our surveys have returned something like a 95 percent satisfaction rating, which is truly remarkable for an expensive product [$499 retail],” TaylorMade director of public relations John Steinbach said yesterday. “Interestingly, our surveys have also indicated that an extremely high percentage of those who buy the club not only understand the technology but fiddle with the weights.”

The weights to which Steinbach refers are what make the r7 Quad truly revolutionary; it is the first club that allows players to make changes to launch conditions (trajectory, spin) by manipulating 24 grams of discretionary weight. The club features four weights (two weighing 10 grams and two weighing two grams) that can be screwed into four portals in the back of the clubhead to produce six different launch conditions.

Basically, this means players who fight a slice, for instance, can place the bulk of the discretionary weight near the heel of the club to produce a strong draw bias and soften that slice. Players who fight a snaphook can counteract this scorecard sabotaging shot with a toe-weighted fade bias. Players who struggle with trajectory also can find relief by placing more weight at the back or front of the club, depending upon whether they are plagued by grounders or popups.

“It’s nice for us, but it must seem like a godsend for a double-digit handicapper who hits it consistently crooked in one direction,” 2003 Masters champion and TaylorMade staffer Mike Weir said at last month’s British Open. “It works so well it almost seems like cheating.”

Actually, as long as the weights aren’t changed (via a special wrench) during a round, TaylorMade’s TLC technology is perfectly acceptable according to USGA rules. Basically, it’s a more scientific approach to the old trial-and-error, lead-tape solution.

At the British Open earlier this month, the r7 Quad gave TaylorMade a mammoth 3-1 edge over its nearest competitor (Titleist) in the driver count, according to the Darrell Survey. That puts the club on footing with the original Callaway Big Bertha and the Titleist Pro-V1 as one of the golf industry’s most universally embraced technological advances of the past two decades.

And while most pros favor a virtually neutral discretionary setup, few are beyond using the TLC technology for the occasional tweak. Sergio Garcia won last month’s Booz Allen Classic with a slight draw bias. Local favorite Fred Funk keeps his r7 set to a draw bias. Conversely, Vijay Singh, who won the PGA Championship with the club last year before following a mountain of endorsement dollars to Cleveland, played with a super-strong fade bias to avoid the dreaded double-cross snaphook.

Most importantly, the technology isn’t just a gimmick (see chart). The weights work. And that’s why TaylorMade recently released both a line of fairway woods and a hybrid rescue club featuring the same TLC technology. Chances are the next generation of the r7 Quad, which will feature an even larger clubhead for increased distance, also will be worth the weight.

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