Pros:Ability to correct ball flight flaws while keeping the same swing.
Cons:Price of the TP at $800 is high.
The Bottom Line: The TP is designed for a very small percentage of the market. However, the R7 and R7 HT are fantastic clubs for the amateur at any level.
Taylor Made was the pioneer of the movable weight driver, and the R7 TP is the cream of the crop. It is the top, top of the line of the three models of R7 drivers (the other being the standard R7 and the R7 High Trajectory).
Recommend this product?
The main difference between the TP (Tour Preferred) model is the shaft. Taylor Made offers three shafts, the Fujikura Speeder 757, which is a relatively heavy shaft, weighing in around 80 grams and has a high kickpoint and firm tip. For those that don't know, the higher the kickpoint and firmer the tip, the lower the trajectory. The Speeder is designed for a driver swingspeed in the 115 mph range. Another shaft option is the Fujikura S.I.X. which is an ultralight shaft, weighing in at 55 grams. It likewise has a high kickpoint and firm tip. The third is the newest shaft to hit the tour by storm, the Mitusbishi Diamana. This is another heavy shaft, 83 grams. The clubface is a little deeper and is set square to the target line. The TP also comes with 8 additional TLC weight cartridges that enable you to create 883 launch conditions, so complex that Taylor Made has a site that will explain them all to you.
Compare these features to the R7 and R7 HT, which both have four cartridges that allow for six launch conditions. The HT version has a shallower face and a longer heel to toe clubface which will help the player get a higher launch angle. Also, these two models have a .350 tip which is a little larger than that in the TP model (.335).
Back to the TP version, I have been playing with it for several months now and find that I haven't changed the weights much. I put two 10 gram weights in the front ports and two 2 gram weights in the back to lower trajectory. This allows my 9.5* to play like a 8.5* or 9*. Or I wil put a two in the heel a ten in the back toward the heel, a two in the back at the toe and a ten on the toe. This gives me a slight fade bias. I find it somewhat ironic that with all of the weights that came with it, I used the four that are standard.
My club has the Speeder 757 shaft with a stiff flex. This shaft has an incredibly good feel to it, it is a low torque shaft so that the clubhead does not twist as much when you make contact. This allows the player to work the ball more, the club head will respond to the slightest turn of the hands to draw or fade the ball. The deeper the face of the driver, the more back spin is generated, which is a double edged sword. Ideally with a 100 miles per hour swing, you want a launch angle of 15* or so with a backspin rate in the 3500 rpm range. so a deeper face may cause that rate to rise, this is where the shaft comes into play, with the high kick and firm tip, the depth of the face is neutralized. Also, when swinging in that 110-115 mph range, the shaft does all of the work, it flexes at exactly the right points in the swing and helps to whip the clubhead through the hitting zone.
I also find that the R7 has a really nice look to it, I can't get used to the huge drivers that seem to be all the rage now. At 400 cubic centimeters, the R7 is big enough to inspire confidence, but not so big that you lose the ball on the clubface. While not the longest driver on the market, you won't be left behind when it comes to finding the ball in the fairway.
Now to the drawbacks, the reason that tour players are able to use this driver is that they have reps and computers at their disposal on the practice range. Most amateurs don't have a launch monitor at their disposal, so they may feel overwhelmed by the myriad options the extra weights provide. Being an assistant PGA Pro on the Taylor Made staff, I was fortunate enough to go out to Carlsbad and have a fitting with a Taylor Made rep, so it took most of the guess work out for me. Another negative aspect is the price, while the R7 and R7 HT have gone down to $400, the TP version is still around the $800 mark, this is due largely to the shaft, all three options if purchased separately would go for $200-$300.
In the end, I think that the average player would be better served to go with the R7 or R7 HT, it would better suit their games and would take some of the confusion out of the attempt to configure the weights properly.
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