As you can see there is no getting away from the fact that it is white. Experts from Taylormade will have us believe it is designed to promote easier alignment and therefore straighter shots. However that isn't all you get for your £329. It is fully adjustable. Now this sort of technology has been around for a while now and in Taylormade's case goes back to the moveable weights of the R7's but was further enhanced in their R9 model which let you adjust the face to open and close it at set up to hit a draw or fade as required. Of course most of the other manufacturers have produced their own versions and changeable drivers are the new big thing to ride into town. However this latest offering has raised the bar. You can not only change the face angle, but you can now adjust the loft and the centre of gravity.
I'm all for innovation, but has this gone a step too far? Logic says there has to be something in it to justify all the R&D costs and that it will appeal to the average golfer. Is that really true though or is it another case of us hackers wanting to emulate our heroes and all that glistens must be (white) gold. How many of you have forked out large wads of notes on a driver promising longer and straighter drives and once the honeymoon period is over find it's not better or worse than the one before, or even the one before that. Think how many lessons you could have bought. How much better would your game be?
I've never really bought into any of this adjustable driver spiel. To me it's aimed at golfers with ingrained swing faults who want a quick fix for their slice and hook. Harsh? Maybe but I'd rather have a swing I could rely on rather than the crutch of a technological aid. The other thing is I'm a notorious tinkerer with my game at the best of times and can often be seen on Royal Ascot's practice ground hitting balls. I'm pretty damn sure that if you give me one of these shiny white beasts I'd spend most of my time with the adjusting wrench in my hand tweaking and trying every conceivable set up variation. Heaven forbid that I should hit a bad drive. It couldn't possible my laughable excuse of a golf swing. It has to be the arrows and not the indian.
There's another issue as well. You spend hours at the range deciding what works best for your game and roll up on the 1st tee in the monthly medal. You pull this bad boy out of the bag and your partners are transfixed by its beauty. You tee it up and promptly carve it right into the tundra. The rules are quite clear. You can't change the set up or playing characteristics of any club during a competitive round. So now you're wondering, was that the club or me. That'll do wonders for your confidence on the next tee.
So am I just getting old and grumpy? Quite possibly. I have to confess I'll no doubt have one in my hand sometime soon just to see what all the fuss is about. Purely out of curiosity you understand. I even entered a couple of competitions to win a custom fitting session with the R11. Would I have gone? Too right. As I said I'm all for innovation. Give me a big 460cc headed drive compared to the tiny persimmon woods of thirty years ago. Indeed if you go for a custom fitting for either a driver or a set of irons the results can be a revelation. Get the right shaft for your swing and the loft and lie angles set up and it becomes (in theory) much easier to hit repeatable shots.
The R11 is making big news. The pros are using it and it officially comes to a shop near you in the next week (rumour has it some American Golf stores already have it on sale). I'm sure for a lot of golfers, it will take the fear out of driving the ball and for many will be a blessing. I'm sure there is more to come. The rules on what can and can't be done are notoriously strict and manufacturers are all looking for that next bit of design magic to give them a market lead. However until they bring out something that is bio-mechanically attuned to my game and can predict which error strewn swing I'm going to pull next from my locker and adjust the set-up automatically as I make my shot then in the words of the Dragons, "I'm out"