Many of us have been waiting (not so patiently) for the TaylorMade R11 Irons to be launched. After months of anticipation and hype, they arrived September 1, 2011, just a couple of weeks ago.
I was pumped and couldn't wait to try them out. Unfortunately, the only
clubs I could get my hands on were the pitching wedge and the 7-iron.
Our pro shop won't have a full set of TaylorMade R11 Irons available for
demo purposes for a while yet, but it did have those two clubs. As it
was, I had to go on a waiting list before I could try them. That's how
eagerly golfers have been looking forward to the TaylorMade R11 Irons.
My name finally got to the top of the waiting list and I got the call to come over and try the irons. When I saw them, my first impression was "these look snazzy." In some ways they resemble TaylorMade's Tour Preferred Irons.
Looks are important, because your clubs' appearance can affect your confidence. Even so, performance is what really matters. I'm happy to report that these particular clubs - or should I say the pitching wedge and 7-iron - didn't disappoint me, in appearance or performance.
They look like clubs that professionals would be tempted to play, but they also incorporate loads of technology to help "average" golfers improve their play. In short, they're engineered to help us hit the ball longer, higher and straighter. Here are some technical details.
A fixed, red plug called a "Precision Weight Port" is at the center of the back of these irons. It ensures that each iron in the set has the same swing weight and a center of gravity (CG) positioned to promote the best possible feel and performance.
The thin, light, lively face of these irons is designed to provide a high Coefficient of Restitution, which promotes faster ball velocities and more distance from the long- and mid-irons. TaylorMade's "Inverted Cone Technology" also promotes faster ball velocities and more distance, especially on mishits. This particular technology, which enlarges the sweet spot and makes TaylorMade R11 Irons more forgiving, is also used in the company's popular TaylorMade Burner irons.
The progressive-width soles of the irons are beveled at the back in a way that reminds me of the Callaway RAZR X irons. This sole design increases playability from different types of lies because the clubs perform as though they have narrower soles.
TaylorMade R11 Irons use a progressive undercut channel which gets shallower as the loft of the iron increases. The CG has also been placed low and deep. These design elements increase the clubs' distance and forgiveness while facilitating a higher ball launch.
The clubs I tested came with the stock Fujikura Motore 65-gram regular flex graphite shaft, but R11 irons are also available in stiff, senior and ladies flex. At $799 for steel shafts and $999 for graphite, a set of TaylorMade R11 Irons is expensive. But ...
They felt solid during my swings, and impact felt and sounded soft, smooth and silky. Their distance was impressive - I was hitting the pitching wedge one or one and a half clubs farther than my own (although possibly not any farther than I hit the TaylorMade Burner irons I've tested and reviewed for this website). Their forgiveness was hard for me to evaluate, since I was only testing two irons and I kept hitting them so well. Turf interaction was consistently good, and I never felt like the grass in the rough was excessively grabbing and twisting the hosel. The trajectory of the 7-iron was, in my mind, ideal. I even got a good amount of spin when I used the pitching wedge for full shots onto the green. It spun the ball more than the TaylorMade Burner 2.0 pitching wedge.
The Bottom Line: TaylorMade R11 Irons are beautiful clubs, but their beauty isn't just skin-deep. They're beautifully balanced and they incorporate a ton of technology that can help golfers of all handicaps become better players. They were definitely worth the wait. They successfully combine stunning looks with cutting-edge technology and amazing performance. There's very little doubt that TaylorMade R11 Irons are the best irons the company has ever created for players from scratch to 20+ handicaps. In several ways, they combine the best of the TaylorMade Tour Preferred and Burner 2.0 irons. These clubs are the real deal.