The TaylorMade R11S Driver Review – Has TaylorMade Taken Adjustability Too Far?

The new-for-2012 TaylorMade R11S driver is getting a lot of publicity, and a lot of golfers are trying to decide whether to buy one. The original TaylorMade R11 driver made quite a splash itself, but the company says the R11S is even better and more adjustable.

Our review of the original TaylorMade R11 driver is on another page of our site. After you finish reading about the TaylorMade R11S driver on this page, we suggest you read our review of the original R11. You can then make some comparisons.

According to TaylorMade, the R11S driver is bigger, more adjustable (“tunable,” in the company’s lingo), faster and longer than its predecessor. It retains the matte-white crown finish and black face, but bumps the size of the head up to 460cc (from 440cc) and adds a new, pentagonal Adjustable Sole Plate (“ASP”), different moveable weights and a new, 1.5-degree adjustable Flight Control Technology (“FCT”) hosel sleeve system. Its “three-dimensional” adjustability lets golfers alter the loft, face angle and trajectory independently. In short, the company says this driver is the most “tunable” club it’s ever created.

But has TaylorMade taken adjustability too far? I’m not all that fond of adjustable clubs to begin with - once you find the right setting(s), you tend to leave it there, so why not just buy a club that suits you in the first place? You can’t “legally” change the settings of a club during a round anyway. Does any golfer really need all this “tunability?” Whatever happened to picking a driver with the right loft and shaft, and then relying on your swing? Personally, I think TaylorMade may have gotten carried away.

I do, however, recognize that some golfers really like adjustable drivers. It just seems to me that there are an awful lot of things to fiddle with on the TaylorMade R11S driver – you can adjust the hosel sleeve, the moveable weight cartridges, and the sole plate. How in the world does anyone get all those different adjustments “right?” I’d probably turn into a head case trying. I’d feel like I needed an owner’s manual just to adjust my driver properly.

But, for many golfers, the TaylorMade R11S driver is appealing because of its adjustability. For example, the FCT system has eight user-selectable positions to increase or decrease the driver’s loft by up to1.5 degrees. By using the ASP, you can choose one of five face angle settings (two more than the original TaylorMade R11 driver) to open or close the face within a 6-degree range (1.5-degrees or 3-degrees open, neutral, 1.5-degrees or 3-degrees closed). Doing so won’t affect the loft of the club. And, the driver’s Movable Weight Technology (“MWT”) lets you shift the center of gravity toward the heel or toe to promote the side-to-side ball flight you prefer (draw or neutral). Altogether, the company says the TaylorMade R11S driver has 80 different user-adjustable settings, which is a whopping 32 more settings than the original TaylorMade R11 driver.

Whew. I’m tired just thinking about all the possible combinations.

Of course, the adjustability of the TaylorMade R11S driver isn’t its only design feature. The “Thick-Thin Crown” of the large titanium head lowers the club’s center of gravity and improves launch conditions, while the Inverted Cone Technology promotes more ball speed and additional distance on off-center shots by expanding the club’s Coefficient of Restitution zone (a/k/a the “sweet spot”). The matte-white crown reduces glare, and the black face frames the ball nicely and makes the club easier to align properly. TaylorMade also believes this particular color combo inspires player confidence by making the club head look larger than its actual size.

The TaylorMade R11S driver comes in 9-degree, 10.5-degree and 12-degree versions for righties; lefthanders can choose from 9-degree and 10.5-degree clubs. A 45.75-inch, 60-gram Aldila RIP Phenom 60 graphite shaft is stock. A TP (Tour Preferred) version of the TaylorMade R11S is also available. The stock shaft for the TP model is an Aldila RIP Phenom TP 65.

The Bottom Line: Several golf equipment companies make adjustable drivers, but none of them have gone to quite the lengths of TaylorMade – especially in the new TaylorMade R11S driver. I can’t say it’s dramatically different than the original TaylorMade R11 driver (please read our separate review of that club to decide for yourself), but it does make some changes. The company says the new version is slightly more aerodynamic, slightly longer, and slightly more forgiving due to a slightly larger sweet spot. If you already own a TaylorMade R11 driver, you’ll need to decide if these changes are worth the $399 cost of the R11S. If you own some other driver, you might want to take a close look at the TaylorMade R11S driver. Just make sure you’re prepared to deal with all that adjustability.

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