A player fitting at the TaylorMade Performance Lab

Inside Golf recently invited some Melbourne golfers to take part in the TaylorMade R11s Driver Challenge.  Held at the impressive TaylorMade Performance Lab at the Melbourne Golf Academy, the golfers were put through a complete fitting and testing experience to determine their ideal driver specs, and see how their current drivers matched up to the new TaylorMade R11S.

We’ve written at length about how important clubfitting is, especially with your driver. These days, a properly-fitted driver which is tuned to your swing can not only improve accuracy, but also net you more distance off the tee.

These sentiments rang true in the Challenge, which uncovered some amazing results.

First up in the TMPL was Darren Walton, 49. Darren is a 13-handicapper who plays weekly at Ringwood GC.

Here are the “Before and After” stats from the fitting:

Current Driver (Before Fitting)  

Fitted R11S
9° Stiff (FCT- HIGHER, ASP – N, MWT- FADE) 


9° Stiff (FCT- HIGHER, ASP – C+, MWT – DRAW)
Launch – 14.5° 


Launch – 15.1° 


Back Spin – 2623rpm 


Back Spin – 2064rpm 


Side Spin – 956rpm 


Side Spin – 212rpm 


Carry Distance – 206m 


Carry Distance – 220m 


Total Distance – 228m 


Total Distance – 246m 



Clubfitter’s Comments:

“Darren’s current driver was not too bad for him. We saw some pretty good numbers but knew that we could improve with the new R11S with its extra adjustability and other slight improvements. The one main issue that kept popping up was that his clubface kept staying open, producing a fading and slightly weak ball flight.

“With the extra adjustably and efficiencies of the new R11S we knew we were in for some really good improvements.  Darren needed help getting the face squarer to help produce a more penetrating and straighter ball flight. We set the R11S to the Draw weighting position and also closed the face angle as much as possible. We immediately saw a much straighter ball flight but lost a bit of launch, so we utilised our FCT setting to increase the loft of this driver to 10.5°. This increased his distance by some 18m with a much stronger ball flight, a lot less side spin so the ball was going straighter and also an overall shot dispersion that was less than his current driver.”

Comments from Darren:
“The technology used in the fitting process is very impressive, the amount of data is staggering and an eye opener on how well (or not) you are swinging and hitting the ball!   The comparison between my old driver, the new driver and then a variation of the new driver all on the one screen was impressive to see and be able to analyse the potential improvements from new clubs.

“The technology is great for club selection but also as a teaching aid.  I would not be surprised to see Golf Pros using this to teach people in the future.  If you are thinking of new clubs, or thinking of Taylor Made, then I would not hesitate on suggesting that you visit the TMPL.”

Next off the ranks was Graeme Herft, 45. Graeme plays off an 8.8 handicap at Patterson River. His stats:

Current Driver (Before Fitting)  

Fitted R11S
9.5° Stiff (Draw Weights, STD) 10.5° Stiff (FCT- Upright, ASP- C, MWT- Draw)
Launch – 14.4° 


Launch – 14.1° 


Back Spin – 3576 


Back Spin – 2754 


Side Spin – 916 


Side Spin – 50 


Carry Distance – 203 


Carry Distance – 230 


Total Distance – 221 


Total Distance – 252 



Clubfitter’s Comments:

“Graeme’s current driver was a little inconsistent for him. The 9.5° was a little too low and Graeme was recreating loft in his golf swing — leading to a bit of inconsistency, as his face was staying a little bit open on average.

“With the R11S, we put him into a 10.5° head to help him stay down and move more dynamically through the ball. We utilised the adjustability of the R11S by closing the face and also setting it to Draw weighting, resulting in a much stronger and more consistent flight, keeping Graeme more balanced throughout his swing. We gained 27m in flight, tightened up his dispersion and created a much more penetrating flight.”

Graeme’s comments:

“I have previously been fitted for irons, but never for a driver. It was a very challenging and unique experience. The testing facility was extremely hi -tech and very impressive, as was the data that was provided.

“The entire setup was very unique, especially the way the sensors were attached and the graphics of my swing were displayed.  It was the first time I had actually seen where my impact on the ball and clubhead were.

“What I found the most beneficial was that in the beginning there was no emphasis put on the actual “outcome” of the ball flight. All the data collated at the start was basically about the swing path, speed, ball trajectory at impact, etc. It was only after all of this was recorded and a driver was fitted to me did we look at the outcome of the swing and the ball flight.

“The R11s was not only pleasing to the eye, it also felt very comfortable and to a certain degree “soft” in my hands. When asked to revert back to my original driver, I didn’t feel as comfortable or as confident as I did with the R11S.

“The R11S may never get me down to a scratch marker but I am sure it would help me drop that 2 or 3 shots I need to reach a handicap of 5. Either way I am positive such a club would make my round more enjoyable and those tee shots a little less daunting.”

Last up was Gary North, a 56-year-old 14 handicapper who plays at Eastwood.

His stats:

Current Driver (Before Fitting)  

Fitted R11S
10.5 Stiff R11S 10.5 Stiff (FCT- +1.5, ASP – C+, MWT – Draw) – Midsize Grip
Launch – 9.8° 


Launch – 9.3° 


Back Spin – 2097rpm 


Back Spin –1903rpm 


Side Spin – 108 rpm 


Side Spin – 52rpm 


Carry Distance – 218m 


Carry Distance – 222m 


Total Distance – 251m 


Total Distance – 258m 



Clubfitter’s Comments:

Gary’s current driver was not too bad for him, however the feedback from Gary was that he lacked “feel” and control on the course and really had to work hard to get the ball in the air.

When fitting Gary in the TMPL we were able to see that he majorly de-lofted his driver, turning a 9.5deg driver into as low as 3deg and therefore was struggling to launch the ball.  The R11S that we fitted Gary with had an affective loft of 12deg after we used the FCT setting to increase loft. This did not increase Gary’s launch but what it did do was make Gary’s action more efficient by allowing him to release the club as opposed to trying to hit the ball up in the air. We then closed the face of the driver and set the Moveable Weights to Draw, which gave us a straighter, more consistent flight. We also placed a mid-size grip on Gary’s driver to give him even more control.

Comments from Gary:

Darryn made the understanding of the whole process clear and straight forward. I have been to other club fitting Demos but the TaylorMade Performance Lab was by far the most informative and helpful in the understanding of my swing though the data that is picked up via the fitted sensors. Darryn was able to explain how the club–though the adjustment in shaft and head–will improve my golf which, with a few tries with different set ups, was found and the result showed up straight away on the screens. With the new setup  I was able to hit the ball smoother, straighter and with feeling. I would highly recommend the Taylor Made system for golf club fitting for all grades of golfer.


About Richard Fellner

A four-time winner of the Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism, Best Opinion, Best Column and Best Photographic Presentation, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Media Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and has been a featured guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora


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