Stop by your local pro shop today, the first official day of spring, and you are likely to see TaylorMade's newest Burner iron prominently displayed. Along with the R9 driver, these irons are likely to be the flagship product for the company in 2009.
When TaylorMade's designers set out to create the new Burner irons, their goal was simple: Make the world's longest, easiest-to-hit irons.
The designers took a different approach in the development process. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical officer, said, "We felt that if we could make a long iron that was far easier to hit than any other, we'd learn a lot about how to make the middle and short irons easier to hit too."
So instead of starting with a 6-iron and then building a series of complementary clubs, which is how many sets are created, TaylorMade started with a 4-iron.
Sean Toulon, TaylorMade's executive vice president of innovation, said the idea was to make the 4-iron have the playing qualities of a wood. When compared with the 4-iron of the previous Burner irons, the head is larger, which increases MOI and helps the club resist twisting on off-center hits. The face of the new Burner 4-iron was also made significantly thinner (1.9mm) to increase ball speed. They kept the undercut channel behind the face but made the sole wider to lower the center of gravity. That should make it easier to hit higher-flying, softer-landing shots.
The shaft of the new Burner 4-iron was also extended by a quarter of an inch, which should help to increase swing speed and therefore add distance. Because the irons have a bigger head, however, TaylorMade says the extra shaft length is imperceptible to golfers.
On the back of the clubs is a circular disk with an X-shape extending from its edges. That's TaylorMade's "Inverted Cone," a technology first used in TaylorMade's drivers. It puts more mass behind the sweetspot and, according to the company, helps to maintain distance control on off-center hits.
Once the design team was satisfied that they had created a great
4-iron, they built the 3- and 5-irons with similar qualities.The
mid-irons were created around an easy-to-hit 7-iron. Again, the heads
were made larger, the soles were widened, and the face was made thinner.
When it came to the short-irons, Bret Wahl, TaylorMade's senior
director of iron development, said, "We kept the clubheads relatively
compact, thinned the clubface—though not as much as in the
middle-irons—and thinned the topline." He also noted that the sole of
the short irons is slightly thinner than the middle-irons and
long-irons, as is the topline.
The irons also have a backing made of a carbon composite material,
aluminum and a polymer, and the company says it enhances feel and
improves the sound at impact. As the chart on the right shows (click on it to get a better look), the
new Burner irons are made for players who want to maximize forgiveness,
typically mid- and high-handicappers. However, more accomplished
golfers who want to add distance and and create a straighter ball
flight might also want to try them. For low-handicap players who put a
premium on shaping shots and maximizing control, the rac MB blades and Tour Preferred irons may still be the best option.
But don't be surprised to see the new Burner in the bags of PGA Tour
players soon. "This is a golf club that we believe is going to be our
most-played iron on tour," Toulin said recently. "And if things go the
way I think they can go,
I believe this will be the No. 1 played iron on Tour."
Several PGA Tour players have stopped by TaylorMade's
Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters to try the new Burners, including Kenny
Perry, who reportedly laughed at dinner about hitting a Burner 5-iron about 230 yards.
The new Burners will retail for about $699 with steel shafts, and $899 with graphite shafts.