Trying new equipment takes me, on occasion, to fascinating locales. Places like Bayonne Golf Club. Constructed on a former landfill, Bayonne is billed as a links style course situated on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. This treeless track snakes along the waters edge, with views of Manhattan from several holes. Its fairways are lined with picturesque fescue grass. Drive it off-line and it's an automatic double. The firm, undulating greens are open in front. Some greens are elevated, though, making it difficult to bump-and-run shots. More memorable than any hole is the peninsula they call the driving range. From here, you smack balls directly into New York Harbor. No joke. Whacking practice balls into water doesn't make for great pre-round mental imagery but you'll get over it.
Bayonne GC proved to be a terrific backdrop to sample TaylorMade's new wares. The company has two drivers hot off the production line: the r7 460 Draw and r7 460 TP. The r7 460 Draw is a larger, hotter version of the old r5 Draw. Like the r5, there are no moveable weights to speak of. Rather, the design team scooped weight from the toe and shifted it heel side. A closed face, plus added heel side mass, causes the clubhead to close easier and produce draw spin. It seems to work just fine. The club turns my draw shot into, shall we say, a much bigger draw. $299, graphite
The r7 460 TP, by contrast, has two adjustable-weight ports. It's for guys who prefer to call their own shots. (TaylorMade staffers Daly, Funk and Lehman have had it in play.) The r7 460 TP sets up with a square face (standard r7 460 is slightly closed) and comes with REAX TP shafts. Its stiff tip section provides more stability and control for hard, fast Tour-type swings. $700, graphite
TaylorMade also revealed an updated iron strategy. Its three-pronged attack targets specific players' needs. Iron families include: r7 TP (for better players), r7 (for average guys) and yet-to-be-named r7 series (for higher handicappers). More on r7 irons in the coming weeks.