Sunday, April 17, 2016

My time with the M2 6iron - Part 2

As you may or may not have read in Part 1, I had the lovely fortune of getting a Taylormade M2 6 iron in the mail. I detailed it's specs there, which I will not go into again here, and came to the conclusion that something was up. Well... the problem is that NOTHING is up, except marketing budgets.

Before we begin, let me state some facts:  

The M2 is stock exactly as it came from Taylormade. I opened the box, examined it, and took it out to hit. 

Lofts of the irons are nearly identical. +/- about 1 degree.  Length varied with the M2 being 38" long, and the KE4 being 37" long physically. 

As previously stated in part 1, even though marked differently, the shafts in each club test the same flex, so regardless that the TM is labelled stiff and mine is a "regular" they are actually both the same flex.  See some of my other writings for why this happens and other things "They" don't want you to know.

I'm hitting the same types of balls with both clubs. I went through painstaking measures to sort through range balls and find the best balls, making sure they're all of the same type and removing all the non-range and/or any balls that don't seem right (a big "screw you" to all the people who bring their own garbage balls to hit at the range. Shame on you. Keep your top rocks to yourself nobody wants to hit your budget balls - even in practice. Do you understand the looks I got while sorting through all these range balls? DO YOU?!). Ok......

The weather has finally broken (again) here in Pennsylvania and I was absolutely itching to get out and play golf. Since there's no cream for that sort of itch, the only solution is to get out and chase a little white ball around in the sunshine.  As luck would have it, there was a scheduled demo day at Crossgates Golf Course in Millersville that I was due at with my Clubcrowns and Shaft wraps, and that means I would have some time (and free balls) to hit all the 6 irons my heart desired!! Well, it's time for the cold, hard truth.  Let me preface this and say that I was duly warm for this test. Having hit a bucket with each 6 iron before taking measurements. I wanted to be loose, and I wanted to make sure I had the feel of each club fresh before measuring shots. For each,  I took the best 8 shots - removing the worst and the best from the original 10 "pressure" shots.

I'll get right to it, then tell you why:
The M2 is not all it's cracked up to be. Not for me anyway. Funny I should have those choice in words because that's honestly what I felt like I was going to do to this 6 iron. Every shot felt like the club could shatter... and the sound. Oh god, the sound. I mean, I can't even describe it to do it justice. If you took about 5 of those cheap tupperware lids you find on Chinese take out now, stacked them up and hit a ball with them?  I think that would come close. It's a plastic "slap!" that does not instill confidence in me at all. I mean, I even absolutely MURDERED one - smash factor was almost up near my driver as far as energy transfer (which is a very good sign for this head mind you) and the thing still sounded and felt like the head was just going to fall apart. The grip being off-center didn't bug me as much as I thought it would but I could definitely feel it. Thing is, it SHOULD have helped me turn the ball over in a right to left draw, but it most certainly did not. The stiff shaft (which was actually regular) felt ok as far as flex and shock goes, but as we'll see in the flightscope data later, it was actually all over the place.

 I will concede that the longest shot of the M2 was longer than the longest shot of my own Maltby KE4. As stated previously in Part 1, this was fully expected considering that the shaft is a full inch longer than my current 6 iron. That being said, the SHORTEST of the M2 was Shorter than my KE4. If one is to believe the marketing, this should not be happening. So as things average out, the M2 still comes in longer than my current 6 by approximately 2 feet overall. Not exactly the gains promised by the manufacturer.  Something else I noticed, interestingly enough is that the M2 on average did NOT fly higher than my own 6 iron. Again, contrary to the marketing.

 Looking at the overall data, we can see a few things. First, the numbers for the M2 are slightly better in some areas. Total distance, is better by almost a yard, but strangely the carry distance is better on my original 6 iron by 1.1 yards. You can make your own inferences at what you want, but I'll mark this down as an original iron win. I want carry distance and stopping power in my irons. I could care less to hit my 6 iron 200 yards if 20 yards of that is roll. I want it to go high and come down soft. Isn't that what the M2 is supposed to do anyway?  The spin on the M2 did average higher- but you can see the minor outlier of 9080 RPM, and 8635 RPM of spin. That's high but since my metal on a stick got to nearly 7000 I didn't think it unfeasible that this new technology could achieve that. Hell, smash factor near my driver! Either way, since the Flightscope is on outdoor settings and tracks the ball to finish rather than calculating into a net, I kept them in for the overall data. All things considered, smash factor, spin, and ball speed were higher with the M2 - why didn't it fly farther though? I'm as stumped as you, but being there and seeing the ball flight and where the shots ended up, I can confirm the data.

Let's talk about clusters and accuracy. The M2 boasts more forgiveness than standard clubs. There's a speed pocket at the bottom and all manner of carbon plastic do-dads in the back and up the face that are supposed to help create more speed and forgiveness across the entire face. Remember before when I said that the longest was longer than my 6iron, but the shortest was shorter? Well, here's how it looks on the chart:

Looking at this chart, it maps out the shots as they landed and calculates standard deviations. The forward and back for the M2 are not to my liking, especially for all the promises made on keeping ball speed up with the pocket on low hits.  This basically means that I could hit a dead solid shot and and have it settle on the green, then drop another ball and have it come up with a difference of 15 yards. That's a club and a half!!! You'll have to take my word for it when I say this, but in all honesty these shots were not all that far apart on the face. It's not like one was 1/2 inch out on the toe and one was 1/2 inch on the heel. My ball striking is pretty good.  Talk about being in between clubs. The right to left deviation is another concern. It seemed like the iron didn't know which way it wanted to correct. Remember when I said I was being fair between the two clubs? Well, sorry KE4, I was on the side of the M2 for a lot of this....

Height and direction:

After hitting balls and warming up to get the feel for each club, I knew the M2 was not getting in the air for me. I watched as ball after ball was a line drive and just was not getting off the ground. I actually teed one up in the test below to make sure I would catch the ball perfectly on the club face and get the ball up (didn't do that with my 6 iron). Nope not at all - although it did give me a 184 yard bullet which was nice.  Both screens below are the best shot, distance wise, in the group. The M2 rolled out about 2 yards farther than the KE4 and definitely did not get as high. You can see also, that the correction of the M2 kind of left me with  two way miss. I'm a slight fade ball hitter. I can work the ball both ways if I want to (let me stop here and say that the M2 IS predictably workable when hit well) but my go-to is a little fade. Bad back and shoulders make that an easy shot. So why all the left on the M2?  Correction in that "forgiveness" category. It is workable, as I said, when you hit it well, but if you catch a little toe or a little heel, it tends to over correct for the shot, which left a few of the balls to the left, and one WAY out to the right. It's meant to hit the ball straight on off-center hits, but for it to correct and do that you have to deliver the club mostly square anyway. If you're an 18 handicap that has an open club face, it's not going to really do you much good -- then again, no club will. Sorry it's just the way it is. Lessons, folks.

Talking materials:
I think one of the last things we need to talk about here is quality of components. There are good metals and bad metals. Good graphite and bad graphite. Good build quality and bad build quality. If you take the time to know your product and put in the time to assemble it correctly it will treat you well.  Here's where the M2 gets some love. It COULD BE a good club. It really could. OMG could it be good. There's things that need to be addressed, however. First:  Lose the FST ultralight shaft. If you want light, use an MCI 80 graphite composite shaft. This stock shaft is not doing it for me, or most likely for anybody.  The two charts below show flex action for the two clubs. The orange line is the flex acceleration for the longest shot on each. The gray line are all the other shots. You'll notice that both of the longest and best shots came with a downward sloping profile. It's just what fits me the best as a golfer. The head actually isn't accelerating through the ball (even with my relatively low swing speed, I'm still a high-spin player) and it's allowing me to hit flush and keep the flight where it's optimal with my swing. Now, notice how the shaft on the left (incidentally, a Fujikura 95i Sflex graphite shaft, soft stepped) is relatively consistent in it's flexing along the swing. With both clubs I have a few crap shoots in there, but for the most part it is a very consistent grouping.  Now look at the FST in the M2. Not for me at all. Some times it kicks hard at the bottom, sometimes not. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the hosel design, with the crazy air foils, or if it's just due to the shaft combo and length. I do know that it's not something I'm down with for anyone. Even with the most inconsistent swings, I want the shaft to perform predictably if not optimally.  That grouping at the top should be tighter as well as all the way through the middle of the swing.

FST makes some great shafts - The KBS Ctaper is phenominal, as well as the Tour90. Even the FST 115 and similar models can be great on a budget.... IF they're installed properly. This, in my opinion, could benefit from a FLO run. Very much like assembly lines though, this was more than likely pulled out of a pile and assembled, checking for length and weight, not much else.

So what have we learned from all this.... If you haven't fallen asleep or had your head explode looking at the photos and reading my terrible font, then you've probably come to the same conclusion I have.  The M2 is not a good stock club. It's just not. Off the rack, it won't really help you gain yards or accuracy unless you fit it perfectly as is.  The M2 head is subjective when it comes to sound and feel. If you're at all into the "THWACK" of a good hit, then the M2's is not for you. At best, a pure shot will leave you with an unsatisfying "click" sound and sort of a plastic resonance feel up the shaft. It can accurately be described as a toy sound and feel, not premium golf club feedback. It looks fancy, but doesn't deliver on the promises - even when the deck is stacked in it's favor with a longer shaft and slightly jacked lofts.  Still, it's a smart looking club. It really has a different back cavity look and even though the top line is thick, I don't really mind it in comparison to the thinner players clubs. it really instills confidence at address if not in performance.

.... and I thought Xfinity's appointment windows were bad...
After all this, I would urge you to give one a hit and see if you can tolerate it.  See what other shaft options they have as upgrades. With all of this technology that doesn't really seem to do much, I have to wonder if the upgrade would be worth it, though. You're paying more to get what the stock option should have delivered. With a pricetag of $800 average per set, it's not something that I would ever recommend to run out and buy sight unseen. A qualified builder could make you a set of component irons that out duel this badboy for less - plus they'll be everything you want and more as far as options. Example, Put a ProjectX 5.5 with new decade grips on these bad boys and you're looking at almost $1000.00. Oh, and apparently it'll ship between 2 days from now and next September?  Go out, look around and pay attention. Always ask "why" when you're getting fit and when someone wants to sell you something. Why do you need this? Why is it better? Why will it do what you say it will? Most importantly of all - is the investment worth the payoff? Is 5 yards worth $499?  Is a marginal improvement worth $1000? For me, no. This is just my experience though. You may crank these guys and if you do, I say drop that money and get them. It's about what works for you, and if you've read anything else I've written, you know that's the only thing you should worry about. Not name, not what flex you hit, and certainly not what some guy on the internet has to say. Get out there and get swinging!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again on the next post!

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