TaylorMade M5 Driver Review: Ball Speed Is King, Did They Deliver?

TaylorMade is in a constant battle with Callaway to claim the #1 driver in golf spot. This year, both manufacturers are at it again with the TaylorMade M5 driver and the Callaway Epic Flash.

Yes, it's another expensive driver that promises more distance than accuracy over last year's model. The engineering teams have come up with a list of advancements over the M3 and M4 drivers. But is there any material improvement over your current driver?

Recently, I tested the TaylorMade M5 driver. I was impressed by the results, but as usual, I have my reservations on whether or not golfers should rush out to buy it.

What TaylorMade is Saying

The M-series has been an enormous success for TaylorMade. Last year, the big innovation with the M2 was TwistFace technology, which is supposed to help golfers improve accuracy on off-center strikes. The idea itself was not new, other manufacturers have altered the shape of the clubface to help combat gear effect. However, TaylorMade exaggerated the design based on their research.

This year they are focused on ball speed, which equates to more distance. Every OEM is in a race to deliver more ball speed to golfers to secure sales.

The M5 and M6 drivers both feature "speed injection." There are two small holes on the bottom ends of the face where a resin is injected to help provide more stiffness across the face. The goal is to add more speed to center strikes and even mishits. The M5 driver features adjustability for $549, while the M6 does not offer an ability to change weighting for $499.

Speaking with Woody Lashen from Pete's Golf Shop (where I did my testing), this is the next frontier of driver technology. In his estimation, most OEMs are maxed out on the ball speed they can deliver in the center of the face by the USGA. But, where they are starting to excel, is providing more speed on off-center strikes.

Essentially, TaylorMade is trying to get as close as possible to the USGA legal limits with the M5 and M6 driver. This is something they had not done in prior releases.

So does it work?

Impressive Results in Testing

Club reviews aren't the focus of Practical Golf because one golfer’s results cannot predict what others will experience with a given club. However, I know many of you want to see data, so I’m more than happy to experiment to see if there are any noticeable changes.

The driver I currently play with is a Titleist 917 D3. It's an excellent fit for me and served me well the past two seasons. The technology is several years old now, and Titleist has been criticized in the market for not delivering more distance, which is something they addressed in their TS line recently.

So we took my Titleist driver and put it up against the TaylorMade M5. I used the same shaft, and randomized shots between both drivers so we could get an accurate depiction of its performance. All testing was done on a Foresight GCQuad launch monitor, which is considered one of the most accurate launch monitors in the industry. Also, Woody Lashen from Pete's Golf made sure we had the proper loft on the M5 for optimal performance.

Looking at the data I believe the M5 delivered on its promise. I saw consistently higher ball speed on almost every shot I hit, which translated to more distance. On top of that, the dispersion of my drives was a bit tighter. I can't say for sure if that's because of TwistFace or not, but there was measurably better performance across the board according to the Foresight data. I'm confident if I put this driver into play I'm going to see incremental improvement, but certainly not earth-shattering.

While looks and feel can be subjective from one golfer to another I did love the way it felt at impact. You can barely notice any difference in the face design at address compared to other drivers, so the TwistFace is not a distraction. Additionally, I did like the matte finish instead of a reflective look which can be distracting to some golfers.

My Usual Plea

Here's something I know for sure - every single major golf manufacturer is making high-quality drivers now. They all have top engineering talent that is pushing the boundaries of performance within the rules of the USGA.

I've learned enough about club fitting to know that there is not one singular driver that performs best for all golfers. Every driver has its unique characteristics, most notably center of gravity, that can produce different results for golfers based on their swing tendencies.

TaylorMade did an excellent job with the M5 and M6 driver. If you have an older driver, you can reasonably expect to get more ball speed. But will you get more than Callaway, Ping, or any of the other top club manufacturers? I'm not so sure. That's why I always believe that you should try before you buy.

If you have access to a brand-agnostic club fitter and want to see if it's worth getting a new driver, set up an appointment. You can test your current equipment versus the newer releases and see if there is something better out there for you. If not, then you likely saved yourself upwards of $500.

The TaylorMade M5 and M6 drivers are available for pre-order and will be released later this winter.

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