Difference Makers

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The set is dead. Or so proclaims TaylorMade-Adidas Golf in its advertising campaign for the new Burner 09 irons. In the Burner, TaylorMade believes it has created an iron that is longer, more predictable and more individual than any other iron ever made.
 
Instead of being designed as part of a set, with a look and feel similar to the other irons in the set, the Burner 09 irons are engineered separately to give you a more sizable distance gap between clubs and different performance characteristics.
 
Typically, the way you design a set of clubs is you start with a 6-iron, and everything flows off the 6 and theres your set, says Harry Arnett, TaylorMades senior director of equipment. The more we talked about the way irons are designed, the more we realized that its not the way people play golf. We thought it was a stupid way to design irons because the performance you need from a 9-iron is significantly different from what youd expect from your 4-iron. Why would you want those two clubs to perform similarly? Youd want them to be designed dramatically different in order to optimize your performance for those particular shots.
 
With the Burner 09 irons, TaylorMades Research and Development team decided to start with the 4-iron because in testing they found that the average golfer hit their 5-iron longer than their 4. They wanted to build a 4-iron that would be the longest, most forgiving long-iron in the history of the game.
 
We felt that if we could make a long-iron that that was far easier to hit than any other, wed learn a lot about how to make the middle- and short-irons easier to hit, too, said Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMades chief technical officer.
 
TaylorMade got the distance it was looking for in the new Burner 4-iron by scaling the clubface back to 1.9 millimeters, half the thickness of its predecessor and most competitors. This made the face more flexible, increasing ball speeds by as much as 7 mph -- which translates into as much as 25 to 30 extra yards for some Tour players.
 
Its the longest 4-iron weve ever made, said Arnett.
 
The perimeter of the clubhead is expanded in the long-irons (4-, 5- and 6-irons) to increase the MOI (Moment of Inertia) and make each iron more forgiving. The degree of offset is also increased and the top-line thickened to give the appearance of more size behind the ball, inspiring more confidence.
 
The mid-irons (7- and 8-irons) are designed with a slightly thicker clubface and slimmer top-line than the long-irons, but are outfitted in longer shafts than you normally see in a traditional 7- or 8-iron to give you more distance. The short-irons (9-iron and pitching wedge) feature an undercut cavity which allows more weight to be moved to the perimeter of the head to improve stability. The size of the heads are significantly smaller and the face thicker than those found in the long irons, creating less distance but more accuracy.
 
We dont want to give people the ability to hit their pitching wedge 150 yards, said Arnett. Thats not a distance theyre familiar with in a scoring wedge. People want a consistent performing pitching wedge that they can chip with around the green, that sounds great and fits their eye.
 
Some elements do remain constant throughout each iron, including a wide, thick sole which helps lower and drop the center of gravity behind the face, making it easier to launch the ball high and long.
 
We were able to protect ball speeds on mishits and get accurate distance-gapping between irons for the first time, said Arnett. Even if you mishit your 4-iron slightly, youre still going to hit it 15 yards farther than your previous 4-iron.
 
A set of Burner 09 irons includes the 4-iron through pitching wedge ($699 steel shafts, $899 graphite); 3-iron, sand wedge and lob wedge can all be purchased separately.