When TaylorMade launched the original M1 driver, they said that it would last the full year and to their credit, 14 months later TaylorMade has stuck to that promise with interest.
The 2017 M1 driver that we have been waiting light years for in TaylorMade terms, builds on the success of the original by evolving it along the same principles rather than a wholesale redesign, which is good to see.
From above you would have to be eagle eyed to spot the 4% larger footprint at address which has been achieved by saving weight in a few places.
Aside from that it still features the distinctive white titanium leading edge ahead of the black Carbon Composite crown that now features 6 layers of material.
This is a great look and like before I think it helps with alignment at address with the white leading edge taking over to give an optical illusion of a smaller head. Look a little closer and you will see that the white section is a little thinner and more angled now in order to take some weight out of the top of the club and that will be a recurring theme here.
This gives the impression that the new version is deeper than the old one, and it is slightly, but not as much as you think thanks to the extra expanse of black from the thinner white line.
Turn the club over and you start to see where some of the main changes come in. Firstly there is more carbon around, 43% to be precise, and this is most evident in the toe panel.
This carbon panel on the sole has been recessed in a little which saves volume here to enable the overall footprint to be larger.
In conjunction with using new materials and bonding techniques, this saves 8g which is added to the 3g they have saved by using lighter 9-1-1 titanium for the body and you have 11g grams to play around with.
Most of it is placed lower in the sole of the head and 2g is also added to the previous 10g rear weight that slides along a 12.7mm longer track that is more central to enable you to move the CG further back to improve the MOI of the head.
This is not a surprising change as most tour player M1 set ups I saw had the weight set at the back for maximum launch combined with a low spinning face loft. The front weight is still 15g and sides along a horizontal track to offer 25 yards of left to right flight, which is quite a lot.
The effect of this is to offer fitters more options to customise the flight of the ball and in the extremes it was giving a noticeable change to spin and shot shape.
The 15 positions on the back track combine with 15 across the front, 12 on the hosel and a choice of 4 head lofts from 8.5° to 12° to give 10,800 possible head set ups, which is actually a couple of thousand less than before, but I am sure we will all manage to get by.
And that is before you get to the choice of 3 stock shafts which focus on the Fujikura XLR8 Pro, Kuro Kage Silver Dual Core TiNi and the excellent HZRDUS Yellow 65 that is light and stable.
The moveable weights are now more embedded in the track to improve the aerodynamics and combined with the darker looks, it gives the 2017 M1 a more sinister look with lime green flashes.
The tracks are also tucked under an overhang that comes from the heel side of the club to improve the aerodynamics as the air flows over the sole diagonally from the heel during the swing.
The weights are now also the same shape on the underside, so if you wanted to put them both in the back track to align the weight more in the centre of the club and add loads of backspin, then that is possible now too.
The M1 driver still comes with the usual 4° of variation with the adjustable Loft Sleeve hosel, but in a lighter aluminium design that enables fitters to heat it and swap on to another shaft.
The previous hosel was plastic and did not like this process and TaylorMade has ensured that the new aluminium version is backwards compatible too. It can adjust loft and lie by 2° in increments of 1°, 0.6° and 0.4° as you go further away from standard.
So there is a lot of technical tweaking going on with the 2017 M1 driver, but really it comes down to how it plays.
One of the first things you will notice is the improved sound which is not as hollow and much more solid than the original M1.
Compared to the previous M1 driver, the 2017 version performed just as well on Trackman and if there were gains it was a few yards here or a few less rpm there. With so many set up options it is hard to be categorical.
For instance, once we had decided during my TaylorMade fitting that the new M1 head was a better spinning option for me than the 2017 M2 driver and that we should start with the same 10.5°g loft as before, then that is when the flexibility of the weight tracks came in.
Using the adjustable hosel to go up one notch and add 1° loft, it was then a case of chasing down the right combination of launch angle and spin to get the most carry and then total distance including roll.
Sometimes a potential setting delivered good results but was rejected because it did not feel right, as when you move the weights around it does change how the club sounds and feels as the CG and MOI gets slightly modified. The latter can improve the number of centre strikes which is where you can get the real distance, so this is more important than you think.
It is an impressive process, but like most things in life, you may get the perfect setting for you, or you may just get the best possible option with some compromises. I ended up with the setting that had the hosel adjust up one notch, the back weight in neutral and the front weight towards the heel. This gave me the most carry with the best launch, but ideally around 200rpm too much spin.
You can see how the results below varied as Clubs 1 to 3 had the Kuro Kage shaft in with various settings before we switched to the lighter HZRDUS shaft for Clubs 4 and 5.
Clubs 6 and 7 above were the 440cc version of the M1 head, for those who have the accuracy and need the spin reduced further.
This head probably sounds even better, but is marginally less forgiving so it would need to be delivering some distinct performance advantages to be an option, which I did not manage as I was adding spin with my misshits and it also did not carry as far.
It is more compact than the standard version at address and has a 15g weight in both tracks, but apart from the lack of a 12° head, most of the other features are the same.
During the session we were using the current TaylorMade Tour Preferred X ball and by all accounts the new TaylorMade TP5 ball will spin less with better launch, so I could get that spin down by changing the ball. So it’s not an exact science as you can see.
However you can also see that everything is possible and for people like me, having 27g of weight to play around with is the most in the market at present and enables you to get the best possible driver set up for your game.
On the course the 2017 M1 driver was every bit as good as the previous model and gave you the same feeling that you could stand up and open your shoulders and not have to worry too much about the consequences.
This is not a cheap driver, but of the two 2017 M drivers, I would say that the M1 is the better value as it has more customisation options to optimise it for your swing than the M2, unless of course the M2 is the Goldilocks option for you and you can spend the £110 difference on a new chair or more porridge.
If you don’t quite have it going with the current M1 then the slight variations in the setup of the 2017 M1 might give you that extra edge. For everyone else then the new model will give you all the adjustability you could need in a larger head that sounds better, is more forgiving and looks just as good as the original.