The TaylorMade M2 irons literally took the high ground when they first came out as the aim was to launch the ball as high and as fast as possible for maximum distance and a steep landing angle.
This height went down very well in the market and now with the 2017 M2 irons TaylorMade has continued this philosophy and combined it with the proven face slots that first appeared on their RSi irons a couple of years ago.
However it is the quest for a lower CG that was the driving force behind the 2017 M2 irons as the faces were already at the legal limit, so speed was not an issue.
The face slots help the forgiveness of the face as they reduce the loss of ball speed on off centre hits, but it requires some reinforcing at the ends of the slots as the cutaway below shows.
Therefore lowering the CG elsewhere would give TaylorMade the spare weight to put the face slots back in. Firstly the top line of the head and the leading edge of the Speed Pocket were made 33% thinner at just 1mm thick.
The face profile was also made shallower to reduce the proportion of material above the ball at impact.
Finally the Fluted Hosel from the previous model was made thinner with 6 wider sections on it instead of the previous 8. This saved another 2g on top of the 3g the original version saved over a normal hosel and it is these factions that make all the difference.
The result was a CG that was lowered by 1.2mm, which does not sound like much, but is about 7% lower so it is significant.
The Speed Pocket that features on the 4 to 7 irons was made a little thinner and 2mm or 20% taller to maximise ball speeds across more of the face.
However the forgiveness comes from the Face Slots that you can see on the 4 to 8 irons on either side of the hitting area. In the past they made the clubs that have them sound a little bit hollower, but in the 2017 M2 irons this is reduced to a minimum, but it is still there.
This improvement in sound is due to the ribs going across the back of the cavity from the synthetic badge and on the underside of the top edge.
The ribs on the top edge look to be in a random pattern, but have actually been carefully placed to stiffen the face and optimize the sound and feel so that your hands and ears like them.
This improvement is noticeable as in the past the transition from slotted to non-slotted irons in the set was quite noticeable and did not really enable the set to flow through the bag. The transition is still there, but is much less noticeable and as a result the M2 2017 irons feel more like a complete set.
The shorter irons and wedges revert to a more traditional cavity back design with a cavity that closes in, until you get to the sand iron, which looks more like a cavity back/blade hybrid. The feel is still pretty good from this head too, but you may want to switch to a specialist TaylorMade wedge at this stage.
The soles are generous, but in reality play thinner than they look. The three way bevel helps the leading edge go into the turf easily and on the other side of the centre section the trailing edge cambers off to make it playable and keep the weight low and back.
For what is marketed as a distance game improvement iron the look at address is very playable with a reasonable amount of a offset with a mid to large head that will appeal to single figure players upwards.
The wedge is reasonably compact for a distance set, but frames the ball very well and it is good to see something that looks playable rather than being all boxy in this type of set.
You can see the fluted hosel at address, but if that bothers you then you are looking at the wrong thing during the swing.
Cosmetically the polished chrome look is a classier finish than the previous black and will enable the M2 irons to look better for longer.
As you go up the set, the head size and offset increases slightly to make them easier to hit, and the 4-iron with its big face is a very powerful club as it almost behaves like a hybrid. At the global launch in the USA I witnessed Dustin Johnson hit one 264 yards - carry!
For the rest of us, you will find that the 2017 M2 irons give a solid flight that is maybe a little higher than average, but which delivers distance which is higher than average. Yes, the lofts are quite strong, as the 4-iron is 19° and the wedge is 43.5° but the give the height of the number on the sole, even if the distance is something else.
The overall feel of the club is helped by the excellent FST Reax HL 88 steel shaft which is light and stable and suits the profile of the M2 irons very well.
The forgiveness really is excellent and it is in the toe area and high on the outside of the face that the biggest speed savings have been achieved in the new design. Overall there is very little to fault on the 2017 M2 irons and these irons should be on your short list if you are a high single figure handicapper upwards.
You can see a lot of thought has gone into the construction and this shows in the sound and feel from the set which is much better than previous sets that have blended different types of head construction. The re-introduction of the face slots brings additional forgiveness to one of the fastest iron faces around.