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Robot testing reveals how Rory McIlroy's driver improved

McIlroy said TaylorMade's Qi10 is “the best driver” he's had in years.

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

Rory McIlroy has been working with TaylorMade Golf since 2017 when he entered into a lucrative multi-year equipment deal. When you're paid millions to endorse a brand, common sense is constructive criticism goes out the window. Every product is a game changer that will help weekend golfers get 20 yards. There is no gray area. All good.

While that may be the case for some players, McIlroy is not one of them. If a certain club is active, you are more than willing to sing it. The same thing happens when things go wrong. Few offer a more honest assessment of the gear they're paid to play than McIlroy.

Coming off a dominant performance at the Wells Fargo, McIlroy was asked during a pre-tournament press conference at Valhalla Golf Club, site of this week's PGA Championship, if he could explain his recent performance with the driver and club. that separated him from many of his peers during his career. When McIlroy drives it, he's unbeatable.

taylormade qi10 robot
TaylorMade Qi10 driver data from GOLF robot testing.


“From a driving standpoint, yeah, I think he's probably the best driver I've had in the last couple of years,” McIlroy said. “I'm really comfortable with the driver, and I think some of the technical things in my swing are a little bit better, and the good drives are still pretty good but the bad drives are not so bad so they don't miss and not like shit.”

It's easy to read into McIlroy's comments and chalk them up to “marketing talk.” Every driver is a “better driver” and helps reduce bad misses. However, if you look closely at McIlroy's comments, some of the praise he received for TaylorMade's Qi10 “core” driver (also known as the standard head) is actually confirmed: “[T]Bad driving is not bad, so misses are not that bad.”

TaylorMade Qi10 Custom Driver


Wrapped in a clean and confident package, the Qi10 driver is expertly designed to help players improve distance and improve forgiveness. INERTIA APPLICATION TaylorMade's goal with the Qi10 family is to make each driver as forgiving as possible, using advanced multi-material construction to increase inertia. The Qi10 is designed to combine distance and forgiveness. PERFECT PERFORMANCE The Qi10 Driver features a lower CG and higher MOI than its predecessor, delivering balanced performance without trade-offs. NEW INFINITY CARBON CROWN The Infinity Carbon Crown covers 97% of the crown's surface, allowing for great redistribution techniques and improved forgiveness.

View Product

The heads of today's 460cc drivers are designed to be very forgiving and provide the illusion of protecting ball speed even on the worst misses. But there is no such thing as a perfect driver. In many cases, design sacrifices must be made to produce certain features of initiation, circulation and forgiveness. Pull one lever and you must release the other. There are always performance trade-offs to be made.

At least that was the case until “unicorn drivers” started appearing on the mechanical scene. Cobra's LTDx was the first to pass GOLF's 9-point robotic driver test and saw virtually no distance loss across the face, making it an ideal choice for golfers with consistent contact.

taylormade qi10 rory driver
A look at the carbon face of McIlroy's Qi10 driver.

Jonathan Wall

We're introducing the LTDx because McIlroy's Qi10 head is the first to run on the unicorn title. During this year's round of robotic testing by Golf Laboratories, the top toe misses earned distance. It's an impressive insight that highlights the significant improvements made to TaylorMade's carbon twist face design since its introduction three years ago.

Even more impressive is that the Qi10 saw a distance drop of nearly 6 yards on every 9-pointer on the face at 95 mph, making it a solid choice for golfers with inconsistent connections or experienced golfers who are just trying to strengthen their misses.

It's hard to imagine McIlroy getting better with a driver in his hands, but the Qi10 does, in fact, reduce distance loss significantly in many common mishit areas. When you're swinging it at 120-plus mph where even the slightest miss is magnified, having a face shape that makes “wild” misses playable is one hell of an asset. The robotic inspection data confirms that Rory is onto something.

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Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and the Managing Editor of Materials. Before joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years assembling PGA Tour equipment. He can be reached at [email protected].

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