TaylorMade SIM2 Max and SIM2 Max OS Irons – Key Takeaways
- New Cap Back Technology allows for greater face flex
- Polymer badge create a hollow cavity
- Softer ECHO Damping System improves feel over previous models
- $799 steel, $899 graphite, available February 19th
The 2021 TaylorMade SIM2 Max irons are going to make a fascinating case study: Just how much better can TaylorMade make their signature game improvement better in just one year?
You can’t assume TaylorMade started the SIM2 Max project the day after going “pencils down” with the 2020 SIM. That’s not how R&D works. But there are enough changes, upgrades and enhancements to make the TaylorMade SIM2 Max irons one to watch come Most Wanted time.
TaylorMade’s game improvement irons have been middle of the pack or worse Most Wanted performers ever since M4’s third-place finish in 2018. That hasn’t hurt sales any as the SIM Max and its bigger and stronger brother, the MAX OS, were last summer’s No. 2- selling irons behind the Callaway Mavrik. The Mavrik, ironically, finished behind SIM – and next-to-last – in last year’s Most Wanted.
Still, TaylorMade is giving SIM2 Max some rather significant upgrades. We’ll see if they are enough to move it up the Most Wanted leaderboard. But in the meantime, let’s see what they’re all about.
TaylorMade SIM2 Max – Cap Back Technology
TaylorMade’s original SIM was designed to be a paradox: a game improvement iron that could hit the ever-loving snot out of the ball and offer forged iron-like feel. To achieve the party of the first part, TaylorMade is giving us something called Cap Back Technology.
Cap Back builds on TaylorMade’s Speed Bridge and Thru Slot Speed Pocket technologies from the M5/M6 years as well as last year’s SIM. The mouthful that is the “Thru Slot Speed Pocket” disconnects the leading edge from the sole, allowing for more face flex. The Speed Bridge, on the other hand, connects the back of the sole to the topline for needed support. Think of how a diving board connects to a swimming pool deck and you’ve got it.
With Speed Bridge, there was a relatively small point of connection. Cap Back takes support to a new level.
“The logical question in R&D was what if we support the entire topline, from heel to toe?” says TaylorMade Senior Irons Director Matt Bovee. “That’s Cap Back design – a lightweight polymer cap that fully spans the heel to the toe and fully supports the topline.”
The idea is to create more rigidity in the upper part of the face to create more flexibility in the lower part of the face. Let’s use the diving board analogy again. Securing a diving board with four heavy bolts is way better than holding it in place with a brick.
“You have to have that stiff topline,” says Bovee. “That upper perimeter has to be rigid in order for the face to fully deflect. If you don’t have that, you’re going to limit face flexibility.”
Hollow – Not Hollow
The polymer badge – the “cap” in Cap Back – makes SIM2 Max, in essence, a hollow-body iron.
The badge is bonded to the head with a vibration dampening adhesive. And that basically closes up the cavity while also supporting the topline. It’s not hollow like the P790 is hollow but Bovee says that space between the badge and clubface is important.
“When you bond a badge to the back of the face, it limits the face’s ability to flex. It slows the face down from a COR perspective,” he says. “We’ve replaced the badge with that polymer cap, creating a hollow space inside. So now we have the freedom for the face to move. That’s where the additional performance comes from, both in face speed and, most importantly, forgiveness.”
The polymer cap is also 7.5 times lighter than steel. That lets TaylorMade shoot for an even lower center of gravity.
“That’s really important for a game improvement irons because it gives you higher launch,” says Bovee. “High-handicap players need all the help they can get in getting the ball up in the air to have as much success as possible.”
TaylorMade SIM2 Max – Fast, With Feeling
“The face is faster and more flexible,” says Bovee. “But anytime you do that, it’s going to come with some level of detriment to sound and feel.”
A lot of flexibility is good for speed but it often comes with a clack sound common to game improvement irons. The original SIM Max used what TaylorMade called the ECHO Damping System – a soft, flexible material placed low in the cavity to absorb vibrations and improve sound and feel. ECHO was quite visible in SIM’s back cavity but TaylorMade wanted to make the material even softer.
That’s when a rather obscure USGA regulation reared its head.
“The USGA has conforming regulations on how soft a material can be on a clubhead if the golfer can touch it with their hand or more specifically their fingernail,” says Bovee. “But now that it’s fully encapsulated, we can make the ECHO Damping System even softer which allows us to improve sound and feel.”
You may remember the SIM Max commercial last year with blindfolded TMaG Tour staffers unable to tell the difference in sound between SIM and a forged iron. And while all this should be taken with more than a few grains of salt, Bovee says testers think the TaylorMade SIM2 Max irons actually sound and feel better than last year’s model.
Sweet and Low
Once you leave the blades category, irons are built on three pillars: distance, sound/feel and forgiveness. Translation: How badly can you mishit a shot and still get it reasonably close to where you want it to go?
The more flexible the face, the more forgiving the iron. In the game improvement world, that’s known as making the sweet spot larger. TaylorMade says when testing SIM against SIM2 over 100,000 shots, the SIM2 sweet spot catches nearly 30 percent more shots.
“We’re capturing more shots not just because the sweet spot is larger,” says Bovee. “We’re capturing more shots because we got more intelligent with its location. It’s shifted lower on the face.”
Bovee says TaylorMade’s testing shows nearly three-quarters of iron shots hit the center of the face or lower so the lower you can make the sweet spot, the better.
“What’s most important for the game improvement category is consistency,” he says. “Yes, higher ball speed is good. Yes, higher launch is good. But we’re getting more consistency. Our radial dispersion is tighter compared to the 2020 SIM. It’s giving the golfer the chance at a successful shot more often.”
Descent and the Inverted Cone
Yes, thinner and more flexible faces boost ball speed. But game improvement irons get a healthy chunk of their distance through strong – dare we say “jacked” – lofts. An offshoot is reduced spin which can make holding greens a dicey proposition. That explains why OEMs love low CG. The lower the center of gravity, the higher the launch.
And the higher the launch, the steeper the descent angle.
“We take that higher peak height and we’re OK with a little less spin,” says Bovee. “On a typical green, if you stay above 40 degrees with a 7-iron with typical spin numbers, you’re going to be able to hold the green. The SIM2 Max 7-iron numbers we see are in the 40- to 42-degree range.”
And as we mentioned in our article on the PING G425 irons two weeks ago, it’s not unusual for game improvement irons to actually have a right bias. That’s where TaylorMade’s Progressive Inverted Cone technology helps.
“You’ll get a deviation angle off the face that’s off to the right with game improvement irons because they have a faster face,” says Bovee. “The face is larger on the toe side than on the heel side so that side flexes more. There’s no way around that. It’s just physics.”
That’s what causes the ball to push to the right. And for a golfer who fights the rights anyway, that’s problematic. Progressive Inverted Cone Technology – which has been around for years – tries to neutralize that.
“The CG doesn’t really change; it’s more the face geometry changes,” says Bovee. “We have the thickest point on the face towards the toe. It changes the flex profile across the face and it actually produces a draw spin on the ball.”
TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS
As it did last year, TaylorMade is offering a bigger, even stronger-lofted SIM called the SIM2 Max OS.
This year, however, TaylorMade is making the OS version even bigger with a wider sole and more offset than last year’s model.
“That’s based on feedback from the market,” says Bovee. “We played up the oversized features to make it look a little bigger without making the topline any thicker.”
Specifically, the TaylorMade SIM2 Max OS has about 1.5 millimeters more offset than the standard SIM2 and a wider, more forgiving chamfered sole to keep the CG low. The OS also has progressive face height – meaning the OS long irons have a shorter face than the standard SIM2 long irons. That’s to promote an even lower center of gravity to help the high handicapper get the long irons in the air.
As you progress to the shorter irons, loft comes into play and the face gets taller than the SIM2 Max irons.
“You have advancement clubs and clubs you trying to hit the green with,” says Bovee. “Players who put distance as the most paramount characteristic— SIM2 Max OS gives them that option.”
Specs, Price and Availability
The new TaylorMade SIM2 Max and SIM2 Max OS both feature a new steel shaft from KBS as stock, the KBS MAX MT 85 in R and S flexes.
“The MT stands for Micro-Taper,” says Bovee. “It gives more consistency with a high launch and more spin. We’re the only OEM with it as a stock product.”
The Fujikura Ventus Blue is the stock graphite shaft while the women’s versions of both irons will come stock with the Aldila NV Ladies shaft. The Lamkin Crossline 360 Reminder grip is stock on the men’s irons while the Lamkin Ladies Sonar is stock on the women’s sets.
The standard seven-piece set (4-iron through pitching wedge) will retail for $799 in steel or $899 in graphite. Optional gap, sand and lob wedges are available.
The entire SIM2 Max lineup is available for presale starting today and will hit retail Feb. 19.
For more information, visit TaylorMade’s website.