The annual TaylorMade photoshoot is kind of a big deal. You may have seen the viral Christmas Card that got everyone’s attention over the holiday season. You put Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy in matching onesies and apparently people take notice.
Well, the image for the card was taken during the shoot – back in November. It’s a week where we capture awesome content of all kinds, but it’s also a week of work for the players and our team.
“The TaylorMade photo shoot is a big week for everything. We’re seeing the new products for the first time, doing a lot of testing but also having fun just being out there with all the guys.”
While months of planning goes into the process, there are always surprises. Perhaps the biggest one this year was Rory’s Rescue. How did it happen? Why did it happen, and what design features transformed the SIM Max Rescue into a hot commodity on the Tour?
To get the origin of how the Rescue got into Rory’s bag, we have to go all the way back to June 2019. Internally, we were already planning for the shoot and which clubs would go to which players.
We don’t normally show hybrids to our Tour players – historically better players prefer the control of long irons and have a tendency to hit hybrids left. For the shoot, we originally planned to have a few more social influencers attend to partake in a unique insider experience. So, our procurement team ordered more Rescue heads for those players.
As time went along, we decided to cut back on the number of influencers and we were left with the Rescue components in hand. Our product managers thought, “We have them already, let’s build them out to the specs of our Tour team.”
We applied the same specs we gathered during 2018 GAPR fittings – Rory’s included – and shipped them off to Florida, where the shoot was taking place at The Floridian just outside the Tour-pro mecca known as Jupiter.
Ok, time for truth. Sometimes working at TaylorMade comes with a few perks. Mainly free lattes, kicking it with Ollie Neglerio and all-you-can-hit range balls at Rancho CB. But for product managers, sometimes it’s a little sweeter. Each year before the shoot they like to guess which clubs will come back un-hit – those clubs often become souvenirs. For example, the M2 5fwy that was built for Jason Day that now serves as a trophy from the 2017 shoot.
You can probably guess which club they thought would come back this year.
Tour pros rarely use hybrids, but the SIM Max Rescue is a rarity in itself. With Twist Face, a rounded toe and adjusted face angle, the SIM Max is engineered to counter-effect the common left mis-hit associated with hybrids. It’s one of the first things that Rory noticed.
“I usually hate hybrids, they all go left. But this one launches so good. I just swing it like a 7-iron.”
Add in the V Steel sole, which is the first time we used the technology in a Rescue, for added versatility and playability from various lies and you’ve really got something. That makes it a strong 5-wood replacement for Tour pros – who gain versatility without sacrificing distance.
"The Rescue is really consistent,” Keith Sbarbaro, McIlroy’s clubfitter and the VP of Tour Operations at TaylorMade, told GOLF.com. “I think with the Rescue compared to the 5-wood, he feels like he has more control. He can hit it low and he can hit it high. He’s getting perfect numbers; perfect launch, perfect spin. He can hit it as high as the 5-wood and as low as his 790 2-iron…he can actually tee off with (the Rescue) and keep it down. It’s just way more versatile.”
Rory’s intrigue sparked interest among the Team TaylorMade squad. Dustin Johnson added the Rescue to the bag for Kapalua and Collin Morikawa gamed it with great success at the Waste Management – eagling all three par 5s on Saturday of the tournament. According to TaylorMade clubfitter to the stars Chris Trott, they can’t keep the Rescue heads in stock on the Tour Truck.
While we didn’t fully anticipate the response to SIM Max Rescue on Tour, we knew we had a special product. Rory has validated that. Be sure to check out the full video for his raw and unfiltered first response to SIM Max Rescue.