Exclusive Podcast #250 – Tomo Bystedt – TaylorMade P700 Series of Irons
In this episode, we discuss the new P790 and P730 line of irons from TaylorMade Golf, the new technology instituted in the irons, what types of players would benefit most from what iron in the P700 line, and much more.
Tom Brassell: Welcome to Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops, episode 250. Hello everyone, Tom Brassell here. Thanks so much for joining us. Glad you hopped on with us today, whether you’re a first-time listener or a long time subscriber, or maybe somewhere in between because today is a very, very special day. We have with us the head of product creation for TaylorMade Golf, Mr. Tomo Bystedt. Tomo, thanks so much for joining us. Great to have you with us today.
Tomo Bystedt: Great to be on the show. Thank you for having me.
Tom Brassell: Before we get started because this is gonna be fascinating, kind of going behind the curtain a little bit, can you take us behind your curtain a little bit? Like, what you do day to day at TaylorMade Golf?
Tomo Bystedt: Yeah, so I’m basically the Senior Director of Product Creation for all our irons. So, what I do kind of on a daily basis is basically oversee the iron category as a whole, so really focusing on the product side the most, really looking at, you know, what kind of irons we should be launching, who they’re for, the design of the product, the technology that we put in the products, working with tour players, speaking to, you know, media and our customers … It’s sort of a wide range of responsibilities.
Ultimately, though, my concern is, you know, our TaylorMade irons, irons that the golfers want to use, are irons that tour players want to play and can play better with. And, ultimately if we achieve those goals, you know, the business kind of will take of itself so, that’s sort of what I do every day.
Tom Brassell: Tomo, I wanted to talk today about the P700 series of irons, cause you’ve got quite a family there. Can you walk us through, a little bit about that family? What’s behind the technology and just kind of go through the progression with us.
Tomo Bystedt: Yeah, definitely, so the P790 and the P730 are our two new irons. The P790 is the one that I think most people, most people listening to the show are gonna be very excited about. And, you know, one of the things that we’ve been thinking about for many, many years at TaylorMade is really how to cross over building an iron to really cross us over in a meaningful way between the kind of players iron category and a truly a gain improvement distance iron and so, um, this iron really is that product for us and we’ve been so excited … you know, we were working on this for several years and the technologies that have gone into this have been in work for even longer, and it’s been kind of a labor of love for a lot of us, ’cause a lot of the people who work at TaylorMade, this is the iron that everybody wants to play. You know, this is the iron that’s gonna go in the employee’s bags, you know, so selfishly we’ve all been, you know, super excited about bringing this to the market so, now that, that’s happened, it’s really exciting.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, it’s a forged iron … all these irons are forged irons. But like you were saying, this is probably the longest, the blade length, 790, 79 millimeters, but much more forgiving and just packed with technology.
Tomo Bystedt: Yes, exactly, so the way to get the performance that we wanted, the look and the performance we wanted, we had to explore new technologies that, you know, we hadn’t used in any products before and so, you know, one of the things that we looked at was, um, basically combining the idea of a really thin faced iron, you know, an iron with really high arc, tremendous ball speed, and combining that with the feel that you expect for a players iron, you know, a soft forged feel that gives you that great satisfying kind of impact sound and feeling through the ball as the club goes through the turf. And then also, the look of a players iron, you know, the cleaner lines, the shorter blade length, the less offset, and so blending that all together really again requires some new thinking and so, you know, the main … if I kind of give you the 30,000 foot view over the technology, essentially what it is, is it’s a forged hollow iron, so we’re trading a thin fast forged face with a soft carbon steel back to it.
We’re forging those pieces and then kind of putting it together, we’re welding it together, injecting it with a material called SpeedFoam. And, the SpeedFoam material is really what transforms the performance, ’cause without the SpeedFoam, the iron, um, because of the thin face is gonna be a little louder, it’s gonna be a little clickier at impact, but the SpeedFoam really allows us to, to kind of soften the impact feel. But most importantly, the SpeedFoam also supports the face itself so that we can go thinner on the face. So, without the SpeedFoam, you’re gonna have durability issues, things like that, but the SpeedFoam the face enough where you can still go thin, get the speed, but also get the feel.
So, the SpeedFoam is kind of what ties it all together, and then we have all of these other technologies around it, like we have tungsten weighting in the head as well for better inertia, more forgiveness. And then we also have a speed pocket in the sole. The speed pocket Is a cut through speed pocket in this head, extremely flexible, and that’s really gonna make all the shots that you hit just slightly low in the face, that much better. It’s gonna give you the distance that you expect, uh, from a center face shot essentially when you hit it a bit low in the face which again, a lot of us can relate to, you know, that’s kind of a pretty common miss with a lot of golfers, so. So, that’s basically what the 790 is all about.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, the speed pocket and the SpeedFoam technology, that’s unique to the 790, that’s not in any of the other 700 Series irons, correct?
Tomo Bystedt: That’s correct, yeah, exactly and the reason for that is that’s the iron that we’re really trying to build in all this additional performance, you know, to reach the little bit of a higher handicap player. Honestly, the 750, 770 and now the 730, these are all really for your single digit handicap golfers and certainly in the case of the 750 and 730, uh, near scratch golfers or better. Um, but with this iron, I mean, you’re gonna get guys from maybe a 12, 13, 14 handicap player, who’s really going to be able to enjoy these irons, you know, ’cause they’re gonna hit it, you know, mis-hit it on a regular basis but the performance is still gonna be really good. And again, with these technologies, the SpeedFoam and the speed pocket, uh, the distance and the forgiveness is gonna be there as well.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, for somebody who’s in that handicap range that is playing a cavity type game improvement club right now, you really owe it to yourself to give these a shot because there’s nothing like the feel of that forging in these irons and in also, like you said, the technology to help your game as well.
Tomo Bystedt: Yeah, exactly, and I think, you know, one of the things that we focus on a lot as it relates to the launch of this product is, is getting people to try the product. We have all these experiential events happening all around the country right now, um, so try to find your local club and where these events are happening, you can find them on taylormadegolf.com as well listing of all these events. But again, it’s really about trying the product honestly, it’s one thing for me to tell you what’s in there and how it should perform, but until you see the numbers on a TrackMan, and you feel how it goes through the turf, it’s really not, you know … nothing can really describe that for you, so. So, we definitely encourage people to try it, you know, bring your existing set and put them side by side. Do a head-to-head comparison and I think you’ll be pretty excited about how the performance of these stack up.
Tom Brassell: Absolutely, and launch date on the 790 is when?
Tomo Bystedt: So, they’re gonna be at retail, uh, starting on the 15th of September. So, we, um, basically are already doing events, you know, a few weeks prior and then starting this week as well, you’re gonna be able to go into your local, uh, golf store and actually get a fitting for it. So, we have fitting parts out there now at retail as well, so you can try different shaft combinations, figure out whether you’re, you know, flat or upright, things like that, uh, on your set as well.
Tom Brassell: Yeah, this is something you’re not gonna want to just grab off the rack. You’re gonna want to get custom fit for, for this set because it’s only gonna help your game and if you don’t, it could hurt your game if you don’t have the right clubs in your bag.
Tomo Bystedt: Yeah definitely I think, you know, we definitely take that approach of, of trying to build the stock set, um, to fit as many people as possible. But, obviously, if you can get custom fit, you have the opportunity to get a good fitter, um, to look at your swing, look at what, you know, your ball flight, that can only help you. You can only get, you know, more tuned in, um to exactly what’s gonna work best for your game.
Tomo Bystedt: Yeah, so, I think the 770 obviously going the next one down, you know, that one we launched in the spring has been a massive hit with players around the country and around the world. Especially, this is your typical better player, maybe you’re not on tour, but you’re a good golfer and you know, you value your feel, you value your workability and you also want a little bit of forgiveness in your product. This iron is actually surprisingly forgiving and that’s the main bit of feedback and the feel and kind of the control of this iron is unlike anything else that we have in the line, so. You know exceptional feel on that iron and again it extends probably into the single digit handicappers all the way to like an 8 or 9 handicap.
Now, the 750’s um … that’s our mainstay out on tours. So, that’s what most of our tour players are using is the 750’s, uh, it really blends that performance and workability of a blade iron with some forgiveness and, uh, playability that you would want in kind of a cavity back product. So, it does have a tungsten in the long irons as well, just like the 770’s long and mid-irons, uh, but it’s a much smaller blade. It’s a much more compact blade, thinner sole, virtually no offset. And, this is an iron that, you know, if you look at guys on tour, and you look at guys like John Rahm, Sergio this year, both guys whose iron game has just been transformed by this product. Sure they were great players before, I’m not denying that, but they’re … If you look at numbers for John Rahm especially, last versus this year, last year he played the blade, this year he played the 750’s. His iron game is so much better this year. He’s hitting a lot closer to the hole, um, making a lot more birdies. So, it’s been great to see, you know, guys who are … been in blades … go to the 750’s as a great alternative to that.
Also, guys like Rory McIlroy plays the 750’s in the long iron, he plays the 730’s in the mid and shorts, but he plays the 3 and a 4 iron in the 750’s. Again, the way he talks about it is for him, obviously, forgiveness is all relative, right, for these golfers, but he wants just a little bit more forgiveness in that 3 and the 4 iron and a little bit more height. You know he’s looking for a little bit more height, you know, those long par 5’s, that he’s trying to get onto, it’s getting the ball to land a little softer. So, the 750 has been a really incredible iron for us on tour this year, and like I said, most of our tour players use that product.
Now, that leaves me the last piece of 730’s, now, the 730’s is really an iron that’s designed for the very best players. I mean, this is an iron that’s a muscle back iron. It really has no forgiveness whatsoever, uh, but it’s an incredibly workable iron. We actually made this blade shorter than the old muscle back with the feedback of the tour players. So, we worked with guys like Justin Rose and with Dustin Johnson to really get feedback on what they like about their current blade. Being the Tour Preferred MB, uh, we’re … you know, and it’s an iron that they love, honestly. That’s a great product, which is why we haven’t changed this for so many years. But, we wanted to make a few tweaks to it, and this new 730 is really an evolution of that MB.
And, one of the new features in that iron that is a little bit unique for a blade is this channel that we have carved out the back. So, there’s a channel kind of in the middle of the back of the iron that you can see fairly distinctly there, uh, we machined it out … it’s milled out, um, and what we’re doing essentially is removing a little bit of weight right there and making the top of the blade, uh, just a little bit, uh, heavier. So, we’re actually adding just a little bit of weight at the top of the blade, uh, not changing the visual thickness of the top line, but just adding a bit of weight just below it so that we’re getting a bit more inertia, a little bit more MOI in the vertical direction, right?
So, that means heel toe, this iron is not gonna add any forgiveness, but if you miss about a half of a groove high, or half a groove low, which again is a typical miss for these best players. It’s just a little higher or lower, that’s really all they miss. It’s to give it that little bit better feel and a little more consistent ball flight, so, just a tiny, tiny tweak to the performance, but most it’s about shaping, it’s about how it goes through the turf, and again, precisely forged iron out of 1025 carbon steel. It’s a very soft forging that again, these guys require really to execute these shots.
And, to be honest with you, we’re designing this product for three players out there. We’re designing it for Dustin Johnson, we’re designing it for Rory and for Justin Rose, and these are the three players who are gonna be using this iron on tour and beyond that, hey, if other players want to play it, fantastic. But, that’s who it’s designed to work for.
Tom Brassell: You mentioned something earlier, Tomo, I think it was with Rory where you said that he was using the P730 and the shorter irons and the P750 … We’re seeing, are you seeing more and more of that on tour, that players are kind of not taking an entire set of the same club, but they’re actually going … and if the best players in the world are doing this, we ought to look at it too, right?
Tomo Bystedt: Yeah, well, I think you know, it’s interesting, you know, most of our guys on tour, uh, play just one set. But, there are a few guys who will … typically it’s not sort of a half and half mix, it’s usually they sprinkle in a long iron from another set, um, we’re seeing … we’re starting to see that a lot with 790’s too, so, um, Justin Rose will play with long iron’s in the 790’s, John Rahm put a couple 790’s in the long end of his bag as well, uh, and, you know, we’re seeing more and more players do that, and uh, so, it’s definitely, you know, I would say as a long iron replacement idea, again if you hit a lot of tee shots on tight par 4’s with irons, you know, for control, this is an interesting option for sure.
What I would say though, in general, is that we designed these irons to be somewhat progressive in nature with offsets and blade length and things like that … that most people would do great with just one set. And, that’s how it’s designed. But, definitely, if you feel like … if you go in for a fitting and you love the short irons in the 770’s, but you like the performance of the 790’s and the long irons, hey, by all means, mix and match.
Now, you have to be a little bit careful when you do the combo of a 790 set, uh, mainly because of the distance that … differences between the 790 and the other P Series irons. We kind of recommend slight loft adjustments on the irons that are right at the break if you will, just so that your gapping is gonna be a little bit better. But, we can do all that in custom obviously, we can bend your … you know, if your 7 iron is your first 770, we can bend a little strong and then the 6 iron in the 790’s, for example, which would be your last of those irons, we can bend a little weaker to kind of make your gapping flow a little bit better, so, it’s definitely do’able like I said, I think a lot of people will do great with just one of the sets, but again, based on your skill level and the kind of performance you expect from your irons. But, I think especially as you get maybe into the lower handicap players, uh, they might want to be looking at a combo as well.
Tom Brassell: Tomo, hey thanks so much for joining us today, carving the time out. 790, the launch, September 15th. Do you have some final words for our listeners today?
Tomo Bystedt: Well, you know, I would say obviously, please check out our iron line, I think, you know, we have overhauled the entire iron line starting at the beginning of this year and through, really through this Fall with the 730 coming in November. That’s kind of the book end of our, little transformation of our line. If you haven’t tried TaylorMade irons before, I would definitely encourage you to try one of the different ones. We also have the M1 and M2, which are obviously more of a game improvement club but offers a big range. And, I think honestly, you know, what it’s gonna come down to is people trying the clubs. We’re extremely confident that our products will stack up in a trial situation if you get a chance to play 18 holes with a set, or you just get … you’re able to go to a demo day, please do that or visit your local golf store. They have demo clubs of every single manufacturer, uh, and yeah, check out the new lines.
Actually the other final thing I would also like to say is, you know, I get a lot of people saying to me, “Well, I bought a bunch of new drivers the last 5 or 6 years, but my irons that I bought in, whatever, 2006, surely they’re fine still, you know, technology hasn’t changed that much in irons, right?” And, to that person, I would say, technology has changed as much as … perhaps even more than drivers in the last 10 years. Because drivers 10 years ago were at the COR limit, they were great drivers as well … Obviously a lot of other technologies have happened in the driver space and you know, of course, modern drivers are better than they were. But, irons honestly, it’s a night and day difference.
So, there weren’t irons 10 years ago that performed remotely like the products we have today, especially in the game improvement space in terms of distance. The height that you get, the forgiveness that you get in an iron. So, if you haven’t bought irons for a while, you should definitely go and at least have a look and try some products out and see if you can find some extra performance.
Tom Brassell: Tomo, great stuff. Thanks so much for joining us, hopefully, we could do it again down the road. Appreciate it.
Tomo Bystedt: Absolutely, any time. I would appreciate it.