In 2002, The R&A and the USGA jointly published a document called the ‘Joint Statement of Principles’, which reaffirmed their commitment to the notion that skill, not technology, should be the “primary determinant” of success in golf.
Since then, equipment manufacturers have been bound by a tighter set of rules of conformance, a broad set of parameters that they are free to innovate within but not breach.
It’s for that reason, for example, that the volume of a driver’s clubhead must not exceed 460 cubic centimetres plus a tolerance of ten cubic centimetres.
But what if there were no rules?
What if the innovative, creative minds at each of the game’s biggest equipment brands were free to create the clubs they want to make, not just the clubs they are allowed to make?
What would those clubs look like?
That’s a question TaylorMade asked a few years ago. Not only did they do that, they also - for fun - went ahead and made that very illegal, not-for-competition club.
The result was this: the TaylorMade MOAD –
The ‘Mother Of All Drivers’.
The futuristic-looking club was created in collaboration with Priority Designs. An Ohio-based product development company. Priority Designs had previously worked with TaylorMade on the creation of numerous innovative features, such as the game-changing ‘Moveable Weight Technology” that debuted in the R7 driver series and which redefined customisation thereafter.
The MOAD driver was put on display by TaylorMade at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show. Never mind adjustable, the MOAD concept is a self-adjusting driver that features wings which deploy on the downswing to give you, as TaylorMade’s vice-present of metalwood R&D, Todd Beach, puts it, ‘the maximum MOI you could ever dream of’.
The principle is so simple that it sounds almost impossible: if, during the middle of your swing, you get out of plane, the club itself will recognise this and react, adjusting itself with the deployment of its wing-tips and making the necessary adjustments so that the clubface always – always – arrives square at impact.
It’s an incredible concept and a frankly stunning piece of innovation. It’s also a remarkable-looking club. The product displayed at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show was reportedly a CNC-milled prototype that comprised almost 40 individual parts.
Interestingly, after helping TaylorMade establish itself as the No.1 driver on tour and contributing to increased sales of more than 400% since 1999, Priority Designs started working with Nike Golf’s ‘Long Term Research Group’ in 2010 with the stated aim of ‘revolutionising the marketplace with radical technology and iconic design’.
The first major release of that collaboration was the Nike Covert – the world’s first high-speed, cavity-back driver.