Written By: Tony Covey
When it comes to irons, my personal recommendation is that you you play the most forgiving iron you can stand to look at. For some of you that's a Mizuno blade. There's a part of me that still understands that thinking.Believe me, I get it.
For some of us, however; as iron technology has progressed, we've grown willing to accept a bit more bulk as the reasonable cost of undeniable forgiveness.
TaylorMade's new AeroBurner epitomizes that compromise.
This One or That One?
For those seeking forgiveness from a TaylorMade iron this season, your choice may ultimately boil down to AeroBurner verses RSi 1 and so you might find yourself wondering how the two irons compare.
Let's cut right to the chase. Neither is what you would consider compact, but nothing much in the game-improvement or super game-improvement categories really is. It's plenty reasonable to point out that AeroBurner is larger in nearly every respect. When I talk about that which you can stand the sight of, if bulk is your determining factor, we're no doubt pushing your upper limit here.
AeroBurner has significantly more offset (.5mm or so on average). While for some that might be off-putting, that additional offset helps to boost launch, and may also help out the guy who struggles with a slice. According to the guys at TaylorMade, the AeroBurner is significantly easier to hit to the left of the target line than competing irons which often show a bias towards the right side of the target line.
AeroBurner swing weights are slightly lighter (again compared to the RSi 1), which might help generate some of that AeroBurner speed.
The static loft situation is, well...interesting. AeroBurner runs a degree stronger throughout the set than RSi 1, but the stated playing length is exactly the same. In the language of the irate reader, TaylorMade jacked the lofts, but didn't increase shaft lengths above and beyond what it had done previously.
If you simply look at numbers without consideration for how AeroBurner's performance is influenced by inherent mass properties of the design, you might expect an iron that launches considerably lower than RSi 1, and whatever distance advantage would come through added roll. That's fine for a driver, but it's not exactly what most people are looking for from an iron. TaylorMade is well-aware of all of this, which is why they designed AeroBurner with an emphasis on high launch.
In addition to the familiar story of a low and back center of gravity (aided by offset), TaylorMade is using a new shaft in the AeroBurner iron. The REAX 88HL (designed by FST) has a unique stepping pattern which features several stepped sections near the grip paired with a long and flexible tip section. This design helps offset some of the loft, peak trajectory, and spin lost to the stronger lofts.
So how does the AeroBurner actually compare to the RSi 1 when we move past static numbers, and begin looking at the dynamic forces of the golf swing? Actually, let me simplify my last query.
What happens when you hit the damn things?
While our tester almost certainly hits the ball farther than the average golfer, his numbers, in relative terms, represent what you can expect from the AeroBurner iron.
I don't want to spoil to much of the surprise, but what we see with the 4-iron is pretty typical of all of the irons we tested. The AeroBurner is measurably longer (nearly 7 yards), it launches about a degree lower, spins 200-300 RPM less, and has a slightly lower peak trajectory.
Worth pointing out is that the distance gains don't come purely from roll, the AeroBurner carried just under 5.5 yards further, which is almost certainly a result of the faster ball speeds.
What you should pay close attention to is that while AeroBurner was consistently longer,RSi 1 proved to be more consistent in general as evidenced by the much smaller dispersion ellipse.
In our testing, only the 4-iron showed more of a left bias, however; we believe that's most likely to present itself, and be most relevant, in the longer irons.
Different iron with comparative results that are almost identical. The AeroBurner is faster (ball speed), launches a bit lower, doesn't fly as high, spins 200-300 RPM less, but carries further, and is 8 yards longer (total distance).
Again, the AeroBurner is longer and closer to the center line on average, but the RSi 1 produced a much tighter (certainly flatter) dispersion ellipse. I'm not saying it's the face slots, but yeah...it's probably the face slots.
Given that there are no sole or face slots in either model's pitching wedge, the results here are somewhat interesting since we're now relying on geometry as much as technology to dictate performance. That said, the results are nearly consistent with the other irons in the set. AeroBurner was faster, spun less, and produced more distance (both carry and total).
The two anomalous results for us are that RSi 1 launched a lower than AeroBurner, but was closer to the target line. One might argue that's exactly what you want from your scoring clubs.
Once again, our ellipse shows a smaller plot area for the RSi 1.
Which Is Right For You?
For those choosing between the two, the choice isn't simple. Those looking for as much distance as possible, or who unquestionably need a little help fighting a slice, AeroBurner is likely your best bet. Our preliminary testing suggests it's the longer and straighter of the two models.
For those less concerned with distance (why are you looking at distance irons), or who don't need a ton of help mitigating an extreme fade, it's probably worth leaving a few yards on the table for the added consistency of the RSi 1.
If you're struggling with the decision, remember, you don't have to choose. You can always custom order a combo set. I'm actually considering an AeroBurner, RSi 1, RSi 2. You'll probably have to tweak some lofts along the way to get your gaps right , but the combo option is a great way to get you the right help where your game needs it the most without adding potentially unnecessary bulk to your scoring clubs.