The dawn of the carbonwood... introducing TaylorMade's Stealth driver as a new era begins for golf.
Only a handful of golf drivers have ever truly changed the game – things like the first persimmon; TaylorMade’s first steel head in 1979; Callaway’s original Big Bertha; TaylorMade’s r7, the first movable weight driver. In 2022 TaylorMade believe Stealth will have the same game-changing impact. And even before you've held it, hit it or heard it, it's hard to disagree.
In four decades, wooden clubs had their day, and steel has come and gone. Titanium is today’s metal of choice, but TaylorMade now believe its days are over, too – and Stealth heralds the era of the ‘carbonwood’.
In fact, they are so confident of the performance of their new carbon-fibre face Stealth driver that Tomo Bystedt, chief of Metalwood Creation, told Today's Golfer that “TaylorMade will never make a titanium-faced driver again.”
Carbonwoods might sound radically different, but carbon-fibre drivers aren’t entirely new. Others have tried (and failed) to use the lightweight composite in driver construction before... remember Callaway’s C4?. Yet TaylorMade insist Stealth takes the tech to a new level, thanks to material and process breakthroughs.
The new design brings the weight savings and energy transfer benefits of carbon-fibre, but critically without losing the sound and feel Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Collin Morikawa and you expect from a TaylorMade driver.
This is how they’ve done it.
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Carbon-fibre isn’t an obvious choice for a driver face; it needs to be strong and flexible while having the capacity to withstand frequent high impact collisions.
But whereas previous carbon drivers had faces twice as thick as a traditional titanium face – which inhibits flex and deadens sound – TaylorMade’s engineers developed this one using 60 layers of ultra-thin carbon strips. That layering process means this face offers more flex than titanium, without impacting sound.
How does it work?
TaylorMade’s initial goal for exploring carbon faces was saving weight. But as they explored the idea, engineers found other benefits, too.
Let’s deal with weight first. A titanium driver face weighs 43g. A carbon face weighs 26g. This 17g of freed-up mass is then repositioned to create the ledge the face is bonded to, with extra mass being spread through the body.
Think of it like a car crash; a car with a lighter front and a heavy weight in the boot will create more force during a collision than the same car with mass evenly distributed through its body.
Is it durable?
TaylorMade’s engineers built the Stealth driver’s face from the ground up, as using existing materials and construction methods would have made the face 1cm thick!
They had to figure out how to make carbon-fibre at half the thickness of that currently available, and how many layers were needed, as well as establish the shape, size and profile of each layer to get the right balance of durability, sound and feel, while also maintaining the brand’s speed-protecting Inverted Cone Technology behind the face.
Is the Stealth's carbon face faster than titanium?
The weight removed from the Stealth driver’s face made it possible to make the face bigger (4,150mm2 compared to a SIM2 Max’s 3,750mm2). That inspires extra confidence, but also means a larger portion of the face can be at the maximum allowable CT (characteristic time) limit.
The idea improves forgiveness and shot-to-shot consistency, so golfers get more predictability and less drop-off between on and off-centre hits.
Is the Stealth face more forgiving?
Prior to 2004, the R&A tested drivers using a COR test (coefficient of restitution); the spring-like effect of
a clubhead. That test involved firing a golf ball from an air cannon at a clubhead and measuring the velocity at which the ball bounced off different areas on the face. But it was time-consuming to do, so in 2004 they moved to the CT test.
That also measures the spring-like effect of a clubface, but using a portable pendulum that strikes the face with
a steel ball. Sensors then read the amount of time the two objects stay in contact with each other. It’s much quicker, and could be done on Tour.
TaylorMade realised lots of modern drivers hit modern CT limits, but fall below the previous allowable levels for COR. A carbon-fibre face closed the gap, making Stealth fast and more forgiving.
Why have TaylorMade called it Stealth?
This driver didn't happen overnight. In fact, it was 20 years in the making. With TaylorMade keen to keep their plans under wraps, the project was given Stealth as an internal codename. The name proved popular and it stuck.
The project was almost abandoned on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2016 with TM feeling that the performance of titanium was so good they wouldn't be able to get the carbon face to produce enough benefits at the best price.
After lots more work, development of the face began in 2018 and the driver heads have already been being produced for more than a year. The first run on the new faces happened in October 2020, before SIM2 had even been announced.
But does the Stealth face work?
TaylorMade have done masses of testing, and results have thrown up some impressive gains. Officially, they say carbon adds 1.1mph more ball speed over a SIM2. But during initial seeding, we understand gains of 5-6mph have not been uncommon.
Why does the face look different?
TaylorMade discovered a pure carbon face caused spin inconsistencies between dry and wet. So they added a nano-texture (hence the pattern) and PU coating (similar to the cover of TaylorMade’s TP5 ball) to ensure more consistent spin rates.
WATCH: Inside TaylorMade's Stealth Driver
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The new carbon-fibre face has been slotted into three Stealth driver models. Along with the face material, all three have several things in common...
– Bigger faces: Thanks to the material switch there’s less weight located at the front. This means Stealth faces can be bigger, to inspire confidence, which often also leads golfers to hitting shots harder as there’s less fear of missing the centre. The Stealth’s face is 11% bigger than the SIM2 and 20% bigger than the original SIM in 2019.
– Speed Shaping: Since the original SIM, TaylorMade drivers have been optimised for speed in the downswing. Even though Stealth models have bigger faces, they’re aerodynamically optimised and come decked out with an Inertia Generator weight at the rear that maximises MOI performance.
– Speed Pockets: Part of TaylorMade drivers for years, the Stealth’s Speed Pockets maximise face flex and ball speeds and produce additional forgiveness on low face strikes.
But how do the Stealth drivers differ and who are they for? Let's take a closer look. Click the driver's name for our full review.
RRP £469 | Lofts 9°, 10.5°, 12° | Adjustable Yes (+/- 1.5º) | Stock shaft Fujikura Ventus Red 5 (S, R, A) | Stock Grip Lamkin Crossline Black/Red 50g 0.600 Round
With no sliding sole weight or need to tie up any of the mass freed up from the new carbon face to create a track, the Stealth driver has a 15% higher MOI than the Stealth Plus+.
That means extra forgiveness and ball speed protection when shots are sprayed across the face.
The Stealth is very much the mass market model, which means it will be the most popular version. Like the previous SIM drivers, the standard model has a slightly lighter head (200g vs the Stealth Plus+ at 202g) which is optimised for speed.
TaylorMade say thanks to spinning 200-300rpm less than the Stealth Plus+, and because of the mid-high flight stock shaft, you should see this model as offering mid-high launch with mid-low spin.
Compared to the Stealth HD, expect a more neutral shot shape, but with similar levels of forgiveness.
TaylorMade Stealth Driver Specs
RRP £499 | Lofts 8°, 9°, 10.5° | Adjustable Yes (+/- 1.5º) Stock shaft Project X Hzrdus; Smoke Red RDX 60 (mid flight; X/6.5, S/6.0. R/5.5); Mitsubishi Kai’li White 60 (low flight; X, S) | Stock Grip Lamkin Crossline Black/Red 50g 0.600 Round
TaylorMade have brought into three-driver families since the M1, M2 and M2 D-Type back in 2017.
The Plus+ is Stealth’s lowest spinning model, and TaylorMade say the head will lower backspin by 200-300rpm compared to the standard Stealth.
It’s called Plus+ because there’s a sliding weight track located behind the face, which neither of the others have.
A 10g weight lets golfers dial in a preferred shot shape and/or boost ball speed by locating the weight directly behind the typical impact position.
It’s ideal for players who want to chase distance through lowering spin, and for those who like a more workable driver or want to see drives fly with a particular shape.
TaylorMade Stealth Plus+ Driver Specs
RRP £469 | Men's Lofts 9°, 10.5°, 12° | Women's Lofts 10.5°, 12° | Adjustable Yes (+/- 1.5º) | Stock shaft Fujikura Air Speeder 45 (A, R, S); Aldila Ascent Ladies 45 (L) | Stock Grip Lamkin Crossline Black/Red 50g 0.600 Round; Lamkin Ladies Sonar 38g 0.580 Round
HD stands for High Draw. But that right-to-left ball flight doesn’t come at the expense of forgiveness. TaylorMade say that by lumping weight in the heel, some draw models accidentally lower MOI and off-centre hit forgiveness – that isn’t the case here.
Thanks to its lighter, higher-launching Fujikura Air Speeder stock shaft and adjusted internal weighting, this is a high launch mid spin driver with maximum draw bias.
A women’s Stealth HD has the same face and forgiveness tech, with subtle cosmetic differences and its own Aldila Ascent shaft.
TaylorMade Stealth HD Driver Specs
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Personalise your Stealth driver
Personalised golf clubs have become big business in golf in the 21st Century, which is why TaylorMade will offer a raft customisation options in the Stealth Plus+ model.
You'll be able to choose from:
Six face colours: Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange, and Grey
Two body colours: Black and Chalk (right hand only)
Two crown finishes: Gloss or Matte, with or without the TaylorMade ‘T-logo’
Eight sole decal colours: Blue, Black, Red, Orange, Green, Gold, Pale Blue and Volt
Two head covers: Mono or Colour
Priced at £579, MyStealth will be offered in 9° and 10.5° lofts and features fully customisable shaft and grip components. Pre-orders are open now at taylormadegolf.eu
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Jerram is the Digital Editor of
He has been a journalist for more than 20 years, starting his career with Johnston Press where he covered local and regional news and sport in a variety of editorial roles across ten years.
Rob joined Bauer Media in 2010 and worked as the Senior Production Editor of Today's Golfer and Golf World magazines for ten years before moving into the Digital Editor's role in July 2020.
He has been playing golf for almost three decades and has been a member at Greetham Valley Golf Club in Rutland for eight years, playing off 12.