Robotic testing data reveals how Rory McIlroy’s driver got even better

rory mcilroy bag spy

McIlroy said TaylorMade's Qi10 is "best driver" he's had in years.

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

Rory McIlroy has been on staff with TaylorMade Golf since 2017 when he inked a lucrative multi-year equipment deal. When you’re getting paid millions to endorse a particular brand, the general assumption is constructive criticism goes out the window. Every product is a game-changer that will help weekend golfers gain 20 yards. There’s no gray area. It’s all great.

While that might be the case for some players, McIlroy isn’t one of them. When a particular club is working, he’s more than willing to sing its praises. The same thing goes when things are amiss. Few offer more honest assessments of the gear they are paid to play than McIlroy.

Coming off a dominant performance at the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy was asked during his pre-tournament press conference at Valhalla Golf Club, site of this week’s PGA Championship, if he could expound on his recent run of good form with the driver — a club that’s separated him from many of his peers during his career. When McIlroy’s driving it on a string, he’s practically unbeatable.

taylormade qi10 robot
TaylorMade Qi10 driver data from GOLF’s robotic testing. GOLF

“From a driving perspective, yeah, I think it’s probably the best driver I’ve had in the last few years,” McIlroy said. “I’ve really gotten comfortable with the driver, and I think some of the technical things in my swing are just a little bit better, and the good drives are still very good but the bad drives aren’t as bad so the misses aren’t as wild.”

It’s easy to read through McIlroy’s comments and chalk it up to “marketing-speak.” Every driver is the “best driver” and helps mitigate the bad misses. However, if you take a closer look at McIlroy’s comments, the specific praise he heaped on TaylorMade’s Qi10 “core” driver (also known as the standard head) is actually warranted: “[T]he bad drives aren’t as bad so the misses aren’t as wild.”

TaylorMade Qi10 Custom Driver

Wrapped in a clean and confident package, the Qi10 driver has been strategically engineered to help players optimize distance and enhance forgiveness.  THE QUEST FOR INERTIA TaylorMade’s goal with the Qi10 family is to make each driver as forgiving as possible, using advanced multi-material constructions to increase inertia. Qi10 is engineered for a balanced blend of distance and forgiveness. COMPLETE PERFORMANCE The Qi10 Driver features a lower CG projection and higher MOI than its predecessor, delivering balanced performance without any tradeoffs. NEW INFINITY CARBON CROWN An Infinity Carbon Crown covers 97% of the total crown area, creating a strategic advantage for mass redistribution and enhanced forgiveness.
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Today’s 460cc driver heads are designed to be ultra-forgiving and provide some semblance of ball speed protection on even the worst misses. But there’s no such thing as a perfect driver. In most cases, design sacrifices have to be made to produce certain launch, spin and forgiveness characteristics. Pull one lever and you have to release another. There’s always a performance tradeoff that has to be made.

At least that was the case until “unicorn drivers” started popping up in the equipment space. Cobra’s LTDx was one of the first to go through GOLF’s rigorous 9-point robotic driver test and see almost no distance drop across the entire face, making it a perfect option for golfers with inconsistent contact.

taylormade qi10 rory driver
A look at the carbon face of McIlroy’s Qi10 driver. Jonathan Wall

We bring up LTDx because McIlroy’s Qi10 head is the first to make a run at the unicorn title. During this year’s round of robotic testing with Golf Laboratories, high-toe misses actually gained distance. It’s a staggering insight that highlights the significant improvements made to TaylorMade’s carbon twist face construction since it was introduced three years ago.

Even more impressive was the fact that Qi10 saw distance decrease by roughly 6 yards across all 9 points on the face at 95 mph, making it a strong option for golfers with inconsistent contact or pros simply trying to tighten up their most vexing miss.

It’s hard to imagine McIlroy getting better with the driver in his hands, but Qi10 does, indeed, mitigate carry distance loss in a big way on many common mishit locations. When you’re swinging it at 120-plus mph where even the slightest miss is magnified, having a face construction that makes the “wild” misses playable is one hell of an asset. The robotic testing data confirms Rory’s onto something.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.


Jonathan Wall Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at

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