By now, the golfing public is well aware of the TaylorMade SLDR Driver, the one that Callaway spokesman Phil Michelson played around with at the President’s Cup. According to his contract, Phil is allowed to do that so no harm, no foul.
The SLDR driver has the lowest and most forward center of gravity of any driver they have ever produced. This produces a higher launch with less spin which equates to longer drives. It also offers more forgiveness and is light enough to produce slightly faster ball speeds.
Its biggest draw (pun intended) is the 20 gram sliding weight which produces either a draw or a fade depending upon your mood. The sliding weight is a lot easier and quicker to adjust than other Taylormade clubs with moveable weights and allow for more precise tuning.
Equipment geeks will notice that there is one thing missing for the SLDR driver: TaylorMade’s “face angle adjuster,” which allows golfers to adjust the face angle to various levels of open, closed or square in the soled position. The face angle adjuster was popular on previous TaylorMade drivers such as the R7 and R1 models. By losing the sole plate and the two moveable weight ports, The SLDR produced a much better sound and feel, something TaylorMade felt was more appealing to the masses.
The SLDR driver is available in four different lofts: 8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees. Each head is adjustable +/- 1.5 degrees giving it a range of 6.5 degrees to 13.5 degrees — three degrees greater than the R1. The SLDR’s traditional, glossy gray crown gives it a more classic look than other recent TaylorMade drivers.
Once drivers hit their maximum head size of 460cc, I began to wonder if the driver market would taper off. Just the opposite has proved to be true. Companies such as TaylorMade and Callaway have been introducing multiple new products within a calendar year. TaylorMade introduced the R1 last January and the SLDR in August of 2013. I used to look forward to the PGA Show each January in Orlando, FL so that I could see the latest and greatest equipment. While a lot of companies still use this venue to showcase new products, more and more are introducing new equipment at various times in the year.
That being said, the trend the last few years has been to give golfers flexibility with their equipment – namely drivers. Allow them to change the loft and move the head around to hit a draw or a fade. Until recently, adding more options meant adding more weight; after all that’s what helped create this flexibility. With the SLDR, the added weight is located precisely where TaylorMade prefers to add weight – low and forward in the head.
Not only that, but sliding systems offer far more center of gravity options than moveable weight systems. The 20 gram sliding weight on the SLDR are more than double the weight of the moveable weight on the R1. That means twice as much influence on the driver’s center of gravity than the R1 offers. Plus, the R1 had two center of gravity options; the SLDR offers 21 different center of gravity locations which are mapped out on the driver’s sole between the club’s heel and toe.
A sliding weight is not totally new. In 2007, Mizuno introduced the MP-600, however the Mizuno club had its sliding weight system in the back of the driver. With the SLDR, the sliding weight track is located in the front of the driver, which again creates higher launch and lower-spin conditions – something TaylorMade has been touting for years.
Many at TaylorMade believe that the SLDR is the best driver TaylorMade has ever produced. Between the creation of faster ball speed, lower spin and adjustability that even the most elementary golfer can perform easily, it is arguably their best driver to date.
The SLDR driver sells for about $399 and is available in four different lofts, 8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees. It comes stock with Fujikura’s Speeder 57 shaft in regular, stiff and extra stiff shafts. The SLDR is sold at a stock length of 45.5 inches. This driver is made to hit the ball longer and straighter than any product TaylorMade has introduced.
For more information, please visit the TaylorMade website at www.taylormadegolf.com.