By Jason Bruno
When I arrived back at the office from a course review in Texas a few weeks ago, there was a box
from TaylorMade awaiting my return. I had seen and heard about the new SLDR, but had yet to check
it out for myself and was anxious to see what all of the chatter on Tour was about. I wasn't disappointed
upon first sight . . . the appearance of the SLDR driver is glossy uncluttered eye candy. I couldn't wait to
test it out. The folks at TMAG sent me the "Alpha" version - the TP model in 10.5 loft with the 67 gram
Fujikura Motore Speeder shaft (Tour Spec 6.3), PERFECT! So no need for me to pop in one of my premium
aftermarket shafts to get an accurate assessment of this beast.
This was an odd time for TMAG to release a new big stick, the golf season up north is winding down,
the PGA Tour season is over (and after all, the R1 wasn't exactly long in the tooth - only 7 months old).
The SLDR is certainly a different animal from the past few drivers from TaylorMade. First off, the SLDR
does not have a white crown (it's actually charcoal gray with a gloss finish), or loud graphics like the R1.
The chrome button-back on the rear of the crown aides with alignment and is a nice accent. SLDR's new
weight system has changed from the original round cartridges - to one-20 gram flat sliding weight along
a slot on the sole. Gone (for the time being) is the adjustable face angle dial that was so popular on the
R1. The SLDR comes in 8, 9.5, 10.5 & 12 degrees, but can be adjusted via the shaft sleeve (at 1.5 degree
Although the SLDR is not nearly as adjustable as the race stripe crowned R1, it does boast a few
aces in it's deck. First off, when you set it down at address, it looks clean - nothing distracting.
The ease of moving the 20 gram weight from draw to fade via the set screw is literally 10 seconds.
Also the sound and feel of this driver is perhaps the best TMAG has produced since the R7 Superquad
(a club that players like Retief Goosen and Tom Lehman refused to part with, till just recently).
Ok, it looks great and has great sound & feel, but how does it perform. The first thing I noticed
was how easy it is to work the ball in either direction. My first few swings were in the evening
after work with no initial warm up - boom! Slight draws right in the center of the fairway, after
playing around with the set up during my next full range session and the next few rounds, I settled
on the stock neutral settings. I prefer a slight right to left ball flight and the neutral set up seems
to be slighty draw bias. When moving the weight over to the fade setting my draws became dead
straight with a hint of a push (my usual miss). The feel at impact is springy not harsh, downright
trampoline like - the ball jumps off the face and with a non-jarring sound. After the first half dozen
drives, I knew my present gamer had no chance of staying in my bag.
After the first full testing session, I noticed the SLDR TP felt a touch heavy, so we tested the specs.
When I put the SLDR on the swing weight scale, it sure enough measured out at D5.3, just a bit over
the listed D4. Once I installed my usual Lamkin 3Gen midsize grip (slightly heavier then the stock TM
grip), the SLDR was perfectly swing weighted at D4.
I immediately started gaming the stick and even put it in play in my Mid Am Qualifier just 10 days
after taking it out of the box. Rather than the usual launch monitor session with a new driver, I
wanted to play the club and not judge it based solely on launch angles, spin rates and distance
#'s. I noticed when I set up to hit it high, it carried LONG . . . when I played a controlled
medium/lower shot it was the typical distance of the drivers we previously tested. The two longest
drivers we have tested in 2013 are the Cobra Amp Cell (with an upgraded Matrix Red Tie shaft) and
the SLDR TP. At one point in my Qualifier last week, I faced a dogleg right par 4 - you either play
safe left into the fairway (and have a much longer approach) or take on the fairway bunker
guarding the right corner (a 250 yard carry). Although it was a stroke play competition, I wanted
to know if I had the cajones to go for it under the gun, and whether the SLDR TP had the horsepower
to justify this leap of faith. I set up right at the bunker and launched my best, it was a long five
seconds while that ball was in flight - then I saw the ball clear the sand by 10 yards and bound
forward into the center of the fairway! Just a wedge in, on a hole I had often hit 6 and 7 iron . . .
the SLDR had instantly gained my respect (and my playing partners as well). Once I did hit the monitor,
the #'s validated the results I saw on the course:
Swing Speed -105 mph
Ball Speed - 156 mph
Spin Rate-2450 rpm
The SLDR TP is a players club, the Fujikura Speeder 67 shaft demands a moderately fast swing speed
(minimum 100 -105 mph) . . . but the regular stock version is 57 grams and produces a higher ball flight
for the masses (swing speeds below 100mph). TMAG is touting more loft as the way to go, and from a
guy who played 9 degree drivers the past 20 years, I'm now playing a 10.5 and I couldn't agree more.
Surely there is an SLDR for everyone, get fit before plucking down the bucks. The club I rarely change
is my putter, the only club I often change is the driver . . . it might be awhile before this bad boy gets
- Longest TaylorMade driver ever
- Low-and-forward CG promotes high launch, fast speed and low spin for huge distance
- Easy and intuitive SLDR movable weight promotes up to 30 yards of shot shape adjustment
- Increase or reduce the loft 1.5° with 12-position loft-sleeve
- Silver button-back works with subtle crown markings for easy clubface alignment
- Fujikura Motore Speeder TS 6.3 shaft blends light weight with great feel and playability
- Stunning modern-classic shape with charcoal-gray crown
For more info visit: http://taylormadegolf.com