Welcome to Devil Ball's Proving Ground, where we put the latest golf gear through its paces. Today we look at the TaylorMade SLDR driver.
Tester — Shane Bacon — Handicap: +2.2
Target Golf Audience — All handicaps
When TaylorMade announced the SLDR driver, I think a lot of us were initially shocked by the complete change in the idea of TaylorMade. This is a company that dominated the golf industry with the R11 and white-headed drivers in general, bringing out multiple versions that were well received all across the world.
This SLDR driver didn't look anything like what TaylorMade has hung their hat on over the last couple of years, but once you start messing around with the SLDR you realize that this is just another big jump with the technology of the second most important golf club in our bags.
It's a beautiful clubhead, with the charcoal-gray crown looking menacing and solid, and I was really happy to see the company move away from too many graphics on the crown and just letting the color, and golf club, do the talking (There is a small graphic towards the back of the crown but it is just enough to add a little something but not too much to take away from what the club is there to do).
The top of the club is what you have to look at over and over again when you're actually on the golf course, but the SLDR is one of the few golf clubs that causes you to spend as much time on the underbelly as you do anywhere else.
I've said for a long time that adjustable golf clubs are both a blessing and a curse, with the blessing being you have the ability to change your golf club into a ton of different lofts, lies and face angles, but the curse is simply the idea of always tinkering with the club, never being truly happy with what you have it set at.
The SLDR is one of the first golf clubs I've seen in the modern era to explain what exactly it does right in front of your face. Do you want it to draw more? Simply roll the moveable weight towards the back of the club and the SLDR will make it easier to turn the ball over. Want more of a fade? It's as easy as unscrewing, moving the weight a few inches, and tightening it back up (you can put this golf club in 21 different moveable weight positions, which means there is something there for you no matter your common ball flight).
The golf club moves the CG weight to the front of the golf club, which is something unusual these days, but it helps maximize the distance and the first few times you catch the sweet spot while on the course shows exactly what the company is telling you.
The SLDR is LONG, simple as that, and the idea of a weight towards the front of the club actually allows you to get the ball in the air quicker, lowering the spin and getting the most out of your golf swing.
When the SLDR was introduced on tour, a lot of the guys were adding loft to their drivers and still getting the same distance results, which is nice considering more loft usually means straighter ball flight. I had the same experience, adding more and more loft and hitting the ball as far, if not further, than I had with other drivers with less loft.
I've really enjoyed what TaylorMade has produced over the last few years, because I think they've done a good job at changing the way we look at golf clubs, but I must say that this SLDR is the most solid of all the drivers they've made.
I loved the way the ball exploded off the club, I love the way this club looks over the ball and I love being able to go to the range and mess around with it depending on what you want to do with the golf ball (playing in a scramble? Crank that bad boy all the way to draw and try to hit that big hook!).
As we've seen with TaylorMade, any of their golf clubs will be hits, but this one is definitely as justified as any they've produced.