Review: Taylormade SLDR Driver

This new driver is a SRPRS
The new Taylormade driver the SLDR was a SuRPRiSe (SRPRS).  It seems like it came out of nowhere with its introduction.  It had been suddenly spotted on tour, it wasn’t white, it didn’t have MWT, nor many of the other features we have come to expect from Taylormade.  Actually it almost looked like it went backwards technology wise from the R1 to the SLDR.  While some things bring back some memories of the old R500 series drivers, this SRPRS turned out to be way better than expected.
One of my constant needs with a driver is lower spin.  I rarely find a stock driver that is low enough spin to optimize my swing.  I’ve found a few ways to get to those lower spin numbers I need, upgraded shafts or lower lofted heads, but generally speaking, it is custom upgrade to find the ideal launch and spin numbers.  I found the stock SLDR to be really good right off the rack, it has a good launch with low spin.  I’m guessing with a tiny shaft tweak I could maximize potential even more, but at this point, the stock shaft and head are one of the best I’ve had in the bag for 2013.

I think that the Taylormade SLDR is a step backward in a most positive way.  Personally I was tired of looking at the white painted heads and the black face just doesn’t screen Taylormade to me.  The SLDR on the other hand is everything I love about the old Taylormade.  The dark crown, the silver face and the great sound.  I couldn’t believe how much better the auditory feedback was from the SLDR.  I hit it side by side with my R1 and was blown away at how the SLDR was just like my old R5 series drivers.  The silver face just looks right as it sits behind the ball too.  Nice and tall with just the right slashes for score lines on the face.  Yet it retained the fully adjustable hosel for up and down and around to get the right launch parameters for your swing.

The SLDR technology has been debated ad nauseam online throughout the forums of who did it first and where is the best place to have it on a club.  It doesn’t really matter to me except that it works in small amounts.  It is not going to turn a slice into a hook or work some miracle mojo on the ball, but it will help slight directional issues.  As you can see I went with a lower lofted setting on the hosel and a slider fade bias with the weight.  It seemed about the ideal setting right now since I was pulling a number of my driver ever so slightly and hitting up the left side of the fairway.  With this setting, it seems to start on the same path and just move slightly back toward the center line.  It worked on the course for me as I’ve been averaging 13 of 14 fairways in my last 3 rounds with it.

As you can see from the picture above, I hit mostly in the center of the face with a pattern about the total circumference of the ball.  I hit it mostly inside the outer score lines.  I think that this entire area offers equal results.  I had great consistency and was plenty long.  I had probably my best day driving the ball in 2013 with this in the bag.  I was playing a tee back from where I normally do and yet landed in all the same spots I would typically land a tee up.  To be fair some holes it wasn’t a big difference, but a couple it was huge.

The stock shaft is a SRPRS too.  It is very good.  I think it is loosely based on the Fujikura 757 shaft.  It isn’t exactly the same, but it is very stable and what I really liked was how consistently I hit the center of the face with it.  It tried my R1 shaft in the head and I was all over the face, but the Speeder 57 works with this head.  It has smooth feel with not too strong of a kick, but more of a release.

New to IndependentGolfReview is Flightscope testing.  I believe on-course play is very important in order to see how a club performs, but I think at times our eyes can deceive us.  The Flightscope’s radar based tracking measures every last detail to see if what is found on the course is actually true.  There are many different ways to use the Flightscope data.  It actually has more information collected than most can make use of.  I’m working through the process of how best to test clubs on the Launch Monitor.  I’ve hit buckets of balls with different drivers and decided to hit 20 with the SLDR and take the best 10.  Each review will have a chart of averages and a screen shot of one of the better ones.  I really believe that getting fit outside on a Flightscope is the best way to do it.  If you can add 9 or 18 holes with that fitting it is even better, but not always realistic.

The Taylormade SLDR driver was a SRPRS to me.  Just because tour guys were hitting it well, they hit everything well, doesn’t mean it is that much better.  When I saw it with my own eyes I was really impressed.  It is exactly what I needed for my game.  Good launch with low spin right off the rack with the stock shaft.  If you used to play a Taylormade driver but couldn’t do the white, this is definitely the driver for you.  It has that look and feel of a past generation Taylormade driver, but brings some adjustablity, forgiveness and added distance to the table.  The SLDR was a SRPRS move by Taylormade, but I’m glad they didn’t wait with this driver.

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Quick Hits
+SRPRSing results
+Low spin off the rack
+Very forgiving
+Good stock shaft
+Dark crown and silver face