The new SLDR from TaylorMade has been touted as their longest driver ever, so we decided to test it in The Cluboratory. The distance is said to be accomplished by moving CG (center of gravity) low and forward to promote a higher launch with much lower spin and faster ball speeds across the face. There is a 20 gram weight on the sole which can be slid from heel to toe for desired ball flight; towards the heel for a draw and near the toe for a fade. For the first time in a driver, the golfer/fitter can adjust CG to make the ball do what we want it to do. With CG set so far forward, the club does launch slightly lower than most other drivers, with three different static loft options (9.5, 10.5, 12) and adjustable effective loft 1.5 degrees up or down we can make this head fit most golfers to achieve high launch and low spin. Players ultimately gain distance by hitting it straighter and higher. The SLDR seems to be more attractive to the eye and ear as well, with a charcoal-gray crown and solid resonance at impact. Standard shaft is the Fujikura speeder 57; a lightweight shaft which helps to promote a high launch and faster ball speeds. The TP (Tour Preferred) version features a Fujikura Motore Speeder Tour Spec 6.3 (67g) shaft that promotes the same shot characteristics as the standard shaft, but at a slightly heavier weight for the stronger player.
Here at Miles of Golf we independently tested SLDR compared to the R1 driver on the TRACKMAN launch monitor. SLDR 9.5 w/TP shaft and R1 with TP shaft were tested. Both drivers were tested at; a neutral setting, at a full draw setting and full fade setting. The results favored SLDR for its lower spin characteristics, higher efficiency and its ability to manipulate ball flight from right to left and left to right. The results were as follows:
|109.6||162 mph||12.2 deg.||2360||1.48||271.0 yd||297.6 yd||6.0 deg.|
|SLDR Draw||110.0||161 mph||13.1 deg.||2981||1.47||262.7 yd||284.3||7.2 deg. left|
|109.4||164 mph||11.4 deg.||2230||1.49||271.1 yd||300.9||2.0 deg. right|
|Ball Speed||Launch Ang.||Spin Rate||Smash||Carry|
|111.4||163.9||12.6||3061||1.47||273.1yd||291.2 yd||2.0 deg Right|
|110.6||161.3||13.8||3345||1.46||268.4 yd||281.5 yd||7.4 deg.|
|110.2||163.8||12.4||2950||1.49||272.9 yd||292.5 yd||.03 deg left|
* Note results are dependent on player and amount of movement in ball flight may vary (spin axis)
Based on fittings conducted in The Cluboratory, here are a few key points:
- Lower spin with the SLDR
- Similar launch angles but the SLDR produces less and more roll
- R1 produces slightly faster ball speeds
In conclusion, the SLDR tested better for low spin players who need higher launch. The adjustability factor allows players of all handicaps to be fit for the SLDR. While the R1 produces slightly faster ball speeds, the benefit is offset by the higher spin rates. All in all, the SLDR provides a performance advantage over R1.