TaylorMade SLDR driver

We test the best golf drivers for beginners and better players

TaylorMade SLDR driver

Brand: TaylorMade
Driver: SLDR
RRP: £349 Best price: £240
Lie: 59-62-degree Length: 45.5” Swing Weight: D4
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 57 Grip: TM 360

Summary: SLDR, featuring a modern-classic shape with charcoal grey crown, has a low-forward CG to promote high launch, fast ball speed and low spin for even greater distance. A simple sliding 20g weight is positioned towards the front of the driver helps move the CG low and forward. Simply slide the weight towards the hosel for a draw, or slide the weight towards the toe for a fade. TaylorMade claims its SLDR sliding weight promotes up to 30 yards of shot shape adjustment. The golfer is also able to increase or reduce the loft of the SLDR up to 1.5-degree with a 12-position loft-sleeve for optimal trajectory, while the silver button-back works with subtle crown markings aids easy clubface alignment. TaylorMade's philosophy this year, with the SLDR and new JetSpeed drivers, is to Loft Up. The results, as have been proven on Tour thus far in 2014, speak volumes.

Feature: Why Loft Up with TaylorMade?

Looks: Placing SLDR down at address in rare sun-kissed Oxford sunshine there's a modern, classic looking head shape on offer, in a pleasing charcoal grey and black crown. Aesthetically, it reminds us very much of the TaylorMade 200 Steel from nearly ten years back. We were taken by the silver button-back that works well with the subtle crown markings and aids simple alignment - no doubt a smart move from TM to ensure TV viewers watching from behind know exactly which driver a player is teeing up with. Turning clubhead over into palm of glove and there's a simple sliding 20g weight on display, positioned towards the front of the driver. This allows you to move the club's centre of gravity low and forward to promote that desired high launch, faster ball speed and lower spin, which yes you guessed it, creates what TaylorMade claims to be its longest-driver-to-date. If there's a slight negative in comparison to the previous R1 and R11 drivers, then it's the fact there's no face angle adjuster, a sole plate that allowed you to adjust face angle to open, closed or square in the soled position. The problem with this is that some golfers will be forced to manipulate the face angle to their desired position at address. No biggie though. 4.5 (out of 5)

Feel: Then again, a plus point from ditching the sole plate and other weighting gizmos is a much more pleasing sound at impact. We must admit none of us were fans of the tinny impact sound of the R1 and R11, and so the SLDR represents much better sound and feedback qualities than its predecessors. It's a thorough pop sound as the ball flies off the face. Standard shaft stable enough, but we'd recommend you get custom fit both in terms of lofting up and a new shaft to reap the rewards. 9.5 (out of 10)

Performance: There's no doubting the SLDR's lower and more forward CG promotes the hotter launch, lower spin and faster ball speed that we were all enjoying. Longest driver in the test for our 21-handicapper Kelvin. With CG lower and further forward, all four of us were able to launch the ball on a higher trajectory with much less spin. SLDR proved one of the longest drivers in this test, and all four of us were using a 10.5-degree spec. 9.25 (out of 10)

Verdict: Easy to see why this is the No.1 driver currently used on Tour. It looks, feels and performs better than any other TaylorMade driver we've struck before. High launch, low spin combination could not be more ideal. Much easier to adjust than the R1 before it with a more powerful sliding mechanism that gives the driver its ultra low, forward CG. Expensive at £349 but it's readily available online for little more than £200 and if you can it for that, you're onto a winner and arguably the best driver in TaylorMade's history. Just remember to get yourself fit and to loft up. 23.25 (out of 25)

Click here to read our full TaylorMade SLDR driver review and click this link for our PGA Show interview with TaylorMade's Executive Vice President Sean Toulon.

Next driver, Titleist 913D2

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