Face off: TaylorMade RSi 2 v TaylorMade SLDR iron

What difference do face slots really make?

Andy Roberts's picture
Thu, 6 Nov 2014

Face off: TaylorMade RSi 2 v TaylorMade SLDR iron

GOLFMAGIC this week pitted the TaylorMade SLDR iron up against the brand new TaylorMade RSi 2 iron to quantify the difference between accuracy and distance on off-centre hits.

According to TaylorMade, 'nobody's perfect and mis-hits happen, even for the best players in the world'. Results gathered by TaylorMade from thousands of club fittings revealed 76% of all iron shots are mis-hits struck outside the centre of the face (where the fastest ball speeds are produced).

With that in mind, TaylorMade last month unveiled revolutionary new Face Slot Technology to improve the consistency and distance on off-centre strikes by creating forgiveness across the entire face of its new RSi irons

Do new face slots really iron out inaccuracies in our game?

We headed to World of Golf in New Malden to find out...

Testers

Golfmagic Reader Brian Tracy (5-handicap)
Golfmagic Assistant Editor Andy Roberts (8-handicap)
Golfmagic Reader Ben Chappell (11-handicap)

Test

SLDR 6-iron (28-deg; 3.4 offset; 37.25 length; D2; KBS Tour C-Taper 90 S)

Released earlier this year, the SLDR iron features a Speed Pocket with ThruSlot Technology - characterised by a 2mm-wide slot that is cut high up behind the face. This enables a large area of the face to flex and rebound at impact, resulting in faster ball speed, a higher launch angle, strong ball flight and a steep, quick stopping descent angle.

RSi 2 6-iron (27-deg; 3.6 offset; 37.25 length; D2; KBS Tour 105 S)

With brand new Face Slot Technology working in tangent with an improved Speed Pocket with Thru Slot Technology, the new RSi 2 iron provides the golfer with forgiveness across the entire face as opposed to just on the bottom when catching the ball thin.

Both SLDR and RSi 2 irons are very similar in appearance with the exception of the new face slots on the RSi 2 and the shinier looks of the SLDR. Both irons are aimed at the better player and the RSi 2 is a direct replacement for the SLDR. 

How we collated data

We used a Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor with high-speed stereoscopic camera to measure a comprehensive range of shot data including impact location, club speed, ball speed, launch, spin, carry distance and offline dispersion. 

We placed stickers around the corners of the face of both SLDR and RSi 2 irons so our iPad could show us where we struck the ball on the face. It would have obviously been ideal to use face tape to easily spot the impact location by looking at the tape after the strike, but we found this affected spin significantly.

For each tester with both SLDR iron and RSi 2 iron, we used data for two 'centre' hits and two 'toe' hits. We found perfecting 'toe' strikes were much easier than 'heel' strikes and so we compared both centre and toe shots. 

Despite frequently hitting the ball off-centre when we're out playing, actually hitting the ball in the low or mid toe isn't always easy to perfect when you're actually trying to hit one!

For a 'toe' shot to count in our test, we needed to see the impact location anywhere between 15mm and 25mm on the low toe or mid toe on our screen, see below.

Any shots that were significantly struck fat or duffed were disregarded to ensure a fair test. 

Results

Brian

SLDR        Club speed  Ball speed  Launch  Spin  Carry  Offline
Centre 19211414.55500  1734R
Centre 29111314.156001723L
Low Toe8911113.958001658L
Mid Toe9010813.760001669L
RSi 2
Centre 19311416.153001742R
Centre 29211515.854001754R
Low Toe9111214.156001705L
Mid Toe9111213.857001715L

Andy

SLDR        Club speed  Ball speed  Launch  Spin  Carry  Offline
Centre 19111315.148001734L
Centre 29211115.449001774L
Low Toe8911013.251001655L
Mid Toe8810812.453001668L
RSi 2
Centre 19311515.352001752L
Centre 29211415.651001744L
Low Toe9111217.153001714L
Mid Toe9011216.854001705L

Ben

SLDR        Club speed  Ball speed  Launch  Spin  Carry  Offline
Centre 19211514.556001755L
Centre 29211415.154001764R
Low Toe9111014.359001688L
Mid Toe9010914.956001699R
RSi 2
Centre 19311414.856001763L
Centre 29311315.255001753R
Low Toe9211213.858001714L
Mid Toe9111114.457001705L

Conclusion

After the test, we sat down over a bite to eat to discuss whether or not the new face slots were a gimmick or piece of revolutionary genius from our friends at TaylorMade.

Let's just say our slider was placed more toward the latter. 

By no means a 'gimmick', Face Slot Technology certainly does what TaylorMade says it should in the sense it provides the golfer with even more forgiveness across the entire face rather than just on the bottom.

Although we didn't look too much into heel hits as we all found these were much tougher to perfect than toe hits, there's no question our toe strikes were travelling much further on average with the RSi 2 iron than the SLDR iron.

Ball speed and clubhead speed were also much more consistent and stable on mis-hits, and on the whole, mis-hits were more wayward with the SLDR as you can see from our results. 

The difference in carry distance lost between mis-hits and centre hits was much less with the RSi 2 iron. All three testers lost approximately eight to nine yards with the SLDR iron and only four to five yards with the RSi 2. 

From previously testing the RSi 2 iron several weeks ago, we thought it was particularly easy to hit, easy to get airborne and seemed to go a good distance beyond our original expectations. Our latest test proved no different. 

There was no harshness on any shots struck with the RSi 2 during this particular testing session at World of Golf (whether from the centre or off the toe) and apart from thumping the mat a little too hard, we were all hard-pressed to know whether the ball came off the toe or not - thankfully we could check the GC2 with HMT monitor. If you miss the face completely, though, then this iron will still feel dreadful - so don't think you can get away with putting any old swing on it! The face flex only seems to help mis-hits that are within the score lines on the face. 

The second question we asked ourselves was is the RSi 2 iron really worth switching to if someone is currently gaming the SLDR iron right now?

Our answer was an emphatic 'perhaps'. 

Without question, RSi 2 iron represents one of the most forgiving better player irons in TaylorMade's illustrious history. It oozes class down at address, particularly as it's not as shiny as the SLDR, has an even better feeling KBS Tour shaft on board, is much more workable than before, and it obviously comes with the new Face Slot Technology and improved Speed Pocket with Thru Slot Technology.

Video Review: TaylorMade RSi irons

Is it any longer? Off-centre hits, yes. Out the middle, not really. Then again, added yardage is not the road TaylorMade has gone down with this one. If you strive for distance and currently game the SLDR, which is currently available for around £500, then we don't believe you'll get too much more bang for your buck by switching to the RSi 2, available for £699 from November 14. 

If you crave more forgiveness, however, and want to get yourself closer to the flag or carry that water hazard by a couple of feet to spare rather than be 80 yards back at the drop zone unzipping that ball pocket, the RSi 2 iron is an absolute no brainer for 2015. We personally love it here at Golfmagic, and we think you will too. 

If you're currently playing the SLDR iron or are thinking about switching to play one of the new RSi irons, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the forum below. You can also tweet us @Golfmagic

First Look: TaylorMade RSi irons
Golfmagic Video: TaylorMade RSi 1 and RSi 2 irons review
Video: TaylorMade Face Slot Technology education 
Tour pro reaction: Sergio Garcia reviews RSi irons