Love them or hate them, no one can deny that TaylorMade has a way when it comes to the color schemes that they use within each line that they release. The SLDR line is no different with its metallic charcoal crown, brushed sole, and blue accents. The result is possibly the best looking fairway wood that TaylorMade has released in years. Even with the small graphic at the rear of the crown it is a clean look, with nothing unnecessary and no bright white finish – it’s just a look that says this one has come to work.
The first change worth mentioning is the smaller overall size of the head. The SLDR 3-wood comes in at 155cc, whereas the last non-TP fairway that TM released was 175cc. It is a sizeable difference for sure. The benefit to this is that the profile of the SLDR looks more like a fairway wood and less like a miniature driver, a definite improvement by many people’s standards. Additionally, the Speed-Pocket is much different than we have become accustomed to as it is smaller and a slightly different shape. Put all of this together and the SLDR fairway wood is an impressive package.
The most recent push from TaylorMade with the introduction of the SLDR driver is that of a more forward and lower CG, which is intended to promote lower spin and faster ball speeds. That same ideology/technology has been applied to the SLDR fairway and hybrid lines as well. Because of the CG movement creating much lower spin, the actual effective loft of the club has become more important as far as achieving optimal launch conditions. The low-spin/loft situation is exactly why TM included their Loft Sleeve technology in the standard version this year and not just the “Tour” version as they did in the past.
By now most golfers know about the purpose of the Speed-Pocket and its role in impacting face flexion and ball speed. As years go by it is now clear that this is a technology in which TaylorMade has bought all the way into across their lines, but rather than settling with it, they are continuing to evolve and improve it. Anyone who has seen the previous models will instantly recognize the difference in the Speed-Pocket within the SLDR. The pocket itself is now filled in with a polymer to prevent debris (a common complaint with prior versions) and also is smaller and slightly u-shaped. Combine this refined Speed-Pocket with the lower spin and higher ball speeds created by the more forward CG and TM believes they have created their longest fairway wood ever.
As has been seen with the SLDR driver, the movement of the CG more forward and lower in the head does indeed affect spin rates and ball speeds on well struck shots, but it can also have a tendency to accentuate misses in both distance and direction. Entering the review similar results were expected out of the 3-wood; however they were definitely not seen in the same amount.
The SLDR fairway has a very nice sound/feel to it upon impact. It’s a slightly lower tone and impressively solid sounding. The nice thing about the sound is that it also gives distinct feedback as to when and where a miss takes place. The actual results of misses seem no more severe than one would expect out of any fairway wood. It is very possible that this comes back to the Speed-Pocket and its redesigned size and shape allowing for increased face flexion and thusly restoring some of the cross face (outside the sweet spot) forgiveness that would typically be lost when the CG is moved more forward and down inside the clubhead. Either way, although it will not be mistaken for an ultra-forgiving fairway wood, it is much more playable than many people may initially think.
It is impressive in today’s golf club industry to see a company developing what they feel to be a revolutionary technology and truly sticking with it as time goes on, rather than just hopping from concept to concept. With TaylorMade, they clearly believe that the Speed-Pocket tech in fairways, hybrids, and even irons is a game changer and something that makes their clubs stand out from many other contenders. Frankly, the results seem to back that quite often, and with the SLDR Fairway wood the Speed-Pocket combined with the lower CG has made for a very interesting club. Additionally, it is certainly nice to see the push that TaylorMade is making about utilizing the ability to adjust the loft in order to find the perfect launch angles with this lower spinning line of clubs. In all, the SLDR Fairway is most definitely at least worth a try for those looking for a change in their bag.
TaylorMade's SLDR fairway wood has been on the PGA TOUR for less than a month, but the new line has already received high marks from a number of players, including Justin Rose and D.A. Points, who put the fairway wood in play the very first week at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Jimmy Walker became the first to win with the SLDR fairway wood when he added one to the bag for the final two rounds of the Frys.com Open and posted 62-66 to secure his first PGA TOUR title.
Similar to the SLDR driver, the new stainless steel fairway wood -- there are five lofts in the line -- has a center of gravity (CG) that's positioned lower and towards the front of the driver, reducing spin by 200 to 300 rpm and increasing the launch angle by 1 degree.
"We have heard from all types of golfers ranging from weekend players to TOUR pros that SLDR is the longest driver they have hit," said Tom Olsavsky, TaylorMade's Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods. "This eye-opening distance gain is a result of the low and forward CG placement. This is the Holy Grail for distance and we anticipate similar fanfare for the SLDR fairway and Rescue clubs."
The fairway wood also features an updated version of the Speed Pocket that's currently found in the sole of the RocketBallz and RocketBallz Stage 2. The difference between the two slots is that the SLDR face is unsupported, allowing the face to flex without resistance.
In an effort to keep debris out of the slot -- players noted that grass and dirt kept getting caught inside the slot -- TaylorMade covered it with a polymer fill.
Golfers will also be able to adjust the loft on the SLDR fairway woods, plus or minus 1.5 degrees, via the loft sleeve.
While the SLDR driver and fairway wood share are number of performance traits, the fairway wood doesn't feature a sliding weight channel in the sole.