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Forum Member Reviews! TaylorMade 14* SLDR

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The fellows at TaylorMade keepcoming back for more! This time around, they've asked our members to really really Loft Up+. Each of our testers for this round wassent a Media Kit for the 14* SLDR Driver.

 

For this review, I've asked the testers to embrace hittingthe ball high. MGS reviews are about being fair and partial, and expecting a low ball flight is like expecting a steak to taste likelobster. It's not going to happen.

 

Otherwise though, the testers, as always, are free to writewhat they'd like. We'll be looking at driving range performance (i.e. going allout) and on the course performance (real world stuff).

 

 

 

 

 SLDR Website

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SLDR 14Ëš Driver Review - Initial Impressions from BK

 

When the FedEx man dropped this off at my door I was uber-excited.  I felt like my kids on Christmas morning when they woke up and saw the drum set Santa brought them. 

 

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While Santa really should NOT bring kids drum sets he can bring me a new Taylormade driver whenever he wants.  Doesn't even have to be Christmas.

 

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Giddy with excitement I opened up the box only to see the head had scratches on it.  Seriously…a brand new head with scratches on it.  That's not cool. 

 

A few years ago I bought a brand spanking new car.  I got it home, parked in the driveway, and my 3 year old proceeded to start smacking the door with a baseball bat.  I was deflated.  I felt the same way when I saw the scratches on the brand new SLDR. 

 

Fortunately they weren't too deep and a little time on the buffing wheel and they are hardly noticeable. I'm going to end up scratching it myself eventually anyway.

 

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The packaging however….was cool.  The oversized box with everything in it's own little compartment made you feel like you were getting something really special (you are, by the way). 

 

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THE BOX contained a pretty cool media kit promoting the launch of the SLDR.   This kit included the Speeder 57 shaft, the 14Ëš driver head, the headcover, a SLDR flash drive filled with videos and photos, a TM wrench, and an ugly hat.

 

I love love love the look of this driver….pretty techno on the sole yet classic on the crown.  The dark graphite crown and subtle alignment aids make this a really classy looking driver at address.

 

 

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Taylormade must have hired a MUCH better club designer (or two) since releasing that crazy R1.  The guy who designed the HAT should probably get canned though.  I don't get including a hat that nobody would wear.  I'd put a Ricky Fowler flatbill on my 44 year old noggin before I'd wear this thing.  I tried to give it to my 7 year old daughter….she wouldn't wear it either. 

 

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I'm looking forward to “Lofting Up” and putting this stick through the wringer.  I'm currently playing a 10Ëš R1, which edged the D3 out of my bag last year.  It should prove to be a good showdown considering the launch monitor numbers on my R1 (16.4Ëš/1950rpm) are already pretty close to Taylormade's “magic” numbers of 17Ëš/1700rpm.  I DO think there are yards to be gained lofting up. 

 

Stay tuned for the results……..

 

 

 

 

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SLDR 14˚ – Official MGS Forum Review by BK

 

 

SLDR55.jpg

 

Initial impressions:

 

Before getting the 14° SLDR I had the opportunity to hit the 10° model.  I was on the launch monitor at Golfsmith and compared the 10° SLDR to my 10° R1.  While the launch angle and spin rates were different the total yards were exactly the same. 245.

 

SLDR65.jpg

 

What is interesting to note about this "fitting" was that the guy helping me really seem to be anti-loft. He almost insisted that I needed a loft similar to the driver I was currently playing.

 

This completely goes against what Taylormade is trying to achieve with the SLDR and “lofting up”.  I think in the long run if Taylormade wants even more success than they already have (on this or any future release), they really are going to need to get the big-box stores better educated or trained.  While a lot of golfers turn their noses up at these “big box” stores, a whole lot more go there for clubs and advice.

 

If I wasn't active on the forums and pretty much a club geek…I wouldn't have known that I needed to loft up more than what the "fitter" had fitted me into.

 

I would have walked out of there thinking SLDR is absolutely no longer than my R1.  But the truth of the matter…..

 

 

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Performance

 

The truth of the matter is the SLDR can be much longer.  Or even much shorter.  

 

Now, the word "much" is subjective or at least relative.  â€œMuch”…relative to my average drive is going to be different than “Much” to your average drive. My average drive is 245. They go 240-250 pretty consistently (with the occasional nutted drive going 255ish). So for me, "much” longer (or shorter) means a club. If I can consistently hit one less club into the green (or one more club) that, to me, is "much". 

 

 

Performance at the Range

 

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I started the process with the stock stiff shaft and standard 14° loft (neutral face angle).   Taking that setup to the driving range was disappointing to say the least. I was seeing sky-high balls that ballooned and pretty much just dropped straight out of the sky and rolled maybe an inch. I didn't measure them (because it was a driving range) but they did not roll, and they were much, much shorter...and left. WAY left. 

 

SLDR31.jpg

 

The next step was to turn the loft down to 12.5° which also opened the clubface up. This combo wasn't bad, but still not good.  Less ballooning, but balls were still dropping straight out of the sky.  All carry and no role.  Now, I wouldn't be opposed to no role…as long as I was at least the same distance.  Preferably more.  

 

This however, was not the case.

 

I was losing about 10 to 15 yards. But at least they were not nearly as far left.  The launch monitor confirmed what I was seeing with my nekked eyes. I was again disappointed, and starting to wonder if lofting up wasn't for me.

 

SLDR46.jpg

 

STEP THREE.  The last and final chance for the SLDR: installing the X-Flex Blur shaft I had been playing in my R1 head.

 

Call it a bonus, but the R1 adapter fits the SLDR head.

 

Actually the R1 adapter gives you an extra half-degree loft adjustment in each direction.  So...with the loft turned all the way down to 12Ëš, and the slider set at full fade...off I went to the driving range...again. 

 

SLDR2.jpg

 

WAIT.... Why is a guy with a 92 mph swing speed using an X-flex shaft?  Honestly I can not explain the physics behind it. I have tried every flex available (including ladies), in many many shafts and the X-Flex always tightens things up. I spray it less and am generally much more accurate and consistent. I don't argue with results.

 

Stock Fujikura Speeder Stiff

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X-Flex Fujikura Blur

SLDR-2.jpg

 

 

 

But I digress...

 

FINALLY, RESULTS!!!

 

It was late Friday afternoon when I finally made it to the driving range.

 

What a difference

 

I was watching my ball fly high, landing consistently around the 250 marker and getting some roll from there.  Now I can't wait to try this on the course.

 

Call it a coincidence, call it luck, call it a fluke, call it whatever you like, but the driving range was attached to a golf course, and even though the sun was going down…this golf course had lights.

 

Time for some night golf.

 

 

Range Score: (95 of 100)

 

 

 

Performance on the Course

 

THE FIRST ROUND

 

I don't know what it is about the first tee but I cannot hit a good shot to save my life. I'm better off just aiming at the nearest lake, plunking one in and starting the round laying 2. The SLDR proved to be no exception.

 

After that however, things got more fun. 

 

SLDR38.jpg

 

 

As the night wore on I became more and more comfortable with the SLDR and was consistently finding myself one club closer to the hole.  Remember…that's "much" closer. 

 

I even “vaporized” one as Hula would say…

 

SLDR40.jpg

 

SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS

 

I found myself hitting no more fairways than with previous drivers, but really no less either.  The SLDR is fairly forgiving without getting to the point of impossible to work the ball. I found it no more (or less) difficult to work than the R1.

 

That said though, the D3 I previously bagged was easier to work the ball with, but it was also less forgiving. There always seems to be a catch.  Regardless, it is not tough to get the ball bending with the SLDR. 

 

Misses high on the toe (my most common miss) produced a slight fade with no major loss of distance and usually left me playable in the right rough.  Low heel misses resulted a wicked draw…well into the trees.  Hit the center of the clubface though and BAM! 

 

The ball just goes.
 

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Course Score: (95 of 100)

 

 

Performance Notes

 

BY THE NUMBERS:

 

The launch monitor basically confirmed what I saw on the course and on the range.  In a nutshell…

 

I put my R1 shaft in a SLDR head and gained 9 more yards.

 

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Total Performance Score: (95 of 100)

 

 

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Subjective

 

Looks 

 

I like the look of the SLDR.  I like it a lot.  It is pretty techno on the sole yet classic on the crown.  The charcoal-gray crown and subtle alignment aids make this a really classy looking driver at address.

 

SLDR33.jpg

 

I'm starting to get a little too old to keep up fashion-wise with the young, hot, hip crowd, so maybe I'm just showing my age, but I think the design team knocked it out of the park with this one.  There is no bright white, red, orange, blue (or any other crayon color in the box) on the crown. When you pull it out of the bag you will not get the “What the hell is that?” look.  The SLDR is sharp in it's simplicity.  It's a driver with a classic look. 

 

It almost (GASP) looks like a Titleist.

 

Looks Score: (100 out of 100)

 

SLDR19.jpg

 

Sound and Feel

 

Honestly, I hate the ultra-high pitch TING of modern drivers (there's that age thing again).  The THWACK of a well struck fairway metal or forged iron, to me, is much more appealing.

 

The sound of the SLDR falls somewhere in-between these extremes.  Probably closer to the TING side, than the THWACK side of the spectrum.  It surely is not obnoxious and will certainly not make you duck for cover when you hear the thing “go off” like some newer drivers.

 

Sound and Feel Score: (90 out of 100)

 

 

 

Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

 

SLDR1.jpg

 

Yup. I liked the driver so much, I went out and bought the fairway metal. Seriously…on average, 1 club closer to the hole with minimal loss of accuracy.  

 

The only points deducted here are due to having to buy the club as a whole.  I would prefer to have the choice of buying the head without the shaft, as now I need to replace the shaft in the fairway metal as well. Otherwise, it would have been 100 out of 100

 

LOP Score: (90 out of 100)

 

 

Subjective Notes

 

Overall I am impressed with the SLDR.  I like the way it looks, and I like the way it plays.  The sound is decent (not obnoxious).  I'm not embarrassed in the least to pull the headcover off and step onto the tee with it. Well struck shots feel good…solid.  There is enough feedback in the head to know where you missed it.  It was not hard at all to tell if the shot was low heel, center, or high toe.

 

Total Subjective Score: (93 out of 100)

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

While it took a bit to dial in the SLDR in, it has earned my confidence off the tee.  Sorting through the loft adjustments and then ditching the stock shaft took some time.  It was worth it though.  The extra distance really makes a difference for a shorter hitter like me.

 

A qualified (or at least more educated) fitter would have made the process significantly easier, but it was a big-box store and it is what it is.   While the SLDR head wants to go a touch further left (6 yards) than the R1 head I was playing before, it is a consistent 6 yards that can be adjusted for.  The increased distance more than makes up for it.

 

6 yards further left, but 9 yards further down the fairway. 1 club closer.  “Much”.  Hard to argue that.

 

 

Total Score: (93 out of 100)

 

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The Five

 

1) Will this driver go in your bag? Why or why not?

 

Yes, it already is in my bag.  The extra distance coupled with the confidence and feedback the SLDR provides will keep it there.

 

2) To whom, if anyone, would you recommend this driver? Why?

 

Unless you are looking for maximum forgiveness this driver should be on your “try” list.  The SLDR is still pretty forgiving and while misses aren't terribly punishing there are more forgiving drivers out there…but I would be surprised if there are longer ones (once you find the combo that works for you).

 

3) How, if at all, did this driver change your overall impression of Taylormade?

 

While I can't say I'll unilaterally believe the next marketing piece that Taylormade throws out at us, I believe this one. Again, I still might not accept the next “hype” from TM, but I'll definitely give it more consideration than I would have before reviewing this driver.

 

4) What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?

 

Go back to the 2Ëš loft sleeve.  Just as the ability to turn this head down to an open faced 12Ëš was critical in my success, closing a 10Ëš up to 12Ëš might be just as critical For others.  So was a different shaft.  Giving consumers the option of purchasing the head-only would make it easier to upgrade.

 

5) What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?

 

The low, forward center of gravity is what makes this thing “tick”.  Combine that with the classic charcoal-gray crown and I think they have a winner here.

 

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SLDR 14° Long Term Update

 

The SLDR stayed in my bag for a couple months.  What I started noticing over time was, while some drives were still absolutely crushed, the ball flight seemed to gradually climb higher and higher every week.  More and more frequently I was hitting it sky-high and losing 20 yards over my “normal” 245 yards. 

 

Throughout the summer I have been making some small changes in my swing and I have no doubt that's what caused the change in ball flight.  Essentially, even turned down to 12Ëš, it was too much loft.

 

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I really do like this driver and would still definitely recommend anyone to give it a try.  Somewhere near the end of this season I plan on picking up a lower lofted SLDR.  I fully expect it to find its way into my bag.  I'll update my long-term follow up when that happens.

 

SLDR55.jpg

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Unboxing 14° of Boom

Maybe it's only me, but every time I get see a new box on the porch, my brain immediately goes all Brad Pitt. Not my favorite Brad Pitt in Fight Club (You've met me at a very interesting time in my life.”, but the cop Brad Pitt in the last scene of Se7en. If you follow me on Twitter, you already saw the photo, and the brain-penetrating movie quote:

SLDR Box.jpg

 

 

“What's in the box? Aw, what's in the box?”

(NSFW Language in Clip Below. You're Welcome.)

 

Thankfully, this box did not contain the severed head of my wife (did I wreck the movie for you? Sorry...), instead it had the newest incarnation of Golf's Most Wanted Driver, the TaylorMade 14° SLDR.

 

So What was in the Box Dave?

The box actually contained the very cool media kit, promoting the launch of the 14°. Inside I found the driver, the headcover, a cool SLDR flash drive loaded with TM promotional videos and photos, and a questionably designed hat. My huge melon prevents me from wearing most hats, but the huge TRUST across the front of this one should probably have a graphic designer fired.

 

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The hat definitely draws attention, but I don't know if it's positive attention. If you wear it, you will probably have people ask about what TRUST is all about.

 

In that way that makes the hat effective advertising. I just think it looks off. Initially, I thought it said TRUTH, which took my brain to the character Malik Jamal Truth from the sweet 70's b-ball movie The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh--The Truth!

 

Trust, not Truth. I get it now. OK maybe not so much still. Regardless, I'm not here to talk about a hat, or even discuss how I erased the flash drive and filled it up with porn. Nope, this is all about getting my mitts on the SLDR.

 

I love the looks of the SLDR, and I am definitely curious about the Loft Up side of it. The sliding weights are a cool feature, but I want to know more about the launching power of the SLDR. I quickly built it into standard configuration:

 

SLDR Quad 1.jpg

 

Ever since the SLDR won the Most Wanted award, and our forum guys went to Carlsbad for the Loft Up event (hotlink) I have been curious about the SLDR. I play a 9° driver right now, and keeping the ball down, not getting it up has always been my issue.

 

SLDR Built.jpg

 

5° over normal. Could Lofting Up really mean 5° up? Stay Tuned for Part 2 below.

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TaylorMade SLDR 14 – Official MGS Forum Review by Golfspy Dave

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Driving the ball has always been the weak part of my game. More than any other club, I look to replacing the driver as a way to drop strokes. My driving of the ball has made me creative at hitting tree-obscured second shots, but it really seems like hitting the more boring second shot from that fairway is a better plan.

 

While curious about the SLDR after it was the Most Wanted driver for this year, I was leery of the idea of high loft and launch. I already hit a very high ball off the tee with my 9* RAZR Fit Xtreme (stiff Trinity or Red Tie). Lofting Up seems like a poor plan, but like the hat says, I decided to TRUST the TaylorMade company line and give it a shot.

 

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Performance

We will start with the driving range side of the performance equation, though in good no-patience fashion, my first play with the SLDR 14 was a first swing on the course.

 

Here though are my thoughts about hitting the SLDR 14 on the range:

 

Performance at the Range

  • Accuracy – Before we get into anything about distance, I will say that it is tough to miss the target with the SLDR. I like the alignment graphic, especially in combination with the plastic piece at the rear of the crown.

It sets up easy to line, and then likely do to the increased loft, is difficult to hit off line. It takes a big mess of a swing to hook or slice the driver into the nethers of the course. That alone was a fun feature. Psychologically, it's nice to know that the driver's design helps to stop the big wipe.

  • Distance – Bottom line, the SLDR is shorter than my current driver. It didn't seem to matter how I switched the settings, Loft Up or Loft Down. I just couldn't get the usual distance out of the SLDR 14.

On miss-hits, the distance was way less than normal. When I piped it, the ball definitely got out there, but still sub-20+ yards compared to the usual distances. This is 100% due to trajectory and lack of roll.

  • Trajectory Characteristics – Obviously, the whole thing about the SLDR is the increased launch and low spin. To say that the launch is high is an understatement for me. The SLDR is 7i launch height for me. The ball just blasts off the face, climbing higher and higher, but then it falls out of the sky. I was not able to get on a launch monitor with the SLDR 14 yet, but I bet the angle of descent is 50° or more. 240-yard carry, 1-yard roll seems the norm.​
  • Forgiveness – As I mentioned under Accuracy, the SLDR 14 was very forgiving for me. Only catastrophic swing failures resulted in a ball that would be an unplayable second. What was gained in forgiveness was definitely paid for in distance though.
  • Control – I am not one prone to shaping shots with the driver. I want it to go far, and land on short grass. That being said, I want that slight draw to get a little extra roll and the admiration of the others on the range. Although the flight was high, by sliding the weight to the “D in DRAW” position, I was able to get a nice right to left flight.

Range Score: (75 of 100)

 

SLDR Review_3.jpg

 

Performance on the Course

As I mentioned before, I took the SLDR 14 to the course without ever hitting it on the range. It arrived on a Thursday, and I bagged it Friday. As usual, I hit the course with minimal time to warm-up. As such, the swing of the SLDR on the first tee was the actual first ball hit with the driver. It's nice living a life that's full of surprises.

  • Fairways – The SLDR 14 really is a fairway finder. I hit the fairway on that first swing, and continued to do so on many of the following holes. The only real issue came when Tim and I played on a particularly windy day. Once the ball got up in the air, it just sailed like a kid's lost balloon. I was aiming into the trees right, and then losing it in the left OB.

While I did find the SLDR 14 easy to target with, that wind really made tee shots a huge circus that round. I just couldn't adjust my swing enough to keep the flight down.

  • Distance – When I first took the SLDR out that Friday, I had a great reference for distance since I had just played the same course the previous Tuesday with my usual driver. That Tuesday, I was murdering the ball. On one of the Par 5's, I went driver 3H and went 10 yards through the green. This is not normal, or maybe it is the new normal. Driving has been getting better and better, and longer and longer.

Though I hit the fairway on the first hole with the SLDR 14, it was 30 yards short of the Tuesday shot. On the next driving hole, I was about 40 yards shorter. No lie. Tuesday -40 yards for the SLDR 14. It's cool to hit the fairway, but getting 3H distance from driver is not great. Especially when I already have a 3H to hit.

The flight was soooo high. We are talking 220 up and 220 out. No roll. The guys I was playing with thought I may actually be pulling the string with the driver. It was frustrating, because I could tell that my contact was excellent, but the energy transfer was going into up and not out.

  • Consistency – Accuracy was consistent, but distance was +/- lots with the SLDR 14 rounds. Impact felt consistent, but the height and resulting distance was definitely variable.
  • Shot Shaping – High and straight. The low, under the wind shot was not going to be an option. Hope you like the 3W if it is windy.
  • Carry vs Roll – The SLDR 14 is all carry. Where I play, especially when it dries out in the summer, this will put me way behind my usual second shot distances, and playing partners. I am not a huge fan of being the first to hit the second shot every time. Especially when I am hitting 5i to their 8i's.

Course Score: (75 of 100)

 

SLDR Review_4.jpg

 

Total Performance Score: (75/100)

 

SLDR Review_5.jpg

 

Subjective Scoring

Looks

In general terms, I love the look of the SLDR 14. The amount of face at address is crazy, but that's what 14° of driver loft will give you. I think that the color and graphics on the crown are attractive, yet subtle and functional.

 

The bottom of the SLDR 14 is a bit Voltron-esq, that's a robot reference for the Voltron ignorant. (Is there such a person? and I'll form the head!). I was surprised with how much I liked the looks of the SLDR 14. I have not been a fan of TaylorMade driver looks since the Tour Burner. That's the last TM driver that I owned.

 

The only real cosmetic gripe with the SLDR is that the bottom seems to collect grass and grime. Granted, I should probably take fewer divots with the driver, but that sliding weight slot really does collect the course more than other sticks.

Looks Score: (90/100)

 

SLDR Review_6.jpg

 

Sound and Feel

I love the feel of the SLDR 14. No BS, I really just love hitting balls with this driver. I have hit a ton of balls with this driver, and I will hit more today. It's sort of funny when you consider just how high and short the balls are flying for me.

 

I think that the tone is great, and the feedback on a well-struck shot lets you know that you have done your job. The initial high, powerful launch of the ball also adds to the joy, though that ends with the abrupt descent and roll-free landing.

 

How much do I like the feel of this head? Well first of all, I acquired three additional Fujikura shafts for testing. They are:

  • Fujikura Fuel 70, stiff
  • Fujikura Fuel, Tour Stiff, Folds of Honor Limited Edition
  • Fujikura Speeder 757, stiff, 2014 Masters Limited Edition graphics

SLDR Review-2.jpg

 

A driver that wasn't so fun to hit would not have motivated me to seek out other shaft options to make the ball flight and performance more playable.

 

I even added matching Lamkin i-Line grips to make the package pretty.

 

SLDR Review-1.jpg

 

I really do enjoy hitting the SLDR 14, and I am doing whatever I can to make it the 2014 driver.

Sound and Feel Score: (100 of 100)

 

 

Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

At 14°, there is no way that I could bring the SLDR home from the shop. It is super-accurate, but the loss of distance that I am seeing is a deal killer.

  • But what if I could swap out the shaft?
  • What if I had a 12° or a 10.5° SLDR instead of the SLDR 14?

With these options, my LOP goes up significantly. The simple truth of the SLDR 14 is that it doesn't fit my swing. There is too much loft, especially when combined with the stock lightweight shaft.

 

The SLDR 14 LOP in the stock configuration that came in the mail is about 0%, but if a SLDR 10.5, combined with that Speeder 757 improves numbers and retains the feel of the SLDR 14, then I would change LOP to 100%.

 

With the new white head, that goes to 110%, again, assuming the play is what I need.

 

LOP Score: (0 (or 110) of 100)

 

SLDR Review_7.jpg

 

Subjective Notes

The final subjective score for the SLDR 14 is one of love and hate. I love hitting it, but hate the results.

 

Total Subjective Score: (100/100 for pure looks and feel with LOP killing the party)

 

 

SLDR Review_8.jpg

 

Conclusion

So what is my final take on the SLDR 14? It doesn't fit my swing.

I couldn't buy this SLDR 14 in its current configuration, but who would ever buy a driver without first hitting the various lofts and selecting the correct one.

 

The simple reason for rejection is that 14° doesn't fit me any better than 36” pants would. That doesn't dismiss the pant's value for a larger person; a 36 just doesn't fit me. If I liked the pants, I would try to find a pair in my size.

 

Am I done with the SLDR 14, dismissing the club back to the shop rack? No way. As I mentioned above, I love hitting this club. I want to get the numbers from it that make it playable for me.

 

That's why I have additional shafts (with pretty grips) to try out. That's why I'll be borrowing lower lofted heads out of the local fitting carts.

My hope above hope is that when I combine a lower launching shaft with the SLDR 14, or with a lower lofted SLDR head, that I get the numbers that I need on the course to justify bagging this great feeling stick.

 

After playing the SLDR, I will say that I am more interested in what comes from TaylorMade in the future. This is a 180° turn for me, having for the most part ignored their drivers since the R9

Stay tuned for the follow-up. Shaft and head reports are coming.

 

Total Score: (87/100)

 

sldr hc.jpg

 

The Parting Five

1.     Will this driver go in your bag? Why or why not?

Not in the stock configuration. Hopefully one of the “tweaks” will make it a playable option for me.

 

2.     To whom, if anyone, would you recommend this driver? Why?

If you have trouble getting it up, the ball that is, then the SLDR 14 may be just the ticket.

 

3.     How, if at all, did this driver change your overall impression of TaylorMade?

TaylorMade gets a lot of grief for the number of clubs that they release, but in defense of the SLDR release, it does feel different and use different technology than previous years. While Lofting Up 6° over my standard may not be the call, I am hoping that a jump to 10° may be a solid option.

 

4.     What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?

No clue. Maybe release the different color options together so that it gives the consumer a choice at the time of purchase rather than a regret when the more attractive (to him) color launches.

 

5.     What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?

I love the sound and feel. If they go away from SLDR technology in the future, it would be great to keep these the same.

 

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SLDR 14° Long Term Update

I can't even begin to explain how much I wanted to game this driver. As I mentioned before, it's a blast to hit. The problem was that I just couldn't get the numbers to work.

 

200 yards up and 200 yards out makes for a long afternoon on the course.

 

I even swapped out the shaft to see if I could bring down the launch and spin. I tipped and gripped three different Fujikura shafts to see if I could knock down the launch numbers, which averaged about 21° with the stock shaft.. Here are the averages of what the shaft changes accomplished:

 

Folds of Honor Fuel - Tour Stiff: -1.5° Launch

Fuel 70-stiff: -0.75° Launch

Master's Edition Speeder 757 - stiff: -0.75° Launch

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Overall, the shaft was not able to overcome that 14° face for me. Which is why my father-in-law is currently bagging the SLDR 14. Nothing but joy and accolades from his direction. Honestly it's a bit annoying.

 

I really wanted to play this driver, and I still may when the prices drop in the likely near future. I borrowed a 9.5° head from a shop and it was a world of difference. The white SLDR with that LE Masters Speeder is the best looking driver I can imagine.

 

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So over the course of the review I learned:

  • 14° was just too much for me
  • The Lamkin i-Line grips are amazingly comfortable.
  • The Speeder 757 was not too stout.
  • I have a total shaft-crush on the Fuel 70. That shaft may actually end up in any new driver I play. It's already got a PING tip on it now and playing in my i25 and I can definitely see a tip swap happening if a new head rolls in.

Thanks for having me along on this one :D

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Unboxing and Initial thoughts:

The packaging was quite fancy for a driver. Must be because it's a media kit I received. The SLDR was well packaged in a specialized cardboard presentation box with all items encased in foam. The kit included the driver head, shaft, tool, head cover, hat, and USB thumb drive loaded with TM SLDR photos, videos, and two MS Word docs consisting of a press release and new the money back distance guarantee promotion.

 

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Setup

I didn't know how exactly to properly setup the club. Yeah I know. Stick the shaft in it. But, this is my first adjustable driver ever. I first looked online for a few minutes but didn't readily come across anything. After tinkering around some the shaft slipped in to the Std. Loft position which I wanted to start with anyway. I was initially concerned if I was needing to align the shaft in some special way. But since it's made to be rotated that wouldn't matter anyway. I getting the hang of things now. Later on I found the small instruction card explaining how to adjust the driver. It had blown out of the box when I was out on the patio and ended up in my hitting net. Hmmm?

After inserting the shaft I tightened it to proper torque “Click” with the provided tool. Next I took a grip and stance looking down at the assembled driver. My first impression was the added loft. Very noticeable. I currently play a Ping Rapture V2 10.5* that's been measured to actually be 10° and 46”. My new SLDR is 45.5” according to TM. The slider on the bottom of the head was preset at one “tick” toward Draw from neutral. That position was paint filled blue. All other “ticks” were simply natural metal with no paint fill. As far as I could see the driver head was in perfect condition. Not one scratch, misaligned paint or blemishes of any kind. Same for the shaft and head cover.

 

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Compared to my Ping V2 Rapture

Comparing my Ping Rapture 10.5* to the SLDR from a top down view they look very similar. They are both 460cc heads. Aside from the adjustability of the SLDR the sole of the two club are quite different. The SLDR has a well-rounded sole from toe to heel where my Rapture V2 is mostly flat. I noticed on TM's website that the Speeder 57 shaft is listed weighing 58g. However, on my shaft it's labeled 57 grams. Probably a typo on their website.

 

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Next

I'm excited to take the SLDR out on the range and see what this hyped up thing can do. I can use some added distance. My ball flight is generally a mid to lower trajectory so I'm especially curious to see what 14° will do for me.  According to TM this club is made for me. We'll see won't we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Official Review – TaylorMade SLDR 14° by PlaidJacket

 

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Since the SLDR first came out I thought it was a good looking driver and was curious about the sliding feature. I wasn't in the market for a new driver since generally over the past few seasons I'd been hitting my Ping Rapture 10.5° pretty good. I am probably the last guy in my group that didn't bag an adjustable driver. I was also interested in the increased loft sales pitch TM was touting. I'm somewhat of a low ball hitter. In fact early last spring I tried a couple of new shafts in my Ping to see if I could get some added height. That didn't work so I went back to my stock shaft. Fast forward to today and I'll take you through my experience with the TM 14 °SLDR.

 

Performance

 

In my review I'll be discussing the driver both at the practice tee and on the course. As most of you know hitting balls on the range can be quite different than on the course. Let's start out on the range…

 

Performance on the Range

 

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Accuracy - About three days after I received the new SLDR I hit the range for about 30 minutes just prior to my first round with the club. With the SLDR set in Std. loft and one notch toward draw I took a shot. Wow. Low and left. Yikes. I hit a few more that weren't as bad. I slowed my swing some that produced a high-ish draw then back to lower hook. These shot shapes I never see but they started to become consistent. Next I moved the slider back in the neutral position. My shots straightened out with a slight draw. I continued to hit more shots when it was time for our normal Saturday skin game. I was nervous. Another day I happened onto a Demo Day event at a local muni and met a couple of TM reps. Scott and Shaun out of Albuquerque, NM.  (In the picture below – I'm the big guy in the middle. TaylorMade officially claims their reps are 7' tall.) We put the SLDR on their launch monitor. At one point Sean asked me to try a regular shaft as opposed to the stiff. That was a disaster. Every shot was a pushed fade/slice. Back to the stock stiff shaft I was provided. After a few adjustments by the TM rep I was hitting straight to slight draws in the 250-260 yd. range. My swing speed was about 90 mph with a spin rate of 2500 and launch of around 13°. I was putting the ball down range where I wanted within about a 5-10 yd. variance left to right. The two TM guys enjoyed hearing my story and were very nice to work with.

 

Distance – The SLDR for me is not a distance monster. On the range I'm pretty sure I was not gaining any distance based on my past performance with my Ping Rapture. I had my laser with me which confirmed my initial thoughts. I generally carry about 225-230 yds. with around 30-50 yards roll. (My course plays hard and fast)

 

Trajectory – Does the SLDR produce a higher ball flight? Without question. Most people including me have never hit a driver with anywhere close to a 14° loft. Throughout my career (starting with wood drivers) I've always hit drivers with anywhere from 8 to 10.5 degrees of loft. The past few years I've played a 10.5° driver. After tinkering around some with the settings I've decided to stick with the standard 14° loft. I produced a higher ball flight than I normally have in the past without any loss of distance. (None gained either)

 

Forgiveness – I found the SLDR to be a forgiving driver. I can't say any better than my Ping Rapture. I have always commented that the Rapture was very forgiving and I'd say the same today. I don't know what else to tell you. Both clubs are 460cc heads. It's a push.

 

Control – I'm not a shot maker per se'. I tend to hit a straight to slight fade most of the time when driving the ball. Sometimes even a slight draw. It just depends how I'm swinging on any given day. I seldom slice or hook a drive. I can sometimes pull off an intended shot shape when necessary but more times than not I end up getting myself in trouble. So is the SLDR capable of shot shaping? I suppose depending on your skill level.

 

Range Score – 75

 

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Performance on the Course

 

In my opinion this is where the urethane meets the road. My course performance (before and after working with the TM reps at Demo Day) has been somewhat of a mixed bag. In general I've been from one extreme to another. I've only been able to play the SLDR four rounds. And each round is competitive. Me and the guys I play with always gamble (doesn't everyone?) which includes several bets. Generally and in pre-SLDR days my fairway accuracy floats around the 55% mark or roughly about 7.5 FIR per round. Most of my misses are usually around 3-5 yds.  to the right. The first round with the SLDR was not bad for a new club. I recorded 7 FIR and felt sort of lucky. I was hitting the ball with a high draw but it worked. After some time on the range and making a few adjustments I played again. The SLDR was set in std. loft and one notch toward draw bias. Conditions were tough this day to say the least. Winds gusting up to 25 mph and cold. I had one of the best days driving the ball I've ever had. I hit 11 of 14 fairways! The only reason I didn't hit 12 is because for some reason I decided to pump one OB on 17. I contribute my performance that day to the setting I had the club in and my ability to hit drives lower when I need to. I've learned growing up and playing golf in Texas how to play effectively in windy conditions. The next two rounds were played in normal conditions. I drove the ball just OK I'd say hitting 7 fairways one round and only 4 the next round. I've decided pretty much that the shaft isn't ideal for me. Probably has something to do with the bend point based on my swing profile. Can I make it work? Probably. But I don't want to alter my swing to fit the club/shaft.

 

Course Score – 50

 

Performance Notes

 

Overall I'd say the SLDR is a good driver. Does it out perform my Rapture? I'd have to conclude that it doesn't. The SLDR is an easy hitting club for sure but so are many other drivers out there these days. I'm going for an iron fitting soon and plan to take the SLDR to see if there is a better shaft for me. The stock stiff shaft isn't for me I've concluded.

 

Total Performance Score – 65

 

Subjective

 

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Looks

 

The SLDR is a good looking club. If like me you prefer a traditional shape in your driver you'll feel very comfortable addressing a shot. The paint color is understated in my opinion and that's a good thing too. Historically I've owned black drivers and the dark gray paint on the SLDR works for me. There are three small graphics on the top of the driver but they are not in the least distracting. The stock Fujikura Speeder 57 shaft is basically the same color as the head. The shaft graphics are on the top 1/3 of the shaft and are not distracting while addressing the ball. I'd label the SLDR from a looks stand point as clean. It's not gimmicky in the looks department at all. In other words it looks like it means business. If you're one who likes understated classic driver design I'd recommend this club.

 

Looks Score – 100

 

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Sound and Feel

 

I found that the SLDR has a very pleasing sound on well struck shots. Those shots sounded solid; meaning the club didn't seem to produce an annoying “ting” of a tin can sound. However, on missed shots especially on the toe I did notice a different sound. I'd call it a “ping” sound and you knew it was a metal club. Generally I thought the SLDR was a very solid hitting club. Shots that were hit in the screws felt very good. Better than my Rapture I thought. When I miss a shot it tends to be on the toe. Those shots didn't feel necessarily bad but the club still provided enough feedback to know where the ball was struck.

 

Sound and Feel Score – 100

 

Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

 

If I was being asked today to make a decision and purchase the club I'd have to decline. It's like this. Suppose I had given you a new driver and told you to go out and practice and play with it for a while. Let's also assume that you didn't hate your old driver but just thought that maybe you were leaving some distance and accuracy on the table. After all, your current driver is several years old and can't be adjusted in any way. Also, all the guys in your group have been playing adjustable drivers for years now. Isn't it time to step up? Mmmmm… not really. Here's the deal. I'm going back to my “old” Ping 10.5° Rapture for the time being. I've said before that I believe the stock SLDR shaft is not right for my swing profile. I know there is a whole “science” of shaft technology out there and that there is a shaft that's right for me. I'll get to my fitting session before long and find a shaft for the SLDR that works. But today; the SLDR as presented to me is not a club I'd buy or play.

 

LOP Score – 25

 

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Subjective Notes

 

The SLDR is a compelling driver and I think anyone interested in a new driver should seriously consider it. It has many things/features I like. Since the SLDR first came out I thought it was a good looking club. Still do. If you were walking around a golf shop picking up drivers and looking them over I'd bet you'd think the SLDR is great looking club. I think TM the company is a hyped-out marketing machine. (don't get me started on their stupid “Hack Golf” thing) Yeah sure; they make good equipment. But so do most of the other major brands. Did TM's “Loft-Up” champagne pay off for me? Sort of. I didn't realize any added distance over my old Ping Rapture. I did however hit the ball a little higher which I like. But no added distance. Accuracy? Not at this time. Aside from one round where I nailed fairways all day my overall SLDR accuracy was less than my Rapture. Again, I attribute that to the shaft. As with any new club I'd strongly advise getting properly fit. What I've just gone through is like buying a club off the rack. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. Don't do it. It's a complete crap-shoot whether you get lucky and just happen to walk away with a club that works great from day one. I want to bag the SLDR so hopefully after fitting I will.

 

Total Subjective Score – 75

 

Conclusion

 

When MGS contacted me to participate in the SLDR review I was thrilled. After all, I haven't been around here that long. It's been a blast to say the least. Probably the main reason I accepted the invitation is because I was getting to test a new club (who wouldn't like that) and report back my findings as I experienced them. In other words… I'm telling it like it is. I also enjoyed telling my golf buddies the story. The review came at a perfect time for me. I had been considering a new driver since last summer. I'm still considering it. Most likely when I go in for my irons fitting I'll get the SLDR re-shafted with something that works for my swing and in the bag it will go. I like the SLDR a lot from a looks standpoint. It fits my eye.

 

The Five

  1. Will the SLDR go in my bag? Not at this time. I believe I have the wrong shaft for my swing profile.
  2. Do I recommend the SLDR? Yes. I think just about anyone considering a new driver should certainly give this club a serious look. Its good looking and easy to hit. You will hit the ball higher. Again though… proper shaft selection is critical.
  3.  Brand Impression. I don't like some of the things TM as a company choses to do. (Hack Golf for instance) They do make good golf equipment and the SLDR is one of them.
  4. What feature would I change or eliminate on the next model? TM can't help but make changes every 6 months it seems. I personally wouldn't change a thing with the SLDR for a while if it were up to me. Perhaps make one in black? It's a solid piece of equipment.
  5. What feature do I like most or want to see continued? I like the understated look of the club. No fancy colors or graphics, etc. I'd also like to see TM stick with the current design of the head for a while. It's a classic head design in my opinion.

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Arrival - Unboxing - Initial Impressions

First things first- Many thanks to MGS and TaylorMade for putting this review opportunity together and giving me the chance to participate!
 

The PM from GolfSpy WD went something like, “Would you be interested in testing the 14* SLDR as part of a forum member review?” Of course I immediately responded in the affirmative, but a few thoughts went through my head:
     - A 14* driver? I mean, I understand the Loft-Up idea and all, but holy mackerel. My gamer is at 8.5* and I feel like I hit that high.
     - A TaylorMade club, eh? I've never had one in the bag.
     - When do we get started?

 

I sent my current driver details to WD and assumed, based on reading other forum reviews, that there would be an unknown period of waiting. There was, and it went something like this:
     Day 1 - Initial inquiry/selection
     Day 2 - Notification of orders sent to TaylorMade
     Day 8 - Arrival of 14* SLDR 460

 

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I didn't even have time to reach a good level of agonizing anticipation. It's nice when you step out of the office for a bit and return to find golf gear waiting! I had seen the SLDR media kit elsewhere on the forums and while I did not know that is what we would be sent, it was obvious that was what was in the box when it arrived. It is big, it is impressive, it has a cool sliding thingy on the lid, and it required a guard dog.

 

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I'll give them this- TaylorMade knows a thing or two about presentation and fancy packaging. I appreciate good organization, so the “Everything with a place and everything in its place” method of packaging appeals to my well-developed sense of anal retentiveness regarding things being where they belong. And as I mentioned, it looks impressive. All of the necessities are obviously present, meaning the 14* SLDR head (which to me looks like a very large fairway metal due to its high loft), very light feeling S flex shaft, and the adjustment tool. Also included are a handy little quick start guide (good for those of us who have never assembled or adjusted an adjustable club before), the “TRUST” hat, and a USB storage device. A few notes on the accessories:
     - The hat looks pretty cool, but I'll never wear it so I'll have to think of something interesting to do with it.
     - I quickly inserted the memory stick into my MAC hoping to read all about the SLDR and how to adjust it for my desired ball flight, maximum distance, etc.

       No. This is a media kit, remember? It's all TM marketing stuff- cool to read, look at and watch, but not super helpful when it comes time to dial in the club.

 

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So here we are. I am now in possession of the world's largest fairway metal posing as a driver, the higher lofted sibling of the recently crowned “MGS Best Overall Driver for 2014”, with which I am expected to go out and play, tinker, compare, observe and report. No pressure. Let the fun begin!


 

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TaylorMade SLDR 14* Driver - Official MGS Forum Review by SeeRed

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I like, no love my PING i20 8.5* driver. I was fit for it and enjoy hitting it on the range and the course. And while I thought it would be fun and maybe educational to put a 14* driver through its paces, I did not believe that the club would end up in my bag. I'll spare you the suspense- it hasn't. But testing it was indeed fun and educational.

“Datacratic”- I applaud and fully support this philosophy. I have made purchases based solely on MGS review data. Yes, even without a proper fitting. (I know, I know.) I have no real access to any sort of reliable measuring apparatus other than my trusty range finder and eyeballs, so I base my data on these and how the club compares to my gamer- the aforementioned, highly acclaimed i20. How would the recently crowned “MGS Most Wanted Driver of 2014” compare, for me? Would it cave under pressure, facing such a decorated veteran?

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Performance

Performance data is based on time at several different ranges, one wildly inaccurate launch monitor, and several courses. The launch monitor “data” did not figure in to my analysis of the club's performance much. I will say that the carry distance may have been about right with it, but the 75+ yards of roll on almost every shot definitely skewed the overall distance numbers. Also, every shot, whether with my i20, the SLDR 14 or the SLDR 430 9.5 that I borrowed, showed a smash factor of 1.45. It never varied. However, it was fun hearing my wife's reactions in the adjacent stall to her hitting the demo X2 Hot 255 yards. On to the range.

Performance at the Range

  • Accuracy - High and left- that was the standard shot with the SLDR set at 14* and standard (blue tick mark). Adjusting slightly to a fade bias helped straighten things out a bit. Set to -1.5* (12.5*) and standard and it was point and shoot. The club really just wanted to go straight.

 

  • Distance - All carry at 14* (it basically falls out of the sky) and almost all carry at 12.5* (a few hops and a little roll). Distances were surprisingly good, though, and longer than I expected at both settings. However, shots were consistently shorter than the i20- 10-15 yards at 14* and 5-10 yards at 12.5*. I was hitting both the i20 and the SLDR set to 12.5* on the screws during my latest range session, and while the SLDR carries forever I was consistently hitting the i20 past it.

 

  • Trajectory Characteristics - Has too much already been made of just how high this club launches the ball? Would I just be piling on at this point if I mentioned it again? Let me just say that the first few times I hit it, neither I nor my “spotter” ever saw the ball- we were simply looking too low. No one will have difficulty getting the ball in the air with this. And if you pop one up, go get yourself a beer and a sandwich while you wait for it to return to earth.

 

  • Forgiveness - You will lose distance on mis-hits- potentially dozens of yards. However, it is very likely you will still find yourself in the short grass. I hit a few slappy toe shots that still might have found the fairway, but they did not go far.

 

  • Control - Aside from the occasional attempt to hit a slight, controlled fade, I am not a worker of the ball with the driver. I want the ball to go where the driver is pointed and stay in the fairway. The SLDR will do this for you almost every time. I had to put a serious crazy monkey swing on the ball to get it to do anything squirrely. I did not do this intentionally, but it was useful for the test. Flighting the ball down is another story. Good luck and let me know how you did it.

Range Score: (70/100 @ 14*, 80/100 @ 12.5*)

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Performance on the Course

  • Fairways - Set at 14*, I missed lots of fairways left. Set to 12.5* I missed one right with a thin slice (crazy monkey swing mentioned above). This club wants to go straight. However, I always found myself hitting at least one more club than I am used to for my next shot. Also, I was fortunate not to have played on windy days (I hate playing in the wind). Had there been wind, I would have found far, far fewer fairways due to the high ball flight.

 

  • Distance - Distance on the course supported what I was seeing on the range. The SLDR is consistently shorter on well struck shots, and much shorter still on mis-hits.

 

  • Consistency - If the data I was seeing with Game Golf is anything to go by, then distances on the course on similar swings did not vary by more than 5-7 yards. It seemed to me there was less variation in distance than with my i20. That said, striping one with the SLDR does not produce the very satisfactory distance gains as with the i20.

 

  • Shot Shaping - See “Control” in the range section. I like to hit the driver straight and in the fairway. I was able to fade the ball with the SLDR in the standard setting, and further tweaking may help me hit a draw, but mostly it goes straight.

 

  • Carry vs. Roll - In the case of the SLDR, that should read CARRY vs. roll. The ball really drops and stops, especially on the usually slightly damp, thick grass courses I play most often.

Course Score: (65/100 @ 14*, 75/100 @ 12.5*) The slightly lower scores here are because of having to hit longer clubs for second shots.

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Performance Notes

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the SLDR. It exceeded my expectations in terms of distance and accuracy. I expected it to be much shorter than my i20 than it was, and the club is a fairway finder. The distance loss is too great to give it a higher score, though.

Total Performance Score: (68/100 @ 14*, 78/100 @ 12.5*)

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Subjective

Looks

I mentioned in my first post that the SLDR looks like the world's largest fairway metal. I stand by that, though as I became more familiar with it I noticed this less. The club is attractive- I like the metallic grey more than I thought I would, being a fan of the matte black i20. The club head, shaft and grip present a very nice looking package overall. In fact, this is the first TaylorMade club I have liked the looks of since the pre-white days. The bottom is busy- really busy, actually- but who looks at the bottom of their driver during play?

 

Looks Score: (90/100) Marks taken away for the silver gimmick with the hash marks at the back of the club head.

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Sound and Feel

In the past I have not been a fan of the sound of TaylorMade drivers. Coffee can like is how I have often described them. The SLDR does not sound like a coffee can, but has a more appealing *whack*. Not as appealing as the *PING* sound, but not cringe worthy. Feel across the face is pretty consistent. You can feel your mis-hits, but maybe not a dramatically as some other drivers. The face has a solid feel: “Solid” is a word I used to describe the feel of the SLDR quite often, in fact. Interesting to note that the weight is felt very much at the head. The i20 feels balanced along the length of the club, but the SLDR feels really head heavy to me.

Sound and Feel Score: (85/100)

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Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

Unless I were buying it as a gift, there is really a 0% chance that I would purchase this club. The loft is wrong for me, even at 12.5*. Potentially hitting more fairways would be nice, but not at the expense of an average of 10+ yards lost. I also much prefer the more piercing, line drive ball flight of a lower lofted driver.

LOP Score: (0/100)

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Subjective Notes

I like the looks, feel and sound of the SLDR. I really think it's an improvement over recent TaylorMade offerings. It looks like a more serious performer, at least at address, rather than something designed to attract attention.

Total Subjective Score: (88/100...but really 58/100 with the LOP score)

Conclusion

The SLDR can help you hit fairways, no doubt. After spending time with the SLDR 14 I am even willing to consider that there may be a configuration of the SLDR that suits my game. The 14 is not that configuration, though. Now, this has been a sort of 2-for-1 club test, as my playing partner and better half has been using the club as well. So far, she is batting 1.000 in fairways hit with the SLDR in the 12.5* position and is seeing distance gains- with the ‘S' flex shaft that was sent for me. The bottom line I think is that we are both intrigued enough by this latest offering from TaylorMade to possibly pursue further testing in its various configurations. Well, maybe she is. For now, the i20 is staying in my bag.

Total Score: (73/100)

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The Five

  1. Will this driver go in your bag? Why or why not? No. It does not outperform my current gamer. I really like it and I wanted it to perform better, but it does not.
  2. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend this driver? Why? I don't know. For those who have trouble getting the ball in the air off the tee, this may be a very good option. Golfers with slower swing speeds may benefit from the additional carry and loft.
  3. How, if at all, did this driver change your overall impression of TaylorMade? OK, so I know golf equipment manufacturers spend time and money on R&D and want their products to truly work. But the truth is, I did not take TaylorMade seriously in that regard until now. I still think the company has basically purchased its claims to fame, so to speak, but now I feel like there is more to back it up. That's my opinion- go figure.
  4. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model? Of the SLDR 14 specifically, I really do not know. I really think it is a well assembled package. But it is a 14* driver and the market for such a club is pretty specific. To be honest, I wouldn't change anything about it.
  5. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models? The draw-fade “slider”- there, I said it- which I think works really well. It gets dirty and gathers a lot of stuff, but it works.

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At long, long last...the Long Term Follow Up

 

The fact is, I have not hit the 14* SLDR since I turned it over to my playing partner and better half. She, however, has taken full ownership and games it regularly (i.e. weekly). So I have been able to observe how it performs for her and how her tee shots have changed since using the SLDR. She did make one significant change to the club- she went to the local Golf Mart and they swapped the S flex shaft that it was sent with for an R that they had in one of their demos. This shaft flex works much better for her. She's a strong hitter, but the S was a little too stiff and "boardy", she said. So, here are the highlights as I have observed them:

  • MUCH more carry distance off the tee from either the Adams or Callaway drivers she has used.
  • Better consistency overall as the misses are not punished quite so badly.
  • LONG for her when she catches it- like 235 yds long. Yes, that was confirmed by the range finder. All I could do was laugh and shake my head.
  • She finds it easier to hit and enjoys playing it.

So that's it in a nutshell from her use of the club. Here are my answers to the long term follow up questions:

  • What, if anything, has changed from your initial review? Not much regarding my feelings about the club for my own use. However, my impressions that it can be very useful for a certain type of player have been reinforced.
  • Have you developed any durability concerns (chipped finish, dings, etc.) about the product? No, none at all. It has been used at least weekly since its arrival and is wearing just fine.
  • What have you discovered that reinforces your initial thoughts about this product? See #1 above. More loft can be really, really good in the proper hands. I still use an 8.5* driver effectively, so there was no adjustment that worked for me on the 14* SLDR. BUT, for someone who needs or can benefit from more loft it has worked splendidly.
  • Whatever else you'd like to add. I will just reinforce what MGS discovered during the Most Wanted Driver testing- TM appears to have a winner on their hands with the SLDR. No, it's clearly not for everyone, and that is especially true of the 14* SLDR. However, my demo of the 14* has made me very curious about the other configurations. I can see myself looking into the 430 SLDR, for example, when I feel like I need to be re-fit for a driver. I took a few swings with one and really liked the feel and ball flight (at 9.5*). I think the 14* SLDR, however, is a niche club, maybe like the Mini or the UDI.

Thanks again to MGS and TaylorMade for giving me the opportunity to participate in the test!

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STAGE 1 - Initial Impressions!!!

 

 

I hit golf clubs. A lot of different golf clubs. Every day. It is an occupational hazard. I hit the SLDR Driver when it was first released, and was completely unimpressed. I consider driving the golf ball to be a strength of my game, and I could not make the ball fly with this club at all. Low, falling shots were the norm. So I was quick to dismiss it as a failure for my game. Then there was the Tour validation, the MGS Most Wanted Award, and all the “press” about “Lofting UP”. I figured that I very well might have missed something. When GolfSpy WD contacted me about testing the SLDR in a VERY high loft, I said “Sure…. Like 10.5*”? “Nope.... Try 14*” he replied. I was stunned. Apparently, TaylorMade is VERY serious about this Loft Up stuff. I agreed. Partly because I need to find out if the 14* SLDR driver is a viable option for average golfers, and if it is time to replace the R9 SuperDeep. I don't expect to see any massive gains in distance over my current driver, but you never know….

 

FedEx was kind enough to deliver a rather large package to my home one Friday afternoon. Much larger than I would expect for a Driver.

SLDR-Delivery.jpg

 

 

I was very surprised to find a disassembled driver inside along with a hat that has the word “TRUST” emblazoned on the front.

Trust-hat.jpg

The “Trust” hat is a fitting addition to this kit. It takes a lot of trust to play a driver with this much loft.

 

Also included in the box was a flash drive that has all of the TMAG media associated with the SLDR driver, and a headcover and TMAG wrench. The outside of the Kit had the words Guaranteed Distance printed on it.

guaranteed-Distance.jpg

 

Awesome!!!! I love distance!!!

 

My plan for testing this club is to take it to the range for a few extended sessions in the stock configuration, and compare it to my current driver. Then to play test it on the golf course vs. my current driver in the stock configuration. Then take it to my local shop and put it through its paces on the FlightScope and see if it is a viable replacement for my venerable R9 SuperDeep.

SLDR-Loft.jpg

If you have questions or comments, please let me know.

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Stage - 2   The Official Review

 

TaylorMade SLDR 14* Driver - Official MGS Forum Review by MmmmmmBuddy

 

SLDR-Oregon-Hero.jpg

 

“Honey, I’m going to the Golf Course. Back in a few hours”  

“Again? You spent all last weekend out there..”

“True, but it is for ‘Work’ I need to see what this SLDR 14* driver is all about!”

“Ok..  Don’t work too hard…”

 

The life of a club tester can be tough.

 

A quick background on me might help. I am 44, have been playing golf since 1985, and currently carry a 9.3 index that was once as low as 2.1. I trend towards the smaller side of players at 5’ 8” 165  (ding). For a smaller guy, I have always driven the ball fairly far and adequately straight. My struggles around the course stem from inconsistent iron play, spotty chipping, and VERY suspect putting.  I put it like this.. I drive it like a 2 Chip and Putt like a 22, so it all averages out to a 10..  (I never was great at math).

 

I have carried WAY TOO many drivers over the last 20 years, and looking back at my driver loft history for this review was interesting. The Average loft of all of the drivers that I have owned since 1994 has been 8.52* with my current driver is an R9 SuperDeep TP with a Fubuki 63 Stiff set at 9.5*. My driver plays at 45.5 inches long.  Trying to insert a 14* driver into this mix could be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. However, I will play whatever works. I could care less what the loft is. I just want it to go far…. and kinda straight.

 

Sldr-adjust-outside.jpg

 

Performance

I am lucky enough to be married to a woman who understands me and my obsession with golf and golf equipment. I was able to spend several extended sessions at 2 different ranges to judge the performance of this driver vs my driver.

 

Performance at the Range

 

  • Accuracy - Driving accuracy has become a strength, so I was expecting to stripe this driver near target repeatedly. This was not the case. In the standard loft and weight setting, the only shot I was able to hit was a 40 yard draw. Every time. I suppose that If i wanted to play a 40 yard draw, then I would have a winner, but my go to shot has become a slight fade, and that much uncontrolled left movement in not good. I moved the weight all the way to the toe, and set the driver head to “lower”. This seemed to lessen the effects of the left movement, but it was still there. That is not something that I am used to.  15/20

 

  • Distance - I am quite familiar with both of the ranges that I used for these tests, and I can say unequivocally, that the SLDR was shorter than my R9 SuperDeep, but more consistent distance wise. There was more variance with the R9, but even my worst shots were better than the better shots with SLDR. I wanted to know why this was, so I went to my local Golf Shop and hopped on their PING nFlight system powered by FlightScope. I was curious about the numbers. Ball Speed, Launch Angle, Spin Rates. The always friendly staff at Fiddlers Green in “Sunny” Eugene Oregon was happy to help me out.  What I discovered was quite interesting. Here are numbers from the session.driver-numbers-compare.jpgSo, to summarize, The SLDR Produced a slightly higher flight with less spin and a 5 yard shorter shot, but the R9SD has a nearly 6 mph faster ball speed with almost identical launch conditions.  14/20

 

  • Trajectory - The 14* SLDR does EXACTLY what it is designed to do. It flies HIGH!! But that is ok. The flight is high, but flat. There is obviously very little spin on the ball, just like the club was designed to do. 20/20

 

  • Forgiveness - The SLDR is Consistent. It seems like every shot goes pretty much the same distance, trajectory and shape. What I did notice was that on miss hits, there was a very distinct sound difference, but the ball flight was still acceptable. 17/20

 

  • Control - With my R9 SuperDeep, I find it very easy to shape tee shots to fit the hole. I can work the ball both ways, flight it down if need be, or bomb one high. With the 14* SLDR, my ability to shape shots is severely limited to one….  High and left. In the hands of the right player, this is a blessing.. 16/20

 

Range Score 82/100

 

SLDR-O-Hero.jpg


 

Performance On the Course

 

I was able to play several rounds at my home course while carrying both drivers. I hit several balls from multiple tees in very different conditions to see what the differences between the drivers were. I was surprised by the results.

 

  • Fairways - The 14* SLDR  was a fairway finding machine. After several range sessions, I was aware of what I was going to get from this Driver directionally, and was able to allow for it on the course. All I had to do was Aim right, hit a BIG HIGH DRAW, land in fairway, repeat. Over 3 rounds, I hit 38/42 fairways with the SLDR. That is just Dumb. They were not always on the “correct side” of the fairway to attack the flag, but lets face facts..  I am not good enough to attack anything, much less a tucked pin. I just needed tokeepcalm-2.jpg

20/20

 

  • Distance - I hit the 14* SLDR shorter that my R9 SuperDeep. Our course is very wet this time of year, and it is easy to see where shots land, because they plug. I never hit the SLDR past the R9SD. Not one time in 3 rounds.  14/20

 

  • Consistency - This driver is so consistent, it is like driving a beige Toyota Camry. Reliable. Peg it, walk out there 260 up the left side and hit your 2nd shot. EVERY TIME.  Wear out your partners. Guaranteed.  (That’s what it should have said on the box)  20/20

 

  • Shot Shaping-Here is where this driver is lacking. I have no chance of shaping shots with this club. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I’m not so sure that this is a bad thing (see 38/42 fairways above) but the golf curmudgeon in me wants to “shape it” from time to time.  14/20

 

  • Carry vs Roll- What does roll look like??  I play in the Pacific Northwest. We do not usually get to see a ball roll on a fairway until July. Even then, I wouldn’t expect that the 14* SLDR would produce much roll. The launch conditions of this driver are such that it will land and stop. 20/20

 

Course Score 92/100

Face-Compare2.jpg

Performance Notes

 

There is absolutely no question that this 14* SLDR Driver is a viable option for many players. It performs as advertised. Trying to educate the playing public that they need to play something that has 14* of loft may take some work, but it is hard to argue with the results. I hit more fairways than I usually do, even though the ball ended up farther away from the green than I was used to, I was in play. I might also give up the ability to “shape shots’ to hit more fairways if I can solve the distance issue.

 

Performance Score  88/100

 

Sldr-Face-outside.jpg

 

Subjective

Looks

 

  • General Shape - The 14* SLDR Driver has a slightly larger profile than the driver that I currently play. The most noticeable thing is the amount of face that you can see at address. It is quite something. Looks like a big 3 wood.  The charcoal grey color is pleasing to my eye, but the silver button back is a little weird. I also dislike the SLDR logo and alignment aid on the trailing edge of the clubhead. Crown-compare.jpg

  • The Speeder 57 shaft has complimentary graphics that tie the club together. the total package looks good.The color scheme this season is a vast improvement over last seasons offerings. Speeder-hero.jpg

  • The SLDR Driver is one of the best looking drivers in the rack. The balance of High polished silver and muted greys and blacks is a winner!! I think that some of the other players in the industry might have to take notice of the color choices made here. (side note - Custom colored weights would be AWESOME!!!)

 

Looks Score  98/100

 

Sound and Feel

 

Sound and Feel are completely subjective. I totally understand if you disagree with my opinions about how I interpret the input I receive from the SLDR Driver. We all see, hear and feel things differently. I dislike the sound made by the SLDR driver. On center hits, it has a very thin hollow feeling, almost like an aluminum baseball bat. On mishits, the sound gets worse. I prefer a more Dense sound at impact. Imagine Sledgehammer meets watermelon. The sound that I prefer is almost impossible to find these days, so I will go with what I tell everyone…. If it works, I don’t care what it sounds like.

 

 

 

Sound and Feel Score  78/100

 

Likelihood of Purchase

 

This is a loaded question for me. I don’t quite fit the definition of a Club Ho. I do not get the newest driver every 3 months. Or new irons every year. My set consists of a 4 year old driver, 5 year old irons, a 7 year old Hybrid, and a putter that I bought in 1995. However, if there are gains to be made, and it will improve my game, then I will bag it. After carefully examining the data, I would not purchase the 14* SLDR Driver for myself, as the loft is a few degrees too much for me. I would purchase a lower lofted version of the same driver, and I would absolutely recommend this particular driver for several people that I know. (I have already passed it along to another player that has seen tremendous distance gains over his X Hot driver.) In the interest of fairness to TaylorMade, I have included 2 scores for LOP. One for the 14*, and one for the correct fit for me.

 

LOP 14* Score 25/100  LOP 12* Score 95/100

SLDR-Heads.jpg

 

Subjective Notes

 

If TaylorMade can continue to educate the average player about the benefits of Lofting UP, then this product has a very viable place in the market. It is all about education. The club looks GREAT, Sounds ok, and performs like a charm. Every golfer owes it to themselves to look into the benefits of Low Forward CG. That stuff Works.

 

 

Total Subjective Score  78.67/100

 

Conclusion

 

This has been an interesting experiment. I tried the SLDR when it initially hit the shelves, and I hated it. I could not keep it airborne. I have since learned that I needed to Loft Up+. In fact, I believe that most players would benefit from lofting up. As long as the spin rates are in the acceptable range, and the ball speeds are high, there is no reason to hit it low. I wish that I hit this driver another 20 yards farther, because then it would be in the bag. The only thing keeping it out is the lack of distance, my perceived inability to work it. I firmly believe that if I were fit with the correct shaft/loft combo, that something in the SLDR family could easily outpace the R9 SuperDeep that I currently play.  (I am always available for a trip to my local Kingdom….) The most impressive thing for me was that I could take an off the rack driver and it would perform nearly as well as the custom fit driver that I have been playing for 4 years. Remarkable.


 

Total Score  83.33/100

 

SLDR-Shafts.jpg

 

The Five

 

  1. Will This Driver Go in Your Bag? - in 14*, no. I have already passed this club along to a member at my club who is just killing it. (And opening other players eyes to the benefits of higher lofts.) The only reasons that I did not bag it have to do with the limiting ability to shape shots and trajectory. Everything else about the club was as good or better than what I play now. I can safely say that with the right shaft and loft, this driver could be amazing.

 

  1. To whom would you recommend this driver? - Someone who hits it low and is looking to replace their driver this year. If you do not at least consider this club, you will be doing yourself a massive disservice.

 

  1. How did this driver change your impression of TaylorMade? - I can’t say that this driver has changed my impression much at all. I have worked in the golf business for nearly 20 years, and my impressions of all of the major companies are made. But my impression of this particular product line has changed course dramatically. I now understand why the SLDR received all of the preseason accolades from the Magazines and Blogs. The club is impressive.

 

  1. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model? - I stated earlier that I like the idea of custom color options for the sliding weights on the sole. And perhaps custom colored Tip adapters?  (I like custom colors) I am aware that the general public has absolutely zero interest in this type of thing, but the ability to customize the appearance of your club would be awesome. Also, use a higher quality grip. That stock grip has to be the cheapest thing on the planet.

 

  1. What features do you really like and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models? - There is obviously some validity to the low-forward CG placement design. I would love to see this design trend continue. I believe that in order to be a viable option moving forward, the public has to be educated on the benefits of higher flight.

 

SLDR-OOO.jpg







Thanks to MGS for allowing me to take my “work” to the course for the first time in a long time.



 

 

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