Can You Hit the SLDR?

About a month ago, TaylorMade Golf came out with its SLDR (pronounced “slider”) driver, which represents another step in the self-fitting trend that has come to recreational golf.

The SLDR model enables golfers to position the clubhead’s center of gravity in 21 places within the clubhead. This feature, which was unthinkable 10 years ago, allows golfers to match swing-type and speed for maximum distance, which is why TaylorMade calls the SLDR the longest driver it has ever made.

Thanks to the equipment fetishists at Golfwrx we’re able to see prototypes of Callaway’s new driver model that has adjustable center-of-gravity (Cg for short) capability. In light that many consumers are just getting used to loft angels (8.5 degrees to 13.5) and clubface angles (left, neutral and right), a Cg setting does indeed add another factor in finding a driver that keeps the ball on the fairway.

Here’s a basic primer: Cg positioning has long been thought of by clubmakers like Ping, Titleist and Cleveland, no less, as best positioned back and middle of the hollow clubhead. This maximizes the “moment of inertia,” otherwise known as the twisting that comes when clubhead makes an off-center strike on the ball. Hitting the ball towards the toe or the heal makes the face twist at impact, inducing spin (hooks and slices) as well as loss of energy so the ball does not go as far.

TaylorMade, which you have to say has been the industry leader in drivers, has broken away from this school and thinks that forward Cg brings more energy to the ball, thus more distance. But forward Cg also increases twisting on off-center hits, which, to be truthful, the better players like. It allows them to shape the shots.

One line of thinking is that if the golfer is able to set the loft and face angles correctly, adding another factor to the fitting process only gives that golfer a chance to really customize the club for optimal fit.

Or, if done wrong, ultimate wrong fit. A steep swing with a closed clubface that’s meant to fight a slice with forward Cg can, with some wrong hand action, induce some of the most amazing left-of-left shots a right-handed golfer could ever imagine.

The next drive might be that player’s first 300-yard drive, and his next might be three fairways over. In short, the equipment can maximize proficiencies but it also can realize the mistakes with equal clarity.

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