Less than a month after its introduction at last July’s John Deer Classic, TaylorMade’s SLDR became the No. 1 driver model on the PGA Tour. Even Phil Mickelson, who is sponsored by Callaway, used it in the Presidents Cup.
The pros like the bigheaded (460 cubic centimeter) beast of a driver because its low, forward center of gravity creates a low moment of inertia (MOI) that results in less spin and more distance. Moreover, that center of gravity is adjustable. The head’s 20-gram sliding weight can matched to the player’s swing type for maximum yardage.
For the high-speed, high-spin players who earn their living on the golf course, the lower spin rate can turn 300-yard drives into 330-yarders. For low-speed, low-spin hackers, the SLDR’s lack of “forgiveness” amplifies the bad shots as well as the good.
In other words, you may find yourself deep in the fairway; it just might be on a different hole than the one you’re playing.
The difficulty of hitting the SLDR hasn’t prevented it from flying off the shelves. And just before Christmas, TaylorMade introduced a 430cc version of the SLDR called, appropriately, the SLDR 430.
This new club has the same—albeit slightly smaller—charcoal gray crown and 12-position loft sleeve as its big brother. The loft sleeve allows you to dial in your launch and spin within 1.5 degrees up or down.
The 430 comes with a 45-inch Fujikura Speeder 67 graphite shaft, and its sliding weight is 22 grams, two heavier than that of the 460.
Most important, the new model is even lower-spinning than its sibling, which means it’s even less forgiving on off-center hits.
To its credit, TaylorMade warns that the 430 “is specifically made for advanced golfers who prefer the play of a lightning fast, high loft design driver with very minimal backspin to produce maximum distance.”
“Advanced” obviously refers to skill level, not age or experience. The SLDR features the kind of technology that greatly benefits professionals and single-digit players.
If you don’t count yourself among them, you might want to leave this SLDR hanging and take a swing at TaylorMade’s JetSpeed.
Featuring a 460cc head, the JetSpeed is not as adjustable as the SLDR. It’s more like the RocketBallz and, before that, the Burner. The low, forward weighting reduces spin but there’s more forgiveness.
Like the SLDRs, The JetSpeed also has a 12-position adjustable sleeve that allows golfers to increase or decrease loft by up to 1.5 degrees. Unlike like the SLDR, however, you can’t tinker with the factory-installed sole weight. It does not adjust.
The JetSpeed lists at $299 ($100 less than the SLDR 430) and is available in 8-, 9.5-, 10.5- and 12-degree versions and comes standard with a shaft that Matrix developed for the driver called the Matrix Velox T.
Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com. Jon Rizzi is the founding editor and co-owner of this regional golf-related media company producing magazines, web content, tournaments, events and the Golf Passport.