There are two things to remember when reading this post and watching ads on TV for Taylormade’s SLDR drivers. First, no one pays me a dime to write a damn thing on this site. I have no agendas, no hidden interest, no one backing me or giving me free shit. If someone did want to give me free shit, I’d at least tell you ahead of time that what I wrote was based on a review of someone giving me the shit for free. Second, the professional tour players in the Taylormade ads are paid VERY well to appear there, to play the clubs, and tell you that they ‘lofted up’ to gain 9 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards…..whatever the fuck they’re telling you. Let’s get real about this now.
Advertisements like the one above have been out in golf mags and on tv for more than 6 months now. The SLDR driver went live on tour in July of 2013 and were sold to the public shortly thereafter. Taylormade Golf has since bombarded the golfing masses with this campaign. The gist of it is that the company has made their latest and greatest even more adjustable than before, but they’ve also lowered the center of gravity and moved it forward in the club head. It should be common sense to us all that if you move the center of gravity as such, the ball will not launch at the same angle. Therefore, TMG says you need to ‘Loft Up’ to add distance. Well, sort of….
When a club gets as high of a rating as we’re starting to see in various club tests it makes you wonder what you’re missing out on. So I got curious and went and tried a bunch of SLDR models out in the last few weeks. I hit them indoors with launch monitors and simulators and all that other tech stuff. Both times I had hit balls in a dome for an hour before hand. Both times I could compare the numbers of the SLDR models to control numbers set from my current driver under the same conditions with the same type of ball. The results…..????? Almost identical.
How can this be you ask? Driver technology simply doesn’t make the type of leap these marketing campaigns try to make you believe in such a short time. Each and every top manufacturer spends millions on R&D to pretty much get to the same conclusion. Taylormade moving the center of gravity only means that your effective loft on the club us now about 1.5 degrees lower than it had been. If you currently have a Nike Covert in your bag with 9.5 degrees of loft and you produce shots that launch at 12.3 degrees with a 2600 rpm spin rate and 145 mph ball speed, you couldn’t produce the same numbers swinging the same shaft and loft on the SLDR. Your shots would measure out launching lower and and not have enough spin to stay in the air and carry the same distance. If you tried an 11 degree SLDR, you’d probably get the similar results as the Nike driver you’ve owned for 18 months. Essentially, if you use an SLDR you have to loft up or the club isn’t even producing at the same level as your current model. Are you still following me? Take a look at this:
I don’t know Rick, but he’s basically coming to the same conclusion I am in his comparison of the R1 and the SLDR. I put the SLDR up against an RBZ Tour from 2012, a Callaway from 2012, a Titleist 913D3 from last year, and the newest Ping driver. The ball speed with each club didn’t vary more than a few mph. In Rick’s video, he even hit the slightly older R1 further on average than the SLDR.
What’s the bottom line? Driver technology simply can’t get that much better every year. If you’ve purchased anything from the major brands in the last 24 to 30 months, stick with it until new models drop in the fall. You’re not missing out on anything. You’d get a lot more out of that same $400 by investing in lessons. Hitting the ball in the middle of the club is the key to hitting it long anyway.
Bag Of Dicks
If you haven’t purchased a new driver since 2010 and you play to a single digit handicap and are looking for a new big stick, by all means, pick anyone of the new models and enjoy. You’ll probably love it. They’re all great clubs, the main point here is that you can’t believe everything you see and read. The guys in the TMG ads were the same guys telling you two years ago that their Rocketballz drivers were going 17 yards further. Now they’ve gained another 15 yards??!!??? Something doesn’t add up. I don’t see where any of them have added 30 yards to their average drive on tour in the last few seasons.
One last caveat before you run out and start swinging drivers. Places like Dicks and several other sporting goods/golf equipment stores typically have a deal with Taylormade to move product. That’s another reason their clubs are so popular. I’d bet you anything that when Joe Thirteen-Index walks into Dicks and asks about drivers, the first club the salesmen point him to is a Taylormade product. You’ve now been warned, swing away.