The new TaylorMade SLDR driver is making a fast impression with some TOUR pros. (TaylorMade Golf
In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall talks about TaylorMade's SLDR prototype driver, potential equipment changes for the British Open, and K.J. Choi's irons.
Have a question about the latest golf equipment or what the pros are playing? Send a tweet to @jonathanrwall.
Any of the pros put the new TaylorMade SLDR driver in the bag this week? Thank you. — Chemical Billy (@moofis_footbone)
To get everyone up to speed, TaylorMade released a new prototype driver called "SLDR" this week at the John Deere Classic and European Tour's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
TaylorMade wouldn't go into detail regarding the driver's performance benefits, but based on what I saw, I can tell you the head is 460 cubic centimeters and has a unique moveable weight channel on the sole that allows the trajectory to be adjusted 16 different ways between a "fade" and "draw," via a sliding weight port.
Based on the players I talked to and the response on Twitter — just look at Shawn Stefani's reaction — it's clear players were excited to test it out for the first time this week.
In fact, 13 TaylorMade staffers were so excited they decided to use it the very first week. Some of the notables using the driver are Boo Weekley, K.J. Choi, Lucas Glover, Darren Clarke (picked up 8-10 extra yards and tightened his spin consistency compared to his R1), Troy Matteson and Raphael Jacquelin.
What special adjustments are players making to their bags for next week's British Open? — Howard Riefs (@hriefs)
When it comes to the British Open, most players opt for easy-to-hit long irons, fairway woods and hybrids to keep the ball in play and under the wind.
Based on the current weather forecast — of course, it could change between now and then — it looks like players won't have to contend with wind or rain this year at Muirfield. Temperatures are supposed to be in the upper 60s with winds blowing anywhere between 8-11 mph.
With Muirfield playing firm and fast, I expect more players will take advantage of the additional rollout by using fairway woods and long irons off the tee. Talking to PGA TOUR equipment reps this week at the John Deere Classic, players didn't make many changes ahead of the British Open.
Most reps said players would likely wait until they arrived at Muirfield before making a final call on the bag setup.
On the other hand, players at the European Tour's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open made some adjustments for next week, adding utility irons to the bag like Titleist 712U, Callaway's X Utility Prototype, Adams' Super Idea DHy and Mizuno's Fli Hi MP. I expect the utility iron trend to continue next week.
Keegan Bradley, who has an easy-to-hit Cleveland Golf 588 MT 4-iron in the bag that should get a lot of use off the tee next week, added a 60-degree Cleveland 588 Forged (ROTEX grooves) with more bounce to help with getting out of the deep pot bunkers at Muirfield.
While it's a minor tweak, adding more bounce and higher lofted wedges could be another adjustment players make once they see the course and gauge the conditions.
What irons is K.J. Choi playing these days? — Craig Cassells (@cassellsforfish)
I'm pretty sure this is just happenstance, but K.J. Choi actually made a number of significant equipment changes this week. I was out at TPC Deere Run and saw him working with TaylorMade's SLDR prototype driver and a new set of Titleist's 714 CB.
If you'll recall, Choi was in the news recently for buying, and using, a set off-the-rack Mizuno MP-64 irons at a local Golf Galaxy in Dublin, Ohio, the week of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
He's also played Miura's CB-501 and Titleist's 712 CB irons this year. Choi actually used the 712 CB irons (True Temper Dynamic Golf Pro S300 shafts) last week at the Greenbrier Classic, but when he arrived at the John Deere Classic, he tested out Titleist's new 714 CB (4-PW; Nippon shafts) and immediately put them in the bag.
Aside from the new irons, he added TaylorMade's new SLDR prototype driver and a 50-degree Titleist Vokey Design SM4 wedge. Things could obviously change again before next week's British Open, but it looks like K.J. will have new clubs in the bag at Muirfield.
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