By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM, Equipment Insider
Three weeks after TaylorMade debuted a prototype driver called SLDR on the PGA TOUR and European Tour and had 13 players immediately put it in play, the company officially announced on Monday that SLDR would be coming to retail Aug. 9.
According to TaylorMade, the driver is the longest in company history -- based on robot testing of 9.5 drivers in neutral setting at approximately 150 mph ball speed -- thanks in large part to a center of gravity that's lower and more forward to promote a more penetrating ball flight, low spin and increased ball speed.
“Without a doubt, this is the longest driver we have ever created,” said Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical officer. “Our expertise at positioning the CG low and forward sets us apart from our competitors, and is vital to making SLDR the spectacular distance machine that it is.”
The moveable weight technology that was a staple of previous driver models — TaylorMade's R7, the company's first moveable weight driver, featured four small weight ports — was replaced by a 20-gram moveable weight that slides on a channel on the front of the sole and shifts the clubhead's CG horizontally, along a 21-point track system, towards the heel or toe to promote a draw of fade.
Aside from the new adjustable weight channel, SLDR produces six millimeters of movement, which is 50 percent more than TaylorMade's R1 driver. The increase gives the new driver a shot dispersion range of up to 30 yards.
The loft setting on SLDR can also be adjusted via TaylorMade's loft-sleeve technology that allows the driver to be positioned 12 different ways within a range of plus-or-minus 1.5 degrees. Increasing the loft on the driver closes the face, while decreasing the loft opens the face.
Unlike previous TaylorMade driver models that had white paint and crown graphics, SLDR features a more subdued look with a charcoal-grey crown color, traditional TaylorMade alignment aide near the face and an additional SLDR alignment aid towards the back of the crown.
When the driver debuted at the John Deere Classic, the prototype version didn't have a TaylorMade alignment aid on the crown.
While SLDR will be TaylorMade's fourth driver offering this year, it's arguably received more buzz than any of the other models in less than a month.
At the John Deere Classic, TaylorMade's Tour Truck ran out of SLDR heads the very first day they were released. The following week at The Open Championship, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald were among the notables who decided to put it in play at Muirfield.
With 15 SLDR drivers in play at the RBC Canadian Open, TaylorMade said it expects SLDR to become No.1 played driver this week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
SLDR will be available Aug. 9 in four loft options (8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees) with a Fujikura Speeder 57 shaft for $399. The Tour Preferred version, SLDR TP, will also be available Aug. 9 with a tour-caliber Fujikura Speeder Tour Spec 6.3 shaft for $499.
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