TaylorMade SLDR Driver - Review Thread

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THP sent SLDR drivers to a number of forum members for review. Those drivers are arriving now and reviews should start coming in. We encourage others that have tried the driver to join in with their thoughts as well.

Please keep this thread clear until the 1st tester posts photos and thoughts. Thanks.

Testers
War Eagle
PhillyV
Rpbgator
jt2929
Paladin
 

Paladin

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Ok, let's get this party started. First off, I think every golf game and swing is as different as the person holding the club, so I'll say a little bit about myself. My name is Steven, I'm 30 years old, I'm married, I've two children, Declan, 5, and Abigail, 3. I'm a non-commissioned officer in the Army, currently teaching a computer systems maintenance class as part of the MOS 35T Military Intelligence Systems Maintainer course. Basically, I teach new Soldiers how to fix military intelligence equipment. I started playing golf in 2007 while I was here in Arizona, as an excuse to get out of the house and get drunk before noon. The next three years I lived in Germany, and tried to take golf more seriously, but I spent most of those summers in Afghanistan, so I didn't really get a chance to. Trying to get any real development in my swing was made tougher because I would usually come back from downrange 15-25 pounds heavier than before I deployed. Lifting weights is my other hobby, so I'd put on muscle while deployed then drink/neglect it away in time to deploy again. At the tail end of that trip to Germany, I slipped on some ice and badly broke my right ankle, requiring some surgeries and some hardware to get put in. The beginning of 2011 saw me the smallest I'd ever been, as two months on crutches caused me to lose 20 pounds and badly atrophy my leg. In addition, we moved from Germany to Maryland, where we knew no one.

As luck would have it, my physical therapist suggested golf as a way to improve my ankle mobility and propioception, so I took up the game again. I was terrible. I couldn't transfer my weight because my right leg had no muscle whatsoever. I couldn't turn my hips due to lack of mobility. But I liked walking and getting outside after a very cold and icy winter. So I played as much as I could in 2011. Unfortunately, work and the closing of the course on post made for very little play in 2012, but it didn't matter. Golf got me good.

So now I'm here in Arizona, working reasonable hours, and making decent money. I took my first golf lessons this summer, and I break 100 often as not.

Anyhow, you're not here to read about me, you want to know about the SLDR.


TaylorMade has cranked out a good number of drivers of late. They've used a lot of colors, from the RBZ green to the Stage 2 yellow, and then the orange-red of the R1. Seems like through a process of elimination they'd do something in blue, but the blue is barely an accent color on the SLDR, tertiary behind the charcoal grey crown and silver face and sole. Still, what makes the SLDR what it is, the 20 gram tracking weight, is a pleasant royal blue shade. The blue is also pretty prominent on the very nice-looking head cover: (sitting in my bag next to the stock head cover on my Amp Cell is almost embarrassing for Cobra)


For raw aesthetics, you can't really beat the SLDR at a glance. The sole and crown are a bit busy if you really study them, such as the tick marks on the back end of the crown, but that's nitpicking, and I can't put it past TM that there's some subconscious alignment tool going on with them. If nothing else, they match the tick marks on the weight track on the sole. TaylorMade has put a lot of effort into the aesthetics of alignment, and this club does a good job of looking and feeling lined up in a very unobtrusive way. You're more aware of the markings on the rear of the crown than actually seeing them at address.


As I picked up the club and took some practice swings, the best word I can come up with is compact. The SLDR stands 45.5" standard length, and while it doesn't feel short, the Fujikura Fuel shaft feels nice and solid, and the whole club just feels very well put-together. There's plenty of flex, but I never felt like I wasn't sure where the club was at during any of my practice swings. The face is deep, very confidence-inspiring, and again, the shaft does a good job of connecting it to the hands. If you lose track of where the club is at during your swing, you're probably swinging the SLDR too hard.


My only gripe, and it's a small one, is that the stock grip feels slippery and hard as a rock. Not very pleasant. I'll take care of that this weekend, though. The family is heading up to Tucson on Saturday, so I'm going to get this guy on the launch monitor and see about exploiting the library of settings available to the SLDR.

In conclusion, I expected to be wowed by the number of settings available on the SLDR. I'm a relentless tinkerer, so I imagined perpetually fine-tuning the loft and weight values. What I did not expect was for it to be in such a pleasant, confidence-inspiring appearance, or for it to feel quite so well-built. It's hard not to look at the number of places the sliding weight can go, and the number of setting for the loft, and imagine you can't take repeatable hits and turn them into prime yardage. But it's easy to look at this club and say that this is a club you can hit. That's all I've got until I get some numbers on Saturday, unless I duck out of work early Friday and hit up the range. The whole Federal Government is shut down, I don't think they'll miss one little Staff Sergeant.
 

mmaynard11

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Awesome review to the aesthics of the golf club itself. Looking forward to your review after swinging that beaut on the range.



I'm Just Tap Tap Tapping...
 

PhillyV

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Thanks for your thoughts Paladin. Couple questions. How does it look at set up compared to your cobra? One thing guys have said about this club is it just looks great at set up. Another is what shaft did you get for testing?
 

Paladin

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Thanks for your thoughts Paladin. Couple questions. How does it look at set up compared to your cobra? One thing guys have said about this club is it just looks great at set up. Another is what shaft did you get for testing?
I've got the Fujikura Fuel, the "same" shaft as the Cobra Amp Cell. Whether this is by design or luck, I don't know. Maybe it's the difference in swing-weight, but in hand and in swing the SLDR feels much more compact and solid (I know I keep using those adjectives, but they're about the best I can come up with) than the Amp Cell. I'm no physics guy, but I am going to wonder (and maybe I'll get in front of a really nice camera sometime and compare) how that translates into the SLDR getting loaded versus the Amp Cell, where on a good shot I can feel it flex and snap through (and, for the record, it's a glorious feeling). I think I'd still trade that for a more consistent idea of where the club is and where it's going every time I use it, and the SLDR feels like it's going to provide that. If I lose some snap and a little distance on my best shots, so be it.

As for setup, they're pretty similar. Like I said, the SLDR's alignment, with a line at the back pointing to a logoed dot at the front, feels very subconscious and intuitive. The Amp Cell feels a bit more aimed, using the bottom edge of the cobra script to form a straight line at the target. The face looks deeper on the SLDR, but that might be due to being silver compared to the Amp Cell's black. But they're both great, great clubs to look at at address.

I'm going to try my darndest not to make this review an SLDR versus Amp Cell shootout. I'm aware I'm going to bag them both for awhile, and probably go shot for shot with them on occasion, both on the course and on the range. It's hard not to; how often will you get to such well-regarded pieces of equipment from the same year in your bag at the same time? But I'm not going to take side by side photos for comparison, and any review video I take of the SLDR isn't going to involve, "And now I'm going to hit the Amp Cell; check this out!" I think both of them stand on their own merits, and I'm overjoyed that I get such a great opportunity to review a great-looking club like the SLDR without simply being wowed by the new technology or the improvement over hitting a several-years-old driver.
 

Nate

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I have some buddies that are interested in this driver. Will be keeping an eye on all this!
 

Canadan

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Great start to the SLDR testing Paladin!! I'll be following along big time, as I believe this driver will flat out change the tee game for many people.

Looking forward to seeing some more in hand pics and a bunch of on course thoughts guys!! BRING IT!
 

tucsondivots

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I will be curious to know what you think about the sound. I tried it out and felt it sounded very muted, like the old days when TM packed their heads with foam. Also, you may see some interesting differences regarding spin between this and your Amp Cell or RBZ Stage 2 (I think I remember you said you tried it out previously). Looking forward to your reviews.
 

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Excellent start, Paladin. Keep up the good work.


I'm interested to see how you like the 12* loft. I understand that the SLDR is a intended to be a high launch, low spin driver. Did you choose the 12* loft! or was it assigned to you?
 

Paladin

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Excellent start, Paladin. Keep up the good work.


I'm interested to see how you like the 12* loft. I understand that the SLDR is a intended to be a high launch, low spin driver. Did you choose the 12* loft! or was it assigned to you?
I didn't choose it, and probably wouldn't have chosen it for myself, but I've recently switched over to playing the Amp Cell at max loft, and I love it. I commented on as much in the Amp Cell thread.

All things being equal, I think a lot of people say they don't want the loft off the tee because they're worried it'll balloon, but I don't think it matters what the loft is; if you hit down on the ball, off the tee, you'll get excess backspin. You won't get a penetrating ball flight. But in terms of trading a little higher flight and a bit less roll for more carry and less deviation from the target line, which will most people take? The only time I'd consider going with a worm-burner of a driver is before the rains set in and the fairways are nothing but hard-pack.
 

checkered

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Nice initial write up Paladin. I'm subscribing to this. Really looking forward to everyone's thoughts.
 

SkiBumGolfer

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I really do love the look of this club. Liked the feel when I hit it as well. Can't wait to see what everyone thinks!
 

Jeff Spicoli

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Nice writeup, Paladin. I'm looking forward to reading everyone's thoughts on this one.
 

JB

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Excellent start, Paladin. Keep up the good work.


I'm interested to see how you like the 12* loft. I understand that the SLDR is a intended to be a high launch, low spin driver. Did you choose the 12* loft! or was it assigned to you?
TaylorMade Golf has been working on fitting with this head with their tour pros. More than 65% of their tour pros are fit for higher loft than they previously played, so TaylorMade decided to go 1 up on the loft for each tester.
 

mikedean441

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Off to a great start paladin.
With recent trajectory issues the going up a degree...or more for me is becoming a reality and I can't wait to see everyones feedback
 

Jman

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Off to a great start paladin.
With recent trajectory issues the going up a degree...or more for me is becoming a reality and I can't wait to see everyones feedback
Embrace the loft buddy, embrace it!

Paladin, very nice start dude, I enjoyed reading that!
 

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Embrace the loft buddy, embrace it!

Paladin, very nice start dude, I enjoyed reading that!
Yeah it didnt used to be that way...now im failing at 9.5...cant wait for everyone to have these in hand.
 

dcbrad

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Great review to start the thread off Paladin! Looking forward to the rest of everyone's thoughts. I will be a frequenter of this thread and would love to hear thoughts on those that have hit both the Optiforce and the SLDR over a period of time. (Looking at you War Eagle.......) Haha
 

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Great start Paladin. I'm waiting in Florida for some SLDR goodness.
 

arydolphin

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I've got the Fujikura Fuel, the "same" shaft as the Cobra Amp Cell.
TaylorMade Golf has been working on fitting with this head with their tour pros. More than 65% of their tour pros are fit for higher loft than they previously played, so TaylorMade decided to go 1 up on the loft for each tester.
Did the testers also submit what shaft they wanted to play in this club or did TM pick the shaft for them? I'm just wondering about the Fuel shaft because the Fujikura Speeder shafts are the stock shafts for the standard and TP model of this club, but the Fuel is a custom shaft upgrade.
 

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Did the testers also submit what shaft they wanted to play in this club or did TM pick the shaft for them? I'm just wondering about the Fuel shaft because the Fujikura Speeder shafts are the stock shafts for the standard and TP model of this club, but the Fuel is a custom shaft upgrade.
We were given the stock shaft in the flex we currently play
 

JB

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Did the testers also submit what shaft they wanted to play in this club or did TM pick the shaft for them? I'm just wondering about the Fuel shaft because the Fujikura Speeder shafts are the stock shafts for the standard and TP model of this club, but the Fuel is a custom shaft upgrade.
They were given a shaft (some stock), that matches well in comparison to what they currently play, all the while matching up appropriately with this head.
 

Paladin

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Did the testers also submit what shaft they wanted to play in this club or did TM pick the shaft for them? I'm just wondering about the Fuel shaft because the Fujikura Speeder shafts are the stock shafts for the standard and TP model of this club, but the Fuel is a custom shaft upgrade.
I didn't specify what shaft I wanted in this club. All things being equal, I'm new to the world of club customization at that level, so I'm interested in trying out a wide range of shaft options. That being said, it is interesting that I've now got two heads both rocking the same shaft, so it's interesting to me that they feel pretty different in the hand and to swing.

Like I said earlier, I don't want this to be a "SLDR vs. Amp Cell" review, but maybe TaylorMade has forced my hand!

 

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