Written By: Tony Covey
A SLDR that Doesn’t SLiDe? You’ve Got to Be Kidding.
As some dude named Jon Gailmore once sang, “You Gotta Have a Hook”, and so while the real story of the TaylorMade SLDR Driver was the low and forward placement of the center of gravity, the hook – the thing that makes it stand out on the shelves – is the forwardly-placed, shiny blue capped, 20 gram weight that slides across the sole.
You can’t see the center of gravity. Shiny moving parts…those are absolute eye candy.
Unfortunately for TaylorMade (maybe… … probably not) the new SLDR fairways and hybrids…they’re hookless. TaylorMade forgot to put a SLiDeR on them.
Somebody is totally going to get fired over this.
Why the hell would anyone buy a SLDR that doesn’t SLiDe?
At least they’ve got goo-filled Speed Pockets.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems …
The SLiDing Weight Was Never the Story
Truthfully, with SLDR Fairway and SLDR Rescue, TaylorMade probably doesn’t need the same sort of hook that comes standard with the driver. The SLDR Driver is currently the #1 selling driver on the market, which suggests golfers have already taken the bait.
The absence of sliding weights is, as I tell my 3 year old when she spills her juice, no big whoop.
Technically speaking, the name of the driver isn’t even SLiDeR it’s SLDR (and everyone inside of TaylorMade pronounces each and every letter (ES–EL–DEE–ARR), but cynics, detractors, and other forms of generally irritable malcontents will no doubt offer up plenty of ridicule over the lack of anything that slides along the sole of the SLDR fairways and rescues.
What’s in a name, right?
My point is that moveable weights, or the absence anything else that SLiDes, isn’t really noteworthy…unless you’re really looking for something to complain about, in which case; ha ha ha TaylorMaid, yer still stupid.
While I suppose the shiny blue moving weight would look equally as cool in the SLDR Fairways and Rescues (dammit TaylorMade, can you please just call it a hybrid like everybody else), just as with the driver, the REAL story of the SLDR Fairway and Rescues is that low and forward CG.
I yawned the first time I heard it. This time around I’m paying attention.
Center of Gravity. . . Who Gives a Damn
When SLDR Driver launched I made a point to mention that this whole center of gravity story was completely played out. Every press release for the last decade contained some reference to optimal CG placement, and yet optimal kept changing to suit the narrative of the day.
I was convinced golfers don’t give a damn about center of gravity.
I still believe I’m more or less right, but what I do know is that because of the SLDR every golf company under the sun has moved the CG discussion to the top of the page.
As 2014 products hit shelves you’ll hear more and more about why low and forward is bad and why the alternative (whatever it happens to be in a given product family) is good.
The story goes something like this:
Low and Forward is Bad
The bad of low and forward is basically two-fold:
- It lowers MOI substantially. What that means is that when you don’t hit the ball on the sweet spot, distance and accuracy suffer. Move too far (1 inch is the number we’re hearing quite a bit) from the sweet spot and things really get ugly.
- It reduces both launch angle and spin. If you’re a guy who has trouble getting the ball in the air, or who struggles to create enough spin to keep the ball in the air, the reality is you’d probably have better luck putting with the SLDR than trying to hit it well off the tee.
TaylorMade tells a slightly completely different story:
Low and Forward is Good
I heard Jay-Z already put in a pre-order.
Here’s the TMaG side of Low and Forward:
- It reduces both launch angle and spin. If you’re a guy who produces enough spin, you can take more loft and launch the ball higher with less spin. This leads to the 2nd benefit of low and forward.
- Ball Go Far (assuming you’re capable of producing the desired launch conditions AND you don’t mind losing some forgiveness*).
*Personal experience with the SLDR suggests that tales of brutal unforgiveness have been greatly exaggerated.
Even if they’re tired of CG stories, or are completely unaware of them, Golfers most definitely care about Ball Go Far, which is why plenty of golfers are going to care about the SLDR Fairway and SLDR Rescue.
You take Ball Go Far and pair it with an improved Speed Pocket that offers greater ball speeds without the need to constantly clean debris and other miscellaneous crap out of the slot, toss in 1.5° of loft adjustability, and you’ve basically got the complete story of the new SLDR Fairways and Rescues.
Well that, and TaylorMade would also prefer I mention the “Awe-Inspiring Aesthetics”.
More Loft Requried
Whether or not the average golfer (not that the average golfer is really the target audience here) will be able to get the SLDR fairways and rescues off the ground, well, that remains to be seen.
With SLDR almost everyone needs more loft, and TaylorMade is making sure you get.
How Many More Yards?
For those of you have come to expect plenty of bravado from TaylorMade, the release of SLDR fairways and rescues will likely be a huge disappointment.
There aren’t any bold distance claims (43.8 MORE YARDS). Hell, they can’t even be bothered to make any specific comparisons to RBZ Stage 2. The entire press release fits on my screen without the need for a scroll wheel.
Either TaylorMade is getting lazy, or they believe SLDR Fairways and Rescues will basically sell themselves.
While TaylorMade isn’t coming right out and saying it, my read on their approach to this release is this:
With SLDR Driver, ball go far. With SLDR fairways and rescues, ball also go far.
Somwhere AngryGolfHulk is smiling.
Nevertheless, this is still TaylorMade, so just to be safe, prepare yourself for a full media blitz in 3-2…
Cutting Through the BS
Let me tell you something that TaylorMade knows but probably isn’t going to say very loudly:
SLDR, whether it’s the driver, the fairway, or the hybrid rescue isn’t for everyone. The same is true of every club, but almost nobody will admit it.
For the better part of the last several years I’ve beat on TaylorMade mercilessly over their persistent claims that they design clubs for the best players in the world (lowest handicap golfers…the 0-4 crowd) while they release product after product that clearly targets the average golfer.
I joked (actually, I’m not sure I was joking) that the differentiating factor between RBZ Stage 2 and the R1 was that the former was designed for guys who like using wrenches while the latter was designed for the guy who REALLY likes using wrenches.
You could also argue that Stage 2 was for guys who want to spend $300 on a driver, while R1 was for those willing to spend $400.
From a performance perspective, we didn’t find much between them.
The SLDR lineup is different.
Finally Some Differentiation
What’s different with SLDR is that, even if TaylorMade isn’t explicitly saying so, is that it wasn’t actually designed with the average golfer in mind.
The SLDR line is what better golfers (and those of us who like clubs actually designed with better players in mind) have been begging TaylorMade for since the SuperDeep went end of life.
That’s not to say TaylorMade doesn’t want the average golfer to buy SLDR. They absolutely do. You don’t get the #1 selling driver in golf by telling the majority of consumers that it probably isn’t ideal for them.
Instead, you sell the distance (sweet spot to sweet spot – assuming you can achieve reasonable launch parameters – you probably won’t find anything longer), and trust that golfers will revel in the distance and get over whatever’s lost when they miss.
They will forgive. They always do.
My hunch is that whatever TaylorMade rolls out next, from a performance standpoint anyway, will be designed more for the average golfer. They probably won’t come right out and say it then either, but forgiveness will almost certainly re-enter the discussion
I’d be shocked if we didn’t see the SLDR line more clearly targeting better players (or at least aggressive, higher swing speed players), while the Burner/Rocketballz line realigns its focus on the average to improving golfer.
Of course, this is TaylorMade we’re talking about, so I suppose it’s just as probable that they’ll just paint something white and call it a day.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s two thousand words worth of specifications.
TaylorMade SLDR Fairway
TaylorMade SLDR Rescue
Oh Hey. . . Another Video
Shaft, Pricing and Availability
SLDR fairway woods are equipped with the Fujikura Speeder 77 graphite (43.25”) shaft. Five models/lofts are available: Tour Spoon (14°), 3 (15°), 3HL (17°), 5 (19°) and 5HL (21°). The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $249 per club. A SLDR TP Fairway with Fujikura Motore Speeder TS.8.3 shaft is also available at an MSRP of $349.
The stock SLDR Rescue shaft is the Fujikura Speeder 82 (41.25”), available in five models/lofts: 2 (17°), 3 (19°), 4 (21°) and 5 (24°). The stock model retails for $219, while the SLDR Rescue TP Version, equipped with the Fujikura Motore Speeder TS 9.3 shaft, is available at an MSRP of $289.
SLDR fairways and Rescues will be available at retailers nationwide starting November 15.