As usual the TaylorMade Tour truck was a hive of activity during the RBC Canadian Open this year. Normally it’s because no other major manufacturer has a tour workshop on-site for the tournament but this year there was extra cause for excitement – the new SLDR driver.
It was so busy, in fact, that the technicians on the truck ran through their inventory at a record pace.
“There’s a lot of interest…” one TaylorMade staffer quipped to me as he prepped another of the new drivers for one of their touring pros. “…for a lot of reasons,” he added.
For years the industry leader in golf club sales has pumped out white-headed drivers and dominated the driver count on tour. Their Darrell Survey numbers continue to be strong but in just a few weeks of availability (for the tour players; consumers will get access shortly) the new SLDR has soared to the top-end of the charts for drivers in use from TaylorMade.
The company had a near-miss for a first win at the RBC, or a successful 3/4 win if you want to characterize it that way. Eventual champion Brandt Snedeker had the new driver in the bag for the opening three rounds at Glen Abbey. He defaulted to his other TaylorMade driver (a Burner-Superfast) for the final loop. He revealed the next day during an outing at the Oshawa Golf & Country Club that the new driver is longer but he did not feel he was as straight with it. Obviously he got that dialled in as it was in play at the Bridgestone Invitational and is also in the bag at this week’s PGA Championship.
It’s a trend that continues for the brand as even Canadians like David Hearn have turned their loyalty to the new SLDR as their driver of choice.
Media types got a taste of the new stick on the Tuesday night of the RBC Canadian Open; the company generously provided a technical session and range testing opportunity on the Glen Abbey range and at the TaylorMade Peformance Lab located on-site.
It was short look but it revealed a new direction for TaylorMade, the current king of the driver category.
In some ways, the driver is a nod to the past while incorporating modern advances in technology.
It’s the best of both worlds and more than likely why tour players were flocking to use the prototype versions.
The SLDR greatest aesthetic attraction is a pleasing look provided by a charcoal finish and very classic shaping that somewhat masks it’s 460 CC volume. Add in subtle graphics and easy alignment at setup and you have a package that impresses better players immediately. It’s almost a nod to the drivers that really pushed TaylorMade to the forefront in modern times- the TM300 series, for example.
Under the hood though, the SLDR takes the moveable weight technology TaylorMade first introduced a decade ago with the r7 Quad driver and advances it. A new sliding mechanism on the sole with a 20 gram weight and variable positions is used to alter the mass positioning to alter ball flight in concert with an adjustable hosel.
Within the head a lower and more forward centre of gravity “heats up” the ball flight. As always golfers will need to go through a proper fitting to tune the club for them. Many of the tour players were adjusting to the new SLDR by adding a bit of loft to the set-up with very positive results.
While the company says they are not abandoning the high-contrast white head that has been so successful for them, it looks like the SLDR has made for a pretty compelling option for their tour staff.
As consumers get access to the new SLDR it will be interesting to see what direction they steer the company (by way of sales) as TaylorMade develops their future product strategies.
For details on the SLDR visit this link.