TaylorMade 14-degree SLDR driver
TaylorMade loves to bring new drivers to the marketplace. At times it is difficult to keep up with all the introductions.
The introduction of the 14-degree SLDR driver has presented one of TaylorMade's biggest challenges, because most golfers identify 14 degrees with a strong 3-wood, not a driver.
Before discussing the 14-degree SLDR, though, here is a rundown of the entire SLDR family:
First there was the adjustable SLDR 460 driver, accompanied by fairway woods and hybrids. Then there was the adjustable SLDR 430 driver with a slightly smaller head (460 and 430 are a measurement of size in cubic centimeters).
Then there was a non-adjustable SLDR MiniDriver that showed up at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The company officially has declined to talk about the MiniDriver or confirm if it will be sold at retail.
Now comes the 14-degree SLDR driver.
“This is all about lofting up,” said Tom Kroll, TaylorMade's global product manager. “We know the path for golfers to find distance is to help them achieve a higher launch with lower spin.”
Kroll was referring to TaylorMade's low and forward center of gravity. "The technology is simple," he said. "it reduces spin. So golfers need to loft up to achieve that high launch, low spin condition for more distance.”
Lofting up means exactly what it says: Use more loft. There are some dramatic examples of loft increases among PGA Tour players. Ken Duke went from 9.5 to 12 degrees. Former Open Championship winner Stewart Cink increased his loft from 10.5 to 12 degrees. Dustin Johnson added a degree of loft, from 9.5 to 10.5.
Keep in mind that the loft of the SLDR drivers can be adjusted as much as 1.5 degrees up or down.
"If you would have told me (a few years ago) that I would end up using a 12-degree driver, I would have said you're crazy," Cink said.
Will amateur golfers go as high as 14 degrees with a driver?
"I think people are going to have to see it to believe it," said Jason Fryia, owner of retail stores called The Golf Exchange in Kentucky and Ohio. "That being said, I definitely think the 14-degree driver will be right for a certain amount of golfers.”
The 14-degree driver, like the SLDR models before it, has a sliding weight in the sole with 21 weight positions. TaylorMade says the sliding device promotes up to 30 yards of shot-shape adjustment.