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First Look! – TaylorMade SLDR Driver

Post image for First Look! – TaylorMade SLDR Driver

Written by: Tony Covey

The golf world awoke this morning to a new TaylorMade driver on the USGA's conforming list. If that wasn't enough to create some rampant speculation, TaylorMade also posted a pic on their Facebook feed. A healthy percentage of the early reaction - as it usually is - has been negative...unless I'm misinterpreting things and looking like "Iron Man's ball bag" is actually a good thing.

For now actual technical information about the the SLDR driver is basically non-existent.

What we're being told through official channels is that the SLDR is a prototype driver that TaylorMade is working on with a few tour pros. For what it's worth, Tour Prototype is almost always the story when new TaylorMade drivers pop up on the conforming list.

Other sources are telling a lightly more interesting story.

As you're by now most certainly aware, within the last week Callaway announced their new FT Optiforce driver. We're told that Callaway basically hurried the Optiforce into production and release because they wanted to beat TaylorMade to the punch.

I'm not sure that TaylorMade necessarily cares.

While I can't be certain that's 100% true, from my perspective as a media guy, the release of the FT Optiforce certainly felt at best hurried, and at worst, haphazard. Basically, the release sure as hell looked rushed from this side of things.

Our own read on corporate strategy is that Callaway likes to be first, whereas TaylorMade would seem to be content being 2nd, or 3rd, or sometimes even 4th to announce and release new product.

What I am certain of is that nothing kills momentum for a new product quite like a newer product. For now anyway, and assuming the SLDR makes it to retail, TaylorMade has the newer, if only slightly so, product.

As is the case with any equipment release, golfers will no doubt be irate given their perceptions that TaylorMade is yet again flooding the market with drivers. Once the initial anger subsides, we can move on to the 2nd stage, which is to point out any aspect of the design that may have been ripped off from another company.

What The Pictures Tell Us

Based on what we can see, for the TaylorMade SLDR, comparisons to Mizuno's FastTrack Technology are inevitable. Ultimately, does it actually matter who did what first? I'm not so sure anymore.

Worth pointing out is that Mizuno's technology moved weight around the rear perimeter of the golf club, where as the TaylorMade's SLDR is positioned much closer to the face.

Such is the latest trend in driver design. Equipment manufacturers have moved away from placing weight low and and to the rear of the club, and are now trying to move it as close to the face as possible. That certainly would appear to be the case here.

On a related note, TaylorMade's Patent on what I suppose you'd call sliding rail weighting appears to pre-date Mizuno's.

From the photos we can see that there are 16 different positions for the weight, and it should go without saying that we have questions about any real-world impact from shifting the weight from position 6 to position 7 for example.

Saving the debate on the effectiveness of the technology for a later date, the most telling piece of information is perhaps the fact that the driver is clearly stamped 460.

Given that a healthy percentage of TaylorMade Pros generally play smaller heads (and only the 460 model appears on the conforming list), the 460cc model certainly suggests that the SLDR is heading towards a retail shop near you in the not-so-distant future. With Callaway about to drop a new driver on the shelves, I'd suggest it's all but a certainty.

What We Don't Know

That's a long list. We don't know release dates - if there is one (there will be one). We don't know specifications (beyond 460ccs and 16 position SLDR). We don't know stock shaft or performance characteristics. We don't know what new adjusability has been added to the hosel. We don't know the name (SLDR is like the name of the rail-based movable weight system, the greater probability is that the actual name will be something else).

Most of all, we don't know where the hell the SLDR fits in the TaylorMade lineup.

Is the SLDR what TaylorMade is releasing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first adjustable driver?

Is the SLDR an ultra-lightweight offering designed to compete directly with FT Optiforce?

Is the SLDR just a new release so TaylorMade can claim a new release?

Or...Is the SLDR just an idea TaylorMade is floating just to see how it's received?

Stay Tuned

We'll know doubt have more details soon, but in the mean time, feel free to speculate and comment below.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Chad Williams July 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

This looks so stupid I honestly though tmag was upping there game guess there going back to the early 2000s with this look though maybe if they made a few adjustments it would look nicer but this just looks outdated.

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Steve Krandel July 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Please don’t go abandon the white drivers. Going back to a glossy black makes it look like you screwed up the first time. At least go to a matte black or offer color options.

As for adjusting….I think we’ve hit saturation. Most people adjust once, if at all, and then never change it again. The R1 didn’t test any better than the R11, so the reality is that the more fine grained adjustments didn’t matter. Average players won’t see any difference.

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Desmond July 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Looks like their Costco model from the crown.

Without knowing details, I hope it’s their budget driver.

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Richard July 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Another ploy to get your money.

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Rohann July 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

… the only true answer here. Mizuno brought this concept out in 2007..

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Jimberley July 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I’ve currently got the Mizuno MP600 in the bag with the slider dealio’s.
It definitely works to help produce a preferred shot shape, but does not “cure” a slice or hook. It’s a good looking driver head, and in my opinion, still better looking than the TM above. And it tends to send the ball on pretty long distance trips too!
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, something like that?

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Joe Golfer July 8, 2013 at 11:19 pm

It probably had a better shaft also. I think Mizuno was still using their in-house brand of shaft, the Exsar brand, at that time. If so, those were actually some very good shafts, and in my opinion, far better than some of the cheap shafts used by major OEM’s today or the shafts that look like an expensive shaft but are really just a similar paint job.

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Tony July 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Done long ago by Vulcan Golf. They are out of BIZ, who’s next?

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dick July 8, 2013 at 2:02 pm

first look reminds me of the Titliest Driver, was it the 903 back around 2000?

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Steve P July 8, 2013 at 2:02 pm

TM’s first $199 driver at launch. Yeah!

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joro3743 July 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Another new Driver. I heard about this with the sliding “weight” a few months ago and it sounded like a gimic then and looks like a gimic now. They are bringing out so much stuff so fast that it is ruining the Industy. Too much. Wham Bam,,,, Thank you Everyone.

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Ice July 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

The crown graphics are getting more and more subtle with each release. I think they’ve admitted failure there and are trying to phase it out slowly so it doesn’t seem that way.

Don’t abandon white. They’ve killed it there. If they don’t do it here, the next R and or RBZ better be white. Admitting failure there (which it was not) is not a good idea. Matte is where the industry is at anyway, why go to glossy?

The slider is a great idea. It’s a new concept (to the masses) in adjustability and it will sell like all of them do, regardless of how bad it may look.

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Clayton July 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I’m still playing an R11 and have grown tired of the ugly white drivers. This one looks very nice – I can tweak face angle at the hosel and bias with the slider, plus it looks more classy with the older “T” alignment mark and the older metallic dark grey color. BRAVO. I would prefer the bottom have the same color but whatever… I’d hit it.

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Bob Pegram July 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The slider looks like an easier to understand, and easier to adjust driver. Assuming it also has the loft and lie adjustments at the hosel, this driver has everything in adjustment properties. The black finish looks a lot better than the excessive graphics in the recent past.

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mr_divots July 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Mizuno and Vulcan called and they want their designs back from years ago.
How do you keep track of whom is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th to release ANYTHING anymore? It’s constant, and it makes the consumer continue this “wait and see” approach with models and the inevitable price drops. Don’t even get us started us the 40 yards we’ve all picked up the last 3 seasons with their last 9 driver releases. Get out!

in other words, what’s new? I don’t see anything “new” here. Just a lot of moveable pieces parts for the sake of being the king of moving pieces parts.
MWT appears able to shift COG much more effectively than this “SLDR” thing, given the weights can be swapped out for different gram weight.

Know what I still see a lot of on-course? ’07 Burners. And R9′s.

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Ryan July 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

TaylorMade’s “sliding” patents pre-date Mizuno’s MP driver release. The weight is also heavier (20G), more forward and lower than the Mizuno. Low, forward CG is the best way to obtain the high launch and low spin we all desire off a Driver’s face. The two drivers are not even comparable.

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vudo July 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

If you ask me it looks like a definate copy off of the latest Hybrid technology from the new emerging KickX Golf. I saw this same type of systme on their hybrids at the PGA show this year but with the weight distribution located on teh back of the heads. I hit the hybrids….quite astonishing! Only slight adjustments had my ball travel tweeked to just about any shape of shot I wanted.

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joemoma July 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I game an R7 superquad TP and it still out drives any of the last 4 models released by TMAG. It is the perfect size for a driver head. Bring back the superquad TP with some shaft upgrades.

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Desmond July 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Retro TM … I believe there is money in it

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Desmond July 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

The color scheme is going backwards, not forwards. Sometimes, you have to drag conservative golfers with you, not appease their backwardlookedness-ier.

I recognize this is different than Mizuno – the slide is at the front. Still, that driver looks circa 1997. There nothing that say’s “Let’s take out the Big Dog and Eat!”

Go forward …

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Darryl Alexander July 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm

This club looks very much like my OLD taylormade ti….do sad :-(

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Andy G July 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Looks like a copy of a Mizuno Fast track with the weighting adjustment turned through 90 degrees – if this is what TM have resorted to they’ve run out of ideas ! I won’t be going near one.

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The Real Deal July 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Everyone on here bashing this club just needs to RELAX!
I have good inside information on this “prototype” and it will NOT be coming to retail.
Come on, TaylorMade has led the driver category on tour and in sales for over a decade now. (every one of their commercials tells me so.)
As a result, they are WAY out ahead in driver technology compared to every other manufacturer, and to assume that this gimmicky driver would serve as the replacement for either the R1 or the RBZ line of incredible woods is absurd.
Look, the golf population is actually shrinking in this country. Product life spans have also been shrinking for years. Companies need to come up with creative ways to keep their sales numbers up. For example, Adams, now TM owned, partnered with Southwest Airlines earlier this year…
The truth is this SLDR prototype simply represents a another strategic partnership with 2 huge and very successful companies: TM/Adidas and White Castle. (Notice the blue color scheme) And, beginning on August 15th, any customer that buys a 30 pack Crave Case or larger of White Castle hamburgers (most people call them “sliders”) will receive a FREE TaylorMade SLDR prototype driver! Of course the headcover and wrench will be sold separately for $200, but it’s just some of Mark King’s further brilliance to help grow the game of golf to the masses, & I, for one, am all for it.

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Pablo July 12, 2013 at 1:48 am

Wow you actually had me going there for a while, well done sir lol

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Ernie Balassa July 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I think both companies are FOS. I recently purchased the RAXR Extreme and I am not quite certain that Callaway’s rep really fitted me or was stroking my ego. Anyhow, I am so sick of the driver of the month that I’m just going to quit buying until both companies realize that were not all a bunch of “driver of the month dildos”. Keep it up Golf Spy. Your the best so far for keeping us informed!!!

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bullwinkle July 15, 2013 at 4:13 am

The really great thing about the Razr Extreme is the weight kit. What Kind of an idiot engineer sells a club with a 1gram and 13 gram weight. I either hit my Extreme High and Right or roll it left with the factory weights, I found some old Callaway weights that worked but the driver is a $500 boat anchor, of course the Trinity shaft which is a “Real” (not built for Callaway) is a poor excuse for a shaft, factory or otherwise.

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eric July 8, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Stop buying TM and Callaway stuff. The release of a new driver every 6 months is absurd.

Just say no. and buy a j40.

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Steve July 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

The bottom rear of the driver looks like the MacTec and I think saying the movable weight is similar to the Mizuno is an insult to the Mizuno. This looks cheap on the bottom-I know I don’t look at or hit this part of the club but it does it really need to look like it will come apart the 3rd time I hit it. Can we not put draw and fade on the bottom-really?

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Joe Golfer July 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm

The sole of the club reminds me of an old MacGregor driver, just before they were bought out by Golfsmith around a half dozen years ago or perhaps a tad more.
First thing I thought of was the Mizuno driver, and then I read the mention of it in the article.
I wonder two things:
1. Why are manufacturers suddenly moving their weight shifts towards the face? I realize this is the preferred thing for professionals, but for years all manufacturers touted that their drivers were best because they had shifted the COG deeper and lower and further back.
2. Just how much weight can be shifted with that “slider”? I recall Tom Wishon, who has his own component company and also writes for Golf Digest and GolfWRX, and when the weight shifting first began, he did studies that showed that one must shift quite a bit of weight in order to actually have a significant effect on where the ball goes. I think it was around 18 grams shifted from one side to another. Those original TaylorMades didn’t have near enough weight to make a difference, though TM may have improved that over the years with more weight alternatives.

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The Artful Duffer July 8, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Saw this pop up in my Facebook feed this morning at work from Tmag and first checked the calendar to see if it was April 1, alas it is not. They could’ve made a stride here by actually using the mwt tech model and offering different weights to throw in the wibbly wobbly slidey widey thing. Ill be interested to see what the company line marketing speak has to say on this one. And it seems like they’ve got a lot of increments to adjust. Just don’t see the point. And 460 for a proto tour model as said above seems sketchy at best. Sorry of I rehashed anything someone said above I just came off a fifteen hour shift and didn’t read through the entire comments like a good little boy tonite.

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Lee H. July 9, 2013 at 12:47 am

Does not seem to fit Taylormade’s model of clubs and the progression of technology. For them to seemingly take a step backwards does not make sense. So far, disappointed in this concept. But as stated, not much else is known about this club at this time. I will reserve my full judgement once final specs are known.

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daggs July 9, 2013 at 4:10 am

Shape looks a little 07 burner to me could be optical illusion though (beer goggles)
And let face it if TMAG didnt come up with something else we would all be asking whats going on.
For what its worth imo the 07s are the best anyway by a yard or two.
New Tech shafts in the 07 TP and I cant hit anything any further.

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Kygolfer1980 July 9, 2013 at 6:04 am

I am a big fan of TMaG as far as performance for my game goes. I favor the looks and set up of the R1 to this design myself but that’s personal preference. Alot of people think the R1 is not appealing but I love the way it looks. As far as this driver, the proof will be in the pudding. If I hit it better than my R1 I would consider putting it in the bag.

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Mike Honcho July 9, 2013 at 6:39 am

Well see when tested, not a TM guy. But, 3 pluses to start: not white, doesnt have ‘Ballz’ in the product title, and doesnt have a Magellan’s compass on the bottom (R1).

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John Barry July 9, 2013 at 8:54 am

I don’t this sees the market, hope not.

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Chris July 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

Remember the Mizuno driver that had a sliding weight on the bottom not so long ago? I think it was the MP600?? Was thinking Taylormade would come up with something “different”. Hope this doesn’t become a trend. Companies that start copying tend to take a dive.

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johnloft July 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Although it looks gimmicky, I kind of like this over the other adjustment options. At least you don’t have to pull anything out and switch it around. Too bad they didn’t think of this the first time. Maybe there would have been less hate.

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Mike French July 10, 2013 at 2:26 am

Looking forward to release of new irons that match! It is going to be a combination of Tommy Armour 845 VCG and Wilson Reflex. “RocketBladz VCG “-Sorry been there done that!!!

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angga prasetya July 10, 2013 at 4:21 am

still using the mizuno mp630 fast track. the dual weight slider works wonder, and its a long driver too. if ony they sell additonal weight for swing weighting it would be the perfect driver.

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Mike French July 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Lead tape works!

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Joe Golfer July 12, 2013 at 1:04 am

@Mike French. Amen, Mike. So many people just don’t realize that lead tape is such an easy way to adjust things if you want to fine tune a bit. It may throw off your swingweight, depending on how much you use, but many average golfers can’t tell the difference anyway.

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MeexJnr July 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

That and tungsten powder for the shaft… no air drag but harder to remove once plugged in!!

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Brian July 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

No “snap hook” setting? They call this progress? Eh.

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andrew July 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm

ahhhaaaahhaaaahaaaahaaaaaaa!!!!!

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GIO July 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

The weight adjustment looks like the Mizuno driver of old.

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Karl July 12, 2013 at 3:59 am

I would bet it won’t hit the retail and it is a kind of a game from TM, although I don’t have a clue what their intentions are. I work in a retail and usually we got informed some time before a new club is launched and so far not a word from our rep…
True is Callaway is launching a new driver now – which I don’t understand either – but what a stupid idea to launch a key product during summer holidays.

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The Club Fitter July 30, 2013 at 4:58 am

It’s interesting to see everyones comments on here with their own views, until everyone understands that there is not one driver out there currently that goes further than the other!! You look at all manufacturers build quality and their standard specs they are nowhere near right for the general public, the average length of a driver on tour currently is 44.5″ and what do these come as standard 46″ so how can they get the comparison between models. The best way forward for someone to find their optimum for a driver/set is to have it custom fitted, then you will find the best club out there available to you on the market today. The length is so important in every club in someones bag, but clearly it is overlooked from the big manufacturers as they just bang them together and put on sale.

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whitney wilcher July 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm

my golf galaxy store told me on 7/29 they will have em this week

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whitney wilcher July 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm

iam in vegas by the way

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