Live Event Coverage
TaylorMade is hosting a media event at the Omni LaCosta Resort in Carlsbad, California for the announcement of the forthcoming SLDR S Metalwoods and SLDR Irons. For more info and pictures, be sure to check out our Live Stream at the bottom of both articles.
TaylorMade Introduces SLDR Irons
Written By: Tony Covey
In a move that can't possibly shock anyone, TaylorMade is further capitalizing on the success of the SLDR name with the addition of a new iron product to the SLDR franchise.
No...nothing actually SLiDes. Sorry. I'm as disappointed as anyone.
Unlike the also-announced-today SLDR S family of metalwoods, the SLDR irons aren't a direct replacement for anything (although I suppose you could argue R11). Instead the new irons represent TaylorMade's attempt to fill the void between Tour Preferred CB and SpeedBlades. Whether or not that's a void that actually exist, well...we can certainly have a debate about that.
We can talk about features too (and we will), but for me, the most interesting aspect of the SLDR irons is the fact that they represent the metaphorical changing of the guard at TaylorMade.
It's Tomo Time
As you may recall, when Tom Olsavsky (TaylorMade's former Sr. Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods) left for Cobra PUMA, TaylorMade's iron guy (Brian Bazzel) moved over to metalwoods, which, as you can imagine, created an opportunity for somebody else to take over product creation on the iron side of the business.
That somebody is Tomo Bystedt.
I've been told that if you want to compare the development of the SLDR iron product to a 4x100 relay, Bazzel ran the first leg. He was responsible for their inception...the initial idea...the concept as a whole. The last 3 legs...that's Bystedt's work, and that alone could help to explain why the new SLDR irons look dramatically different from anything we've seen from TaylorMade of late.
Bystedt is what you might call a car guy. He's a big Formula 1 fan and I believe his eye for racing will ultimately be reflected in his designs. You could argue that with SLDR iron, it already has. Clean lines and Sophistication...those are the words Bystedt used to describe the SLDR iron. This is the first product of the Tomo Bystedt era at TaylorMade, and almost certainly offers some idea of what we can expect aesthetically from future iterations of TaylorMade irons.
While I'm sure not all will agree, I think the SLDR is the most polished iron not designed for a Tour Pro that TaylorMade has released in years...decades maybe.
According to Bystedt, "The lines and shapes speak for themselves".
Where the SLDR Irons Fit
Because it's our nature to put things into neat little rows, I'm sure you're wondering where the SLDR irons fit in the current TaylorMade lineup. If you consider all the design aspects that make up an iron, it's reasonable to say that on average the SLDR iron is slotted directly between the SpeedBlade (SLDR is NOT a SpeedBlade replacement) and the Tour Preferred CB.
While SpeedBlade is a true distance iron - and SLDR certainly retains aspects of that, TaylorMade placed a greater emphasis on feel with this new design. While the face isn't as hot as that of SpeedBlade, it's nearly as forgiving. That comes largely from the movement of weight from behind the sweet spot to the perimeter, and what Bystedt says is the best implementation of inverted cone technology in an iron to date.
SLDR irons also feature the evolution of TaylorMade's Speed Pocket technology. The new ThruSlot helps product higher ballflight, longer carry, and arguably most importantly, more consistent distances (better gapping) throughout the set. Gapping issues have plagued TaylorMade's Speed Pocket family of irons, so there is some hope that the new design can mitigate, or eliminate the need to have lofts adjusted.
Physically the new irons are probably a bit closer to the Tour Preferred CB than the SpeedBlade. The head is more compact, toplines are thinner, and the offset, or lack thereof, is more likely to appeal to a slightly better player.
While anchored by a ever-so-slightly more traditional 46 degree pitching wedge, the lofts of the new irons more or less split the difference between SpeedBlade and Tour Preferred CB. Through the use of a lightweight (but not ultra-lightweight) shaft (KBS Tour 90) TaylorMade is able to keep shaft length a bit longer (distance), while still maintaining stability and control.
It probably doesn't hurt that the stepless C-Taper 90 with its satin chrome finish adds a visual element to the SLDR iron that I can promise you won't hurt it at retail.
While the mention of Tour Players potentially using the SLDR irons might leave us to believe otherwise, TaylorMade is really positiing SLDR for the 10-15 (give or take a few strokes at either end) handicap player. We're talking about a guy who doesn't want to carry a game-improvement iron, but might be willing to consider a more refined offering. The feeling inside TaylorMade is that there's a latent need in the marketplace for this type of iron.
I would argue that those type of designs already exist, and TaylorMade is finally joining the party. Better late than never.
Pricing, Options and Availability
SLDR irons are available in 8-piece sets (4-AW being the most popular) in a choice of KBS’s new Tour C-Taper 90 steel shaft (Regular or Stiff flex), which is engineered to promote high launch and spin control, and Fujikura graphite in three weights and flexes:, 77-grams (Stiff), 67 grams (Regular), and 57 grams (Senior). The irons feature a hand-polished chrome finish.
Each iron has a Golf Pride Tour Velvet, 47.5 gram grip. Custom shaft and grip options are also available.
SLDR irons will become available at retail beginning Friday, June 6 for $899. Wedges (SW, LW) will be sold separately for $119 apiece. Learn more at taylormadegolf.com.
More Details to Come Throughout the Day
It's really hard to get a true sense of an iron form spec sheets and even pictures. Fortunately I'll have an opportunity to test the new product (including the new SLDR S Metalwoods) on the range, and on the course a bit later today. Stay tuned for pictures, info, and my hands on take to the new irons.