TaylorMade SLDR Fairway Wood
OK, at some point in time TaylorMade’s ability to produce new outstanding club after new outstanding club has to come to an end, right? That’s what I’ve thought since first being introduced to the new Burner 2.0’s during a Demo Day nearly three years ago, and since then all they have done is crank out great club after another with virtually zero failures.
Ever since that first swing with a TaylorMade club I’ve been a convert. I traded in all the gear I had to get those Burners in my bag. But I didn’t stop there. I soon added the Rocketballz Hybrid, then the Rocketballz 3 Wood and eventually the Rocketballz driver. That driver stayed in my bag until last fall when I was given the new TaylorMade SLDR to review.
Technological advancements in the golf industry seem to happen more frequently than a traffic jam on the 405, but nowhere does the reign of terror on distance, speed and control seem to end. TaylorMade – keeping on point with more bang for your buck with every club – has, wait for it…. done it again with the new SLDR Fairway Woods.
Let me first preface this review with a little info. I was real hesitant to do this review. I mean REAL hesitant. My struggles with the long clubs have been well documented within my site and for what seems like forever I’ve been trying to associate myself with a fairway wood that I could fall in love with. My Rocketballz 3wood is that club ever since Wade and I started working on my swing. The club is a monster and I probably hit it better than any other club in my bag.
Hopefully, you can understand why my level of anxiety was elevated. The last thing I wanted to do was bring in some alien club to my bag and destroy the beautiful relationship that was YEARS in the making. After spending some quality time learning how to hit the SLDR Fairway Wood, however, I’ve recently tossed aside my old, out of date, decrepitly aged Rocketballz 3W to the “extra club” bag that resides in the cobwebbed corner of my garage.
TaylorMade took the same technology they instituted in the SLDR Driver, moving the center of gravity lower and to the front, and replicated the wildly successful SLDR Driver with their new SLDR Fairway Woods. You’ll notice right away the crown of the club has the same finish as big brother and looks equally appealing to the eye. I have to admit I was actually a fan of the pasty white craze that overtook the industry when the R11 was released, but with the SLDR line I am much more content looking down at the silky charcoal-gray head. It practically lulls you into a relaxed state as you prepare for some Smashing!
Aside from the available stock shafts and grips and the fact it’s a bad ass on the course, the appearance on the top of the club is where most of the similarities with the driver end. The underside of the club continues the TaylorMade trend of a modern approach to club design. Sharp edges and a bold metal finish highlight the club’s hidden beauty along with one familiar piece of technology, the Speed Pocket.
Our first sightings of the Speed Pocket came back on the Rocketballz fairway and rescue clubs and it appears it’s here to stay. Anytime a club manufacture continues with a successful feature and then makes improvements to it you know they’re on to something. This time around the TaylorMade engineers decreased the size of the speed pocket and chose to fill it in with a polymer so there’s no more clean-up after every swing. And a big thank you to the man in the white coat who obviously had been playing with a Rocketballz Fairway club and was clearly just as frustrated as everyone else with that little flaw. Bravo sir, bravo!
Aesthetics aside I was eager to get out and see how well the club did what it was designed for. Which I’m certain is why you’re reading this, so let’s get to it.
Not having any time to work with the club since I received it, mainly in part to some pretty long soccer weekends, I broke a cardinal sin and took a virgin club with me to the course to use it for my round. The first swing I took with the club was about 20min before we were called to the first tee. I even waited to pull of the wrapper. Freeing the club from its plastic prison and feeling like I just won the lotto, I tee’d up a low ball and let it fly.
This is when things went incredibly south for me, and quick! I likened it to performance anxiety. The simple task of hitting a golf ball, weather I reared back and let it fly or just tried to punch it 75 yards down the fairway, became a daunting task. I couldn’t make decent contact at all! I looked over to the new club in my bag and proclaimed “This never happens to me I swear!” but the SLDR wasn’t interested in my shortcomings.
That’s what a serious lack of practice can do to your self-confidence. Fearing a blow-up hole on the horizon I was unwilling as ever to pull the SLDR from my bag throughout the round. When I approached a hole that required less than driver I reluctantly pulled it. With my inner stress at an entirely new level I stepped up to the tee box and absolutely cranked one.
I swear, off in the distance, I heard my old Rocketballz fairway wood from the garage back home scream out “Nooooooooo!” as the ball went hurling through the air. It was the perfect swing at the perfect time and the results were perfect. The next couple of swings I took with it literally amazed me. The ball flight, albeit much lower than I was used to, was outstanding and several times when the ball came to rest approximately 230 yards down the fairway I was utterly speechless, as were my partners.
Wanting to feel that level of excitement with every swing had me spending the next couple of days at the range. With the 12 different loft adjustments that can be made there is a learning curve that goes into getting the club dialed in so it will perform. I highly recommend seeking out a professional fitter if available so you can see some actual results on the factors of your ball flight. I recently took my SLDR Driver into Golf Galaxy and was shocked at how much distance I increased my drives with a simple adjustment to the loft. With the SLDR fairway wood, lofting the club up really changed how the ball reacted much more than I had expected when comparing the similar adjustments I made with the SLDR driver. That reason alone is justification for seeing a pro.
Once it was correct though (final adjustment landed me at +.5°) I started really seeing what makes the SLDR special. An easier swing at a higher loft equaled more distance and greater control. Who doesn’t want that from a fairway club? When you add in the fact that the launch angle is lower than my previous fairway wood, it just gives me another weapon off the tee in the blustery weather conditions we often have here in the Vegas valley. The wind can be a beast at times but now I’m more prepared for such situations with the SLDR in my bag.
Chalk up yet another successful club innovation for team TaylorMade. The SLDR Fairway Wood has firmly supplanted my previous “go to” club, the Rocketballz 3W, and has me pondering another upgrade with the SLDR Rescue now available as well.
You can read all about the SLDR line of fairway woods on the TaylorMade Website. The SLDR Fairway Wood retails for $249 and can pretty much pickup one at any golf retailer in the country.