Here I will be reviewing the 460cc model of the TaylorMade SLDR driver, considered the companion club to the SLDR fairway wood (review here). With a clubhead that’s larger and more forgiving than the 430cc model, the 460 SLDR driver packs a serious punch for high-spinners and other golfers alike.
Read on to find out what you need to know about this quality driver to make an informed purchase.
What are the reviews like?
Surprise, surprise (or not): the SLDR driver has excellent ratings — 4.3/5 stars based on over 93 reviews on Amazon, and 4.6/5 stars based on over 67 reviews on the TaylorMade website. Although the driver is now a couple of years old, it still remains very relevant and delivers a modern, quality performance.
Reviewers have lauded the extensive adjustability (loft as well as sliding weight for shot shapes), decent forgiveness and consistency. Many have gained 10-20 yards distance when switching from other drivers like the TaylorMade R1 and Callaway RAZR. In terms of negatives, this driver isn’t terribly forgiving like a game improvement driver might be, and so it may not be the best fit for high-handicappers who regularly miss the sweet spot.
Overview and Features
The full specs for the club and the Fujikura Speeder 57 shaft are below for those who are interested:
|8°||Right||59° - 62°||460 cc||45.5"||D4|
|9.5°||Right/Left||59° - 62°||460 cc||45.5"||D4|
|10.5°||Right||59° - 62°||460 cc||45.5"||D4|
|12°||Right/Left||59° - 62°||460 cc||45.5"||D4|
|Flex||Weight||Torque||Tip Size||Butt||Grip||STD Length||Grip Weight|
The center of gravity of the SLDR driver is low and forward, and this has the effect of increasing ball speed and reducing spin; the SLDR is one of the lowest spinning drivers available. Combining the CG with the ability to adjust the loft (and therefore the launch angle), you can potentially gain some serious distance off the tee over your previous driver.
The SLDR driver also has an adjustable weight that can be moved closer to the heel of the club to promote a draw, or moved closer to the toe to promote a fade. Effectively, this weight shifts the center of gravity horizontally. The change in trajectory resulting from moving the weight can be as much as 30 yards in either direction.
The driver is available in three lofts — 9.5°, 10.5°, HL (12°) — and each of these lofts can be adjusted in increments of plus-or-minus 1.5°, up to 9° in either direction. There are also markings on the crown that assist with alignment.
How does the driver perform?
Forgiveness: The 460cc model is, without a doubt, more forgiving than the 430cc model. When it comes to absolutes, however, it isn’t quite as forgiving as other drivers in a similar price range such as the R1 or Big Bertha. As well, one disadvantage the 460cc model has is that feedback on mis-hits is not as clear, and this makes it more difficult to correct flaws in your swing. There are certainly better options if you’re looking for good side-to-side forgiveness on the face. If you can hit most of your drives flush, you will be able to hit it a long way and get the most out of this driver. Even if you don’t quite get the sweet spot though, you’ll still retain a good ball speed and good trajectory.
Distance performance: Shots hit solidly with this driver really do go far when you have the correct loft dialed in, and they do have low spin. Mis-hits will generally see a loss in distance, but unless you’re severely off the mark you should still get decent results. Just make sure you experiment with different lofts (and perhaps shafts) and settle on the one that works best for you; you might need more loft than you’re normally accustomed to because of the low-spin attribute of the driver.
Trajectory: High-spin golfers may be surprised by the lower-spin trajectory that this driver produces. Typically, the ball will reach its peak height quickly, carry for a ways and then drop quickly. It may be alarming, but you will find that it yields great results.
What about look, sound and feel?
The SLDR driver has a similar design and colour ensemble to the SLDR fairway wood, with a dark metallic finish on the crown, a line graphic to assist with alignment, and a slick sole design with blue accents. There is a nice contrast between the face and crown as well as a line graphic — these allow for an easier, more accurate alignment and setup. At 460cc, the head is rather large, but at the same time not clunky or disproportional.
Hits with the driver feel very solid and satisfying, and the sound can be characterized as a “medium-to-low whack” — not high pitched or hollow like some lower quality drivers out there. It’s a good sound that helps reinforce the feeling you’re swinging a quality driver.
Where should I buy this fairway wood?
As this driver has been out for a couple years now, the availability of new ones is relatively limited.
Currently, Amazon here is one of the best places to buy them new. At the time of writing, the 12° driver is running at $160 and shipping is free. The driver is also available for purchase on the TaylorMade website, but from my observations it appears that only left-handed clubs are being sold there.
What about a used one?
Global Golf has a large selection of used SLDR drivers, available in all different lofts and shaft types. What’s really great is that you can choose SLDR drivers that are in mint condition, which on their website means that they have no prior use, for about $129 on average. There are also drivers in other conditions that are available for even less, if you prefer those.
Pros: Very long and consistent if you make good contact, great look with helpful alignment graphics, easy to adjust loft and shot shape tendencies, relatively low price point
Cons: Not the most forgiving club for hits that don’t touch the sweet spot, low-spin trajectory can take some getting used to
The TaylorMade SLDR driver is an excellent driver that would be a valuable addition to the bag of any amateur or professional alike. For those who want modern adjustability and performance at a great price, this is definitely a club to consider.
If you have any thoughts or opinions about the TaylorMade SLDR driver, be sure to leave a comment below!