Unless you've had your head buried in the sand of a bunker for the past 12 months, you will no doubt have heard about the SLDR woods. But now, for the first time, TaylorMade are bringing the name to a set of irons.
The SLDR name has been synonymous with TaylorMade's Loft Up metalwoods message since they launched the SLDR driver in July 2013. Whilst the driver is the only club in the SLDR range that has any actual "sliding technology", the SLDR name now represents TaylorMade's modern technology and distance gains.
They say the SLDR iron is for the "players who want the best of both worlds". They believe the cavity-back, speed slot iron offers a traditional size and shape with the best of TaylorMade's modern technology.
Guess what, it has a slot in the sole. Wait, you're not impressed?
Ok, so this is the 6th TaylorMade iron to feature a slot or Speed Pocket in the sole (RocketBladez, RocketBladez Tour, SpeedBlade, Tour Preferred CB and Tour Preferred MC). However, this slot is different.
The Speed Pocket features the same 'handlebar' shape on the sole as recent models, offering more forgiveness in the toe and heel, but this time around the slot goes entirely through the club thanks to TaylorMade's latest ThruSlot Technology.
As you may be aware, R&A and USGA rules demand that the slot cannot be totally hollow, so TaylorMade have filled part of the slot with a soft polymer that is flush with the sole.
With a deep, undercut cavity behind the thin face and the ThruSlot cutting entirely through the clubhead, TaylorMade believe the SLDR irons create even more flex and speed at impact.
On the surface, the SLDR irons may look like game improvement clubs, but TaylorMade have given the irons a modern, yet traditional shape to appeal to mid and low handicappers as well. The thin sole and slim topline give the SLDR irons better-player playability and looks.
Bret Wahl, Iron, Wedge and Putter R&D:
With the SLDR iron we’ve combined the classic shape and compact size that better players want with cutting-edge performance-enhancing technologies that make it long and forgiving – no easy feat.
Looks and technology are good, but many better players demand that their irons feel good. For this reason, TaylorMade have taken measures to ensure the SLDR irons produce a soft feel and sound. They have used a dampening material inside the Speed Pocket that, along with the "sound managing cavity badge", helps offer a better feel than previous distance irons.
Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's Director of Iron, Wedge and Putter Creation, says:
The SLDR iron’s classically shaped and sized clubhead has universal visual appeal. It incorporates our new SpeedPocket with ThruSlot Technology, which produces fast ball speed and high launch across the face for distance and consistency, while also promoting soft feel and sound.
So where does the SLDR fit in to TaylorMade's existing iron line-up?
Whilst it may appear to be a replacement for the recent TaylorMade SpeedBlade irons, it will sit just below SpeedBlade in the handicap scale. A close comparison of the specs shows that the SLDR irons offer less offset, weaker lofts, less bounce and are slightly shorter in length, making them more appealing to mid and low handicap players.
In fact, whilst they are most certainly a cavity-back iron designed for distance and forgiveness, the SLDR irons will actually play closer to the Tour Preferred CB irons launched earlier this year. They are exactly the same in length, slightly stronger in lofts with a touch more offset and surprisingly, even less bounce.
Another way in which the SLDR irons prove their better-player quality is in the shaft. TaylorMade has paired the new irons with the premium KBS Tour C-Taper 90 steel shaft as standard. The Tour-level shaft is designed to help promote a higher launch as well as improved spin control.
For players needing a little more flex or a lighter option, Fujikura have produced three different flex/weight graphite shafts specifically designed for the SLDR irons.
This is usually the point in a news story where we tell you when the clubs in question will be available in shops. However, that is not the case with the SLDR irons. To help promote their custom-fitting locations and ensure players are properly fitted, the SLDR irons will only be available through TaylorMade's Tuned Performance Centres.
To find the nearest center to you, visit the Experience TaylorMade site.