Jamie Kennedy

When TaylorMade launched the new SLDR S driver, golf fans everywhere began asking what's new? With a new look, the SLDR S promised "distance for all", but how exactly does it differ from the successful and much talked-about TaylorMade SLDR driver.

I got my hands on a 10-degree SLDR S and put it up against a 10-degree SLDR to find out if there really is a difference between the two.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

Like me, you may be wondering what the "S" stands for. The truth is TaylorMade don't know, or aren't sharing exactly what the letter refers to. Don't feel bad though, even TaylorMade's Tour players don't know. It's easy to guess it's short for silver or perhaps speed, much like car models with the letter S at the end make people think it's a more premium, faster version.

Whatever it stands for, it doesn't it doesn't stand for "same".

The TaylorMade SLDR S features a reversed colour scheme, with a matte, glare-free, grey crown paired with a contrasting black face. The sole is black also, giving it a strong, stealth look when put up next to the original SLDR.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

Other than the colour, the SLDR S features the same 460cc head with a 20-gram sliding weight in the sole. The most noticeable technological difference is the SLDR S loft is not adjustable. It comes in lofts of 10°, 12°, 14° and 16° and TaylorMade say that the lighter, non-adjustable hosel means the centre of gravity is slightly lower in the S than the standard SLDR.

The grey crown is actually really nice behind the ball. It doesn't reflect like the standard SLDR, and is not as bold as the white drivers TaylorMade has launched in recent years.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

The only drawback I found with the new colour scheme was that the black face is lost a little at address. Personally, I use the face to align at address so with the face being black I actually found it slightly harder to get comfortable with behind the ball.

That being said, I preferred the overall look of the SLDR S and it seems several Tour players agree with me, and have either put the new SLDR S in play or have asked the TaylorMade Tour van to give their existing SLDR driver a custom-grey crown.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

Rather than relying on Tour pros opinions, I decided to test and compare the SLDR S myself. Thanks to our friends at The Leading Edge, I tracked data on the SLDR S and SLDR drivers at the same loft using FlightScope to see if there was any noticeable flight or performance difference.

Whilst I could feel a slight difference in the weight of the driver during each swing, especially at the bottom of the swing. TaylorMade tell me that there is only about a 4-gram difference between the two models, which is less than 1.5% of the overall weight. Thus, the SLDR S swings at a swingweight of D2 where the original swings heavier at D4.

I have used a 9 or 9.5° driver for most of my golfing life, yet I still found I could use more loft than the 10-degree SLDR S I tested. The low-spinning, forward CG position limits the 'ballooning' tee shot we all fear when faced with a tee shot into a wind. Having hit the 10° model a lot, I think I would be suited to the 12° model for the swing I have and courses I tend to play. If you get the chance to try out the SLDR S, don't be afraid to try the higher lofted models, they end up gaining you distance.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

Overall, the data showed there was very little difference between the two drivers in terms of performance. When compared to the TaylorMade JetSpeed driver, also at 10 degrees, both SLDR models launched slightly lower, produced around 300 RPM less spin and thus had more roll out when they hit the ground.

My opinion is that the SLDR S will be slightly easier to swing for those who don't produce Tour level swing speeds of over 100mph, although the difference will be minimal. Certainly if it is forgiveness and height you are looking for, the TaylorMade JetSpeed is probably your best bet.

It's a good thing the drivers themselves look different as it is pretty hard to spot the differences in the headcovers.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

Whilst you can't alter the loft of the SLDR S driver, the club is you can of course still slide the weight on the sole to favour either a draw or a fade. I was slightly sceptical of the influence this would have on the ball flight, but was surprised to see it has a noticeable impact.

I was consistently fading the ball about 5 or 10 yards and so moved the 20-gram blue weight towards the heel to create a draw bias. With the same swings the ball began to straighten out. If I did lose one slightly right, the miss was certainly minimised.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

WARNING: If you have a two-way miss (i.e. you can miss your tee shots left or right) moving this weight away from neutral is probably not advised. What you will find is that it will exaggerate one of those misses whilst perhaps limited the other.

What about the shaft? Is that different?

Nope. TaylorMade has kept with Fujikura's Speeder 57 shaft. It is 45.5 inches in length, available in four different flexes and weighs the same in the SLDR S as the original SLDR.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

So who exactly is the SLDR S for?

Well, unlike the Tour-driven original SLDR, TaylorMade say the SLDR S is for the masses and I would certainly agree. If you are tempted by the SLDR performance, the SLDR S offers you a simpler, non-adjustable loft version for £70 less than the original. It obviously has a new look, which you may or may not like, and will be slightly easier to swing than the standard model.

Much like when Apple released the iPhone 5s, choosing not to launch an new iPhone 6 range but rather just tweak what was there for the masses, TaylorMade seem to have done the same thing.

TaylorMade SLDR S Driver

If I was guessing, I would say the "S" stands for "simple". This is a no-nonsense, basic, lighter version of the SLDR built for slightly higher handicaps and slower swing speeds, hence the lofts up to 16°.

Whilst TaylorMade has a reputation for launching a new driver every few months, the truth is they are all good. The SLDR S is a solid, attractive driver that will certainly help low to mid handicap golfers that want the new, low-forward CG performance.

Just remember to loft up!

Golfalot Rating: 4 stars
More from TaylorMade



TaylorMade SLDR S Driver - Product Details

UK Launch14 May 2014
UK Launch RRP£279
Handicap Range
GolferMens, Women
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Left Handed Lofts10°, 12°, 14°, 16°
Right Handed Lofts10°, 12°, 14°, 16°
Colour OptionsGrey
Head Volume460 cc
Club Length45.5 inches
Swing WeightD2
Shaft NameFujikura Speeder 57 or 47
Shaft TypesGraphite
Shaft FlexLight, Regular, Stiff, X Stiff
GripTM 360 Silver
Manufacturer's WebsiteTaylorMade Website

User Reviews

January 2018

Bought this after hearing many reviews. Replacing an R7 Quad. My swing favors the right side straight on but wanted to try and play a power fade. This club has helped when I move the weight far toe side. Light and easy to swing. Easy to control on arc. Very happy

September 2016

Just moved from Jetspeed to the SLDR S. Loved the Jetspeed but as I improved my swing with classes at Golftec, it was clear I needed more distance and less forgiveness. The reviewer is right, swing correctly and you will get great distance for the swing speed. Swing and hit wrong, and you will pay the price. Having tried the different models, I say to get great distance, go with Jetspeed if you are strong but need forgiveness, SLDR S if you are not strong, ie , low club head speed and swing correctly, SLDR standard if you are strong, i.e. high club head speed and you swing correctly. Thanks for a great review.

January 2016

I've got one on order. A very good article and he convinced me to buy the "S" version.

August 2015

SLDR S, 10 degree. Reg shaft, midsized grip. 8 hdc. Purchased this in a hurry to replace my TM Stage 2 Tour Driver that developed a crack in the face. fitted to draw weight. on Simulator at Golf Town hit it nice and straight. 258 fly on average and at least 15-20 of roll. Confidence inspiring look. A bit of a different sound at impact but very solid feel. On the outdoor range the next day....WOW ! After a good warm up, this SLDR S performed perfectly. Hit 20-25 balls almost dead straight with a bit of a fade or a draw....And fairly long! Approx 265 carry and tons of roll! Playing my first round tomorrow....Can't wait.

August 2015

Great driver when hit properly! I consistently hit 265-270 yards. I'm an average weekend golfer. Also bought the 3 wood and 4 rescue! Super impressed with the 3 wood and rescue clubs! Best I've ever swung!

June 2015

Great driver. I faded the ball, made adjustment now driving the ball longer and very straight.

April 2015

It took me 12 holes to get the weight correctly positioned, then long, straight, and low into the Hawaiian winds! I went with 12 degrees, just right, after using a Rocketballz 10.5 degrees for a year and a half! Being lefty, price was right!

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