July 2014

The latest in golf equipment, instruction, training aids, apparel & more

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Are you ready to loft up? With the new SLDR S (which presumably stands for "Silver") drivers, woods, hybrids and irons, you're destined to hit the ball higher and farther. At least, that's the mantra out of TaylorMade these days, and based on past success with the original SLDR, we don't doubt it. The new SLDR S driver has the same low and forward CG tech found in the original SLDR, this time in a fixed-hosel design and lofts of 10°, 12°, 14°—and for the first time ever in a modern-day driver measuring 460cc, a 16° model. The added loft works with the SLDR driver quite well, and believe it or not, not having an adjustable hosel is something of a welcome reprieve to us. The less finagling we have to do with adjusting the club, the better in our minds. We agree that the SLDR S is, in fact, a distance driver for all swing speeds, as long as you opt for the right amount of loft for your swing. Second, the nonadjustable hosel allows TaylorMade to produce a driver that's more affordable at $329 versus the standard SLDR that sells at $399.

The new SLDR S fairway woods and hybrids (Rescues) are also designed for more distance, with Speed Pocket technology and low-profile head shapes for added playability. They, too, have silver crowns for a refined look. There's also a TP version with souped-up shafts.

Lastly, the new SLDR irons incorporate Speed Pocket with ThruSlot Tech (which improves not only the results of shots hit off the center, but specifically the performance of shots hit low on the clubface) in a clean design sure to appeal to a wide range of skill levels. In fact, we think they look like an iron a Tour player would use, and only with one try, we found it to be exceptionally forgiving. Don't be fooled by the classy chrome, triangular shape and the relatively thin topline. These irons are actually very forgiving.

For more information on the whole SLDR line, visit taylormadegolf.com

We can all dream, right? If you're aspiring to be a professional long driver, or maybe you happen to hit it far or want to hit it far, then you have to try the Callaway X2 Hot Pro LD driver ($279). For starters, it comes as a clubhead only, allowing you to use whatever XXX shaft you have in mind. Second, it comes in either 440cc or 460cc, and we feel if you're going to swing as hard as you possibly can, choosing the 460cc is the logical choice. Third, it comes in a gnarly 6.5° loft, meaning you need some serious speed to get the ball airborne. We'll say one thing, though: If you have long driver-like clubhead speed (115 mph+), this driver will make you even longer. How do we know? We've seen Joe Miller and Jamie Sadlowski hit some insane bombs around the 400-yard mark with it. Longdrivers.com

Is it a driver or a fairway wood? Well, it depends on whom you ask. The 219cc PING Rapture ($449) is something in between, with near-driver-like performance off the tee, but with the extra control you'd expect from using a fairway wood. With 13° of loft, the Rapture is a tall-face, titanium clubhead with a tungsten soleplate for a low CG and the desired high-launch/low-spin trajectory. Also, the Rapture comes with a high-balance point shaft for more clubhead speed. The net effect? It's the most powerful club we've tried from PING that's designed to be used both on the turf and off a tee. Ping.com

If you're looking to make weight adjustments to your putter, consider the Odyssey Tank Cruiser putters ($249), with four models available from blade to mallet. Not only can you adjust the weight of the clubhead (from 365g to 385g), you can adjust the heel and toe weight configurations. Also, the Tank Cruisers have a counterbalancing weight port at the top of the custom, 15-inch SuperStroke grip for a fine-tuned, counterbalanced setup. Hey, if you can't get comfortable with this putter in your hands, it may be time to visit your local golf pro for a quick putting lesson. Odysseygolf.com


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