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 »  Home  »  Equipment  »  New on the Tee  »  LOFTING UP WITH TAYLORMADE
By Tom Landers | Published  06/24/2014 | New on the Tee | Unrated
If you’re still skeptical and think “Loft Up”  
is just a marketing campaign, think again

We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. Do you remember those super-high MOI drivers with the square heads that came out several years ago? Don’t see too many of those still around. Rest assured, lofting up with low-forward CG drivers isn’t a trend. It isn’t a marketing ploy. It’s real and it’s here to stay.

The evidence is compelling. Dustin Johnson, already the PGA Tour’s second-longest hitter in 2013 at 305.8 yards per tee shot, is jumping from a 9-degree loft in his R1 to a 10.5-degree SLDR model that he’s adjusted up to 11 degrees. “It’s really going long – pretty amazing, actually,” wows Johnson.

Why the severe boost in loft? Because TaylorMade’s new SLDR driver and metalwood family feature a low and forward center of gravity design that requires the use of higher loft to realize dramatic distance gains. A low forward CG placement promotes a hotter launch, lower spin, and faster ball speed, which in turn translates to distance. It’s an equation that the entire golf industry is familiar with: high launch + low spin = more distance.

The ball spin is low enough with SLDR that adding clubhead loft optimizes launch conditions, keeping the ball up in the air for the longest carry distance possible before coming back to earth with a shallower descent angle for a much livelier landing …more roll out!
Most of TaylorMade’s competitors position the CG low and deep in their drivers and metalwoods. The downside of doing that is that when you hit the ball, you’ll generally experience what club designers refer to this as ballooning. So by moving the CG forward and even lower, TaylorMade minimizes ballooning by giving golfers even more ball speed with less spin and a higher launch angle. Add to the mix a higher loft, and shots travel even further.

At all swing speeds the SLDR actually improves the overall ball flight by generating a piercing flight. “For the average guy lofting up 1.5 degrees in our SLDR, he’ll probably pick up double digits in distance yards gained,” says Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s senior director of product creation for metalwoods. “All of our testing shows that consistently, time and again.”

The SLDR also incorporates a reinvention of TaylorMade’s movable weight technology: Sliding a blue, 20-gram weight along a 21-point track on the front of the sole shifts the clubhead’s CG horizontally toward either the heel to promote a draw, or toward the toe to enhance a fade. SLDR also incorporates adjustable loft, offering 12 positions within a range of plus-or-minus 1.5 degrees of loft change.

Lofting up with SLDR has made believers out of several PGA Tour pros. Carl Pettersson, has catapulted from 70th to 10th in overall driving and currently averages 304.5 yards per tee shot with his new driver. I have a 10.5-degree head and set the loft higher to 11.5.” Stewart Cink, who played a 10.5-degree driver before, is now in a 12-degree SLDR. Fred Couples, who had been using an 8-degree TaylorMade R9 bested the field at the Champions Tour finale, using a 9.5-degree SLDR. Justin Rose, who started testing the SLDR with a 9.5-degree loft, like he had in his R1 head, and launched it too low. “I have a 10.5-degree head. The ball speed is faster with the SLDR and I’m getting five or six more yards carry. The spin rate and launch are better. So in total, I’m getting 10 or 12 more yards.”

The concept of combining high loft with low-and-forward CG is not applicable just to drivers. SLDR fairway woods and Rescues are also benefiting from the technology.

Average Joes will pick up noticeable distance by lofting up. You’ll see the ball come out higher, but you won’t see it balloon.  Any skepticism we hear is on slow swing speeds, and we want to break that myth.  Let’s take a clubhead speed of 80 miles per hour and it will generate about 125 miles per hour of ball speed. That’s a fairly slow swing speed, yet that person will pick up about eight or nine yards. For someone hitting his tee shot 200 yards, picking up nine yards is pretty significant. And that’s just by moving up about two degrees of loft!”