When the company behind modern day golf icons makes claims about their latest innovation to the tune of "the longest driver we have ever created" and "the best TaylorMade has ever produced", it needs to be taken seriously. You want TaylorMade's ethos? Check out the R7 quad driver, a pioneer in moveable weight technology released in 2004. The unique and illustrious club boasted a 24-gram weighting system that could be redistributed along the driver's head in different combinations via a series of ports and matching weighted plugs, allowing players to adjust the launch conditions of the club at will to match their personal performance needs.
Despite having a runaway success on their hands, the famed club maker returned to the drawing board almost immediately in search of something better. The R7 was clearly a step in the right direction, but its weighting system took too much time to adjust and had a relatively limited impact on the clubhead's center of gravity. Nearly a decade later, TaylorMade has finally found a better solution in the vowel-deprived SLDR Driver.
The club's primary innovation stems from a new, easy-to-use 20-gram weight that slides along a 21-point track system to promote varying amounts of fade or draw by adjusting the club's center of gravity. Though adding a weighted slider wasn't an entirely novel idea in golf, TaylorMade's designers were able to push the club's center of gravity lower and more forward than ever before, which, contrary to popular belief, allowed players to maximize two key factors for increasing drive distance -- higher ball launch angles and less spin. It also increased both ball speeds and forgiveness, particularly with shots hit on the lower side of the face. Unlike their other offerings, the SLDR is not sold as a one-size-fits-all driver. Instead, it's available with a range of three head lofts of 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees, each of which can be adjusted in 12 positions for a total range of plus or minus 1.5 degrees of loft change.
Anyone looking for the "catch" in the design might quickly notice that the SLDR lacks the face angle adjuster found on other TaylorMade models. According to company, this sacrifice was intentional because the added weight at the rear of the club sacrificed yardage in lab testing. Plus, they'll need to sell a next-generation SLDR in the future, right?
If TaylorMade's track record has proven anything, it's that challenging assumptions leads to innovation. While others throughout the industry focus on piling on more and more features, TaylorMade simplified their approach with the player in mind. In the process they created a new breed of driver that golfers of all talent levels will love to swing and competitors will struggle to follow.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
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