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Phenomenal looks. Solid feel. Super low spin. #LoftUp is not an ad campaign, it is a necessity with this beast. High handicappers should opt for the SLDR 460.
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This is the driver that better players have been waiting for TaylorMade to release. At 430ccs, the TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver has the looks that scream “Bag me now!” and the performance that will keep it in your arsenal for a long time…if you’ve got the game.
This is far and away the best looking driver TaylorMade has released in ages. For me, the R7 425 is the epitome of driver aesthetics, and, at a glance, the SLDR 430 could pass as its twin.
The primary difference between the SLDR 430 and the SLDR 460 is the length of the club from face to back: the 430 is much more compact. As a result, the face of the SLDR 430 looks taller and it has a round appearance as opposed to the 460’s oval-y look.
Finally, I really like the return to a black crown (technically a metal flake charcoal grey) and the near-removal of crown graphics. Compared to the graphics on the R1 and the RBZ Stage 2 drivers, the SLDR’s small patch of light grey is barely noticeable.
Sound & Feel
I’ve tested many of TaylorMade’s new “Low & Forward Center of Gravity (CG)” clubs (SLDR and JetSpeed), and the common thread among all of them is an exceptionally solid feel.
The sound of the SLDR 430 is fairly bass-y with average volume. It’s a touch louder than the JetSpeed driver, which surprised me, but it’s still quiet enough for those who prefer a “traditional” sound. The main thing that I noticed on mishits was that the sound had a little more high-pitched “crack” as opposed to the solid “thud” of centered hits.
Features & Adjustability
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the SLDR 430. Let’s start with the namesake feature, the sliding weight. TaylorMade was the first manufacturer to really popularize moveable weight technology (MWT) with their R7 line. The problem with that version of the technology (also seen in the R9, R11, and R1 lines) was that you had all those little weights to deal with. Removable weights are great for the .001% who used it to adjust swing weight, but for most golfers, changing the weights was nothing more than a juggling exercise. With the SLDR, the weight is fixed and simply slides towards the toe to make the ball go right and towards the heel to make it go left. Simple and intuitive. The best part? It works. I’m not a robot and I don’t claim to have a perfectly repeatable swing, but in my launch monitor testing I did see a difference in the shape of my shots when I moved the weight from one side to the other.
Additionally, the SLDR 430 features the ability to add or subtract 1.5° of loft. This will also change the face angle, so consider where you want to end up before you make a purchase. If you prefer an open face at address, you’re going to be subtracting loft, so you may want to buy a more lofted head.
Finally, let’s talk about the SLDR’s “Low & Forward CG.” I think this will work best if you and I do a quick Q&A.
You: Why do I want a low, forward CG?
Me: Less spin. Less spin means more carry and more roll and more distance. Those are good things. The catch is, you’re going to have to #LoftUp
Me: In the past, you’ve bought low lofted drivers to keep your spin down. You don’t need to do that anymore. Now you can buy 10.5°, 12°, or even 14° so that you can get an appropriate launch angle without worrying about too much spin.
You: What launch and spin numbers would be optimal?
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Me: TaylorMade is pushing the idea of 17° and 1700 RPMs as being optimal. The problem is that’s not realistic for the majority of golfers. If you can a double-digit launch angle with spin around 2000 RPMs, you’re in pretty great shape. Hug your fitter, buy the club, and go play golf.
Overall, I was really impressed with the SLDR 430. TaylorMade’s low spin claims are not an exaggeration: I hit more balls with sub-2000 spin than I ever have before. The SLDR 430 is low launching, however, so you really have to pay attention to your launch angle and get fit before buying. I averaged around 11° of launch angle which is very low for me. If I were to buy a SLDR 430, I would seriously consider the 12° model instead of my normal 10.5°.
As I mentioned earlier, I did find that the SLDR’s moveable weight had an impact on my ball flight. I won’t say that it turns banana slices into 3-yard draws, but it can help if you consistently miss on either the toe or the heel.
Finally, I put the SLDR 430 up against the SLDR 460 to see how different the two heads are. Aesthetically, there is a significant difference. The SLDR 460 isn’t a bad looking club, but it’s definitely bigger from front to back than the SLDR 430. In terms of performance, the SLDR 460 launches a bit higher (1.5°), spins a little more (100 RPMs), and is a bit more forgiving in terms of both ball speed and direction. I don’t think the SLDR 430 is an unforgiving head, but I would suggest that higher handicap players favor the 460.
With the SLDR 430, TaylorMade is letting the golf industry know that the talk of its demise may be just a little premature. This is a driver that every good player is going to want to try this demo season, and a lot of them are going to have it in the bag. The SLDR 430 has the looks of the classic R7’s, solid feel, and a brand of low-spin performance that is going to give some players more distance than they ever thought possible.
Price and Specs
The TaylorMade SLDR 430 retails for $399.
It is available in lofts of 9°, 10.5°, and 12°. Left handed players do not have the 9° option.
The stock shaft is the Fujikura Speeder 65.