I recently retired my old trusty Callaway Diablo Edge 4 wood, in favor of last year’s TaylorMade SLDR 3 wood. The fact that I did not go for a current year model like the new Aero Burner or R15, fits with my philosophy about buying and treating clubs like a commodity. The SLDR is about 4 years newer than the Diablo it is replacing, and I have been planning to get a new fairway wood this season. Because I shopped around I was able to pick it up for $99.99 (US) on TGW with free shipping.
Enough about price, performance is as expected, a big improvement over my 5 year-old Diablo. I have played two rounds with the club and hit 4-5 bucket of range balls and I have to say it is a really nice addition to my bag.
On my first round I went to a longer course so I would get the maximum number of 3 wood shots. I played 9 holes at Van Buskirk GC in Stockton, CA. This is a fairly long course, but not one of the busier on a Sunday. I only had time for 9, but I got a great feel for the new club. The SLDR came in to play on the very first hole, when I hit my drive straight left into a tree and only advanced it about 80 yards. Luckily if bounced back into the fairway, and I got to pull the new SLDR and see if it could save the par 4. It did not disappoint. Off the turf I managed to hit a fade around the corner and leave it close enough to get on in 3. I managed to par that hole and proceeded to shoot par for the nine.
Two standout holes that highlight the length both on and off the turf. Van Buskirk has a long hole, over 600 yards from the blues. I hit a good drive and had a 3 wood to get it close enough to get on in regulation. I was able to hit the 3 wood about 230 yards, leaving only a pitching wedge in. As a result I managed to par the hole for only the second time ever! Two holes later on the 9th hole, I used the new SLDR off the tee on the par 4 hole. I hit it about 235 off the tee right down the middle, setting up the only birdie for the day and finishing 9 with par.
Now I turned 52 this year, so to be able to hit a fairway wood off the deck 230, is huge for me. This SLDR reminds me of my old TaylorMade V-Steel 3 wood from way back. Looks, head-size, stance at address, it is pure classic 3 wood. No bulbous head or over the top markings, but there is a bunch of performance improvement under the hood. I love the adjustable hosel, with +-1.5 degrees of adjustment along with the same in upright lofts. On the day I played the long course, I adjusted the club down 1 degree to 14 degrees, and got great distance, and lower penetrating shots of the deck. When I played a shorter course, I adjusted it up 1 degree to a 16 degree loft. I found that it was easy to play either way, and the higher loft did produce higher trajectories but no increase in spin. This club is a confidence builder off the tee, so quick, so forgiving, but with great feedback. I don’t feel like I am giving anything up when I reach for this club, and now there is a clear difference between my 3 hybrid and my 3 wood. Before, my wood and 3 hybrid were nearly identical in distance on a good tee shot, with the 4 wood only having a slight advantage. Now, It is very clear that what club to pull when I have to get one down there over 220.
The club face is very hot, and well struck shots rocket off the face. The less obtrusive speed pocket, does what it is designed to do, get the ball going on shots struck low on the face. This is most evident off the turf. I was able to get the ball up in the air and carry nearly as long as perfectly struck shots, on more than one low struck shot.
If you are lucky, you can still find the SLDR with some great discounts. It is really a nice club, well designed, good balance, and really good distance and control.