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2014 TaylorMade SLDR 430 Driver Review

2014 TaylorMade SLDR 430 Driver Review

New TaylorMade SLDR 430 Driver: $399.99

So TaylorMade came out with another driver… here we go again with some new gimmick right (#areyoukiddingme)?

Wrong!

At the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, TaylorMade’s new SLDR 430 Driver is the “all-business” version of its successful bigger brother, the SLDR 460.  Being that my gamer is the TaylorMade SLDR 460 Driver — and that the indoor testing I have done with the TaylorMade SLDR 430 model showed my ball speed increasing by 3 mph — I couldn’t wait to see it in the air.

 

Looks

TaylorMade’s SLDR 430 essentially is a miniature version of the SLDR 460, with a slightly deeper-looking face.  For someone like me who has been playing TaylorMade drivers the past two years, it is certainly a welcome sight to have a “boring” looking driver again.  At address with the stock settings, the clubhead has the appearance of being slightly open, which for me is perfect because I never, ever want to see the left side of the course.

Side-by-side contrast of the TaylorMade SLDR 430 (left, below) and 460 face.

SidebysideSLDR

Performance

Beyond the numbers, the feel and sound of this beast are beyond fantastic.  Solid does not even come close to describing the ball flying off the TaylorMade SLDR 430 clubface.

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Compared to the SLDR 460, which felt a little clunky even on shots hit near the sweet spot, the new SLDR 430 gave me the impression that I was hitting nothing but a marshmallow.  It is the smoothest feeling I have ever had with a driver.  

To complement the incredible feel, the sound was significantly improved from its predecessor. While the SLDR 460 sounded better than the R1, the 2014 TaylorMade SLDR 430 Driver is all business with a more crisp and clean sound that does not try to be the loudest voice on the range.

Launch and Spin

There are really only two key numbers to know when discussing driver data: launch angle and back-spin rate.  

For my ball speed, the optimum launch angle is 11 to 13 degrees with backspin numbers from 2,000 to 2,500 rpm.  With my gamer, I was getting an average of 11.3 degree launch angle and 2,800 rpm.  Pretty decent numbers, however, I have always fought high spin with my driver.  Well, I can confidently say that my fight with back spin is over.  This bad boy launched at about the same angle, and my back spin went down a whopping 400 rpm.  My prayers have been answered thanks to the fine folks in TaylorMade’s R&D Department.

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Forgiveness and Workability

Remember my comment above about “all business?”  This is not your father’s Tahoe; it is a Ferrari built for pure speed and doesn’t really worry about forgiveness.  The TaylorMade SLDR 430 Driver was designed for improved workability and faster ball speeds. And there is no doubt that they have succeeded in this endeavor.  At the stock settings, it was very easy to maneuver the ball right or left — even though I was hitting shots with the wind at my back.

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For some, the smaller profile might be a little intimidating, however, with the CG (center of gravity) being moved so far forward and low on this driver, the increased ball speed and lower spin outweigh the MOI (moment of inertia) points lost in a head that is reduced by 30 cc’s.

Final Thoughts

If you are a mid-lower handicap player that is looking for a new toy, this is a must have.  With its game-changing ball speeds, phenomenal sound and feel wrapped in a clean, confidence-inspiring package, TaylorMade has hit the proverbial home run with its new SLDR 430 Driver.

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