Mastering the approach shot can be the most challenging feat for amateur golfers. Hitting the green in regulation requires not only a good swing, but some serious confidence. For some, part of that confidence can come from visually inspiring clubs. TaylorMade paid special attention to the golfer's mental poise when designing its new SLDR Irons, marrying new distance technology to a classic shape that better players prefer.

"For irons of this type, you need to pay extremely close attention to the traditions of classic iron shaping and work the cosmetic elements seamlessly into the lines and curves," says Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's Director of Product Creation for Irons, Putters and Wedges. 

The new sticks harness an ultra-thin face and what the company calls an improved Speed Pocket, or a 2mm slot cut all the way through the sole and filled with a polymer to keep out debris and boost speed. A higher launch angle encourages higher ball flight, longer carry, and more consistent gapping between clubs. New KBS C-Taper 90 shafts help minimize vibration while maintaining excellent response at impact. All told, the club's design is so economical, even the badge set in the back cavity provides some shock absorption.

The SLDR irons' classic design alone was enough to give us a little extra swagger during recent rounds in southern California and the New York City area. And thanks to its game-enhancing features, our confidence was rewarded. [$899, taylormadegolf.com]