When TaylorMade launched the SLDR this past summer, the 34-year-old American company was showered with praise. The big stick boasted adjustable controls and a club head with a low, forward center of gravity that helped increase launch angle, reduce spin, and pump up ball speed. Phil Mickelson asked for and received special permission from his sponsor, Callaway, to put an SLDR in his bag for the President's Cup. The company could have spent the rest of the year reclining on its laurels. Instead, TaylorMade has released its fourth driver of 2013: the JetSpeed.
The driver, like the SLDR, employs a low center of gravity, but it lacks some of the adjustable features of the SLDR. There are no draw or fade options, but the JetSpeed still allows the player three full degrees of loft flexibility and a speed pocket to help protect against mishits. Don't worry if you've already picked up the SLDR; it's not obsolete. The JetSpeed was designed as a follow-up to the RocketBallz2 line, not a replacement for the pricier SLDR.
To critics, who have questioned the company's reason for launching so many clubs in such short order, Executive Vice President of Innovation Sean Toulon offers a quick explanation: "The clubs that we make today are the best we know how to make, and they won't be anywhere near as good as the clubs we'll know how to make a year from now." TaylorMade seems committed to providing two sets of woods in the hopes that more golfers open their wallets and their bags.
We haven't seen numbers on a launch monitor, but the JetSpeed clubs certainly felt hot on the course. As with the SLDR, we noticed an increase in distance on solid strikes, but the new driver offered better feedback at impact (a marked departure from so many new drivers, which feel as though the head cover is still on when you hit the ball). The JetSpeed fairway woods and rescue clubs, like their big brother, utilize speed pockets filled with a polymer to prevent grass and debris from becoming lodged in the club head. The only concern is overshooting the green. [Driver for $399 with upgraded TP shaft; taylormadegolf.com]