For as long as I can remember, driver lofts have ranged from about 9 degrees to about 11 degrees. Better players usually fell in the lower end of that range, and some big-hitting tour pros even would go as low as 8 or 8.5 degrees to keep their tee shots from ballooning. Many of the rest of us settled in at the higher end of the range, needing that extra bit of loft to make up for our relative lack of swing speed.
Recently, though, TaylorMade has been exploring drivers with higher lofts, and has announced that it will produce a version of its new SLDR driver with 14 degrees of loft. I've never seen a driver with that much loft – heck, most 3-woods I've seen have about 15 degrees of loft.
''We have been chasing a driver that delivers high launch and low spin, a coveted combination off the tee sought after by all golfers,'' says TaylorMade Golf Chief Technical Officer Benoit Vincent. ''Having made significant industry strides with innovation advancements like movable weight, larger faces, adjustable shafts and improved aerodynamics, we are confident that we have cracked yet another code to more distance. And it's through loft.''
TaylorMade's SLDR driver, launched in August, features a low and forward center of gravity placement, making it the lowest spinning driver in company history. Because of its construction, TaylorMade says, it is encouraging golfers – including PGA Tour players – to ''loft up.'' And in fact, the company says, several tour pros have raised their SLDR driver loft by a degree or more over their prvious drivers.
''Everything we thought we knew about engineering drivers has been turned on its head,'' says Vincent. ''I have never been more convinced that building a driver with low and forward CG is the future in metalwood construction.''
TaylorMade's engineers have calculated that 17 degrees of launch and 1700 rpm of spin create the perfect combination for maximizing driver distance. The new 14-degree SLDR driver, they say, is another step closer to achieving the optimal ball flight.
TaylorMade hasn't yet announced a retail date or a price for the 14-degree SLDR, but the company says it is working to produce enough 14-degree heads to release in the coming months.