The R label in TaylorMade products has now become synonymous with tour presence and elite performance in golf. It has been one of the most iconic labels in golfing for well over a decade. In 2014, TaylorMade moved away from the R badge and instead went with SLDR to name their high-end driver range. Of course, there in nothing wrong with the SLDR name, or the drivers, but after the extended hiatus (it’s been a year) the R series is back folks.
What’s The Difference Between R15 and The SLDR?
It’s actually better to start with the similarities between the two. They are both adjustable, and come is 460cc and 430cc sizes. As for the improvements, the drive has been completely re-engineered with the most noticeable change being the slide adjustability feature on the sole of the club. While the SLDR had only 1 weight to move, TaylorMade has added an extra weight onto the slide in the R15. The extra 5 grams ideally increases the adjustability of the driver and its effectiveness.
In addition, the fade and draw settings in the new driver will actually do a much better job than in the SLDR. With the slide channel moved 12mm forward, it’s put right behind the face essentially accomplishing two things, the ball will launch higher in a lesser spin than in SLDR, since the weight is located closer to the face. And it actually serves as a compression channel for maintenance of ball speeds and efficiency on mishits, since the channel is placed so close to the face. The radius of the sole has also been flattened to help keep the weight low especially in draw and max settings.
The R15 will surely bring your mind back to the familiar visual elements of the R series. The black base and face, the matt white head, and the red accents will bring the golfer back to the popular heads we have seen over the last few decades. Besides the sense of nostalgia, an obvious continuation of SLDR accents and technology between the track weight system and the low and forward CG concept.
Swings strike a strong balance between the 460cc head and the 66 gram Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution. This combination creates a great D4 swing weight, and although the larger head ideally has the potential of sluggishness through the transition from downswings, it is never the case with the R15. Subtle grey graphics run along the back of the head of the driver, the TaylorMade logo and a line that frames the ball quite well. The mid-range grey is beneficial to the people who prefer the graphics blending more than standing out.
Features of The R15
Forward/Low Center Gravity
75% of the head’s total mass is remarkably down towards the bottom front, and according to TaylorMade, this encourages a much higher launch with low spins. As we discussed earlier, this can be manipulated to the lowest point possible by adjusting the weights on the track system.
Adjustments With Movable Weight
The adjustments by design make a lot of sense in the R15 visually. When you drive both the weights to the bottom centre, it brings about a minor reduction in spins, and essentially adds the distance at the cost of forgiveness. At the two extremes, the weight is driven to the outside of the sweet spot. When moved up slightly, the weights will give you an element of forgiveness with more stability to the head.
Creative golfers who like to play with adjustability are likely to leave a weight closer to the neutral position at the track, while the other inclined more towards the toe, in order to help fade or to the heel to help draw. In this case, you can now have a bit of both worlds (SLDR) between stability, shaping, and distance.
The adapter adds onto the adjustability features of the R15. You can now adjust the TaylorMade R15 head in 12 different ways that range from +/- two degrees, as well as an upright setting. While you reduce loft, the settings will open the face slightly, and close it slightly when you increase loft. Although this feature is not new to the designs of TaylorMade drivers, the weights in the track system enhances this feature, and will help you to create the ideal set up. You will simply need to ensure that you choose the most ideal head loft, which is available in 9.5, 10.5, 12, and 14 degrees before making a purchase.
What’s The Use Of Driver Flexibility In Driver Adjustment?
As the market moves towards offering more adjustability, there is a developing trend towards offering golfers the ability of altering their drivers in many ways, in order to suit their particular launch needs, as well as incorporates a setting that will counter these changes. With the R15 TP driver, our testing has proved that the availability of multiple weights offers a major benefit while also making adjustments to the position of the adapter.
You can move the either of the two weights to the perimeter and still maintain some of the center weight of the other weight. This was a much-welcomed change after the SLDR series limitation with the single weight, and in turn makes up for the loss of adjustable perimeter weights that were present in the previous models in the R series. During the testing period, we moved the tests to nearly every possible setting, while changing the lofts to evaluate the amount of change that can be offered without changing the swing.
Distance and stability can be very situational and relatively subjective; however, testing showed that the setups that were established by TaylorMade were correct. Although numbers may not have been vastly varied with finite changes, adjustments did allow us to be very certain about where to exactly place the weights. This is a very important feature for perfectionists and tinkerers.
Sound is also very subjective and will change with the location. The R15 driver produces a very solid sound at impact, which changes the audible volume between the heel and face. It is slightly more dull on the heel, and more high on the face, though it inclines more on the hollow side. The contact quality in the center of the face and it will generate a lively shallow sound, with a sharp toned down R1 and hints of a slightly muted SLDR. As we did the tests, the R15 never felt obnoxious in regard to sound, and well struck shots offer ample feedback.
The design of the R15 driver lets you get quite a bit of club head speed, and this is one of its major assets. You are likely to experience an increased swing speed, as we did in our tests. The R15 in most cases gave very impressive carry numbers. If you are a high spin player, moving the weights towards the center will make a solid contact that fall above average in carry distances, while only losing some marginal distance when the ball contacts the lower part towards the high or heel on the toe side.
With the R15 driver, conversation falls marginally towards higher launch and slightly towards more spin when compared to the SLDR release. During testing, results stood true especially with the launch. TaylorMade encourages golfers to LoftUp with the SLDR over the last year, and it may not be necessarily ideal to stray away from the normal head preferences as we give the R15 a test drive. It was not surprising that we saw a consistent mid to high flight, to offer high spin players, faster swinging, and lower spin spectrum for the golfers in the lower launch. This is because the stock TP shaft in the R15 TP is the Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution.
This part of the review can be quite challenging. In most cases in the testing of the R15, distance reigned supreme. The accuracy of the face of the head only produced marginal decreases in total distance and ball speed. This includes incredibly repeatable ball flight with a small tendency to fade when the setting is set on the TP. With this in mind, the R15 didn’t perform excellently on strikes where the face angles into the ball and where generally the wing path wasn’t ideal. In addition, there were marginal changes in contact that transitioned between pull draws and fade shot shapes. The cause of this was majorly overcompensation and poor swings.
In this case, the expectations of the forgiveness and the driver are entirely dependent on the individual, and most strong ball strikers need not think twice before taking advantage of the solid contact experiences offered by the R15.
TaylorMade has really taken a major step towards majority of golfers preferences with the release of the R15 driver. Although testing may have discovered some challenges with less than perfect swing path and face angle, the R15 remained consistent and has one of the most impressive carry distance and swing speed when struck well/ with its advanced adjustability technology and incredible high end shaft to compliment it, this is the return of the well favored R series from TaylorMade.