Phil Mickelson added a TaylorMade SLDR driver to his bag for Day 2 of the Presidents Cup, where he and U.S. Team partner Keegan Bradley defeated the International Team’s Jason Day and Graham DeLaet in foresomes 4 and 3.

The SLDR has a (poorly) painted matte black crown to hide the SLDR’s metallic gray crown and light gray graphics, and marks Mickelson’s second attempted to conceal his usage of a TaylorMade metal wood.


Harry Arnett, senior vice president of marketing for Callaway, confirmed on Twitter that the driver was not a Callaway model.

@danwmeyer not our driver ths wk. Our low/forward cg Tour driver isn’t ready yet so gave green light to play whatever he wanted until then

— Harry Arnett (@HarryArnettCG) October 4, 2013

Arnett’s tweet indicates that Callaway has an even lower spinning driver coming out in 2014, which is similar to a situation from last November when Mickelson used a TaylorMade RBZ 3 wood at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Championships in China.

At the time, the RBZ was also lower spinning than any comparable Callaway product, and Mickelson had the club painted matte black to hide its distinctive white-painted TaylorMade crown. As Arnett predicted, Mickelson benched the RBZ  as soon as the company released its X Hot 3Deep to tour players in April. Mickelson has had the 3Deep in the bag ever since, hitting it long enough to play it as his driver for his wins at the Scottish Open and the British Open.

Still, Mickelson’s usage of a TaylorMade driver is a huge win for TaylorMade, which has lost significant market share in the driver category in 2013.

“SLDR has been hot since it hit tour in July and we are flattered he is playing it,” a TaylorMade spokesperson said.

This year, Mickelson has experimented with several Callaway drivers, including the Razr Fit Xtreme, which he praised after his win of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February. At the Masters, Mickelson used a prototype “Phrankenwood,” a small-headed Callaway driver that Mickelson said offered a more penetrating ball flight and more workability than larger-sized drivers. In September, he tinkered with Callaway’s latest driver, the FT OptiForce 440, which he later ditched for his trusty 3Deep.

Mickelson also added a new 17-degree Ping Anser hybrid to his bag in 2013, which comes stock with a matte black-painted crown. Like the hybrid, Mickelson’s SLDR driver has a Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver shaft.

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  1. The most amazing part of this story is that Phil would actually use that POS SLDR. Ugh, what a stupid, ugly club. But it will only be a couple of months before the SLDR is obsolete because TMAG will come out with something new. Their product life cycle is as long as the life of a fruit fly.

  2. This actually works really well for Callaway once he goes back to the Callaway driver.

    It makes it look like the SLDR improves Phil’s performance over his old driver, which makes his move back to Callaway seem more authentic, even if it is still sponsorship related.

  3. i would dump phil from sponsorship. this is a big slap in the face to callaway. callaway invested millions and millions into the design of the their clubs. where is the loyalty? callaway drivers cannot be that bad.

  4. Loyalty? Lol. He didn’t sell government secrets. His loyalty is to himself and his family. He doesn’t play for callaway…. The sponsored him, they don’t own him. And if they dropped him he’d be on the full page ad for another company by the end of the week. Without callaway Phil is still all-world. Without Phil callaway is still extremely popular. But the relationship is mutually beneficial. Him using another company’s driver isn’t an issue of loyality.

  5. Phil Mickelson was very excited about the Callaway prototype he had been testing and contacted Callaway with a request to use their prototype 2014 tour driver this week. Callaway most have felt that it was not proper timing for any introduction or media coverage on the product. Phil was probably upset with the response he received and decided to play the SLDR which could possibly provide similar performance to the Callaway proto. Ie: forward cg and lower spin

    Clearly people can make assumptions on why the choice was made, but that is only known by the people privy to their conversations. I think Callaway looks at it in the way that Phil was just that excited about it and was upset about my being able to play it because he likes it so much. Only time can tell. Phil has and always will be able to tinker with whatever clubs he chooses and Callaway will continue to respect that. These opinions are only those of my own. We could all speculate on why these things happen. But let’s just let them play golf while we continue to do the same!!

    • From where I’m from, that sounds like a spoiled baby….But, I expect that from someone that’s rich like him….Now, all the Phil followers thinking of ways to say it’s ok..

      If Tiger had tried this, you guys would be eating this up.

      go figure!!!

    • This wouldn’t happen. If it was ready to play and he liked it, it’d be in his bag. They would just adjust the look of it and claim it was a current or older model.

  6. Let me hear this correctly…You pay a guy millions of dollars to use your clubs and he pays you back by using your #1 competitor equipment…That doesn’t sound right……My issue is loyality. Why did he even swing the TM driver in the first place to know it’s better what’s he’s playing..

    • Phil is trying to win tournaments. That’s all he is focused on. If Callaway doesn’t have a driver that he is looking for, Phil will find one that will work for him. Looks like Callaway is trying to catch up, but is a bit slow. And let’s face it, he did ask Callaway first. It’s not his fault that Callaway isn’t ready with a low spinning driver.

  7. Phil won The (British) Open this year. If Callaway cannot make a driver that makes Phil happy then it is their problem. He has been a loyal player and proponent of their equipment. I never like Eli Callaway anyway. Big pal of Clinton.

  8. I agree this is a bad deal for the marketing effort of Callaway. He is the biggest face of their brand. However I can’t help but think of all the TM bags in see pics of and the only TM club is the driver. Of course most of those bags are for lower level tour players.

  9. Guys seriously? Look at this from Phil’s shoes and then from Callaway’s shoes.

    Phil’s perspective: my job is to win golf tournaments. Period. I found something I feel give me a better chance at that and I’m going to use that.

    Look… I played other professional sports. Everyone wants an advantage (the using an older wedge with better grooves). If they rules allow you to do something and it helps you….. You do it. But even more important… Nobody wants to be at a disadvantage. If he hits the SLDR better and doesn’t bag it he is knowingly putting himself at a disadvantage.

    Callaways perspective: We have one of the very top golfers in the world promoting our stuff. Our 3 deep basically sold out because this guy winning the Brittish Open without a driver and every weekend warrior that struggles with driver wants it. Our market share on golf balls went from zero to top 5 in a matter of years and Phil’s publicity of hex black and hex chrome + was a big part. Our wedges are taken seriously because Phil uses them. LETS KEEP THIS GUY HAPPY AND ON THE PODIUM AFTER WINNING TOURNAMENTS.

    Look….. If some guy under contract finishing 54th wanted to change they would say “use all our stuff or we may pull your contract” try that with Phil….. Um nope. He’s been a great sponsor and people generally like him. And callaway gets more if he wins using mostly Callaway than if he gets 3rd with all callaway.

    Oh yeah, and the painting it so he likes the look….. Please be joking. Other than die hard forum and golf fans who will bicker about his driver, nobody will notice its a SLDR. Most people won’t even see it with the paint. The paint job is 100% about covering up he isn’t swinging a callaway driver. I’m sure it’s a compromise for using it and had nothing to do with the drivers aesthetics to Phil. It’s so the normal person watching sportscenter or the golf channel doesn’t say “hey isn’t that a sldr?”

    This is common practice and common sense in all pro sports.

    Also it says zero about callaway vs tm drivers. It says a lot about how those drivers fit one individual. If one driver was just head and shoulders better for everyone….. Guess what??? They would all use it. The SLDR just must fit him better. Or he just likes it. Either way everyone is just fine with this arrangement.

  10. Has anyone thought of the fact that it doesn’t really matter what Phil is using. To most people, if Phil is winning, he’s winning with Callaway. It’s that simple. He’s a brand ambassador for Callaway. Did anyone see his speech after The Open Championship victory. You didn’t hear him thanking the Ping, Taylormade or Titleist technicians for his victory did you (or which ever brands of clubs he was carrying that week)?

  11. Martin, you are not the ‘CEO’ so stop worrying about their books, im sure if you needed a computer to do your job youd dam well use one that worked, his job is winning he uses a ‘computer’ that works

  12. Also I was wondering why he had his rain cover on his bag in the pics from the range like he was trying to hide his clubs or something. I guess this is why. Fill it up.

  13. Fellas, Callaway owns the patent to the SLDR….so you tell me who is copying who! The new driver will be one tour here in a few weeks…and that will give Phil all winter to work on it. Give the man a break!!!

  14. What happened to the Razr fit Xtreme? He raved about it after the Waste Management yet hasn’t used it since March? April? I like Callaway, but it’s not a good sign when Phil can’t play any of your drivers.

  15. People you are all forgetting what this really means. Better products for us consumers! If the pro’s actually had a choice outside their brands if it outperforms, then that means that the manufacturers need to make better clubs to keep pro’s playing them. Unfortunately this is just a lull in the Callaway pipeline leading to this, not something more permanent, and contracts would never be written that way.

  16. So what this tells us is that slam taylormade marketing all u like…. Phil chose a Tm 3 wood over any Callaway product & chooses a Tm driver now over Callaway.
    Tm innovates then mths later Callaway follows.
    Both make good stuff but the great player in Phil chooses Tm and must wait for Callaway to play catch up.
    So if I want latest & greatest. Choose Tm or wait…. & wait…. & wait for them to copy…. What is next Callaway? A sliding Callaway driver? As if…. Lol

    • Couldn’t agree more! All the TMaG bashing that will ensue, and callaways own svp said today their next product will outperform! So then they admit they’re innovation and current product don’t perform as well as a competitors current offering? Sounds that way to me! That’s suicide in a business fuels by innovation. And there isn’t tee up money or any other factor that people can point to here. Mickleson simply chose the best product for him. Everyone should take note and do the same and stop hating on every brand you choose not to buy!!

  17. Martin, if you’re gonna bash Phil at least spell his last name right.And he’s a independent contractor, he can do whatever he wants to.Trust me,Callaway feels good about paying Phil or they wouldn’t do it.

    • of course they dont feel good about paying a rat… If I was CEO of Callaway he would be kicked out. Its the same as when the groove rule of wedges came, he found an old Ping wedge to use which spun as much as the square grooves. If another player hadnt criticised him, I bet he still would be using it. Ive read Hank Haneys book about Tiger, I understand why Tiger is not a fan of Phil…

  18. Well, I just saw Mickelson and Bradley close out the Internationals (on Friday afternoon). In my opinion, winning for your country and team is more important than winning for a club manufacturer.

    • Did you hope to get a thumbs up with that comment? Think about what you just said.

      There are like 2 events that don’t even occur in the same year that even resemble playing for your country. And team? Look how many golfers get to play on a “team” outside of college. The number is low.

      Now, if you said it’s more important to play for yourself and reach your own goals, I’d be with you, but sorry. Playing for the money you get from sponsors (which keep you in business) is MUCH more important than playing for a team, or your country – because neither of those events have a payout, and only a small percentage of golfers are invited.

  19. Phil Michelson is a true egocentric person. I will never forget his unsportsmanship against Sweden in the Dunhill Cup many years ago (we won anyway :)). Now he appears to be such a nice person. He is a billionaire and complains about taxes in Calif. Callaway makes a lot of equipment that is supposed to fit one man: Phil Michelson! He is a bad driver of the ball (look at statistics) and because of that he tests every driver on the market, including Callaways biggest competitors Taylor Made. And Callaway just accepts it. When he used the rbz they just accepted that too. Come on! You pay him too much already. Where is your confidence????? And respect for your own products. I cant believe this!

  20. I cant believe the negative responses to the couple of other clubs he uses from time to time. Yes he is a callaway spokesman but at the end of the day he works for himself and if he thinks he can do better with a different club in the bag then we cant blame him at all. He is still more or less the face of callaway and I dont blame him one bit for sticking one or two different clubs.

  21. disagree completely with Joel. Callaway literally builds clubs for Phil as their biggest brand ambassador. This just speaks volumes to how good this driver is. I recently grabbed one and love it. Same thing with his rocketballz experimenting. Just a good club and he wants to use it, plain and simple. I guarantee the bad paint jobs are exactly for the reason of attempting to conseal his use of a non-Callaway club. The anser hybrids IMO are some of the best golf clubs made in the last couple years so cant fault him there. Kuchar, Snedeker, Furyk just to name a few of the others gaming one while being paid by another company. I have two of them in my bag so maybe i’m just biased, haha…..

  22. What I find odd is this. You mean to tell me that Callaway Engineers cannot custom tune a driver and hybrid to meet Phil’s specs and eye? This is a slap in the face by him to Callaway even despite his recent visit of thanks to the entire staff after the Open Championship victory. He is Callaway’s ultimate marketer and is doing the brand a disrespect with this weird choice.

      • Couldn’t agree more. The average joe sees Phil’s Callaway hat and Callaway bag and that’s all it takes to sell Callaway clubs to 90% of golfers. I’m pretty sure most of these guys get paid more to use the bag and wear the hat then for the 14 clubs they play. Why do you think the bag has gotten bigger over the years? Those things are huge for a reason.

  23. I can see this…
    Phil has a negative attack angle with the driver, it makes perfect sense for him to do well with a driver that has the center of gravity more forward. It would appear to me that Callaway doesn’t use that technology…

    Moral…if you have a negative angle of attack try taylormade.

  24. Don’t know the story behind this, but he wasn’t playing with a driver in the bag Thursday. I would assume he would bring several Callaway drivers with him to the event, so I doubt he damaged or didn’t bring his Callaway optiforce. Considering Callaway his 4 models he can play, this must say a lot about the SLDR or very little on their new OptiForce. I haven’t hit either of them so I have don’t have an opinion, but I don’t have a multimillion contract with Callaway either.

  25. I wonder if this painting is really an effort to conceal. Obviously people can spot clubs if they are a different color, especially here on wrx. I would speculate that this is just his attempt to make the clubs more comfortable at address for him, I personally cant stand having a shiny crown and then throw some graphics on top of that and it just looks obnoxious and distracting to me.

    If he were truly worried about concealing the use of another OEM’s clubs it would stand to reason that he would have altered the answers crown as well. Since its already a matte black it wouldn’t necessitate an alteration if it was a comfort thing…

    Just some food for thought.

    • Actually, it’s probably more like he’s such a great Callaway rep that they feel comfortable with him using whatever clubs he wants. I like that about Callaway- they let Phil play what he wants until they can make it better.

      • uh….no. You can bet your a$$ Callaway isn’t impressed with the usage, but as a clause in his contract he’s allowed to play other clubs as he sees fit. It doesn’t mean there isn’t something to gain from the feedback when you’re Callaway, but as you can clearly see, Arnett had to do damage control on this AND promise new tech that will compete with the SLDR just to make it look like Phil is using it as a sub until it arrives early next year.

        This isn’t a hybrid or a putter, it’s a huge money-making driver, Callaway has no choice but to let him “tinker”, but you better believe they’re not happy it’s on a huge stage and benefiting everyone but themselves.

        • I’d be suprised if Callaway had such a clause in Phil’s contract. He was booted from Titleist for a playing a Callaway ball.

          Whenever Phil’s contract with Callaway expires he should’t bother signing with anyone else. He doesnt need the money. He tinkers with equipment too much.

          • Phil wasn’t booted from titleist he left titleist because they wouldn’t give him an advance on his next contract which they had on his previous contract… Callaway did of course they would he just won his first masters… The whole reason that phil wanted to play callaways new ball at that time was a complete joke…

          • Phil wasn’t booted from Titleist of the use of a Callaway golf ball! How Callaway signed up Phil was very controversial. It was over a big gambling debt Phil ran up.

            Titleist was bring out the PM(Phil Mickelson)line of LH clubs when Phil went off in a Vegas Casino and lost several million dollars. Callaway got wind of it. Cut a deal with Phil on paying his debt off and Phil becoming the face of Callaway.

            Get your facts straight boy! At the 2005 PGA Golf Show.. That was the big buzz. Phil loosing a few million and Callaway paying off Phil’s gambling debt. Phil loosing the big bucks is well documented!!

            Phil the Thrill is no SAINT. Can’t wait until his wife swapping escapades come more public.

            OOOOOH Myyy goooooooooooooodness

    • He is a poor Callaway representive?!?! ur comment is laughable. The company has to listen to the players needs and make something they can play. Not the other way around. The slider(which is garbage) has a lower COG is why Phil tried it.

    • i’m not a phil fan but he is a better rep for callaway than any other player is for their brand. even in post tourney “thank you’s”, he is constantly pushing callaway and giving them due credit for his success. the callaway rep even said they don’t have a product with the attributes that their tour players are wanting right now.