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Spotted: TaylorMade SLDR 430 TP Japan driver

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TaylorMade SLDR 430

There has been a lot of chatter in our forums over the past couple of days about the addition of a TaylorMade SLDR 430 TP to the USGA’s list of conforming clubs. Let the chatter continue, because look what just showed up on the TaylorMade Japan website!

According to the TaylorMade Japan website, the head features a 2-gram-heavier SLDR weight that the standard SLDR 460 driver. That change is made possible by the SLDR’s smaller (and thus lighter) lighter 430-cubic-centimeter head.

Much like the SLDR 460, the SLDR 430 allow golfers to choose from 12 positions on TaylorMade’s “Loft Sleeve” within a range of plus-or-minus 1.5 degrees of loft change in 0.5-degree increments to help golfers dial in their launch and spin.

Click here to read our review of TaylorMade’s SLDR 460 driver.

The SLDR 430 has the same crown graphics as the original, but the sole is charcoal-gray, applying the 460’s crown color to the entirety of the club. And of course, there’s the “Tour Preferred” badging loyalists have been clamoring for on the toe of the club. It’s not the original TaylorMade TP logo loyalists wanted, but it’s better than nothing, right?

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 8.44.07 PM

Speculation has abounded as to whether the SLDR 430 TP will be available in the U.S. However, with the upcoming release of TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred Irons and with pros rumored to be testing the SLDR 430 TP, it seems likely that a U.S. release is in the cards.

Here are the specs and shaft options from the TaylorMade Japan website.

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 8.41.39 PM

A look at the darker, more compact face of the SLDR 430 TP.

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 8.43.52 PM

Here’s a look at the crown of the club, which is very similar to the 460 version.

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 8.43.59 PM

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. jc

    Dec 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I got a top secret version of the badge and put it on my G25…wow, another 45 yards instantly!!!

    it went so far, the usga banned the badge on other maker’s clubs…

    it went so far, the FAA banned me from hitting driver near airports…

  2. ams165

    Dec 15, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Just saw on Golfdiscount.com that the 430 TP version is shipping on Dec 20th. They are taking pre orders…

    http://www.golfdiscount.com/taylormade-sldr-430-tp-tour-driver

  3. Fsubaseball

    Dec 9, 2013 at 6:05 am

    The new “TP” irons can be found on the same taylormade Japan website.. They used to have black carbon ATV wedges as well as different color options on spiders. The prices are insane!

  4. Moo

    Dec 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Wow, Can’t wait to get one of these, and I really wasn’t looking for a new driver. But with the compact head, lighter swing weight and the 45″ shaft, it’s everything I wanted from TM. I’ve been hitting my RBZ Tour well but I’m tiring of the big white blob at the end of a long stick look:) A partial effect of playing a 3Deep off the tee recently. Can I repeat the 45″ thing!!! 46″ shafts for amateurs is just plain stupid. Really hate to have to cut down a shaft with no OEM way to adjust the swingweight. Just hoping these are not Japan only specs… And I just have to mention the goofy badge thing. The new look is way better.

  5. Peter A

    Dec 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Tried out the 430 yesterday. Averaged 200 rpm less on spin numbers. This driver is going to be a runaway hit for high spin players, especially with the Speeder in it.

  6. Dan

    Dec 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    TMag, get something right here and you will happen to get more and more of your TP loyalists back…if that damn badge is not on the side of the club, that is an issue! If your re-create the badge, want to “re-brand” your TP line, THEN DO IT WITH THE BADGE! Get it right, quit teasing us with “prototypes that did not make the final production”. Thats garbage, to be honest. I do not like to rip apart what I feel is the greatest company in constructing ground-breaking drivers, but give us consumers what we want FOR ONCE!

    • snowman

      Dec 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Agree..Why the H— won’t TMAG bring back the damn badge that all the players love? This “Tour Preferred” nonsense looks like something from Spalding in the 70’s

    • Jon

      Dec 5, 2013 at 12:30 am

      But dan will the badge lower your scores? Do you buy a club because of cosmetics, or because of the performance?

  7. Pricey

    Dec 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    But how much……..? $699 with TP shaft upgrade? Ya gotta be kidding me. Ya might as well go find a R9 T stamp or R11S T stamp on Ebay you’ll hit those just as good

    • Tyler

      Dec 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Or just wait a few months and buy one for half the price.

  8. Conrad

    Dec 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    looks great

  9. Carter

    Dec 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    This looks exactly like my new driver. haha

  10. Andrew

    Dec 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    That is a very, very nice looking club.

  11. Big_5_Hole

    Dec 4, 2013 at 11:57 am

    This is one driver I’ll be testing this spring. I liked but didn’t love the first SLDR, this might be the one……

  12. Jay

    Dec 4, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I don’t get the obsession with having the TP logo on everything. Who cares? Isn’t it about how it performs anyway? I could care less about trying to impress my friends with little logo’s but would rather hit it by them 30yds.

    • KCCO

      Dec 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Like the all charcoal, could careless about badge….just hope TMAG sticks a small head driver to retail shelf, sick of huge 460’s

  13. markb

    Dec 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Looks like it still has the glued on toe plate cover that kept falling out on the regular models and had to be screwed in on tour drivers. Did they change the glue?

  14. Tyler

    Dec 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Why does TM release different clubs in Japan?

    • christian

      Dec 5, 2013 at 6:35 am

      This driver will probably come to the US market as well, but otherwise TM, Callaway, Titleist, Cleveland have whole lines of JDM only clubs. Usually forged, usually pricey. It’s because the golf eqipment market in Japan is double the size of the US one with less than half the population. Brands bring out their most “premium” stuff in Japan, and then they might release a watered down version a couple of years later in the US market. Or sometimes, as in the case of the Anser line from Ping, interest is so great in the US that they will offer the JDM stuff (Anser Forged irons) in the US too. And as a thank you the then get clobbered with negative comments about being “insanely expensive”.

      • Nattysurf

        Dec 6, 2013 at 3:26 am

        Japan golf equipment market is not even close to being 2X the US – it is less than 50% of the US.

        • hebron1427

          Dec 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

          probably true, but the prices that japanese consumers will pay for similar products is astronomical.

  15. Scott F

    Dec 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

    that all black 430 SLDR is niceeee looking they should’ve did the TP badge though. Why not listen to the golfers here who are your ultimate focus group? 90% or so would say go with badge on TP. Love the looks of the MC and Im not a TM player. Glad to see that TM finally figured out that golfers don’t want white clubs or NASCAR graphics or dials that no one can figure out.

  16. Mike

    Dec 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

    This will be available in the US…

  17. Keith

    Dec 4, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Oh I want one so bad, if this is anything like the 460 it is going to be the best of 2014! It would be awesome if they would let us get our hands on this gorgeous black one too, Com’on Tmag you can do that for us!

  18. John

    Dec 4, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Take away crown graphics and put tp logo instead… Bam, instant perfection.

  19. Patrick

    Dec 4, 2013 at 8:50 am

    When will it be hitting shelves in the states?

  20. Xerpro

    Dec 4, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Sign me up….Might be the one that can knock out the original SFTP.
    All Black looks awesome!!!

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What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”

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One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.

That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.

I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.

TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.

My Experience

I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.

The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”

Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.

With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.

From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.

There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.

The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.

I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.

JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…

TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.

Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.

Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.

JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom? 

TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.

We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.

JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.

TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…

Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.

He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.

To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.

Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.

Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.

Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with  Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!

JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?

TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.

When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.

So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.

What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.

JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?

TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!

JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.

TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.

I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!

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Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month

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Puma X Els Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.

Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.

Puma X Els Autism

Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.

Puma X Els Autism

The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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In our forums, our members have been discussing both boutique brands and major OEMs and why the former “trail the OEMs in drivers and woods”. WRXer ‘gr8 flopshot’, who plays a bag full of boutique clubs bar woods, poses the question and it’s got our members talking in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • DaRiz: “Irons, wedges, and putters don’t change much, and for all the technology OEMs try to pack in there, it’s more about how they look and feel. So boutique can fit in nicely here. Drivers/FW, on the other hand, definitely benefit from the millions of dollars in R&D, and it is probably really hard to compete. You can argue that COR is maxed out, but the tiny changes in launch conditions, spin rates, and forgiveness add up.”
  • MattM97: “One reason why I and most other lefties don’t go boutique is options. At least with OEM’s for drivers and most woods we get the most of what is released, some versions and loft we don’t get but better than nothing. I’m not against boutique; I love my putters, I love the look of a lot of wedges, I would absolutely love a set of Japanese forged CB irons one day. Just woods I’ll stick to OEM options.”
  • sniper: “The Wishon 560’s I had built years ago were as good (or better) as anything I’ve had. My current set of MP-18SC’s and Wishon’s are the best feeling irons I’ve played. Both came from a club builder and not built by the OEM. Obviously on the Wishon’s.”
  • RogerInNewZealand: “Genuinely good point. It’s like why we buy JDM, Yonex Ezone 420…and the famed J33 Bridgestone driver from long ago! T.E.E is another one..always a surprise there. With your wood/driver if your sorted that’s fine! You don’t have to bag an exotic club to hit fairways.”

Entire Thread: “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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