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Gậy golf tốt nhất năm 2013 (phần 1): Driver

Năm vừa rồi chứng kiến rất nhiều dòng gậy mới ra mắt của tất cả các hãng golf danh tiếng. Việc lựa chọn một loại gậy tốt nhất thật là rất khó khăn và là ý kiến chủ quan của từng người chơi. Trong thời kỳ công nghệ hiện đại được ứng dụng rộng rãi, một công nghệ mới thường sẽ có những công nghệ khác tương xứng. Điều này làm cho các hãng sản xuất tranh nhau cải tiến và cho ra mắt thật nhiều sản phẩm nhằm làm hài lòng người chơi. Tuy nhiên việc này cũng mang lại điểm kho khăn nhất định cho người cần mua gậy khi họ phải lựa chọn trong quá nhiều dòng loại sản phẩm khác nhau.

Đây là thời gian mùa giải cũ đã kết thúc, mùa giải mới bắt đầu ở PGA Tour. Các golfers chuyên nghiệp đa số nghỉ ngơi hoặc đánh các giải sự kiện. Các hãng cũng đã hoàn thành bộ sản phẩm của mình cho năm nay và đang chuẩn bị cho  năm 2014. yeuGOLF xin được tổng hợp các loại gậy tốt nhất thời gian qua theo các dòng: Driver, Gỗ, Hybrid, Sắt, Wedge và Putter. Ngoài ra là các trang thiết bị như banh và các dụng cụ khác. Phần này là tổng hợp từ nhiều nguồn khác nhau đặc biệt là các chuyên gia trong ngành, các nguồn tổng hợp ý kiến người dùng…

Phần 1: Driver

Năm nay dòng Driver chứng kiến sự ra mắt ổ ạt và đa dạng. Từ màu sắc, thiết kế lõm phía sau, kích thước mặt gậy đến các ứng dụng công nghệ tinh chỉnh…Sau đây là tổng hợp các loại được bình chọn tốt nhất.

2Y9G0087-600x400TaylorMade SLDR

SLDR tuy mới ra mắt sau này nhưng gây được tiếng vang rất lớn. Được nhiều golfer chuyên nghiệp sử dụng trong PGA Tours và các golfers nghiệp dư thì đánh giá rất cao. Nó đã giúp doanh thu mảng driver của TaylorMade tăng đáng kể. Với công nghệ slider (thanh trượt) SLDR trang cho phép người sử dụng tinh chỉnh tối đa. Nó cũng đã được chứng minh cải thiện rất tốt tốc độ bóng và có độ xoắn ngược rất thấp.

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nike covert driver reviewNike Covert Drivers

Nike VR Covert driver có 2 dòng: dòng Tour với mặt gậy roojgn 430cc và dòng bình thường với mặt gậy lớn hơn 460cc. Với thiết kế đột phá là có phần hổng phía lưng gậy (cavity back) co cảm giác đánh rất khác. Covert gây được ấn tượng rất tốt và được sử dụng rộng rãi từ PGA Tour đến amatour. Nike ứng dụng công nghệ tinh chỉnh tổng hợp trên hosel (phần kết nối với cán) cho phép chỉnh được cả loft và lie của đầu gậy.

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callaway optiforceCallaway FT Optiforce

Có 2 dòng như các đối thủ, khác nhau giữa diện tích mặt gậy 430 và 460cc, Optiforce của Callaway còn có ưu điểm trang bị cán tiêu chuẩn rất tốt. Hầu hết các phản hồi là FT Optiforce dễ đánh hơn các dòng driver trước đó của Callaway. Bóng được đi cao và ít xoáy ngược hon, ngoài ra âm thanh trên dòng này của Callaway cũng được cải thiện đáng kể.

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titleist 2013 driversTitleist 913 D2/D3

Titleist là hãng chỉ cho ra đời 1 dòng driver duy nhất trong dòng sản phẩm của mình theo từng năm. Năm nay với dòng 913D mới kế thừa thành công rất tốt của dòng 910 trước đây. Có thể nói, driver của Titleist là dòng cổ điển, hình dạng và thiết kế không thay đổi nhiều mà nó chỉ được trang bị thêm các công nghệ mới so vơi đàn anh 910. Công nghệ mới giúp cải thiệt tốc độ bóng và đường bay bóng cao hơn. Titleist luôn có lượng fan trung thành của mình.

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ping g25 driver reviewPING G25 Driver

Kế thừa màu đen tuyền rất cá tính của i20 và Anser, Ping G25 đã cải tiến thêm khi đưa trọng tâm đầu gậy thấp hơn dồn về phía sau hơn so với đàn anh. Điều này giúp Ping G25 dễ đánh hơn, bóng bay cao hơn. Có thể nói, Ping là dòng gậy luôn cho ra mắt những sản phẩm có cá tính rất riêng và chất lương. Ping được hâm mộ bởi tính khả dụng và tập trung tối đa vào kết quả người dùng.

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cobra ampCobra AMP Cell Driver

Cobra The AMP Cell driver mang lại cho người sử dụng rất nhiều chọn lựa qua công nghệ MyFly. Golfer được tinh chỉnh cho riêng mình một góc gậy và kết hợp tốt nhất giúp bóng bay theo ý muốn từn thấp hơn, cao hơn, trái hay phải…Ngoài ra AMP Cell còn cá tính hơn với 4 màu tùy chọn. AMP Cell khá dễ đánh và nhẹ nhàng, nhiều golfer trẻ và mới đánh rất ưa thích sản phẩm mới của hãng Cobra.

 

 

 

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Driver

TaylorMade SLDR Driver: Editor Review

taylormade sldr driver review

Summary: The SLDR looks, feels and performs better than any driver we’ve seen from TaylorMade in a while.

More speed, less spin

Pros: The SLDR has a center of gravity that is lower and more forward than any driver TaylorMade has ever produced. That allows golfers to launch the ball higher and with less spin, which is the key to longer drivers. It also gives the it slightly faster ball speeds and more forgiveness, particularly on shots hit low on the face. Instead of white, the SLDR has a handsome gray metallic crown that reminds us of TaylorMade’s popular 300 Series drivers from the past. Its 20-gram sliding weight is also faster and easier to adjust that TaylorMade’s moveable weight systems, and allows for much more precise tuning.

Cons: The SLDR doesn’t have a “face angle adjuster” like previous drivers from TaylorMade, which will force some golfers to manipulate the face angle to their desired position at address. It’s also not a “one size fits all” driver, which is good and bad. SLDR drivers have a 3-degree range of adjustability (1.5 degrees up or down) — 1 degree less than the R1. But the range of lofts offered by the four different heads (8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees) extends from 6.5 degrees to 13.5 degrees — three degrees greater than the R1. Aesthetically, those who liked TaylorMade’s matte white crowns or the cool factor of the R1′s racing stripe will be stuck with a more traditional, glossy gray crown.

Bottom Line: In recent years, TaylorMade has upgraded its premium drivers by adding more. The SLDR streamlines TaylorMade’s driver technologies into an easier-to-use, more powerful sliding mechanism that gives the driver an ultra low, forward CG. That combination of performance, simplicity and good looks makes it “the best driver TaylorMade has ever produced,” according to company officials, and we don’t think that’s too far from the truth.

Overview

TaylorMade SLDR Driver Review

The mechanisms that have become common place on today’s drivers are one of modern golf equipment’s most important breakthroughs. They allow golfers to customize a driver’s loft and face angle, and some driver such as TaylorMade’s R1 and Callaway’s Razr Fit Xtreme have moveable weight systems that allow golfers to tweak a club’s center of gravity.

But there is a problem with these mechanisms; while they add adjustability, they also add weight.

That’s why TaylorMade’s company leadership is so excited about its new SLDR driver. It has TaylorMade’s new sliding weight track, which like all other driver mechanisms adds weight. But the sliding weight track is located in the exact location TaylorMade prefers to add weight in their driver — in the low, forward region of the head.

According to Tom Olsavsky, TaylorMade’s senior director of product creation, his company has been working on a system to replace the moveable weight technology it pioneered in 2004 on its R7 driver almost since the time the R7 was released. The reason, Olsavsky says, is because adjustable weight systems are time consuming to adjust, and offer far fewer center of gravity options than sliding systems.

For example, TaylorMade’s most recent driver, the R1 (released in January 2013), came with two adjustable weights — a 10-gram and 1-gram weight that fit in the driver’s two adjustable weight ports. If golfers wanted their R1 to have a draw bias, they placed the 10-gram weight in the heel, and the lighter 1-gram weight in the toe. If they wanted a neutral bias, all they had to do was switch the positions of the weights.

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Above: TaylorMade’s R1 driver, which has a 7-degree adjustable sole plate and two adjustable weights. 

The SLDR, on the other hand, has a sliding weight that tips the scales at 20 grams. That gives it more than double the influence on a driver’s center of gravity than the R1′s moveable weights. And instead of the R1′s two CG options, the SLDR offers 21 different CG locations that are mapped out on the driver’s sole between the driver’s heel and toe.

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Many golf gearheads are quick to point out that TaylorMade’s sliding weight track is nothing new — very similar technology first appeared on Mizuno’s MP-600 drivers in 2007. But here’s what those TaylorMade detractors aren’t computing — the Mizuno MP-600 driver had its sliding weight system in the back of the driver. The SLDR has its sliding weight track in the front of the driver, which creates the high-launch/low-spin conditions that TaylorMade has been touting for years.

tmag sldr driver

One thing that the SLDR is missing is TaylorMade’s “face angle adjuster,” a sole plate on TaylorMade’s R1, R11S and R11 drivers that allowed golfers to adjust the face angle to various levels of open, closed or square in the soled position. According to Olsavsky, the SLDR lacks a sole plate because of the small amount of weight it adds to the rear of the driver, which would cost the SLDR yards in laboratory testing.

Another perk of ditching the sole plate and other weight gobbling mechanisms, such as the two moveable weight ports, is that the lack of those mechanisms in a driver can give it a better sound and feel.

“Weights and sole plate systems – all those things change the resonance of the structure,” Olsavsky said. “We were able to give the SLDR exactly the sound we wanted … Powerful, but still explosive.”

The SLDR driver will hit shelves on August 9 and cost $399. It will be available in four different lofts, 8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees, and will come stock with Fujikura’s Speeder 57 shaft (R,S and X flexes). A TP version of the driver will also be available for $499 with Fujikura’s Speeder Tour Spec 6.3 shaft (R,S and X flexes). Both clubs will be sold at a stock length of 45.5 inches.

Performance

TaylorMade SLDR Driver Review

According to Olsavsky, golfers can expect 1-to-2 mph faster ball speeds with the SLDR driver compared to TaylorMade’s R1, as well as about 300 rpms less spin. That doesn’t sound like another one of TaylorMade’s outrageous claims, i.e. 17 yards, 17+10, etc., because its not.

Our official tester, as well as an overwhelming majority of the 25 golfers who were fit for SLDR drivers at TaylorMade’s Performance Labs located around the country, achieved higher ball speeds and lower spin rates with the SLDR compared to their gamers.

Just like in our review of the R1, our tester found that he needed to increase loft 0.5 degrees from TaylorMade’s previous model to make up for the lower spin rate, which was easily done with the club’s adjustable loft sleeve

Note to R1 users: While the SLDR’s loft sleeve looks different, it fits the R1 adapter, so you can still use the premium shafts you have fitted with R1 sleeves.

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The need for added loft makes sense, as lower-spinning drivers often need more loft than higher-spinning drivers to create optimal spin levels for maximum carry. But how does the SLDR have more ball speed, you might be asking? Well, it’s that low, forward CG thing.

515x500-sldr_lower-cg

According to Olsavsky, the reason drivers with lower, more forward CGs have faster ball speeds than drivers with more reward CGs is simple geometry. The center of gravity of a driver projects at a point perpendicular to a driver’s loft, so a driver with a center of gravity that is farther back in the head projects at a point that is higher on the face than a driver with a center of gravity that sits farther forward in the head. That’s why the SLDR is longer than the R1 — the center of the gravity of the head projects lower, and more in line with the area where golfers strike the ball, producing a more efficient energy transfer and thus more ball speed.

Our tester also found that the sliding weight track was surprisingly easy to use, and that it didn’t take him long to find his favorite of the club’s 21 settings. Most golfers will “set it and forget it” after their initial fitting, but gear heads will enjoy the ability to add left or right bias to their drives when they’re struggling with their games or making changes to their swing.

Looks and Feel

sldr driver

After three years of white drivers, we were a little shocked to pull the head cover off a TaylorMade club and not see the company’s trademark matte white crown. We never doubted the advantages of matte white paint as they related to reduced glare and alignment, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not happy to see a return to a more traditional paint job.

sldr headcover

The SLDR’s 460-cubic-centimeter head inspires confidence behind the ball, with no painted racing stripe (like the R1) or bizarre triangle (like the RBZ Stage 2) to distract from the job at hand. The gray glossy crown also makes the club head look smaller at address than drivers with white crowns, which some golfers will like and others won’t.

One thing we could have done without on the SLDR is the lighter gray section on the back of the crown (TaylorMade calls it a “chrome button back). We know why it’s there though — on TV, golfers will easily be able to spot the lighter-colored section, and know that “player X” is hitting a SLDR.

TaylorMade SLDR Driver Review

More important than the look of the SLDR at address is the feel of the driver, however. Low-spin drivers like the SLDR have a tendency to feel harsh at impact, but the SLDR feels buttery soft. Several testers commented that the ball seemed to “compress and then jump off the face.”

The R1 and previous drivers from TaylorMade have a louder, higher-pitched sound that many golfers said lacks the “pop” they felt with the SLDR. We anticipate that golfers who liked TaylorMade’s legendary R510TP driver will love the feel of the SLDR, because it feels very similar.

The Takeaway

TaylorMade SLDR Driver Review

When a company is releasing as many new drivers as TaylorMade has in 2013 — the R1, RBZ Stage 2, RBZ Stage 2 Tour, R1 Black and now the SLDR — it’s hard to believe that golfers will see anything more than an incremental improvement in performance. In certain cases, golfers might get no improvement with new models — especially for drivers from TaylorMade, which year after year has produced some the best performing drivers in the industry.

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But our testing showed that the SLDR is one of the special drivers that comes around every few years that has the potential to win over an enormous amount of golfers. The combination of the SLDR’s faster ball speed, lower spin and foolproof adjustability makes it arguably the best driver that TaylorMade has ever produced. And the shiny new paint job is sure to lure back some traditionalists who abandoned the TaylorMade brand when it went to white drivers.

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