As previously outlined on Tour Diaries, this week we debuted a new prototype driver on the PGA Tour and European Tours for alpha testing with our Tour Staff professionals around the world. By making limited parts available at the John Deere Classic and Scottish Open, we hoped to achieve a series of testing including comparison testing with R1 and RBZ Stage 2 as well as general testing and overall, can determine it was a very successful week. A total 13 SLDR prototype drivers combined went in play Thursday on the PGA and European Tour.
Generally speaking it was critical to have the launch monitors fired up as for nearly 72 hours we were collecting data and working one-on-one with our Tour Staff professionals on dialing in the prototypes through data collection and clubfitting. To give you an idea of the early indicators from the small sample sizes taken in the States and Europe, already we’re seeing the SLDR prototypes produce on average a higher ball speed and tighter dispersion than R1, and they have been received extremely well in the categories of sound and feel. For some players – the gains were especially significant. During one fitting, Stephen Gallacher, a 2013 European Tour winner, was seeing as much as 15 yards gained compared to his R1 while Darren Clarke picked up between 8-10 yards and tightened his spin consistency considerably.
Given the option to switch this week, as the SLDR prototypes hit the USGA conforming list Monday, we had nine (9) players in the field at John Deere put the new model in play, while four (4) went in play at the Scottish Open. It speaks volumes about the performance of the prototype two players who won previously this season playing R1 – Boo Weekley and Raphael Jacquelin – switched just a couple of days after first trying the new prototype. Other early adopters included 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke, Lucas Glover, and Raphael Jacquelin.
As more limited parts are slated to become available next week, we expect to test with more Tour Staff professionals on the new SLDR prototype in the days immediately leading into the Open Championship at Muirfield.