SILVIS, Ill. — One week away from the year’s third major, the Open Championship at Muirfield, this week we’re unwrapping some special new prototypes on both the PGA Tour and European Tour for testing with our Tour Staff professionals around the world. Pictured above, you’ll notice the SLDR prototype, which hit the USGA Conforming List on Monday morning, is a 460 CC driver head which implements a new technology on the sole of the clubhead.
To begin gathering feedback from the best players in the world, Monday we debuted a limited number of parts at both global Tour stops, the John Deere Classic and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open for initial testing and the response and feedback has been incredible through the first 24 hours. From the alpha testing that began at Castle Stuart with players the likes of former Open Champion Darren Clarke and recent PGA Tour winner Martin Laird to the continuation of feedback from John Deere, including launch monitor testing sessions with Brian Gay, Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover, we couldn’t be more optimistic about the first performance feedback.
Word has traveled quickly on the prototype with our Tour Staff professionals, as by the end of the day a number of players who aren’t even competing this week, including Johnson Wagner and Bo Van Pelt, were clamoring for the new model on twitter. Clarke, one of the first to test the prototype Monday, took it out for a 9-hole practice round, as did Laird, and both returned optimistic about the on-course performance and the potential to put the new prototype on play on Thursday. We’re already spotting some unofficial performance trends on both Tours in comparison testing with the R1 driver, most notably increased ball speed.
Although we’ve made available only limited parts for the first week of testing, we estimate Monday that more than 20 SLDR prototypes were built between the workshops inside the PGA Tour and European Tour trucks. As for Staffers who aren’t competing this week, including 2013 US Open Champion Justin Rose, a handful of players have already requested builds for independent testing in preparation for the Open Championship at Muirfield.
In addition to the testing being conducted captured on Tour, we expect to work with a number of these players individually, both in the United States and Europe, in the week ahead. We’re excited to bring you more information and first looks from around the world and stay tuned to Tour Diaries for continued updates on the SLDR prototype testing as we close in on the Open Championship.