While the current lines of Taylormade woods do not offer a mini driver, this niche model was available for a few lines in 2015. Debuting in the SLDR S family and appearing again in the successor line, Aeroburner, the mini driver tried to fill a void not many knew existed. Perhaps the ambiguity of its purpose led to its dismissal in the most recent family of M1 and M2 woods, however I did read several positive reviews last year and purchased the SLDR S version, mainly to match the other SLDR S clubs in my bag.
With today’s more forgiving drivers, the average golfer is generally ditching the notion of control over distance off the tee. While 3 woods may have provided a safety blanket to golfers struggling with the driver in the past, the distance gained from today’s drivers is too enticing to pass up, even if the result ends up in the rough. The mini driver looks to bridge that decision, combining a power loft and club face to a more controlling shaft length. At 260 cc, the club head of the mini driver is closer to the titanium heads of the early 2000’s, but the technology in the face and sole provide the forgiveness that those earlier models lacked. Available in 12-14-16 degrees, the higher lofts promote easier contact from the fairway, while still providing greater distance from the tee over the standard 3 wood.
Having played with the mini driver for a year, I can report back on its utility in the average golfer’s arsenal. Over the past few years, I have found that I am using a traditional 3 wood less than a couple times a round, and frankly could have faired better not using it at all. Fairway and rough distance shots have usually found better results with my hybrid or long irons, and the 3 wood off the tee has been difficult to square up. The mini driver intrigued me purely as a tee alternative for when my driver started going south.
The mini driver is definitely more driver than 3 wood. It can be somewhat clunky off the deck, so I typically reserve it for the tee box only. That being said, it is much more comfortable off the tee than a 3 wood, with a larger clubhead promoting confidence at address. The shorter shaft than the full-size SLDR driver helps promote control, while the larger clubface (over the standard 3 wood) creates a greater sweetspot for more forgiving results. I actually find myself going to this club 3-4 times a round, which is more than I was reaching for my 3 wood. Whether it was to take off a little distance from my standard driver, or perhaps provide confidence on narrow driving holes, the mini driver has certainly served a purpose. I have completely replaced my fairway woods with this club, going with only a standard driver, mini driver, and hybrid as my metals.
This club is definitely not for everyone, and frankly may only be for mid-to-high-handicappers looking to bridge a confidence gap off the tee. While it is no longer part of Taylormade’s current lines, it can still be found online through retailers at some significantly discounted prices. Worth a try for current pricing, check out some current deals below: