TaylorMade’s SLDR Mini Driver is the Club You Never Knew You Needed (and still might not)

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Written By: Tony Covey

Gentlemen (and the three handfuls of ladies that read this site), prepare to wowed (excited even)...or agitated, or maybe just sit calmly in a state of tepid indifference.

Whatever. I'm good with any of it.

This isn't one of those days where I'm going to tell you how to feel or what to think.

What I'm certain of is that today's Official announcement of the SLDR Mini Driver will leave you feeling something...or nothing.

What the Hell is a Mini Driver?


For those of you just hearing about this for the first time, the SLDR Mini Driver is TaylorMade's latest driver...or fairway wood...or something inbetween. For the purposes of Golf Datatech's retail surveys, I'm reasonably positive (actually, let's go with 99.999% positive) the Mini is going to be classified as a driver. But out here in the real world (or at least on the golf course), the true nature of this particular species is going to vary from bag to bag.

Let's start with the particulars.

The SLDR Mini, be it driver or fairway, has a 260cc steel head, comes in lofts of 12°, 14°, and 16°, and the stock shaft length is 43.5". Like everything else with SLDR stamped (or glued) to the sole, the Mini features a low/forward center of gravity placement for low spin and (with a properly fit head) high launch.

Does that clear it up?

Didn't think so. Maybe this will help.


According to TaylorMade, the SLDR Mini was designed to be hit primarily off the tee, but with its "smooth sole" (I'm talking Barry White smooth-you-out-of-your-knickers smooth), it's much easier to hit off the deck than a conventional driver. Incidentally, that turf interaction piece is why you would maybe consider Mini over cutting 2" off your driver.

Leave it to TaylorMade to create the club you never knew you needed.

Actually, leave it to TaylorMade to create the club you needed in 2001.

13 years and 200cc later, what used to be called a driver is reborn as the SLDR Mini Driver.

Ain't that something?

If I told you that SLDR Mini Driver was actually a #ThrowBackThursday idea that simply got out of hand, you might be inclined to believe me.

So I asked Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods, why his damn title is so long. After that I asked him why TaylorMade felt compelled to reinvent the driver from 2002.

Bazzel touched on the talking points from the press release. Things like this:

“Tour pros and betters amateurs often hit their 3-wood off the tee more often than from the fairway. We embraced that fact to create a metalwood that’s sized between the average 3-wood and driver and designed to be easy to hit off a tee.” - Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade Golf


He spoke about things like control and workability, and the old-school guys who have never been comfortable with the adjustment from sub-300cc to the modern 460cc driver. And then matter of factly he added:

"Over the years, as driver volume has increased to 460cc, fairway wood volume has stayed basically the same." - Brian Bazzel

I'm of two minds on that:

Most golfers don't think in terms of head volume. I mean, some may prefer 440cc drivers to 460cc drivers, but I don't think many (if any) have concerned themselves with the volume gap between their 460cc driver and their 160cc 3-wood.

I also know that golf is a psychological game. It's true that some golfers have never completely adjusted to 460cc, or 425, or even 400cc drivers. Some guys grew up playing with sub-300cc drivers (and liked it...and long for those bygone days of yore), and there are some guys who inexplicably can't hit a big-headed driver.


I'd make a joke, but the truth is that back in the days of R580 I hit nothing but 3-wood off the tee for two straight years simply because the driver got in my head and I couldn't get it out.

Now I can't hit 3-wood to save my life, but that's another story.

Call it a driver. Call it a fairway. Call it completely unnecessary. Whatever, like I said, I'm good with whatever you think.

Is the Mini Driver Even Really a SLDR?

Prefacing this with a reminder that the actual name of the club isn't SLIDER, it's S L D R (es-el-dee-are, or es-el-dee-arrrrrr for you pirates out there), here are some things that differentiate the Mini Driver from all, or some of the existing SLDR lineup.

Unlike SLDR Driver (both 460 and 430), SLDR Fairway, and SLDR Rescue, the SLDR Mini Driver isn't the least bit adjustable. More to the point, your loft is your loft. Live with it.

Unlike SLDR Driver, but not unlike the namesake fairway and rescue, SLDR Mini Driver has no actual SLiDeR. Apparently sole bling isn't conducive to that smooth turf interaction we talked about. The only way you're going to tweak your draw or fade with the Mini Driver is to alter your face to path relationship. That's Trackman wisdom, kid.

That's right, there's not single purposeful spot on the club that will allow you to make use of anything in your stack of TaylorMade wrenches. Quite frankly, I'm not sure how I feel about that. Sad maybe.

Unlike all the other SLDR stuff, instead of a glossy charcoal crown, SLDR Mini comes in a smooth matte silver. While the contrast with the black clubface doesn't get us back to the Science of White, it does give it Science of Silver sort of vibe, so there's that.

SLDR Mini Driver isn't the type of product that's going to set the world, or even the cash registers, on fire, but it is an intriguing option for guys who play on relatively short courses, are looking for more control off the tee, or who have otherwise totally abandoned the conventional 3-wood or the 460cc driver.

As it happens, I qualify for most of the above.


Something Old or Something Borrowed?

While not even TaylorMade is going to argue that spec for spec the SLDR Mini doesn't look a hell of a lot different from your 12 year-old driver, Brian Bazzel told me that TaylorMade sees Mini in a category unto itself. As you might imagine, if golfers take to the Mini (they buy the club in meaningful numbers), TaylorMade will be ready (and happy) to expand their offerings in the category (whatever you want to call it).

There's also little doubt in my mind that suggestions will be made (actually, they've already been made) that TaylorMade's inspiration from the Mini was borrowed from Callaway (Deep Series fairway wood) or even the PING Rapture 3-Wood.

Having hit the Rapture, which is already larger than the X2 Hot 2 Deep, I'll tell you that I personally don't see it, but by all means, decide for yourself.

Here's a comparison chart:


How Does SLDR Mini Driver Perform?


All of this background info is great (unless you totally don't give a damn - in which case, why have you read this far?), but we thought some of you would be interested to see how the SLDR Mini Driver performed, and where that performance suggests the Mini Driver might actually fit in your bag.

We brought in a few of our testers to hit the Mini alongside the SLDR Drivers (460 and 430) as well as the 14° SLDR Tour Spoon Fairway. We tested with the equipment we had on hand using stock TP shafts. As the chart below indicates, we delofted the fairway to get to 12.5° (as close to 12° as the settings allowed), and added loft to a 10.5° 430cc head to get to 12°.

We hit all of the clubs off the tee and also hit the Mini Driver and the Fairway from a fairway lie. Here are the average results.


From the fairway, the Mini produced numbers quite similar to the fairway wood. It's not an unreasonable stretch to assume that the extra distance (and higher ball speed) is a result of the additional 1/4" of shaft length.

What I think is most telling is the similar (even slightly better) accuracy numbers. Our preliminary data suggests that the Mini Driver isn't any more difficult to hit of the deck than your average TaylorMade fairway wood - even if it will look like a bulky monstrosity to many of you.

As far as hitting out of the rough goes...we didn't try it, but I did ask Brian Bazzel about from-the-rough performance. He basically told me that if you can't hit a standard fairway wood out of the rough, you're not going to be able to hit the Mini out either. Me...I've never been afraid to try it, but it's almost never gone well. Your actual mileage may vary.


Off the tee, the numbers broke out more or less how we expected they would. The SLDR 430 is a beast, and it basically did it exactly what we expected it to off the heels of our 2014 Most Wanted Driver test. It was the longest, it spun less, and didn't fly as straight as the others.

The real story lies in the other 3 clubs. In theory, the 460cc SLDR head should be the most forgiving, and the easiest for most to hit straight, and again that proved to be the case for us. Telling perhaps, the mini wasn't that far behind, and again our data suggests it's slightly more forgiving than the SLDR fairway wood, which also makes perfect sense given the larger head.

In looking at the chart above you'll notice that the SLDR Mini Driver fell almost in the absolute middle between the 460 driver and the fairway wood for Carry Yards, Total Distance, Ball Speed, and to a lesser extent that accuracy number. Obviously we'd like to see that spin number go down a bit, but that could simply be a matter of finding the ideal tee height. We really don't know.

If for any reason you think you have a need for something to fill the gap you may never have realized existed between your driver and a conventional 3-wood, the SLDR Mini Driver would seem to fit the bill.


Timed for Augusta

I'm not one who generally believes in coincidence anyway, and I never believe in coincidence when it comes to TaylorMade, so it's pretty safe to assume that this announcement was cleverly timed for Masters Week (also, TaylorMade told me as much). We try to condition you not to care what Tour guys are bagging, but for those who do concern themselves with such things, I'm told that the probably is extremely high that Justin Rose will have the SLDR Mini (bent to 13°) in play at Augusta.

While Rose would use the Mini primarily from the tee, he's said that he could conceivably use it to play his second on #8 (the only place other than the tee on the entire course he's likely to use a 3-wood anyway).

While TaylorMade would no doubt love to have more Mini Drivers in play during the most-watched tournament of the season, Augusta isn't a place where equipment companies, even TaylorMade, are likely to try and force an equipment change on any of their staffers. If more Minis make it into play this week, it's because a given staffer (or we're told potentially non-TaylorMade staffer) believes it will give him the best shot at winning the biggest of the big ones.


Some Closing Thoughts...

As intrigued as I am by the Mini (I'll definitely be spending some on-course time with it when the rest of this miserable snow melts), for many it's probably not destined to be an everyday club. I see the Mini as very much a horse-for-the-course option.

Playing in a scramble and want something a little longer than your 3-wood? Grab a Mini.

Playing a shorter course where control is at a premium? Grab a Mini.

Do you hate your big-headed driver and conventional 3-woods? Grab 2 Minis.

Sure, there will be guys who take the driver out of their bag for a Mini, but for most of us, I think it will prove to be more fairway wood than driver...assuming it proves to be anything at all.

The SLDR Mini Driver almost certainly won't be longer than your driver,  and it may not prove to be more forgiving (or more accurate) than your driver either, but as a hybrid of sorts between a driver and a 3-wood, it fills the space nicely...even if we're only hearing about that space for the first time today.

The SLDR Mini Driver hits stores May 2nd.

Retail price is $279 for the standard model and $379 for the TP model.

Have Your Say

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About Tony Covey

Tony is the editor of mygolfspy. His coverage of golf equipment extends far beyond the facts as dictated by the companies that created them.

He believes in performance over hype. #PowerToThePlayer

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{ 116 comments… read them below or add one }

BRUCE January 20, 2016 at 12:32 pm




Steve December 21, 2015 at 9:52 pm

I have one (16 degree) in the bag instead of a driver. My courses wind thru a neighborhood and every fairway has OB right and left. It is only 10 yards shorter than my best shots with a driver and it is probably 10 times more controllable/accurate than every driver I ever owned. Get one.


Manny October 29, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Oct 2015. Tony. Many thanks for your insight. Right on target. Helped Mr quite a bit. I bought the mini as I struggle with the driver…even the jetspeed hl. But I can hit the jetspeed fw3 long off the tee. Plan on leaving the driver for open space…otherwise the mini.


D Moe July 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm

I see all you people berating this club, i.e. SLDR Mini but, guess what? If you’ll check the latest edition of GOLF magazine, you’ll see a few other manufacturers following suit. Maybe TM is not as far off the mark as most of you would like to think. Not everyone can hit the big headed drivers, especially those of us who played and remember the drivers in the 200cc to 250cc range and, I would guess most seniors (I am 70 yrs. plus). I have yet to try the Mini but am about to give it a try. I hit my Ping G10 three wood frequently off the tee and occasionally off the deck and find very little diffrenece off the tee than with my Cobra 460cc driver. If this thing pans out after a test drive. I’d probably be inclined to replace my driver and three wood and add another hybrid.


Danny Gilbert April 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Optimistic. Sounds like what I need.


Steven April 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Nowhere in this article did I see the words “2 wood”. Does anyone remember them? They have their place just as most clubs do. On a long course needing distance, they may be useful as a fairway wood, just as a 2 wood used to. Since they don’t seem to be any more forgiving or just slightly than a driver, I wouldn’t leave my driver behind for one, but everyone is different.


peter March 2, 2015 at 8:43 am

Hi Dionne
I’m getting to that magic 65 number as well. What loft and shaft did you get fitted to? And how did the other lofts perform (if you tried others)


Dionne Snyman March 2, 2015 at 5:35 am

At the age of 65, you are not worried about distance any more.
I changed my 1 wood for a mini driver and feel more comfortable.
Accuracy is the main item.


Joe Golfer February 28, 2015 at 10:32 am

To quote the principal in Happy Gilmore
“At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”


dennis January 29, 2015 at 11:56 pm

i bought a 12 stiff mini from a friend, tee it fairly low and hit it long and straight. fairway shots are not difficult either. the mini is about to end my search to replace about a 10 year-old tour edge exotics smaller than 460 driver. i have a question of fellow golfers who have tried the sldr 430. do you have as much difficulty with control as the testers in this article? did you find success in lofting up? thanks


tsnmkhn January 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

i feel that be testing the Mini at 12 degree loft you defeated the purpose of this club. if the mini had been tested at 14 or 16 degree loft against the standard driver,or fairway wood, the results would have been different – especially in accuracy.


Shiddygolfer January 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

I went to the PGA store today to try and find a three wood I could hit off the deck. Met a great fitter who cut right through the crap or (what I thought was wrong). I hit 20 clubs, broke two balls and he wound up finding the 16 mini with the 57 speeder stiff shaft. I have never felt like I could just go at the ball as hard as I want until today. I also thought a normal stiff shaft would do it until I saw why by matching the ideal trajectory first. I hit 40 shots at the end with just this thing I couldn’t put it down. Off the deck 250 rolling out to 265 and teeing it up 265 rolling to 275 shot after shot. I hit a driver much longer but never with a twenty yard dispersion after 40 shots. All the deck shots faded 10 to 15 yards to the right the teed shots were 90% down the pipe. I could never get a standard three wood more then 15 ft off the ground unless teed up and I never had a chance of holding a green. I found the tall face stopped my shallow swing from popping up shots and giving their demo woods reverse Mohicans. The couple misses I had were still in the 240 range. I’m stuck in the mid 80’s and I’m no longer wondering why. I don’t even like tm but for me the performance was right on and undeniable. I have lots of clubs, I tinker too and buying off the rack is why. I’m selling all of it and fitting into a new bag all because I had fun today first time in a while. I had total confidence I actually knew exactly where the ball would go. It’s not a three wood but who gives a shit if it works. Bring your shoes, buy a glove and hit until you get blisters to find the right one. It’s worth the extra 50 buck for the club.. and please don’t be the cheap prick who spends three hours with a guy and rolls out to buy it online that just shitty. Now if the darn Jersey snow would just melt we’d be in great shape.


AMG-PHD January 13, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Isn’t there a NEWER Mini Drive coming out in 2015? Moreover with LESS SPIN and not in ugly grey?

I carry the 12 TP X mini drive, hitting it on average 250 that were designed for 200 yard 5 iron and Gap wedge to reach. Now at 400 we need to hit tee ball 250 to get it within 140 for a 9 iron …. on a crazy redesigned tight fairway and really tight green.

So today more and more Pros and scratch need a long and accurate tee off club, especially, now the 1 iron is dead? Shouldn’t the 1 iron come back as well?

Moreover I agree this is a throw back to 2001 12 loft driver or 2W.

However, shouldn’t this mini driver only be used by those that need more control and distance? Therefore if your not already using extra heavy shafts? “Like a KBS 130 X or TP X” for you control is less of a concern off the tee and distance is still your main problem, wouldn’t you agree?

So if a golfer can’t hit the Mini Drive in a 12 TP X , 250+ yards, wouldn’t you agree their problem isn’t the need for a more accurate driver, but instead a longer drive off the tee ????

Nevertheless, isn’t Taylor bring back this club with more color options and LOWER spin, for the better golfers?


joejoe July 28, 2015 at 7:08 pm

1 irons are not dead they just have a different number on them.( 3 )
A 1 iron used to have 20 degrees of loft when they were popular and now that is what a 3 iron has.Modern 1 irons and 2 irons are below 20 degrees of loft and much too difficult to control distance and direction.Most sets today don’t even have a 3 iron / classic 1 iron.


walt a January 1, 2015 at 2:27 am

Sounds like they brought back the 2 Wood!


ying November 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Is Taylor-Made mini driver for lady available?


José Manuel November 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Very interesting and very much literary commentaries i read it like a PGWoodhouse golf short story. Thanks, i enjoy it. PS: Now i will enjoy my bacon and eggs and then go for a try with my MiniDriver 14 Vs SRIXON wr 14.5 3 wood. I agreed difference will be not that much…


don dahl October 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

JUST added the mini driver today,, gave up on my r11 dropped the driver and 3 wood
new club performed well today and now I have a new wedge added to the bag.
So I think it can be a good move, mini hits about as far as my driver but I hit more fairways


mark littau September 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Another club not available with a black body and natural metal face……
why? Especially since the SLDR clubs come that way.
Why buy black face clubs that have a built in obsolescence?
It’s genius marketing by the club makers, but not practical for the players.


Andy F September 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I have the 14 degree stiff Mini driver, I DID HAVE a 3 deep, like hitting a ball with a banana, went NOWHERE. The Mini driver replaces my 3 wood and driver. Its more consistent, goes 230-260 yards, I can hit it from rough, from the fairway, from inside fairway bunkers that don’t have a big faces, many many uses for this club. The head weight balances the swing nicely, unlike a 3 wood. This just swings through the ball and bang….ball gone. I played a round recently with three single digit golfers and outdrove their drivers on most of the tee shots

You don’t need to adjust this clubs loft or face angle so I am glad its not adjustable, just tee it up 1/2 inch let the head sitting visually open and hit it. The HIGHER you tee the ball with this club up the more draw spin you get, so tee it LOW and back a little in your stance , make sure you make a full backswing or again it will go left a little.

Some critics say it doesn’t handle shots off the sweetspot, that is rubbish….. even off center shots went straight if only 180-200 yards and I will take that off a narrow fairway any day of the week as you can use the same tool for your second shot and get it all back.


Gary Cortesi September 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Any chance the mini will have a 10.5 degree?


Taylormade1947 September 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I play the 430 SLDR 12 degree driver and love it. I also have the 12 degree “mini” and find it a great addition on courses with narrow fairways! I’m 67 and have always played Taylormade woods.


james August 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I can only echo most of the commentary. Having tried the SLDR-S 12* with Speeder 57 Stiff, it was certainly no love affair, and far from it. I just could not get comfortable over it, terrible feel at impact, and in general total lack of confidence. Enter the mini….immediate satisfaction with the 14* with stock Regular shaft. Looked good, felt good, hard to not hit it straight down the middle. Distance wise, impressive. Off the fairway, again, confidence. Once in awhile I will hit it fat, but not a whole lot different than my RBZ 3W. In any event, this stick replaces my trusty R-7 limited AND the RBZ 3W. Will the honeymoon last? Time will tell.


Doug August 23, 2014 at 7:43 am

Tried it on the range yesterday am — hit 15 balls–13 went dead straight with almost same distance as current driver. Then played 18 holes and hit 13 fairways on a tight narrow course. Put it on the credit card after the round. Excited for this club. I just never felt consistent with oversized drivers and long shafts. There is a real market for this club.


james August 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I recently bought a SLDR-S driver with Speeder 57 Stiff 12* loft. So far, it is very difficult to hit this club, my old R7 Limited is much better. I was thinking of swapping shafts with the R-7 which has A Matrix X-CON 5.5 and see if it makes any difference. Now I am thinking to try the mini and perhaps trade the SLDR-S in on it. I have always played the old traditional drivers having grown up with Persimmon and forged. Maybe the smaller head will work better with “My Head”.


Ron August 17, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Sounds like the mini could help seniors.


phreshone August 13, 2014 at 12:48 am

Think about this…. Sergio plays with a 43″ driver… The extra distance from extra shaft length isn’t always worth it. I just rebuilt an old R510 TP 9.5, hot-melted to 208gr with a 43.75″ shaft… cracks it like a framing hammer

I hope this sells… would love to see them invest in a titanium version so they can add the slider.


randy clary August 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I’ve had my mini driver for two days and played 36 holes with it. Have missed only one fairway. I have a sldr driver that I really like but I can’t hit as many fairways with it. the mini is 10-20 yards shorter but who cares I need to hit fairways. Loving it!!!!


Dewayne July 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I play the 12 degree stiff shaft. And hit it well off the tee but was inconsistent of the deck as far as high cuts. Club felt light even at 43 1/2 inches. It was easy to elivate but just to much of a cut ball flight off the deck.

After 2 rounds I pulled the grip and added a 3/4 inch extension. I went back to the course the next day and am now hitting balls off the tee and off the deck pretty darn straight to slight draw. Very simple solution.

A kid next to me was talking to friends about how he pulled his 3 wood because he just can’t hit anything off the deck. I walked up and said try this. He started hitting really nice straight shots right down the middle of the range. Super easy and straight once a simple 3/4 inch extension was added.


dlinzy July 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

So if it came with SLDR technology built in AND full loft adjust-ability I’d likely fall for it.
But since it has neither nor either I’m inclined to keep bombing my R1 past everyone even if it occasionally finds a green side bunker or just bolts straight thru the trees.



BillA July 29, 2014 at 9:56 am

I recently dug my old, but mint, Cleveland 330 driver out of the closet and put it back into my golf bag. I hit it consistantly long and straight off the tee, so It’s going to stay in the bag. The mini driver is a good idea for anyone that dislikes the “oil drum on a stick” that 460cc drivers have become. I think the new mini driver will be a sucess.


Owen July 28, 2014 at 8:50 am

I’ve had my mini driver for two weeks now, and its safe to say I’m not going back to my old driver. Besides the fact that its longer of the tee than my Adams Speed line, its more accurate and has a better flight. I love this club..if I could only putt better..


Stu Jones July 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Hi, Ive been using TM mini driver for about a month now and have to say this is the best club ive ever bought. Ive lost about 15-20 yards on my titleist 913 d2 driver, but the difference being Im always in play giving myself a chance of par or better. Mini Driver spec 14 deg, stock shaft in reg.


Chris H June 20, 2014 at 12:48 am

13 years and 200cc later, what used to be called a driver is reborn as the SLDR Mini Driver.

Ain’t that something?


Jon June 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm

How do you hit the Mini Driver. Do you play it off your left foot with an ascending strike like a driver? Or do you play it a little further back in your stance and sweep it off the tee like a 3w?
Or something in between?


Roy June 5, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Grrat idea. I struggle to get to single digits as well.
What is your current set makeup? Light shafts and winn lite grips help seniors who are too proud to ride all the time.


Kyle June 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

So, I finally decided to start reading articles and info on the Mini after seeing/holding it in my local retailer. I previously could care less, but am more and more thinking this to be a good option for me. I am thinking this could be a minimalist golfer’s dream club to eliminate the driver and 3 wood in one shot. I am going to have to try one now, and if it works I should finally be able to break into the single digits of clubs in my bag!


Dabears May 30, 2014 at 10:42 am

Following up on the mini driver review here. Now that I actually use this on several courses, I finally figured out the tee’s height and when to pull this at a particular situation. It does help to have an option on a narrower courses and with dog left/right courses. I still have no regret purchasing this driver and has been very efficient on my rounds. I did missed having an actual driver though particularly on long par 5s and long 4s so I went ahead and bought another driver to go along with my clubs. I think it was a combination of mentality and just having more option on the course, is a nice to have both drivers hand in hand on the course. All in all, it’s just a matter of individual preference. It’s like going to war with more artillery than having less artillery. I just feel more prepared on the course with a complete set of clubs.


Sam Collins May 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Just bought the 16 degree last Sunday. After playing 4 rounds with the mini I have decided to park my Driver & 3 wood (RBZ 2) in the garage with the car. Hitting the mini about 20 yds shorter than my old driver but very straight, leaving me in better lies compared to the driver. Off the deck play is a lot better than the 3 wood or Hybrids I’d been hitting. This club shortened the par 5’s & long 4’s. Learning how to use different tee heights to get the positioning I’m looking for. Quit reading to much into the look & similarity to other clubs. This stick is in a league of it’s own. Highly recommend you give it a try.


Jon June 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Sam I have an RBZ 2 3w, it goes a ton when I hit it right. Interesting to hear that you hit the mini better than the RBZ 2.


BillA May 20, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I find this all pretty humorous. Drivers have gotten bigger and bigger over the years, and I have several 460s myself. But I really love my Louisville Golf persimmon Fairway finder, high loft, 14 degrees loft, 250CC driver, made of real persimmon. It’s interesting that so many golfers hate the oil drum-on-a-shaft drivers made today, and will opt for something more compact. The Louisville Golf Company makes MODERN persimmon clubs, that are unmatched for feel and accuracy by any metal/wood. Check out their website. Their Niblick is utterly amazing. I have been playing those for the past 10 years and they are the sweetest fairway woods I have owned in over 50 years of swatting golf balls.


Dabears May 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I broke down and took a chance on the mini driver as well. I traded my R1 and Burner 2.0 4 wood which I never fond off. It was the best decision I made. Yes, I was out driven by other 3 some but there were times I out drove them. Because they weren’t hitting their driver consistently. And this is what has been missing with my course management, consistency. Today was the first day out with the mini driver and I can feel it that I will eventually gain more confidence hitting this and eventually, long distance will come with it. I chooses the 12 degree since I get plenty of loft with it already. And another thing, watching these guys driving their regular drivers, it was like guessing where their hits is going to be. It reminded me of how I was with the driver. At least I know exactly where my ball is heading 95% at a time versus 70% or less with the regular driver.


Rob May 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

I’m a believe; and saw the recommendation above, “get two.” After putting my !6-degree mini in play for two rounds, I’m about to jump on a 12-degree mini also I think. The 16 replaced my 4-metal, and seems to equal or gain distance (downwind for sure) over my 460cc R1 (12-degree loft). Called “automatic” all round yesterday during our club’s men’s golf association, this short 60-something feels like the shorter mature shaft, throw-back head, and 57-degree lie angle all go together for more club head speed and accuracy. The Taylormade sales point about reaching more par 5s has already come home with me; although, my reality generally means NET Birdies….


SLee May 8, 2014 at 1:46 am

its basically the Taylormade 200 steel from 2001


DLunzy May 5, 2014 at 8:43 pm

We’ll I went to the PGA Store and gave it a fair chance and attempted to be unbiased.
I left with $300 cold hard cash in my pocket.
I hit it fine with a 112 – 114 swing speed it would carry 240 ish and roll out to 260+ pretty consistently. Mis-hits were manageable and with in reason and it responded well to intentional draws and fades.
My #1 issue with it is still no adjustability and #2 If I needed to hit it harder to carry 275- 280 I.E. to carry a trap or turn the corner I couldn’t. It would just go higher and land softer I.E. very little to no roll.
I can choke down a bit on my R1 and accomplish the same distance and control or perfect the 3/4 Driver shot. So I’ll pass.


Ray May 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Got one the day it came out. Went to the range and loved it right away. It is definitely not as long as a well-hit driver (which I can manage in 1 out of 10 tries). I could hit my target with this, using a 14 degree version of the club with great launch angle for longer carry.

I am not longer 190 yards out and 50 yards right – more like 230 yes straight out and not too far behind my playing partners. Hitting mid-irons to the green instead of 5-wood is a treat I can enjoy once more.

Off the fairway is also good – just don’t try to force it, let the club work for you.

I definitely recommend this club to all you slicers out there…



Susan May 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Is their Ladies version coming out???


Kathy Daust May 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Do you really need to be so insulting about how many women are interested in golf – playing, researching, interest in new products, etc., etc. There are many of us who are just as interested and maybe more interested in golf than men. Take your comments about women and golf out of the Middle Ages. Thank you!


DLunzy May 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Where’s the awesome TM toted best in the Industry SLDR technology? I see the Letters….
If it had total adjust-ability I’d rock it, but since it’s lacking the coolest features on the Tour, i’ll wait until it’s 50% off shouldn’t take but a month….

Lastly conditions change daily in Texas and Lofting Up and Down is a big part of keeping my Handicap at Zero….




Metal-X-Man April 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I agree with some of the other comments… The SLDR isn’t a totally new concept, but a good revival of the deep face 3 wood. I have the 3 Deep but the high CG makes it impractical to use off the turf. I have an old deep face Rapture 3 wood with the blew by you shaft that’s ruined but was this type of club. I don’t like Taylormade because of their frequent changes and market schemes, but have to put this in the bag for my tourney’s that have tight tree-lined fairways.


E April 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Finally. This is the exact reason I’m still playing my nearly 20 yr old Big Bertha 3wood head. I like the “driver shape”

I have tried countless others and they never worked for me


TONYF 2669 April 24, 2014 at 1:07 am

i hate big drivers hit mine 235 to 240 mtre hit a 3 wood 215 to 220 the later is dead straight . i will buy one sldr mini if it picks up 10 mtre i will sell all my drivers. i have no doubt that a shaft change will be even better. can not wait to get one


Qwagmire April 23, 2014 at 10:27 am

Really interested, I play a short tight course. I really wish they would have stuck with interchangeable shafts, I have an Oban Devotion that would make this thing sing.


Chris April 22, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I am that guy…the one that liked a smaller head on the driver and had real issues with getting those little VW’s pointed in the right direction…have been using my 3-wood off the tee for years…so I don’t have to get rid of a driver…look forward to hitting this thing…if it does what it says it does…my 3-wood goes in to retirement…like me!


mo April 19, 2014 at 10:29 am

Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if the mini played at 45.5 inches.


Robert April 19, 2014 at 7:20 am

Great article saved me $279. It made me look again at all the old drivers that I have in the garage (that haven’t been “traded in”) I found a few that are close enough to take to the range. An old Titleist 983E looks like a good alternative.


Dirk Godsey April 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

I used to play a 2W/4W line up with 4 wedges for short courses. Maybe I’ll look at the 12/16 ? I was checking out the new TaylorMade irons with the idea of taking advantage of all the the “trade-in +50%” offers and was told to wait, that there were also new irons coming in May???


Peter April 13, 2014 at 11:14 pm

For Shorter guys like myself 5’2″ , a shorter driver with more control would surely be interesting as I’ve never been able to find a comfortable driver….cutting 2″ off a standard driver just messes up the lie. I’d even go to 43″ as the lie change will be less impacted than a 45 cut to 43. I’ll be giving this a test once it gets in stores.


Kyle Worthy April 13, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Interesting seeing the backspin RPMs. Seems pretty high considering the Speeder shaft.


Jim April 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Years ago, the only thing I could hit was my 3 wood, but now, like you, I can’t hit a three wood, especially off the tee, to save my life, and my home course has two long par 3’s that are really tight and that I can’t reach with any other club. I can count on losing 2 strokes a round because of it. Being able to use the SLDR S at 16* might finally be the answer. If it’s decent off the deck on the occasions when I play courses where I need to do that (rare), I’ll retire my 3 wood permanently. If I find it’s somewhat longer than my 3 wood, I’ll just shorten up some. I have high hopes for this, because it seems to fit a gap in my game that I’ve had trouble with.


Dave Gray April 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I have had occasion over the years to wish I had held onto my old steel shafted BB Steelhead Plus, as I have exactly the same gap in my game. This seems like it may be a potential answer to that problem.


colin doherty April 11, 2014 at 5:20 am

used to play the old 200 ti series, best driver I ever used for control.
My course has many (some) doglegs which are too long for irons and too
short for drivers, perfect option as I dont have a three wood.


Tony Mc April 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I have been using an old high trajectory Burner 3 wood black top off the tee and I get about the same distance as as my driver but a lot more accuracy. There seems to be extra wind resistance with the 460 cc big head drivers and I have trouble getting clubhead speed. PGA winner Nathan Green once remarked he’d never found a driver that went much better than his 3 wood. I would definitely try this new mini driver.


Thomas April 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Splitting hairs – makes no sense


Antone Caccamo April 10, 2014 at 10:27 am

So when do you think TM is going to come out with a club made of some exotic wood like persimmon?


Foz April 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Back in the Day……set the wayback machine to Central Kentucky 1968. I used a 2 Wood with a 12* loft for my Driver. That’s when I carried a 1,2,3 & 4 wood (Powerbilt). The 2 Wood got me off the Tee early in the season (March to May) then I would use my Driver the rest of the year (May thru Nov).

Looks like the same philosophy exists today only calling it a mini driver!


John B April 9, 2014 at 11:22 am

I grabbed a Cobra Long Tom 2 wood and have been using it as an alternate driver for a couple seasons. It’s a great club for a shorter course or stretches when your 460cc driver isn’t cooperative. Every time I throw it in the bag for a round, I think about how Cobra should have kept improving/revising the club instead of making it a one-and-done.


AWOL April 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Uhhhh…..NO! I cant see myself every using this thing. Maybe im a rare case but one of my strongest clubs in my bag is a 3w off the deck. I have never had issues with this. But i dont see how i could ever hit such a large club off the deck. To me it seems it would be harder with this. It looks like TMag is following the trend a Phils frankenwood or whatever the hell its called. I could see hitting this off the tee, but i wont spend $500 for a club that i might use even more rarely than my driver or 3w. Im glad to see TMag offer it, it does fill the gap for some players and thats always a benefit for the game of golf. But it seems they are hitting a very small market, i would have rather had them spend the R&D on better wedges.


ComeOnSense April 8, 2014 at 6:38 pm

yeap I agree, too big to hit of the deck. It’s for this reason, according to my source, that TM
will release the …SLDR Mini- Me ( to be hit exclusive from the fairway).


Curt April 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm

If so, then you would have a regular SLDR 3 wood, which is already in the market.


drjacko April 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Long Tom, anyone remember the 2wood?


Mark April 8, 2014 at 2:53 am

Living in the PNW, I game an R1 and once conditions start to warm up and dry up, I average over 290 for the spring and closer to 310 in the summer. However, I struggle to get enough launch on the ball and I also struggle with hitting fairways consistently (roughly 50%). I love the idea of the SLDR Mini Driver, but I am a bit weary that it may not be very forgiving or easy to get airborne. Hopefully I will be able to answer all of this when I try it out in the next month.


MG April 7, 2014 at 10:36 pm

So your telling me I can buy the mini driver and hit it 10 yards shorter than the sldr 460 and I get to hit the mini 4 yards more crooked to boot? How could anyone resist?


Adam April 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

If the point is it hit this off the tee why not just buy a 14 degree 460? More forgiving, more accurate.


SMRT April 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm

I still don’t get it. This club will have such a small portion of the market, how can they put this much time into it?


markb April 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I’m old enough to remember how hard it was to hit a persimmon driver. I defaulted to the old 2 wood out of necessity because I couldn’t hit the driver. These days that’s not necessary because we can all hit modern drivers. But I’ve also seen how the young bucks play. They hit 460 drivers far, but wild. Since all their irons go so high and far, they really never need a 3 wood off the deck and on a tight course, they’ll never touch a driver. At my home course, I’ve seen the college boys play all 18 and leave all woods in the car. They still reach half the par 5’s in two. This is a club for them.

It should sell like hotcakes — if by hotcakes I mean left-handed 1 irons.


ComeOnSense April 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm

TellHerMate( TM) 2014 club release dates:
– May 2nd : SLDR Mini
– May 7th SLDR Mini Black or White, better known on Tour as the Mini-MJ(Michael Jackson)
– May 14th : SLDR Mini-D( Dry) for dry days where SLDR driver is too long
– May 15 th : SLDR Mini -W2 ( Wet & Wind) for days that are too windy / wet for SLDR driver
– May 21th : SLDR Mini -PGA ( Propa Gand A) to use between your putter and sandwedge
– May 28 th : SLDR Mini -P (Paulina) for the TM Fan Boys that still don’t get it.


Mike June 15, 2014 at 2:36 am

ha ha, love the mischief!


fats April 7, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Reading this post a couple of previously separate thoughts came together for a little bit of a wow moment.

Simply put into Pros and Cons:
– A driver will hit it further
It appears that the aim of this club is to reduce this difference. Based on the testing above the difference is about 10% for pure distance. I imagine when you normalise this using accuracy this number will drop even more. When you add proper spin and launch angle optimisation fitting this will be even further eroded. I imagine this could get within 5% of a players driver and for most amateurs would probably pass them. So if you drive it 270 that would be a 1 club difference.

– simplifies what we need to learn to play the game:
the modern driver requires us to learn a specialist swing that we only use at most 14 times a round. This adds complexity, increases confusion and reduces the benefits of a single swing. We can now forget about this and spend more time on our putting.

– Maximises the ease of the second shot:
Maximising distance is probably the most important part of getting better at golf, but not at the expense of some level of accuracy. If you want to bring your handicap down you need to get rid, permanently, of those shots that put you into unplayable positions and put pressure on your approach shots. Modern drivers, unfortunately increase your chances of this happening Tiger Woods’ current troubles are a great example.

– Makes squaring and centring the club easier
A miss of 1/4″ on a driver loses you more than 10 yards in distance. It also introduces levels of gearing effects that whilst generally helpful can exaggerate changes to the spin axis. All of this because the additional size of the driver face makes managing the face more complex.

I think I want one now!


Adam April 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I’d give it a 6/10 on a “Ya…I’d hit that” scale..(did i just invent that or is it already taken?)


Teaj April 8, 2014 at 10:25 am

Haven’t heard that yet, but I may have to use it I hope you don’t mind.


KFlare April 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Aside from technical quality or the mini’s place in the bag, TMAG’s product strategy is starting to look less and less coherent after the R11 kicked off a pretty well-executed series of launches. To echo previous comments, “gap-filling” seems like the plan with these types of clubs.


Roy April 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

Dare I say brassie or 2 wood, I’m old enough to know what these were


Sira April 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Just curious, but how old is the word “brassie”? because i have heard “2 wood” and “spoon” (for fairway woods) before, but never “brassie”. Maybe i’m not old enough (25)? XD


Teaj April 8, 2014 at 10:18 am

I’m only 29 but have a healthy respect and passion (obsession) of the game so I to know what Brassie means and I may have that printed on the head cover being made for the rapture.


Dude McDude April 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

This would be a good idea…if it wasn’t 2014. Most higher handicap golfers are going to want to bag a big ol’ driver over a smaller more compressed version. Whether or not this club really is better than a driver is to be determined (I need to personally test it) but from looks and what the market seems to feel about it, I think this product is going to tank.


Ed April 7, 2014 at 10:43 am

I occasionally carry a Tour Edge 11.5 XCG6 “3-wood” in my bag as a smaller driver that I only hot off the tee…and have for about a year now.


Bob April 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I’ve been thinking about doing that. Were you struggling with the driver before getting the smaller one? And did it help?


Eddie Laham April 7, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Not really, but I had a little trouble with launching too high and even though the loft is higher than my driver (10.5 ping G25) it is an absolute laser beam. It’s such an…exotic looking club I can’t help but have a little extra confidence when I break it out


Craig April 7, 2014 at 10:36 am

Again TM have followed another company because they can’t think up anything original.
Hireko has had the Thriver out for a couple of years now. A driver at 14* at three wood length.
Wishon has had this style out since last year. A 260cc head with hosel adjustability and lofts of 11* and 14*. These heads are fully customisable where TM are stock only.
Rather play a Wishon.


AH April 7, 2014 at 10:30 am

I know this ins’t what this article is necessarily about and that looks are subjective and personal. Given that…I personally and subjectively cant believe how bad these clubs look. To me they seem cheap and are more akin to something you would see in a youth set at Walmart than a 400 dollar high end club. I’m sure we would all like to think that looks don’t effect our buying decisions too a great extent but i’ll be the first to admit I’m drawn to clubs that I think look… well…

I thought the R1 black was one of the nicest designs this company has every come out with and to follow that with the SLDR. I don’t get it.
I wish Taylormade continued success with this new line but I sincerely hope that they move in a new direction for next year’s models.


AH April 7, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Looking through forum members posts and reviews I guess I might be in the minority.


barbajo April 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

Think you’re right – it’s a course specific club for someone who wants a course specific club. I co old think of a handful of courses where something a tad longer than a 3 wood and a tad safer than a driver would be a benefit. Either that or deal with a longer 2nd shot after hitting 3-wood off the tee or hope you have a shot after hitting driver off the tee.

Be interested in hearing your thoughts once the snow clear and we can actually play, you know, golf….


flaglfr April 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

First there was white for a head color. A matter of preference for sure, but OK. Then white with some sort of weird decal on the head and a dead tie for first place in the weirdest looking driver category. They tell us that an adjustable loft driver and fairway woods are better. Probably one of the best ideas they have come up with Then they come up with the Sldr. They tell us low forward weight with adjustability is better. This seems to work better as well.

Then they come up with this thing. No adjustability, no forward weighting that can be adjusted, and oh yeah, a nearly $400 price tag for the TP model. I can understand their thoughts on the rescue and full time fairway woods. But this thing is supposedly made for the tee. Why not put a slider weight in it and simply recess it a bit to take away the issue of drag? And I am sure there are those who hit their SLDR driver off the deck. Why should this thing be any different? Guess they are back to slap it together, charge the hell out of the customer and move on to the next thing we can get them to buy.


Tony Covey April 7, 2014 at 10:36 am

Valid points. As far as recessing a sliding weight mechanism goes…to recess you need to build a supporting structure, and that structure requires mass which would have to be placed a bit higher in the clubhead which would raise the CG. Another factor in the decision not to SLiDe is the steel construction. As most are aware, steel is heavier than Titanium, and that means less discretionary weight to play with.

Just a guess, but if Mini does well, I think we’ll probably see a higher priced, titanium version with some form of adjustability.


flaglfr April 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Agreed. TM will probably come out with a titanium model. I am guessing that since this one is nearly $400, that one will probably go for $600 or more. IMHO, between TM and Callaway, the are pricing themselves into the rarified air category of Honma. Wait till the added cost of custom fitting with proper shafts is included… Dare I say a thousand dollar three wood??


Tony Covey April 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I think…actually I hope $499 is the ceiling for something like this. The pricing equation almost always boils down to whatever the market will bear. Looking at that landscape right now, both PING and Tour Edge have established a precedent for the $499 fairway wood. Both offerings (Rapture and CP Pro) have titanium faces. The PING comes with a PING-engineered shaft (always solid), while the Tour Edge offering is outfitted with a REAL Fujikura Speeder. TaylorMade would probably stick with their Fuji offerings, and likely hit that $499 number as well.

Maybe they do something comparatively special with the shaft (Oban maybe), and try and raise the price point that way ($549 or $599). They tried similar with the R1 Super TP, but I think it was over priced, and most everyone else overdosed on the nonsense of the name. Still…I think $499 is a HUGE stretch for a fairway wood, anything above that is insanity.


Mark April 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

What is the CT of this new driver?


Gary April 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

sounds like what cobra tried with the long tom driver and fairway wood a couple of years ago. it may be a good idea, but if it is, it seems the marketing machine at taylor made will get some undue credit…..


golfer4life April 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

Good idea as soon as they allow 15 clubs in the bag!


steve April 7, 2014 at 8:39 am

When industries reach saturation levels due technological advancements (and confining regulations) you’ll see niche catogries, nuanced variations and brand leveraging.

This has been happening excessively over the last ten years. Which is fine…Mini Driver is just an extension of the niche, brand, and nuances becoming more important.

It’s a 2-wood (regardless of head volume)–it fits between a 3 and 1 wood. I think this is good and overdue. My observation over 40 years (yikes) is that the overwhelming majority of golfers on the overwhelming majority of holes (and courses) should be hitting less then driver.

What I don’t think shows up with ‘testing’ is the ‘confidence to distance’ factor (CDF)…3+ and 2 woods could deliver that–more fairways, more squaring up, and creeping out to ‘driver’ distance is what I see.

Drop a wedge, add a 2-wood.


Dude McDude April 7, 2014 at 11:34 am

I think this driver looks like crap but if it preforms like it should, then wouldn’t it make more sense to just drop both the driver and 3 wood? You could then add a 2i or 1i hybrid to complete your long iron distance or you could add another wedge. I personally only use 2 wedges but some people like having more options around the green or would like to more complete their distance dispersion from >100 yards.


Tony Covey April 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

That’s certainly one option. While I won’t say Mini is a game-changer, I love anything that gives the golfer options, and the potential to reconfigure the bag in different ways (when it makes sense to do so).


steve April 7, 2014 at 11:56 am

Yup. plenty of combinations…and there’s something to be said about hitting the same club (ie, 2 wood) and grooving it vs switching between driver and mini. Sometimes less options provide unforeseen benefits (consistency).


Hula_Rock April 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

Sira April 7, 2014 at 4:07 am
So if the minidriver is positioned between driver and 3 woods, would that make it a 2 wood?

That just about sums it up right there………


Tony April 7, 2014 at 8:22 am

I get these clubs at 12* are designed for very good players and work for them. They work for no one else. I’m fine with that, it fills a market like super game imrovement irons.

What I LOVE about this is that there is a 16* version at 260cc. Will defeniately be buying one, never hit my 3w off the deck, just off the tee. I hate how shallow fairway woods are, can’t wait to hit this. (and I hate TM)


Blade April 7, 2014 at 7:31 am



Jochen April 7, 2014 at 6:34 am

Changing the 3-wood and the driver for just 1 mini driver makes sence to me on some courses, so you can add an extra wedge or iron.


John April 7, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I agree. I generally hit 295 yards average with a driver and hit 275 yards average with a 3 wood. I found myself hitting 3 wood more often off the tee around my local courses. Definitely gaining few yards and taking out those clubs for the mini driver as well as another wedge in the bag will be very beneficial for me.


Teaj April 8, 2014 at 9:41 am

Same reason I went with the Rapture, going to give it a go replacing both the 3wood, driver and adding the 5th wedge. the only thing im dreading is my first couple wedge shots trying to decide which wedge to hit. also my buddy made a good point, teeing up to a 540 yard par 5 you still have a chance at getting there in 2 with this type of club.


Jon Dillingham June 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Just what I am looking for another opportunity to add yet one more wedge, let’s see I’m already carrying five so that would make it an even half dozen. Come to think of it perhaps a 64 degree would come in handy. Phil likes his!


sjd August 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

Me too, makes perfect sense.


Tony April 7, 2014 at 6:33 am

Or a Thr-iver Thr(ee Wood) & (Dr)iver…….


louis logsdon May 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm

love it.


Sira April 7, 2014 at 4:07 am

So if the minidriver is positioned between driver and 3 woods, would that make it a 2 wood?


Alex April 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

Good point there. In the end, this is all about marketing. This seems to be something like a fairway wood. The 2001 driver thing is funny, though; that’s exactly what I thought when I first saw this club.


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