What we say...
Having discovered amateurs hit their 3-wood off the tee more than they do off the fairway, TaylorMade created a deeper-faced, 260cc “mini driver” with a Speed Pocket technology for faster ball speeds, higher launch and reduced spin. Comes in both standard and TP shafts. The standard model will have an RRP of £199 and is equipped with a Fujikura 57 shaft. It is the same shaft used in the SLDR driver, but at 43.5 inches, two inches shorter than the SLDR driver. The TP model with have an RRP of £249 and is equipped with Fujikura’s Motore Speeder 7.3 shaft and is built to a heavier, D5 swingweight for improved control. Lofts in both models range from 12°, 14° and 16°.
The grey head with black detail at the back really works. The contrast between the crown and the face certainly helps alignment.
Generally hot on a wide area from heel to toe. The stock shaft is light so an upgrade to the TP may be required for fast swingers to gain more stability and control.
Impressive given how small the face is over a driver. Shots struck low on the face launched higher than expected.
It sits almost directly between the driver and 3-wood in size and you need to do the same in terms of tee height to get the best results. The higher the loft you use, the lower you need to tee it.
Reviewed by Equipment Editor Joel Tadman: “I found the 12° degree model travelled too far off the tee, totalling around the 270-yard mark, which is only a few yards short of my driver and it launched a little low off the deck. My preference would be the 14° head – it sits more between my hybrid and driver but boasts a stronger flight than my 3-wood. The thing that stood out for me was how easy it was to hit once I had the right shaft – accuracy and distance was achievable effortlessly. Initially it’s just a case of working out which club, if any, it’s replacing in your bag. Proven to be more accurate than a driver off the tee but longer than a 3-wood with a more penetrating flight.”
Watch the video (above) to see how nine TG readers got on at their SLDR Mini fittings.
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Taylormade Drivers User Reviews
After extensive testing on the course I have eliminated the standard 45.5" driver and only play the 43.5" - 14 degree mini driver------It is ~5 yards longer @105 mph club head speed with an average of around 260 yards total distance (great of the fairway also)---This club is a work of art and includes capabilities of what the golf greats used years ago along with modern technology----40+ years of golf in Wisconsin.
I am a 12 Handicap golfer for quite a few years now (lowest was 9) but age is catching up as I am now 68. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands and wrists in 2013 and found it too painful to swing my 9* King Cobra driver. I found I could swing a 3 wood with no pain so tried the mini driver (12* stiff flex) and found this worked a treat. Initally I had to relearn my distances to greens as I was more than a club shorter but as I have got used to it I have found only a small difference in length from the tee. The big bonus is its straight. When my treatment kicked in I triedmy driver again but found the Mini more reliable in fairways hit. For anyone suffering a similar condition I really urge you to try this as I feel it has extended my golfing ability for another few years. I have and still do play for my club in various teams and still do well in them.
Having struggled with accuracy with my driver for some time, and damaging my score with wayward drives, I have finally found the answer. The SLDR Mini looks great at address, is easy to swing accurately due to it's 3 wood length shaft and if results are what you are after this delivers. My problem is that I de-loft clubs due to my set up and this is disastrous for a 10 degree driver. I also find woods difficult off the tee due to the small head size. I got the 16 degree Mini and, with my set up, it flies like a driver and the head is just the right size. This club has given me confidence off the tee and already, only a week in, has got my handicap cut by 2 shots. I'd swear by it!
Overall: This club could easily have been a two club replacement for me, as my Achilles heal is driver from the tee. So after lots and lots of practise with this club I could see the obvious benefit of the club, it was easy to hit from the tee, and easy to swing due to the shorter shaft helping to keep the swing on plane. Nice looks too, shouldn't cause any anguish from the anti-white brigade. The distance as a replacement for driver wasn't an issue, as on the good hits it was probably only 10 yards my best driver. My plan was to replace my driver and 3 wood and shuffle around the top end of the bag to get maybe a 4 wood for the gap. I'm very confident with the 3 wood and happy to use from the tee for those tough tee shots, and can clip one from the turf to get upto 100 yards for those long par 5's that need it. The SLDR mini from the tee was huge compared to my RBZ, and the head size from the tee was awesome for confidence inspiring looks, thankfully backed up by its performance. Now it's important to point out that this isn't a magic club, if you swing it bad it will still top/thin/slice and hook, but when struck ok it's awesome. .... and now the negative .... Well there had to be something, and for me I just couldn't hit it from the fairway. I can only assume the deep head wasn't suitable for my swing but I couldn't get a crisp shot from it, and that could be the deal breaker for me. In all other departments it was wonderful but it couldn't make me drop my RBZ from my bag .... I just dropped the driver instead :).
Have bought the 16 degree model with standard graphite shaft.distance is pretty much the same as my driver but with a lot less effort. An easy swing launches the ball high and straight.the shorter shaft and ease of hit has meant that I don't try and steer the shot on tight driving holes. Just what I wanted - more consistency with less effort.I suspect many long hitters might prefer 12 or 14 degrees loft.