SLDR Mini Driver

Andy Roberts's picture
Andy Roberts
Tue, 3 Jun 2014

SLDR Mini Driver
Finally, a 3-wood designed for the tee

Need To Know

3-wood designed for the tee; forgiving and accurate; real fairway finder; two clubs in one given can be used as a driver off tee and 3-wood off fairway; beautiful matte silver finish with button-back alignment
no adjustability like SLDR Driver; Not as long as SLDR driver
Our score:
Overall: 
4
PRICE: £200.00 YEAR: from 2014

JUST like the tour pros, I hit the fairway wood way more frequently off a tee peg than I do off the deck. Our reasons for this are entirely different. A tour pro usually doesn't need anything longer than a hybrid to reach a par-5 in two these days and I, well, I just don't like hitting them very much. I was therefore delighted to receive news that the new TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver is in fact 'a 3-wood designed for the tee'.

First Look: TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver

The SLDR Mini, be it driver or fairway, has a compact, yet powerful 260cc steel head in a rather awe-inspiring matte silver finish with a black button-back alignment aid. It comes available in lofts of 12-, 14-, and 16-degree with a stock shaft length of 43.5″.

On first look, the SLDR Mini, tested in 12-degree, is sized between an average 3-wood and driver. Yet despite a shape not dissimilar to one of the drivers I first grew up playing with some 18 years ago, like everything else with SLDR stamped to the sole, the Mini still has all those 'Loft Up' traits of low/forward centre of gravity placement for low spin and high launch attached to it.

The SLDR Mini Driver also incorporates TaylorMade’s Speed Pocket technology, which promotes lower spin on impacts low on the clubface, where the majority of driver mis-hits occur.

Watch: TaylorMade staff test out SLDR Mini

Off the tee peg, hitting ten balls with each, I was achieving some seriously impressive numbers. Not quite on par with the SLDR driver that I also tested in 12-degree - wouldn't expect it to be given the SLDR driver is 460cc - but it was only some 10 yards off pace in both total distance and carry. The ball popped up a little higher than the SLDR driver but appeared a more-than-reliable alternative. While a little shorter and little more spinny than its big brother, the Mini is the much more forgiving and accurate performer of the two. Although I sprayed three of the ten shots with the Mini some 15 to 20 yards right of my target, the other seven went straight as an arrow.

Distance

Carry   Launch    Spin    Offline
SLDR Mini25123012.135007

SLDR Driver 

26323911.53200

11

And though it’s engineered to be easier to tee off with than a 3-wood, the SLDR Mini Driver is also easy to launch the ball off the turf with, thanks to its 'smooth sole' that’s smaller and offers less resistance than a driver.

With that in mind, I tested the Mini Driver out on the deck, which I explained earlier is my weakest shot in the bag. I was pleasantly surprised, however. This club has superb turf interaction and is reasonably easy to get in the air. Considering the relatively low launch for a driver/3-wood at 12-degree, my average distance reached 243 yards with a carry of 219 yards and launch angle of 10.3-degree. Okay, it did run a long way but that's the norm for my fairway woods off a bare lie. Nevertheless, I was actually getting the ball above the worms and out there for a change, something I can only really say I've enjoyed before with the Adams Golf Tight Lies Fairway Wood.

Verdict

TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver is the perfect alternative for those who struggle to gain consistency with a 460cc driver, or 430cc driver for that matter. The Mini is easy to hit down the target line and the ball will run like a scalded cat when it lands.

I'm not necessarily sure I'd want to switch the SLDR Driver for the Mini Driver alternative - mainly because unlike all the other new SLDR metalwoods it's not adjustable and your loft is your loft, and there is no SLiDeR on the sole as it were - but I'd certainly think about it if I was playing a tight, tree-lined course, or if I was heading out on the links. Decent value for money at £200 when you think it's basically two clubs in one and it also offers much better control than the SLDR Driver. I guess you need to decide whether you want to find more fairways or want more distance and adjustability.

not first look
not picked
Category: 
Brand: 
0
Performance: 
4
Quality: 
4
Value: 
4