50 Words or Less
Exactly what the name describes: a smaller version of the SLDR. Low spin. No adjustability.
If you like hitting your 3W off the tee, 2014 is your year: multiple manufacturers are producing gigantic three woods meant to be distance machines off the tee. TaylorMade’s entry into this new niche is the SLDR Mini Driver. It’s the biggest of the “fairway drivers” at 260cc and with the SLDR’s low-spin characteristics, it is quite long. Should this be your new 3W? Let’s discuss…
The SLDR Mini Driver looks like, well, a miniature SLDR driver. The proportions are very similar to the SLR 460: it’s not too large in any particular dimension. The face is deep enough that you can tee it up with confidence, but it’s not extreme.
The one big difference from the original SLDR drivers is the silver crown. It’s a good look, but it does make the alignment aids on the front and back of the head stand out a bit more.
Sound & Feel
At the risk of being repetitive, the SLDR Mini Driver sounds and feels like…the SLDR drivers. It has a lot of low pitched “thunk” with virtually none of the high-pitched “tink” you get from a fairway wood.
Feedback from this club is above average – it has no problem letting you know when you’ve missed the sweet spot.
Stop me if you’re heard this before: the SLDR Mini Driver has a lot of the same characteristics as the SLDR drivers. The SLDR’s defining trait is being low spin, and you definitely get that with the Mini Driver. Also, when you hit the sweet spot, ball speeds are at or very near driver levels.
What you don’t get with the Mini Driver is the same level of forgiveness that you get with the SLDR 430 or SLDR 460. When you wander away from the sweet spot, the ball speeds and distance dip quickly.
There are a couple other things worth mentioning about the SLDR Mini Driver. First, it’s not adjustable. Since TaylorMade’s drivers and fairway woods have been adjustable for a long time, this is a surprising omission and a disappointing one, given the price. Next, TaylorMade is promoting this club as a replacement for your 3W. I would suggest that this is a good idea only if you use your 3W exclusively from the tee or if you are a very good fairway wood player. The same thing that makes the Mini Driver good for the tee, its size, makes it fairly difficult to hit off the turf.
Ultimately, the question of whether or not the TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver is a good club comes down to who you are as a player and what you want your club to do. If you want a 3W only for tee shots, and you prioritize distance, the Mini Driver makes sense. If you’re looking for a fairway wood to play from a wide variety of lies, there are better options.
If you love the performance of the SLDR drivers, but really want a (much) smaller look at address, the SLDR Mini Driver is worth a look. While it lacks adjustability, there are three different lofts available to fit a variety of golfers.
Price and Specs
The TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver retails for $280.
The available lofts are 12°, 14°, and 16°.