TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver Review

TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver (2)

50 Words or Less

Exactly what the name describes: a smaller version of the SLDR.  Low spin.  No adjustability.

Introduction

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…

TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver (13)

Looks

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.

TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver (12)

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.

Mini Driver LM Data

Performance

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.

TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver (14)

Conclusion

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°.

Watch the Video

Matt Saternus
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8 Comments

  1. For me, I am not sure about this club. I bought one on ebay and only had one session with it, on the practice range. So far I am not sure about it. I hit my Rocketballz 13 degree stiff 3 wood off the tee frequently and hit it very straight and long(from 260 to 280). I think perhaps, with the upgraded shaft(tour version), it might be a better club but the 57gram stiff shaft feels a little soft to me…

  2. david greene

    I just purchased a Mini Driver and it seems I hit it off the tee about as far as my 3 wood. I was wondering if you could tell me how far do I tee it up when hitting off the tee. Your video was very informative. Thanks.

    • Matt Saternus

      David,

      I’m glad you liked the video. I think that the height for teeing up the 3W is as personal as your preferred tee height for driver. Teeing the ball higher and swinging “up” more is going to result in greater distance, but some players won’t be able to do that and maintain consistency. I would recommend getting some impact tape and doing some experimenting. Nothing is as important to distance and accuracy as hitting the ball on the center of the face, so that would be my #1 priority for choosing a tee height.

      FWIW, I like my 3W teed up barely off the ground.

      Best,

      Matt

  3. Thanks for the informative video clip, I’ve been wondering if this club will suit me, I think I would have more control if I hit the sweet spot than my driver! I think I’ll go to my local Golf Mart and try the club out first before I purchase one. Since I hit the ball low with my driver, maybe the 14 or 16 degree will give me a higher ball flight.

  4. John Linville

    i just got the minny for some reason i hit it straighter than my rbz stage 2 driver play with it hit the faifway every time

  5. Dave Matzke

    I think Patrick is full of horse puck. I grabbed one of those mini drivers for 95 bucks. 12 degree with a stiff shaft and knocked the hell out of it. Off the t it has such a high flight that I teed it down and off the deck it’s a little hard to play it back and down so you just have to allow for a high flight. But as far as that speeder 57 shaft is concerned it’s a great shaft. there’s no whip at all. I think pat is delusional and must think he’s some sort of video pro.

  6. Matt,
    I really enjoy your review’s. And recently have been researching the value of using a mini driver/strong 3 wood. Just purchased a 14* sldr mini driver
    My question is, do I swing the club like a fairway wood or driver? I’m a high handicap player and think this would be a great alternative for when my “ driver” abilities disappear. Thx in advance

    • Matt Saternus

      Kent,

      That might depend on what it means to swing like a driver or FW to you, and the scenario you’re facing.

      Best,

      Matt

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