By Stuart Goldstein, AmateurGolf.com Player Staff Program
Several years ago, the golf industry created a wonderful club called the hybrid. Universally hailed by everyone from touring pros to hackers, the Hybrid was a game changer. TaylorMade Golf recently introduced the SLDR Mini, a hybrid of sorts. Will it too be a game changer?
It’s too early to tell but it is definitely worth a spin.
Labeled as a driver, the Mini was designed to primarily be hit off the tee. But because of the smaller head, new technology and smooth sole, the Mini is a lot easier to hit off the fairway then your traditional driver. Hence the analogy to the hybrid -- equal parts driver and fairway wood.
The SLDR Mini has a 260cc steel head and comes in lofts of 12°, 14°, and 16°. Coming in at 43 ½ inches, the Mini is two inches shorter than a standard driver and the stock shaft is the very playable made for Fuji Speeder 57 -- the same shaft that is in the SLDR Driver.
As with other products in the SLDR family, the Mini features the brand’s Speed Pocket Technology foir low and forward center of gravity placement for low spin and a high launch. While the rest of the SLDR family has a charcoal crown, the SLDR Mini comes in matte silver with a contrasting black clubface. A very handsome club indeed.
Similar to the SLDR S, the SLDR Mini has a glued head so there is no adjustability in terms of loft and lie. The loft you get is the loft you get. No need for a wrench. I call it old school.The result is a club that is longer than a 3-wood yet more accurate than a driver. So, why come up with this club? According to Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods, it was designed to be an option off the tee.
“Tour pros and betters amateurs often hit their 3-wood off the tee more often than from the fairway,” he said. “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.”
As we put the Mini through its paces, we began to pick up on why this club has the potential to be something special. Is the Mini more accurate than a driver? Yes, Longer than your 3-wood? Yes. Easy to hit off the deck-for the lower handicap players? Yes.
The real issue is if you put the Mini in play, what club do you take out of the bag? The answer is most likely your driver. But that could depend on what course you are playing and how your game fits that course. If you need a stick that is slightly shorter than your driver yet more accurate, the Mini is for you.
Essentially the Mini gives you flexibility. And that flexibility helps you navigate around the golf course. Taking out your driver and 3-wood and replacing it with a Mini gives you the option of adding another wedge or a hybrid.
As with other specialty clubs, the Mini has its place and is not made for everyone. Yet, since playing from the short grass makes the game so much easier and a lot more fun, the Mini is a great alternative for those willing to give up a little distance for more accuracy and is the perfect replacement for that big 460cc driver.