April 07, 2014
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Jonathan Wall
TaylorMade's SLDR Mini Driver has generated some considerable buzz since its arrival on TOUR last month at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. The club with the matte silver crown was spotted in Troy Matteson's bag at the Valero Texas Open -- he used two SLDR Mini Drivers (10.5 and 12 degrees) that week -- and J.B. Holmes' at the Shell Houston Open, where he put the 10.5-degree TOUR-only model in play.
U.S. Open champion Justin Rose even hinted that he could use a 13-degree Mini Driver at the Masters, noting that he was able to control and work the ball off the tee, which was far more important to him than having a standard 3-wood to use off the turf at Augusta National.
Although SLDR Mini Driver has been out in the open since the beginning of March, TaylorMade didn't release official details on the club until Monday, when it pulled the curtain back on the new metalwood.
According to TaylorMade's director of product creation, Brian Bazzel, the company started to notice a trend on TOUR of players using their 3-wood primarily off the tee -- which led them to start working on a club to fill the gap.
"We've talked about a club like [SLDR Mini Driver] for quite a long time," Bazzel said. "It's one of those clubs that starts out as a niche idea, but there's some merit and data to support why you'd want to do it.
"When we looked at how a majority of the players on TOUR were using their 3-wood, a majority were hitting it off the tee more than the ground; in some cases, quite a bit. We thought now was the time to create a 3-wood that was designed to be hit off the tee. Of course, you also want to be able to hit it off the ground, so that was the inspiration for this club."
The taller-faced, 260cc club -- the standard head on the standard SLDR 3-wood is 155cc -- is designed for players that primarily hit their 3-wood off the tee and are looking for distance, workability and control.
Similar to the SLDR fairway wood line, SLDR Mini Driver features a low and forward center of gravity (CG) that reduces spin, and the company's Speed Pocket technology that flexes effectively at impact for increased ball speeds.
Where the clubs differ is in adjustability and looks. SLDR Mini Driver is non-adjustable and has a black club face and matter silver crown that looks considerably different compared to the silver face and glossy grey crown on the SLDR driver and metalwoods line.
"Players really liked the contrast between the black face and the leading edge on the top of the club and said it helped with alignment," Bazzel said. "It felt right to do something different with the look of this new product."
Even though club is meant to be used primarily off the tee, TaylorMade designers added a smooth sole that's smaller and offers less resistance when the used on the turf. They also added more radius to the sole to make it playable off the tee and from the fairway.
SLDR MiniDriver will be available May 2. The standard version comes in three lofts (12, 14 and 16 degrees) with a 55-gram Fujikura Speeder 57 shaft (43.5 inches) and retails for $280. TaylorMade will also offer a TP model for $380 that comes in the same three loft options, with a Fujikura Motore Speeder 7.3 shaft at a heavier D5 swingweight.
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