Ahead of the launch of TaylorMade's SLDR Mini Driver, Golf Monthly caught up with TaylorMade's Director of Product Creation, Metalwoods, Brian Bazzel, to find out how it came to market and who it will suit.
Hi Brian, thanks for taking the time to speak to Golf Monthly ahead of the launch of the TaylorMade SLDR Mini Driver. We’ll jump straight in with the questions; you’ve managed to create a whole new equipment category with this club, could you explain how it came about?
Our research has shown that golfers around the world tend to use their 3 woods most of the time off the tee, some as often as 80 or 90%, yet these clubs are designed primarily for use from the fairway, which creates an obvious disconnect between product design and product use.
We took this insight as an opportunity to develop a new category in metalwoods – the Mini-Driver. Quite literally, a 3 wood made for the tee. That said, the golfers who have tested the product also love to hit it off the deck.
What type of player do you think will suit SLDR Mini Driver?
We believe that the Mini Driver has quite a wide audience of potential users.
The most obvious is the tour player or top amateur who bombs the ball with their driver but wishes he, or she, had a club that provided more distance control and precision which is why many of them have been hitting their 3 woods off the tee. We think the SLDR Mini Driver provides that.
There is another group of golfers who struggle to hit a 460cc driver off the tee due to appearance, length of shaft, etc. The 260cc SLDR Mini Driver is larger than the average 165cc 3 wood to inspire confidence through the larger head and bigger hitting area. The shaft is 43.5 inches which is 2 inches shorter than the modern driver which provides additional control. We believe this is the perfect combination for the golfer who struggles hitting the ball off the tee. A “goldilocks” blend of head size and shaft length for tee shots where distance and control are paramount.
So the SLDR Mini will be best off the tee?
Not necessarily, it also functions as a 3 wood replacement off the deck, which generated a lot of excitement from our product testers who loved the larger head versus their current 3 wood. In fact, we have tour players who are looking at the 12° and 14° models as ideal options for those super long par 5s.
So how will the 14° Mini shape up compared to your 14° drivers?
The 14° SLDR Mini Driver is 260cc versus the 460cc 14° driver and the shaft is 43.5 inches versus 45.5 inches on the 14° SLDR. The SLDR Mini Driver also has a steel head while the SLDR driver is titanium.
This means the 14° SLDR Mini-Driver will spin more than the 14° SLDR Driver and the golfer should expect to lose some distance due to the shorter shaft as well. The SLDR Mini Driver is a double threat though, with the ability to hit it with great distance and control off the tee, while also providing a great option into the green off the deck on par 5s.
It sounds quite versatile then. There’s also a TP model and a new Satin Silver crown isn’t there?
Yes, the standard SLDR Mini Driver is a .350 bore and has a Fujikura 57 Shaft that is 55 grams and plays to a D2.5 swingweight for more distance. This is the same shaft that we use in our SLDR Driver, but it is two inches shorter. Whereas the TP model is a .335 bore and has a Fujikura Motore Speeder 7.3 Shaft that is 55g grams and a heavier D5 swingweight for more control. This is the same shaft that we use in our SLDR TP 3-wood.
The new crown is a development based on the very positive response we got to the contrasting face/crown that we introduced a few years ago. We thought that the Satin Silver crown and the Black face looked awesome together. Feedback from consumers and retailers has been really positive so far, and we absolutely love how the aesthetic on the SLDR Mini Driver turned out.