"Finally, a 3-wood designed for the tee."
That is how TaylorMade are billing their exciting new SLDR S Mini driver. But is it a driver or a fairway wood? Truth is it is both, and neither, at the same time. Let me explain.
TaylorMade noticed that Tour players, and amateurs alike, hit their 3-woods off the tee more often than they do from the fairway, yet the majority of fairway woods on the market were designed for the latter. The idea behind the SLDR S Mini driver was to create a club that is accurate off the tee and longer than a traditional fairway wood.
As we all know TaylorMade have been tinkering with the crown and face colours of their woods in recent times. For this SLDR S Mini they settled on a matte silver crown and black face. They believe this combination allows players to see the loft of the club whilst also making it easier to align at address.
At 260cc, the SLDR S Mini is more than 100cc larger than the SLDR fairway and 200cc smaller than the SLDR driver. Compared to a fairway wood, it is larger and deeper meaning it is more stable and forgiving, and allows you to tee the ball higher off the tee, which TaylorMade believe makes it easier to launch than a standard 3-wood.
As is the case with the original SLDR driver and fairway woods, the centre of gravity on the SLDR S Mini driver is low and forward. Combine that CG with TaylorMade's Speed Pocket behind the face and you have a club that is designed to get the ball launching with more ball speed and less spin.
So how does it compare to a standard driver?
Well it is obviously much smaller and more compact than today's modern 460cc drivers and it is also two inches shorter at just 43.5 inches. At that length, compared to a longer driver, TaylorMade say players have more control over the head and thus can be more accurate.
Further still, the sole of the SLDR S Mini driver is smaller than a driver. Whilst it is primarily designed to be used off the tee, this smaller footprint means the SLDR S Mini has the versatility to be played from the fairway as well.
TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Metalwood Creation, Brian Bazzel, said:
The SLDR Mini Driver is intended to appeal to a wide audience. For the Tour pro or top amateur who places a premium on distance control and accuracy, this club is a fantastic option. It’s also a great choice for those amateurs who struggle with 460cc drivers.”
TaylorMade are offering two versions of the SLDR S Mini. A standard model (RRP £199) in either 12, 14 or 16°, fitted with a light, driver-weighted Fujikura Speeder 57 shaft or a TP model (RRP £249) which is available in the same size and lofts but with a 3-wood Fujikura Motore Speeder 7.3 shaft.
The Speeder 57 shaft is the same as the mid-high launching one featured on the original SLDR driver, whilst the Speeder 7.3 TP shaft has a slightly smaller tip size and heavier swingweight.