TaylorMade has been making a lot of variations to their Spider putter range for their tour players recently, resulting in products like the TaylorMade Spider Tour Putter that I reviewed.
As usual Tour players like to tinker and after several variations on that design, we now also have the TaylorMade Spider Mini putter.
As the name suggests the Mini has a 15% smaller head than the Spider Tour, but most of that comes off the rear of the putter where the two 'rocket pods' look like they have been lopped off.
They have been replaced on the back by two steel weights that are cast directly into each side of the head in order to keep the high MOI forgiveness of the Spider design in a more compact head.
I say more compact, but closer inspection reveals that the faces are actually both the same width and it is only really the back half of the putter that has been reduced in size.
This has a couple of benefits in that the head seems a little easier to control and you don't feel you a wielding a small pan lid on a stick by comparison.
Also with the weights being further back on the Spider Tour I was finding I was getting more skidding at impact, probably because I tend to add loft with my stroke and the deeper CG of the Tour doesn't really help with that. With the Mini the CG is closer to the face so that gave a better roll for me, even though both models have 3° of loft on them.
When I first took it out the box I thought the Spider Mini was going to be too small and just for better players, but when I was out on the putting green I found it to be equally as forgiving and just as consistent, if not more so, than the Tour.
This may in part be due to the better Pure Roll insert in the Mini which is thicker and made out of aluminium rather than the surlyn version in the Tour.
At last TaylorMade seem to have made an insert that sounds and feels as good as the rest of the inserts in the market and the grooves on the face combine to give it a good roll and a nice positive sound.
There is also a new alignment line on top called the T-Sightline, which probably didn't strain the marketing team too much.
It probably won't strain your eyes either and I like it because it combines the long alignment line pointing at the target with a horizontal line parallel to the face to assist with lining up.
With the more compact style of head it seemed to encourage you to be more accurate with your strike, but in actual fact, the head is more forgiving than you think.
The Spider Mini comes with a SuperStroke Pistol GTR 1.0 grip branded up with the TaylorMade style and is a mid-sized grip that I think most golfers will like.
It sits on a classy looking smoke coloured steel shaft that features a 3/4 hosel bend offset in order to create that face balanced head.
Lately there have been a lot of high MOI mallets that are being downsized and tweaked to appeal to better players. The benefits of a face balanced, or near face balanced, head with higher MOI and more forgiveness than a blade style putter offers the best of both worlds and is enticing those who are already good at putting to the Spider range, rather than those who need the high MOI benefits.
The Spider Mini fits right into this sector and for better players who can putt it is probably the first model TaylorMade has done in a while that is worth considering, even if it is a little on the pricey side.
The shape is a little functional and compared to the Spider Tour it seems like it has had its tail docked, but it is a clean and tidy design that comes in the matt Tour Red shown here or a Diamond Silver finish with a black T-Sightline.
I like the look of the Spider Mini and the alignment lines really draws your focus to the strike of the ball and combined with that better aluminium insert creates a putter that may also surprise you with how well it performs.