What’s It All About?
I am known for my driving accuracy and if I remember correctly, I haven’t missed a fairway since 2004. So when I was asked to review the new TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver I did wonder if Golfalot had got the wrong Sophie.
However with my new philosophy of using driver off the deck, I thought maybe I could find use for this club. Who knows, I might be able to increase my fairway accuracy percentage into the 90s!
This club is a celebration of the 40 year anniversary of the company, when the 1979 Pittsburgh Persimmon was billed as the original metalwood.
The Mini Driver suggests that TaylorMade feels amateur golfers could take inspiration from tour players such as Henrik Stenson and Ariya Jutanugarn, who are almost exclusive fairway wood users from the tee. It is their first foray back in to the Mini Driver market since the release of the Aeroburner back in 2015, which you can read our review of here.
I appreciate I am in the minority when it comes to having a loving, committed, trustworthy relationship with my driver. Most golfers who enquire about tips or lessons ask me for advice on driving the ball. My 'Taming Your Driver' masterclass at The Range, where I teach, is over-subscribed!
I often hear “if I could just drop my ball 220 yards down the middle of the fairway I’d be happy”, or “I would sacrifice length for accuracy”.
This club is aimed at these players - the golfers who don’t have confidence with the big stick, or often even leave the club in the boot of the car.
In 1979, golf was changed forever with the introduction of the Pittsburgh Persimmon - the original metalwood. For the past 40 years, TaylorMade has continued that legacy of innovation with game-changing technologies, engineered to help golfers perform at their best.
The Original One Mini Driver incorporates the heritage of innovation with key performance technologies, packed into a confidence-inspiring shape that delivers on distance, forgiveness and accuracy.
With a club that essentially sits in its own place within the metal wood category, there were a couple of different tests I wanted to perform in order to see if, and how, the Original One could benefit golfers' games.
I took the Mini Driver down to The Range, hitting fifteen shots with it on the Foresight GC2 monitor and measured both shot and club head data, to compare against my existing PXG 0811X Gen 2 Driver, which I again I hit fifteen tee shots with.
I also ventured out into the rain at Sale Golf Club for some on-course testing, as I wanted to see how the Mini Driver would perform in real-life conditions too. The idea of this club is that it should help with consistency off the tee whilst also being an option from the fairway. Let's see how it got on...
TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver Review
I am used to having a matte finish on my woods so this club immediately appealed to me, and I think the overall design of the black carbon composite crown is really good too.
The TaylorMade symbol on the crown of the head also fits in with my preference of an alignment aid to ensure that I am lined up correctly.
The 275cc head looks more like a 3 wood head than a small driver, and the shaft being 43.75 inches appeals to me as I am only 5’4.
Gripping down a couple of inches on the shaft, it felt perfectly manageable and I was confident that I was swinging the driver, not the other way around!
The strike felt really solid and I felt confident with it straight away. As expected, the dispersion was better than my own driver, and I could feel the Twist Face technology working to help keep the ball flying straighter even on those slightly off-centre hits.
Distance-wise the mini driver was averaging a total distance of 226 yards, whereas my driver was reaching 226 yards in carry alone.
The mini driver is higher lofted and has a shorter shaft so even without all the technology built into make it more forgiving and accurate it will do all of this automatically. This was proven as I was averaging just 4 yards off the centre line with the mini driver.
As you'd expect from the shorter club with the higher loft, I was also getting more spin with less ball speed than with a driver, and the mini driver was going around 3 yards higher off the tee thanks to a higher launch angle.
I felt more comfortable shaping the mini driver than a normal driver and the club face felt very stable on the lower tee, which I think is a good tip for amateur golfers who struggle off the tee to try for more control.
If you are to go for this club, I would recommend doing a little bit of experimentation with different tee heights to find what works best for you. Driver height feels a little high and 3 wood height feels a little low. In the end I leant more towards 3 wood height as I wanted to avoid the high, spinny shot (which is my weakness).
I knew straight away that this club was never going to compete with my driver off the tee. I’m very happy with hitting driver and don’t need to be in more control of it, especially not when it comes at the expense of distance.
Whilst gathering data I realised that this club might work for me off the deck and replace my 3 wood, so I was keen to take it out on the course. The head didn’t feel too big for hitting the ball from the tight fairways and I thought “this is where I see the benefits”.
I have a strong lofted 3 wood which is almost forced this way. In contrast, this club is built to be 12/13 degrees and the addition of the Speed Pocket really helped in achieving easy launch and ball speed with minimal effort, even with the lower strike location from the fairway. My struggle to find a strong 3 wood for certain conditions may be over.
If you want this club to act as a driver replacement then you can lower the loft down to 11.5°, for a stronger 3 wood you can leave it in the standard 13.5° setting, or you can even bump it up as high as 15.5° if you're looking for that extra launch.
TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver Verdict
This is a niche club which suits two types of golfer - the first is a golfer who has fallen out of love with their driver and lost all confidence. This may also be somebody who hates the big headed drivers and wants to go back to the 'good old days'.
The second is somebody like me who needs power and length at the top of their bag. I struggle to find a 3 wood which performs exactly how I want it to from the tee and from the fairway.
I want a low lofted fairway wood as I generally hit it high and with a little too much spin, especially on my bad shots. I am very comfortable hitting strong woods from a tight lie, so if this sounds like you then it could be well worth testing.
At the end of the day however, despite its potential benefits as a souped-up fairway wood, TaylorMade are marketing this as a driver, and it doesn't get close to mine.
Would I Use It?
I would never replace my driver with the Original One, but as a player who struggles to settle with just one 3 wood I would consider this one for long golf courses, and possibly links courses where length is more advantageous than height.
- Dispersion is better than with a driver
- Still usable from the fairway
- Glove-style headcovers aren't my preferred choice
- It doesn’t go as far a normal sized, lower lofted driver
- Spin rates were too high from the tee
- The name .... what’s all that about?!