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TaylorMade “MiniDriver” hits USGA Conforming List

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TaylorMade’s much rumored SLDR “MiniDriver” has finally made its way onto the USGA List of Conforming Club Heads.

The club, which is expected to be unveiled around the time of The Masters, is listed with a loft of 12 degrees. That loft and its head size, which sources say measures roughly 250 cubic centimeters, indicates that the club will be TaylorMade’s first entry into the growing trend of high-COR “driving fairway woods.”

“We frequently test new technologies and concepts,” said Dave Cordero, a TaylorMade Golf Spokesperson, in an email. “The SLDR mini driver is an exciting product that was designed based on tour player feedback and requests. We look forward to testing with them in the coming weeks.”

If the SLDR MiniDriver comes to market, which it is expected, it will be a direct competitor to Callaway’s X2Hot 2Deep, the 2014 version of the club Phil Mickelson used as a driver in route to his 2013 Scottish and British Open victories. It will also compete against Ping’s new Rapture fairway wood, which measures 219 cc and has a titanium construction.

While the MiniDriver carries the SLDR name, the photos show that the club is more similar to TaylorMade’s SLDR fairway woods than the SLDR driver, as it does not have a sliding adjustable weight in the front of its sole. The club also appears to have a fixed hosel, meaning that it will not have the adjustable features of the SLDR driver, fairway woods and hybrids.

The black-and-white photo also shows that the SLDR MiniDriver may have a white-painted crown like TaylorMade’s R11, R11S, RBZ Stage 2 and R1 metalwood lines.

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In early February, a 3D-printed model of the MiniDriver was posted  in our forum (pictured above) by member bruinsPATSirish. That club showed two adjustable weight ports on the front of the club, the company “Speed Pocket” and an adjustable hosel. While similarities exist between the clubs, it appears that the MiniDriver is something different than the 3D-printed model.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Pingback: Taylormade Mini SLDR Driver - Eighteen Under Par

  2. golfingbadger

    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Grasping @ straws…just a marketing exercise in response to the callaway pressure.

    • Tim

      Mar 24, 2014 at 12:14 am

      I agree… how come we never see a head to head comparison to the hottest known fairways like the Tour Edge Exotics..?

  3. Jack

    Feb 26, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    rule: if hitting the fairway on a certain hole is paramount hit either wood or iron and never a driver. once your golfing brain gets that simple rule your handicap will come down by 4 strokes guaranteed. a wood sized club head fitted with a driver shaft won’t do the trick if your golfing smartness is not up for it.

  4. Gregg

    Feb 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Buy a 10* Ping TiSi, have your favorite shaft put in it with the hosel of your choice and call it good. You’ll have the perfect size driver at around 12* of loft.

  5. Scans

    Feb 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    In 2008 I was frustrated with my bad driving. It occurred to me that when I needed to hit a straight drive I (and most people) hit my 3 wood. So why was I hitting a 10.5* driver? I went out and bought a 13.5* Taylormade Burner driver with a stiff shaft. Since then my driving has become one of the best things about my game. I don’t even think I’ve lost any distance and am very straight. While this new TM driver might be a good idea for some, I still prefer the larger 460 head. It’s all about forgivness. Try it, you’ll like it…..

  6. Michael C

    Feb 25, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I agree with the comments that higher MOI is always better but take for example the modern high MOI putters out there, are they more stable than the putters most of use? of course they are, then why do we not all use them? Because to our eye they are too large and unruly.
    They same can be said of a driver to many golfers. As driver heads have grown in size over the years so too has driver length to the point where the length is uncontrollable for the average golfer. “Cut your driver down in length” I hear you say, and I myself recently have done just that and in doing so have regained some control but at the shorter length the 460cc head looks and feels enormous much like some of those high MOI putters.
    I played quite a bit of golf as a teenager and the strongest part of my game was my driving, then when I returned to the game after a 12 year gap I purchased new equipment 460cc driver included. Over the past 3 years I have tried numerous drivers but can’t fine the old accuracy and even length I had years ago. I recently dug out that old steel headed steel shafted driver to check the specs of it. 43.5″ long, approx. 250cc head.
    I for one am looking forward to trying the new “mini” drivers which in my opinion will play at the correct length for a driver and in turn have an appropriate head size for that length.

  7. ND Hickman

    Feb 25, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Speaking as someone who uses the Callaway XHot 3 Deep 13 degree that Phil Mickelson used so effectively last year, I can honestly say I’m not surprised to see more companies follow this trend (which was probably kicked off by Cobra for their Long Tom 2 Wood). I’ve managed to carry 280 with mine on numerous occasion’s and I’ve even hit a few over 300 yards.

    • hebron1427

      Mar 6, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      the trend was kicked off by mickelson using a modified RBZ as his driver at the beginning of last year. that pushed callaway to make SOMETHING that fit phil’s eye. once that was on the market, everyone else said “let’s do that too.”

  8. Chuck

    Feb 24, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    The article references “high COR.” I’m not sure what that means.

    The current test for spring-like effects with drivers is actually CT (characteristic time), not CoR (coefficient of restitution). My understanding is that CT testing applies to all driving clubs and driving clubs are defined as less than 15 degrees of loft.

    How could a driver, albeit a ‘small driver,’ be allowed to exceed any CT testing standards?

  9. NG

    Feb 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I think a few of you are getting this all wrong, it’s more of a fairway wood rather than a driver esp. when it’s stated who the direct competitor clubs will be…

  10. notsohard

    Feb 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    old things become new again…we use to hit small persimmon drivers of the deck constantly, and now Taylormade are the tech gurus???? marketing hype for the modern golfer who has been brainwashed to upgrade every material possesion every 6-12 months.

  11. Justin

    Feb 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    This better come in lefty haha.

  12. Dwaine Ingarfield

    Feb 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I think you are still better getting all the MOI of a 460 cc head. Get a high lofted driver, add some lead tape and cut down to 43 inches.

  13. Bean

    Feb 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Non-adjustable? Is this headed straight to Dick’s Sporting Goods at a sub $150 price point? The weight saved from no slider could have put to good use with adjustment functionality.

  14. James

    Feb 24, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Welcome back 2 woods. Basically what these are though probably easier to hit and less spin.

  15. AZ Golfman

    Feb 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Higher MOI is always better. This trend makes no sense. I think it makes more sense to cut your driver down to 43.5 or 44 vs. going with a small head driver.

    • mike

      Feb 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Like the looks of small drivers better than this bjg shovels that exists now.

    • Jebbadiah6

      Feb 25, 2014 at 1:54 am

      High moi makes it it harder to shape the ball which for taylormade seems to be what they are trying to allow there tour players to do for the masters.

  16. llamont

    Feb 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I remember when the 250cc Great Big Bertha and the 250cc TMAG Burner Bubble Titanium were considered “jumbo-sized” heads. Now 250cc is a “mini”. Lol

    • Mike

      Feb 25, 2014 at 3:58 am

      I had the original Wilson Killer Whale. It was huge!!!

  17. Big_5_Hole

    Feb 24, 2014 at 11:55 am

    TM had a “Fairway Driver” back in the early 90’s that was a great club off the tee. What’s old is new again……

    http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTAwMFg3NDY=/z/Rz0AAOxy4dNS9jnS/$_35.JPG

  18. LorenRobertsFan

    Feb 24, 2014 at 11:52 am

    The farther you hit a club, the more offline it can be. That’s the reason you’d hit a 3 wood rather than a driver from a tee. This trend of fairway drivers doesn’t make sense

    • Westphi

      Feb 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Just another product to sell for those who can’t play golf and think spending more money will improve their game by leaps and bounds…

      • KYGolfer

        Feb 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

        Yeah because Phil Mickelson “can’t play golf”

      • Holyfenix

        Feb 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

        Its more like another product to keep golf equipment interested for the masses. Just because there are basketball shoes or soccer cleats out already does that mean they should stop trying to innovate. No innovation means stagnation which is bad for the golf industry.

    • TheLegend

      Feb 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      I was thinking the same thing.

    • paul

      Feb 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Courses I play promote a club like this. My driver only fades. I would love a long club off the tee and deck that I could work both ways(but draw easily). This one fits the bill. I saw a 3deep used for only $130. Mint shape, correct shaft for me, pretty tempting…

      • ND Hickman

        Feb 25, 2014 at 7:35 am

        Paul, if I can offer advice I would say buy that 3 Deep! I play the 13 degree version and it’s pretty impressive. I tend to fade drivers but I seem to be able to shape the 3 Deep whichever way I want.

    • ND Hickman

      Feb 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

      From personal experience, I would say that the smaller the clubs head is, the easier it is to shape the ball. I play a 430cc driver head because I find 460 to be too much. To each their own.

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Equipment

Members’ Choice: The top-5 drivers that golfers want to test in 2018

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Golf’s “off-season” is upon us and the PGAM Show in Orlando is quickly approaching in January, which means it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming driver releases.

We’ve seen a few companies launch their “2018” lines already — such as Cobra with its new King F8 and F8+ — while speculation swirls around the companies who have yet to announce their newest products. For instance, we’ve spotted a new “TaylorMade M4″ driver, and a new “Rogue” driver from Callaway. If history repeats itself and Titleist remains on a two-year product cycle, then we’ll see a replacement for the 917 line sometime in 2018, as well.

The question we posed to our GolfWRX Members recently was, which new or unreleased driver has you most excited heading into 2018? Below are the results and a selection of comments about each driver.

Click here to join the discussion!

Note: The comments below have been minimally edited for brevity and grammar. 

Titleist (7.39 percent of votes)

BDoubleG: I know it’s well down the road, but the Titleist 919 is what I’m most looking forward to. I played the 910 until this year and loved it, but I realized that I wasn’t getting much in the way of distance gains with the 915/917, and I was just leaving too many yards on the table. I know it’s a cliche, but I was seeing considerable gains with my G400LS, then my M2 I have now.

I feel like Titleist has been hurting in the driver market share category (and probably elsewhere), as I think a lot of people think that the 913, 915 and 917 have been minor refreshes in a world where almost everyone else has been experimenting with structure (jailbreak, turbulators) or with COG (spaceports, SLDR, G-series extreme back CG). I think if Titleist is going to recapture some of their market share, they will need to start taking an interest in stepping outside of their comfort zone to catch up with everyone else. Maybe I’m hoping for too much, but a D2-style head with ample forgiveness and low-spin (maybe a back-front weight), with the same great sound of the 917, and hopefully getting rid of the “battery taped to the sole” look would be a huge hit in my book.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with…and I hope I’m not disappointed.

Mizuno GT-180 or otherwise (8.87 percent of votes)

mrmikeac: After thoroughly testing the Mizuno ST-180 and seeing the distance gains I was getting from my Epic, I can’t wait for the GT to get here. Cobra would be next in line for me, but Mizzy really did something special with that JPX-900 and it seems to look like they’re going the same route with these drivers. Excellent feel, forgiveness and simple but effective tech. 

Callaway Rogue, Rogue Sub Zero or otherwise (17.73 percent of votes)

cvhookem63: It seems like we’re not getting a lot of “NEW” this time — just some same lines “improved” on a little. I’m interested to try the Rogue line and M3/M4 line to see if they improved on their previous models. The Cobra F8+ is intriguing to me, as well. I’d like to compare those three to see how they stack up. 

tj7644: Callaway Rogue. It’s gotta make me hit straighter drives right? It sure can’t be my swing…

Equipto: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero, and that’s about it. Most of my testing will be with shafts I presume. 

bangabain: Excited to give the Rogue a shot, although with the hope that there’s a little more fade bias despite the lack of sliding weight.

TaylorMade M3, M4 or otherwise (27.09 percent of votes)

DeCuchi: TaylorMade M3 of course, and the F8+. I’m more interested in the fairways this year though. TaylorMade M4 fairways and Rogue fairways are top of my list. 

elwhippy: TaylorMade M3 and M4. Not owned a TM driver for several seasons and want something with a bit more power than the Ping G Series…

cradd10: M3. Still rocking an OG M1. Super solid driver. Curious to see if the updated version can beat it. 

Cobra F8/F8+ (33.66 percent of votes)

WAxORxDCxSC: I sure want to like the F8 based on looks (I understand I’m possibly in the minority on that one at GolfWRX).

TWshoot67: For me, it’s three drivers: the Cobra F8, F8+ and TM M4. 

The General: Cobra F8 is going to dominate everything, just wait, on the F8

Ace2000: Definitely F8/F8+. Love my Bio Cell+ and can’t help but wonder if these perform as good as they look. 

Click here to join the discussion!

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Equipment

True Linkswear goes back to its spikeless roots

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True Linkswear is getting back to its roots, while expanding the singular golf shoe brand’s reach at the same time.

The Tacoma, Washington, company’s Director/Partner, Justin Turner, told us that with the release of the two new models, the company is course-correcting from a move toward the mainstream, spiked golf shoes, and a loss of identity.

In addition to durability issues, Turner said the core True Linkswear customer didn’t appreciate the shift — or the deluge of models that followed.

So, in a sense, the two-model lineup both throws a bone to True devotees and casts a wider net.

Turner and company asked: “If we wanted to restart the brand….what would we value?” A commitment to the brand’s core outsider identity, style as articulated in early models, and an emphasis on quality led Turner on multiple trips to China to survey suppliers in early 2017. Eventually, the company settled on a manufacturing partner with a background in outdoor gear and hiking shoes.

“We’ve spent the last few years scouring the globe for the best material sourcing, reputable factories, advanced construction techniques, and time-tested fundamentals to build our best shoes yet. No cheap synthetics, no corners cut.”

Eventually, True settled on two designs: The Original, which, not surprisingly, has much in common with the zero-drop 2009 industry disrupting model, and the Outsider: a more athletic-style shoe positioned to attract a broader audience.

True Linkswear Original: $149

The company emphasizes the similarity in feel between the Original and early True Linkswear models, suggesting that players will feel and connect to the course “in a whole new way.”

  • Gray, White, Black colorways
  • Waterproof full grain leather
  • Thin sole with classic True zero-drop heel
  • 12.1 oz
  • Sockfit liner for comfort
  • Natural width box toe

True Linkswear Outsider: $169

With the Outsider, True Linkswear asked: “What if a golf shoe could be more? Look natural in more environments?”

  • Grey/navy, black, white colorways
  • EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning
  • Full grain waterproof leather
  • 13.1 oz (thicker midsole than the Original)

The company envisions both shoes being worn on course and off.

True Linkswear introduced the more durable and better-performing Cross Life Tread with both models. Turner says the tread is so good, you can wear the shoes hiking.

Both models are available now through the company website only. True Linkswear plans to enter retail shops slowly and selectively.

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Equipment

Sean O’Hair and Steve Stricker’s Winning WITBs from the 2017 QBE Shootout

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The team of Steve Stricker and Sean O’Hair closed the QBE Shootout with an 8-under 64 for a two-shot win over Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. O’Hair made a timely eagle on the par-5 17th hole at Tiburon Golf Club to lock up the first place prize of $820,000 ($410,000 each).

Here’s a look at their bags.

Sean O’Hair

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White Prototype 60TX

3 Wood: Titleist 917F2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana S+ Limited Edition 70TX

5 Wood: Titleist 915F (18 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana S+ Limited Edition 80TX

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4-iron), Titleist 718 AP2 (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 prototype (50, 54 and 58 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron prototype

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Related: Sean O’Hair WITB

Steve Stricker

Driver: Titleist 913D3 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 8.2X

3 Wood: Titleist 915F (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 80TX Prototype

Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 (17.0 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 9.2X

Irons: Titleist 718 CB (3-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour Prototype

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM6 (46, 54 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 w/ Sensicore

Putter: Odyssey White Hot 2

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Related: Steve Stricker WITB 2017

Note: We originally reported Stricker had a Scotty Cameron putter in the bag, per Titleist’s equipment report. Stricker did, however, have a Odyssey White Hot putter in play during the final round of the QBE Shootout.

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