It’s not that the new TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver is designed to be a better driver for some elite players. It’s that it’s designed to be a smarter club—and maybe for more players than you think.
With of course plenty of horsepower.
While the club pays subtle homage to TaylorMade’s 40th anniversary this year with graphics on this new head including “Original One” and “Pittsburgh Persimmon” that refer to early nicknames for the company’s first metalwoods, this new Mini Driver is chock-a-block with forward-thinking technology. That includes the use of multiple materials, a face-flex enhancing sole slot, an adjustable hosel and optimized face curvature (“Twist Face”) to bring mishits closer to the center line. The Original One Mini Driver is TaylorMade’s third version of a club that bridges the gap between oversized drivers and a 3-wood that might not provide the ideal solution for some players. That includes most recently the Aeroburner Mini Driver from 2015.
“Since we did the Aeroburner we’ve come a long way technology-wise,” said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade’s senior director of product creation for metalwoods. “There are a lot of cool new things that we were able to put into this club.
“We’ve had some success withe mini driver before but it’s never been a massive commercial opportunity, let’s be honest. This is not for everyone. But for the people that like this kind of club, this is potentially a game-changer.”
The Mini Driver offers an alternative to better players looking for a backup driver that provides a shorter, more controllable shaft length, especially those who rarely have a need to hit a 3-wood off the deck.
“This is a club for a player who wants something more forgiving and easier to hit off the tee than a 3-wood, but something you can still potentially hit off the deck when you need to,” Bystedt said. He noted that the Original One Mini Driver is going to have a moment of inertia (forgiveness on off-center hits) that measures more than a third higher than a typical 3-wood and close to what some oversized drivers were not that long ago. “Compared to driver off the deck this is going to be a lot easier to do.”
But Bystedt isn’t shutting the door for other players who might be intrigued by the advantages the Original One Mini Driver might have over standard drivers and 3-woods, even for average golfers. Its 43 3/4-inch shaft and 275 cubic centimeter head might feel more comfortable for some players who aren’t winning long-drive competitions.
“The other use case is really the average golfer who might have trouble controlling a standard driver where the club is too long and they really can’t square it up that easily, and they just need more height and more spin to really have a playable shot off the tee,” Bystedt said. “And a lot of times this player doesn’t hit 3-wood off the deck anyway because that club for them is just too hard to hit. So you might as well take 3-wood out of the bag completely, and use this as option off the tee and then off the deck use a 5-wood or higher to advance ball down the fairway.”
The keys to the Orignal One Mini Driver are its use of a lightweight carbon composite crown and a 50-gram heavy steel sole plate. Combined with the titanium body and thin titanium face (which also features the company’s variable thickness “inverted cone” design), that allows for a lower center of gravity for high launch and low spin, two universal elements for more distance compared to past Mini Driver models. He said the center of gravity on the Original One is about 30 percent lower than on some 460cc drivers.
“We’re able to get the CG so low that we were able to put the adjustable hosel in without sacrificing CG,” Bystedt said, referencing the hosel sleeve that allows the loft to be adjusted plus or minus two degrees.
The Original One Mini Driver will be offered in two lofts (11.5, 13.5) and will be in stores in May ($400).