Golf has a reputation for being very traditional in nature and changes in the sport take time.
Whether it’s playing golf with a Bluetooth speaker, making hoodies “acceptable” golf attire, or subbing out long irons for hybrids. It usually takes some time for a “traditionalist” type player to make these types of switches (if they ever happen).
When it comes to equipment, players are more likely to accept change faster because everyone is looking for an edge in this complex sport. In the past few decades, hybrids, utility irons, cavity back wedges, and other equipment have made the game easier.
While driver and fairway wood technology has changed to help increase distance and forgiveness, the setup of clubs remains the same. Most players still carry a driver, 3W, and 5W (or hybrid) to complete the longest clubs in their bag.
But a new club is starting to mix up the traditional long game setup and it’s known as a mini driver.
If you’ve ever wondered, “What is a mini driver in golf?” Then this article is for you as we’ll break down this new club and see how it might help your tee ball game.
Mini Drivers 101
So, what is a mini driver? Is it a strong 3-wood? 2-wood? Or something different entirely.
TaylorMade put these clubs on the map with their version of a mini driver. As they like to say, it’s “Mini and mighty as power comes in all shapes and sizes.”
Here’s how TaylorMade described the club, “The compact 300 Mini Driver relies on advanced multi-material construction to deliver the optimal blend of low-CG performance and high MOI forgiveness. Resulting in a truly unique design that’s powerful off the tee and playable “off-the-deck.”
While other companies have drivers that are smaller than 460CC, we don’t necessarily consider them “mini drivers.” Sure, they’re smaller than most new drivers but they are still meant to be used off the tee.
A great example is the Titleist Tsi4, which has a smaller, 425cc clubhead. But if a club is 425-440 vs. 460cc, it’s still a club that is meant to be hit off the tee, not from the deck.
Plus, a lot of companies make a driver that is slightly smaller than 460cc for elite ballstrikers. The smaller, pear shaped design makes it easier to shape shots in either direction vs. a larger, more oversized clubhead.
Now, let’s get into the details of this unique club.
Mini Driver Loft and Clubhead
The first thing to discuss is the loft.
Normal golf drivers range from 7-11.5 degrees, depending on the make and model of the club. Most amateurs can benefit from more loft (at least 10 degrees) to help improve ball speed and carry distance. While more elite players like Bryson DeChambeau need less loft to offset their high ball speeds.
A mini driver loft is between 11.5-13.5 degrees. In the case of the TaylorMade, you can choose from 11.5 or 13.5 degrees based on personal preference.
This loft is close to the same as a strong 3-wood. For example, the TaylorMade Stealth Plus fairway has two 3 wood options, 15 and 13.5 degrees. While the loft is the same between the 3-wood and the mini, the head is drastically different.
The mini driver is much larger at 307cc – compared to a normal driver which is 460cc (the maximum size allowed by the USGA). The Stealth Plus fairway is 175cc, which is nearly half as small and very noticeable at address position.
Despite the loft being the same, the mini-driver will go much longer due to more mass behind the ball. This is similar to a 3-wood and hybrid that are both 19 degrees for example. In a distance dual, the club with more mass (in this example the fairway wood) will win.
The other factor that helps the mini driver go longer is the shaft length. This Mini Driver from TaylorMade offers shorter shaft lengths at 43.75 inches long (regardless of the loft you choose).
While the 3-wood is an even shorter shaft at 43.25 inches. Shorter shafts mean more control but less total distance.
When to Use Mini Driver
A mini driver is great for golfers in two specific types of shots; tight fairways and off the deck on par 5s.
Tee Shots on Tight Holes
Don’t you hate those holes that are so tight it feels like finding the fairway is impossible? Whether you hit 3 wood or driver, sometimes you can’t find the short grass if your life depends on it.
But a mini driver is the perfect solution.
Since it has more loft than normal, it should make it easier to hit it straight and improve accuracy. While it won’t go quite as far as a traditional driver due to the extra loft and smaller clubhead, it will still go further than a 3-wood. Plus, most golfers will find the accuracy to be much better too.
If you play a lot of tree-lined courses or just struggle with your driver in general, the mini-driver is a great alternative.
Driver off the Deck
Another benefit to mini drivers is that you can hit them off the deck much easier than a normal driver. If you’ve ever attempted to hit a large, oversized 460cc head off the deck, you know it’s a challenge. Since the sweet spot is higher up (and meant to be hit off a tee), it’s hard even for PGA Tour players.
With a mini-driver it’s much easier as the club is smaller, with a shorter shaft, and more loft. It’s great to use for your second shot to par 5s to get yourself in good position to make birdie (or even an eagle). The turf interaction is so much better than a normal driver thanks to the shaft length and clubhead design.
This fairway finder is also a great club for higher handicappers compared to a standard driver. Most golfers struggle with a driver more than any club in the bag due to the long shaft and lower loft.
But mini drivers are a great alternative as the smaller head size, shorter shaft, and excellent forgiveness will help many golfers. Finding fairways can help improve your confidence and hopefully lead to better scores on the course.
Plus, it’s better than constantly hitting three wood on most holes. Since you get nearly as much ball speed thanks to a longer shaft length, it’s a better club for higher handicappers.
TaylorMade 300 Mini Driver
TaylorMade is the only company currently making mini drivers (as of 2022). This club pays respect to the original 300 driver released in 2001 – which goes to show how much drivers have increased in size in the last two decades.
As mentioned above, the “mighty” driver is very forgiving and versatile. Whether you want to hit it off the tee to find a narrow fairway and trouble or hit it off the deck, this club can make it happen.
Like other TaylorMade clubs, it offers “Twist Face” technology which helps increase accuracy with every swing. It also has Thru-Slot technology that helps increase ball speeds for higher launch and lower spin for longer distance.
It also has an adjustable loft sleeve to make this club even more versatile. You can tweak the club as needed to improve trajectory and flight bias plus or minus two degrees.
Finally, this club comes with a Mitsubishi Proto 65 shaft, which is available in regular or stiff flex. Sadly, there are no extra-stiff or lite options available and you only get to choose from one stock shaft. But it is finely tuned for this driver with mid-low spin and mid-launch which makes it easier to hit from the deck.
FAQs About Mini Drivers
Do you have more questions about mini drivers?
If so, make sure to check out our frequently asked questions to find out more. It might be the club you need to find more fairways and become more consistent off the tee.
Are mini golf drivers any good?
A mini driver is a great solution for some players. If you’re the type of golfer that struggles with hitting driver consistently and want to hit more fairways, a mini-driver is a great idea.
Do pros use mini drivers?
Phil Mickelson is one of the few pros to use these types of golf clubs in competition. He’s used two drivers in other tournaments in order to find a golf club that would get him playing from the short grass more often. Something most golfers can relate to.
According to Golfweek, he used the club in the 2021 US Open at Torrey Pines. Phil Mickelson was quoted as saying, “I call it a 2-wood, but it’s a mini driver. I think at least half, if not a fraction more, of (my) tee shots will be with that club just because the way the fairways are a little bit firmer than Farmers.”
In general, I don’t think these clubs are geared for better players as the smaller clubhead size will limit distance. Plus, most elite players don’t need to hit a club 270+ into par 5s either.
Does anyone make a mini driver?
TaylorMade is the main creator of the mini driver. While a lot of golf club manufacturers offer smaller drivers, none are near the 307CC size of the TaylorMade. This club pays homage to the past model from 20+ years ago but gives players a great alternative to strong three woods.
What companies make a mini driver?
The main company to make the mini driver is TaylorMade. I’m actually surprised that more companies haven’t created something similar as it’s been very popular with golfers worldwide.
Does Callaway have mini drivers?
Unfortunately, Callaway does not have mini drivers. Their newest driver is the Rogue ST Max series which has won numerous awards and one of the most popular drivers available. Click here to read our full review of the Callaway Rogue ST Max drivers now.
How far can you hit a mini driver?
How far you can hit a driver (or mini driver) depends on swing speed more than anything else. Loft also plays a factor as the 11.5 degree model will go much further than the 13.5 degree model. Plus, if you change the loft even more with the adjustable sleeve, it will also impact distance.
Mini drivers can be a great addition to your golf game if you need some more accuracy and control but it’s not for everyone.