TaylorMade created a niche product with a cult following when it introduced its first Mini driver five years ago, and a check of the USGA's conforming list Monday suggests another version is in the offing. The USGA lists a new TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver, a club that includes some throwback nomenclature and graphics to go along with what looks to be elements of some of its most current technology platforms.
The "Original One" phrasing was tagged on TaylorMade's first metalwoods, which were introduced 40 years ago with the founding of the company. If it adheres to the platform of past TaylorMade "mini" drivers, this new club will be in the sub-300 cubic centimeter head size, decidedly smaller than the USGA limit of 460cc. Previously, TaylorMade introduced the SLDR Mini in 2014 at 260cc, and followed that up with the Aeroburner Mini in 2015 at 253cc.
The oversized fairway wood/downsized driver was an option pursued by some better players with high swing speeds looking for a fairway-finding backup driver that also could be hit off the ground. The concept of these tweener clubs was popular at the time, with both Callaway and Ping introducing options. One of its more notable proponents was Phil Mickelson, who famously used an oversized, low-lofted, custom created Callaway X Hot "Phrankenwood" at several majors and won his 2013 British Open with Callaway's X Hot 3 Deep, a 13-degree oversized fairway wood bent to 12 degrees.
Although TaylorMade is mum on the details of its new club, the Original One Mini Driver seems to include some of the company's current technology. From the images of the club on the USGA website, that includes a sole slot, or what the company calls a "Speed Pocket," which is designed to improve the way the face flexes, especially on impacts below the center line. The club, which according to the USGA site will be available in 11.5- and 13.5-degree lofts, appears to have an adjustable hosel. The USGA site also indicates the club will feature the phrase "Twist Face." That's likely a reference to company's trademark face curvature technology where the upper toe portion curves more open while the lower heel portion curves more closed. It's a technology TaylorMade introduced with the M3 and M4 drivers in 2017 and expanded to include on the company's M5 and M6 fairway woods this year. The new Mini Driver also will be labeled with the phrase "Pittsburgh Persimmon," another of the nicknames for the early TaylorMade drivers.
More details are expected in the coming weeks.