Best Mini Drivers And Small Head Drivers

Written by Michael VanDerLaan 


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Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood … the list goes on of names who have tried bag setups including a new club - the mini driver - in the past couple of years. What is this club? Is it a two wood? Is it the same thing as a 1990s driver? Can you hit it off the deck? Why are TOUR players doing this? And maybe most importantly - what are the best small head drivers on the market?

Let’s take a look together and end the guesswork by answering all the above questions, and more, in our definitive guide to the “mini driver” and other smaller headed drivers.

Best overall

Taylormade BRNR Mini Driver

Taylormade BRNR mini driver

best for control

Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond Small Head Driver

Callaway Paradym Triple diamond driver

most versatile

Thomas Golf AT Hybrid Driver

Thomas Golf AT 705 hybrid driver

What Is Considered A Small Head Driver

Small Head Driver and golf ball

The maximum size club head allowed by the rules of golf is 460cc. The majority of modern drivers on the market utilize this full allowance of the law in their designs, attempting to maximize strike area and forgiveness.

There is another subset of drivers that are tailored for the “better player” that shave just a few CC off - down to 450 or 440cc’s. These clubs are generally lumped in with “normal” drivers but with just a slightly smaller head.

What Are Mini Drivers

True “mini drivers” are going to measure closer to 300cc’s, sometimes into the lower 200cc’s, anywhere from ½ to 2/3rds the size of a full-size driver. These clubs are reminiscent of older (early 1990s) steel head drivers in size and shape, but are manufactured to different weight specs and have a lot more advantages built into the face and offer adjustability, amongst other improvements over their historical look-alikes.

Why Use A Small Head Driver?

Golfer Using A Small Head Driver

Small-headed drivers have become “en vogue” with players increasing their club head speeds steadily and manufacturers searching for any angle they can to keep the ball on the course when met with faster and faster ball speeds.

A professional player might end up hitting their driver so far that they have a gap between their driver and their 3-wood and need something akin to a “2 wood” to play to a specific tee shot or reach an extremely long par-5 in two.

The other reason why a professional player would consider a small headed driver is because they want to play a specific ball flight. For example, a player could hit a high cut and set their driver up to only be able to hit a high cut, which is a great strategy advantage, but occasionally might play a course that forces the player to hit a draw off of the tee fairly often. Players would then set up a mini driver to hit a draw with and get through this course rather than having to trust moving their big driver all over the course for 4 straight days.

The last scenario that has seen a lot of mini-drivers end up in the bags of prominent golfers lately is because it has become the club of choice for Pro Long Drive competitors when they want to play an actual round of golf, as they can still hit a mini driver 330+ yards and helps them keep the ball in play more than hitting a longer-shafted, bigger-headed driver.

Amateur players will most likely benefit more from having the increased loft and taller face of a mini driver, as well as the shorter shaft length. It represents kind of an “easier to hit” driver that won’t lose as much distance as dropping down to a 3 wood. Think fairway finder, without a loss of distance.

Small Head Drivers vs Big Head Drivers

A small head driver has a smaller sweet spot but goes straighter

The name of the game with small head drivers vs big head drivers is control. The refrain you will always hear coming from somebody who is considering adding this club or switching to a smaller driver head entirely is almost always going to be somebody seeking more control or a certain shape from their driver.

Bigger heads are going to have a larger sweet-spot, but also can produce more unexpected results on off-center hits. The small headed driver with a little more loft can produce a little more spin, which for a pro player usually means they can control it more and get a more predictable pattern than absolutely maxing out.

Advantages Of A Small Head Driver

Woman With A Small Head Driver

A couple of advantages of a small head driver don’t really have anything to do with the head size. It’s important to note that typically the shaft is shorter on a small headed driver and there also are a couple more degrees of loft. Both of these help create a more consistent strike and to launch the ball with less side spin and curve, which leads to better results when it comes to accuracy for most golfers.

The driver head itself being smaller is in theory counterintuitive as for years we’ve stretched the limits of making the driver heads as big as possible in order to improve performance. Even though mini drivers are significantly smaller than drivers, they are bigger than fairway woods, and present a “taller” shape normally than a fairway wood, which can help a player hit the ball when teed up high, like a driver.

Best Small Head Drivers At A Glance

Mini Driver Reviews

There are a number of great small head drivers on the market as people are beginning to experience the benefits of a driver/fairway wood cross. Each of these options offers unique benefits and will fulfill different needs for different golfers. Have a look at them and find out which one is the best for you!

TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver Review

Taylormade BRNR Mini Driver

The TaylorMade BRNR Mini Driver is a true mini driver, weighing in at 307cc. The club’s namesake, the Burner driver, was a popular line of drivers released by TaylorMade in the 1990s-2000s.

TaylorMade has kind of taken it upon themselves to really champion the mini driver movement, and the BRNR is their latest and greatest release in a series of mini drivers over the past several years. 

Loft: 11.5° / 13.5°

Length: 43.75”

Head size: 307cc

What We Like

  • Twist face technology makes this mini driver very forgiving
  • New K-sole design makes it easy to hit off the deck
  • Adjustable weights for a more customizable experience

What We Don't Like

  • High price tag
  • Less forgiving than a traditional driver

The BRNR is the best mini driver on the market right now, from the ones leading the trend (TaylorMade). This club is versatile, as it could serve as an outright driver-replacement for the long driver or a player who wants more loft and more control, or as a stop-gap between a normal driver and a fairway wood. It does what it sets out to do. Albeit a very niche club, if it suits a need in your game, this is the frontrunner to win a spot in your bag, so long as cost isn’t an issue.

While TaylorMade has been highly commended for their innovation in the Stealth line, their mini drivers are every bit as forward thinking and impressive.

TaylorMade 300 Mini Driver Review

Taylormade 300 Mini Driver

The TaylorMade 300 series was an iconic design in the history of golf, and this 300 Mini Driver is a throwback to those club heads. It marries modern forgiveness technologies such as Twist Face and carbon metal to redistribute weight and give a similar aesthetic to generations past with modern playability and forgiveness.

Loft: 11.5° / 13.5°

Length: 43.75”

Head size: 307cc

What We Like

  • Throwback look brings tradition back to your game
  • It feels and sounds fantastic. Amazing feedback when you hit is solid
  • Low center of gravity means high launch and more distance

What We Don't Like

  • No adjustability
  • The sole is not designed to be fairway friendly. Hard to hit off the deck

This club promotes its playability out of the fairway due to repositioning the CG compared to the original 300 series. It does lend unprecedented playability there but if you are looking for a truly versatile club, a design like the BRNR might be better suited.

This club really is an old school driver replica that has been tuned up with all the modern bells and whistles possible. It’s a very neat club and has a nostalgia factor and once again would be most useful for an amateur that wants to prioritize control off of the tee with a little more loft and a little shorter shaft, while hitting a club head that is optimized to be played off of a tee.

TaylorMade Mini Blackout Driver Review

Taylormade Mini Blackout Small Head Driver

The Mini Blackout driver is exactly the same driver as the regular Mini, however in a limited edition “blackout” paint scheme.

TaylorMade is often regarded as the best brand in golf for drivers, and this club is no different than their others. This club is going to be the size and shape of an old school Burner driver, have the features of the most modern clubs such as carbon fiber and Twist Face, but in a custom aesthetic that sets it apart as a distinctly original, modern club.

Loft: 11.5° / 13.5°

Length: 43.75”

Head size: 307cc

What We Like

  • This is the perfect mini driver to replace your current tee ball
  • A sleek paint job lends a visually appealing look

What We Don't Like

  • No adjustability
  • Less utility from the fairway than some other options

The jet-black alternative paint scheme is often affectionately referred to as “murdered out” amongst the kids these days, and is often a very cool variation on an otherwise common product in the golf world. This club gives all the advantages of a normal 300 Mini but with the twist of a “blackout” color scheme so you can still bring plenty of intimidation to the plate when you step up to bat with your brand new Mini!

Callaway Bertha Mini 1.5 Driver Review

Callaway Bertha 1.5 Mini Driver

Once we get out of the ominous TaylorMade umbrella, the Mini Driver world starts to look a little more creative. That world was thrust into the limelight when Callaway staffer Phil Mickelson used a TaylorMade (gasp!) mini driver en route to winning the PGA Championship in 2021. 

So why didn’t Phil use the Callaway version? Well the truth is, these clubs almost couldn’t be any more different, despite existing in nearly the exact same part of the “golf club spectrum.”

The Big Bertha Mini 1.5 is more like a lower-lofted 3-wood (or the proverbial 2-wood) than it is a smaller driver. Which could sound like they mean almost the same thing, but let’s break it down: the main difference is in the SHAPE of the head rather than the loft. This club features a head shape that is more akin to a fairway wood (wider, deeper, but less tall) and a size (235cc) that is closer to a fairway wood than a driver.

Loft: 12° and 14°

Length: 44”

Head size: 235cc

What We Like

  • Designed to have the versatility of a fairway wood
  • Has the look and feel of a strong 3 wood for easier and more consistent use

What We Don't Like

  • No adjustability
  • At 14 degrees, this club is not much different than a 3 wood

This club has more versatility in-round as it is definitely setup to be able to play out of the fairway. This club is basically more of a 2-wood or a “strong” 3-wood than a “mini driver” and we say that because of the head shape. It is a lot smaller and flatter than the TaylorMade 300 Mini drivers and serves as basically a bigger 3 wood with less loft.

The Callaway Big Bertha 1.5 Mini Driver is a great club that fills yet another niche for a golfer who wants to abandon their driver for more control or isn’t getting enough out of their 3 wood and wants to improve their game there some with a bigger head and more distance than a normal 3 wood.

Thomas Golf AT Hybrid Small Head Driver

We mentioned that clubs in this genre could be considered a “2 wood” as well as a “mini driver” as well as a “strong 3-wood” or “3+wood” depending on how it is looked at or marketed. All clubs fit in a similar niche, but Thomas Golf needs to stand out even in that niche and in doing so they have gotten very creative with expanding the “hybrid” club concept into the entire bag.

The Thomas Golf AT705 Hybrid Driver is a very innovative club. By definition a “hybrid” is usually a hybrid between an iron and a fairway wood. This just extends that concept into a lower-and-lower lofted version until you have a club that has a hybrid head on it at the same loft as a driver. 

Loft: 10.5° / 13°

Length: 43.5”

Head size: 230cc

What We Like

  • A hybrid look with a driver loft makes it a very comfortable club to hit in lots of situations
  • Being shorter than a true driver makes it easier to make solid contact
  • Very competitive price is easy on your wallet

What We Don't Like

  • Lack of head size makes it hard to hit high enough
  • Not a great option for everyone, requires a certain type of player to use well
  • No adjustability

In reality, the head size is almost identical to the Callaway model reviewed above, which we deemed as more of a “2-wood” than anything else. This club has LESS loft yet an even smaller head? It gets designated as a “hybrid” because of the shape of the head more than anything. Presenting a club that is more boxy and narrower heel-toe (like an iron) earns it this designation.

Players like hybrids because it allows them to keep the same look and feel at setup as holding an iron, but with more forgiveness in the head. This club is intended for those who struggle hitting their driver and want more of that hybrid/iron feel, but with a club head that can still hit a penetrating shot off the tee.

Small Head Driver Reviews

Titleist TSi4 Driver

Titleist TSi4 Small Head Driver

The Titleist TSi4 Driver is their “small head” version which many manufacturers produce to cater to the elite high-end ball strikers on the planet. This club cannot be considered a driver replacement more as it is just a flat-out driver that is built with the best players on the planet in mind.

The shape and size of the head are slightly reduced from the absolute max, as are several models from top manufacturers when catering to the elite drivers of the golf ball. This head size and shape says that the golfer has plenty of distance, but needs to maximize control, feedback, stability, repeatability, spin, sound, and feel.

Loft: 8°/9°/10°

Length: 45"

Head Size: 425cc

What We Like

  • This driver allows for an incredible amount of workability
  • Designed for optimum feedback from both sound and feel, allowing you to control your shots more effectively
  • Titleist SureFit hosel allows you to customize your experience

What We Don't Like

  • Smaller sweet spot than a full sized driver
  • Not a good option for golfers with lower club head speeds

While dipping even smaller than some of their competitors, the TSi4 is truly the ultimate “players” driver from the ultimate “players” line in Titleist. This club leaves more than a few CC’s on the table, with these smaller head drivers often coming in at 440ish cc this club dips all the way down to 425.

While still considered massive compared to cubs a few decades old, this trade-off represents an increase in spin control, and a big boost in feel and sound aesthetics for the premier ball striker.

RELATED: Titleist TSR Driver Review

Cobra Aerojet LS Driver

Cobra Aerojet LS Small Head Driver

The Aerojet LS driver is a great example of how detailed manufacturers are willing to get when tweaking clubs for their different categories of players. As mentioned, most drivers come in a version that is suited for the “better player” or elite ball stickers and those have a trend of shaving a few CC’s off of the club head size in order to optimize a few other things for players who don’t need a bigger sweet spot, per se.

This Aerojet makes sure to not be left out of that party by reducing the club head size to 457cc (from the maximum allowable of 460cc)! This might seem like kind of a joke but then again it is notable any time a manufacturer decides to leave something on the table and design something “less” than the maximum!

Loft: 9.0° / 10.5°

Length: 45.5”

Head Size: 457cc

What We Like

  • Cheaper than competitors by a small margin
  • Industry-leading aerodynamics provide more efficiency to your swing for more distance
  • Low spin design helps you maximize distance
  • Adjustable weights for a more refined experience

What We Don't Like

  • Specifically designed for higher swing speeds
  • Almost full size, meaning it is not very compact as small head drivers go

Granted we are splitting hairs here differentiating between 460cc and 457cc but this is a club that competes with the “smaller head drivers” from other manufacturers like the PING G425 LST and the Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond, it just does so without shaving as many CCs off of the head design.

It is built for the player who likes something more compact and controllable in order to feel confident on the tee, while still hiding those CCs to produce max forgiveness.

Check out our full review of the Cobra Aerojet Driver to learn more about Cobra's latest innovation

Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond Driver

Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond Driver

The Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond Driver is their “compact” release from their newest series of drivers. This club is meant for the better player or even elite ball striker, as it leaves a few CC’s on the table in order to optimize sound, feel, and workability over sweet spot size.

Weighing in at 450cc’s, it’s only a couple of percent difference from their “MAX” offerings but this club is for the player who appreciates and needs some subtle tuning to their game.

Loft: 8° / 9° / 10.5°

Length: 45.5”

Head Size: 450cc

What We Like

  • This is one of the best looking drivers we have seen in a long time
  • Slightly compact while still providing the benefits of a full sized driver
  • Available in lofts as low as 8 degrees
  • Available in right and left handed versions

What We Don't Like

  • Only slightly compact, does not provide some of the benefits of a true mini driver
  • Not a good option for players with slower swing speeds

The Paradym Triple Diamond rolls out a few features that tweak their top-line offering for the top-of-the-leaderboard golfer. As the name suggests, the Triple Diamond moniker hints that this is a club for the more advanced player, somebody who doesn’t need a lot of help.

An ever-so-slightly sleeker design, lower ball flight, and lofts as low as 8 degrees make this a bomber for the golfer who isn’t worried about making contact but wants to fine-tune their shot shapes.

RELATED: Callaway Paradym Driver Review

Ping G425 LST Driver

Ping G425 LST Small Head Driver

PING’s “better player / low spin low launch / smaller head” driver is the PING G425 LST. The “LST” stands for “low spin technology” but as we’ve seen with their competitors, PING puts all of the “better player” bits in one basket, combining that low spin with a smaller, more workable head shape to make one of the most popular drivers amongst PGA TOUR pros.

The club shaves off 15cc’s, tallying 445cc’s as its total mark. This puts it slightly smaller than the Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond but notably larger still than the Titleist TSi4, its two main competitors in this genre.

Loft: 9° and 10.5°

Length: 45"

Head Size: 445cc

What We Like

  • One of the most highly trusted drivers on Tour - if it's good enough for them it's good enough for anyone
  • Low spin and mid launch helps you maximize distance
  • Reduced club head size provides more control and workability

What We Don't Like

  • Slight fade bias is not good for anyone who already hits a fade or slice
  • Designed specifically for skilled ball strikers
  • Mostly made for higher swing speeds

The PING G425 LST is a favorite club of those who want a reliable, deep penetrating flight, especially from players who tend to see their drivers balloon a little bit when they’re off at high speeds. Everything about this club is tailored to the player who really mashes the ball and has total control of their ball flight. Slightly less forgiving than other options, it’s a club that can stay in a better-player’s bag for years.

RELATED: Best Ping Drivers For Distance And Forgiveness

VLS Golf Maxvert 1 Driver (436cc)

This driver brings a big dose of budget-friendly features to the “smaller driver” market. The VLS Maxvert 1 driver tips the scales at 436cc making it a pound-for-pound contender when it comes to delivering a lot of features in a compact driver head for very little price.

This club is built for players looking distinctly for game-improvement and is specifically marketed to golfers over 40. Many find a slightly less “ballooned” head easier to hit or more comfortable to stand over and manage throughout the swing. Combine this with a shorter shaft, slightly more loft, and a host of standard game-improvement features such as draw bias and perimeter weighting, and we’ve got a good option for most golfers.

RELATED: Best Driver For A Slice With Expert Reviews

What We Like

  • Save money with a price tag less than half of most top shelf drivers
  • Compact club head for more control off the tee
  • A shorter shaft makes it easier to make consistently solid contact
  • At 11 degrees, it fits nicely between a true driver and a 3 wood

What We Don't Like

  • No adjustability
  • Limited options for customization, meaning you have to tailor your game to the club
  • Some users have experiences issues with durability

The VLS Maxvert 1 basically gives you an entry-level “smaller head” driver with all of the bells and whistles but a fraction of the price. The thing that is really nice about this club is that, unlike many of the other compact-head designs, this is optimized for the average golfer and not the TOUR pro.

It’s really well thought-out as a usable replacement for many golfers. The shaft is only 1” shorter than normal, instead of going all the way down to 3-wood length like some of the “mini drivers.” The loft is 11 degrees, enough to give a slight edge in dispersion compared to a 9 or 10.5 degree “normal” driver, but not lose much distance. This makes for an extremely usable club for most golfers and not just a gimmick.

Used Small Head Drivers And Used Mini Drivers

Since the golf world is rife with “club junkies” and “tinkerers” and the mini driver and small head driver have been very hot fads lately, that means there are more than a few of these things floating around eBay. Most people don’t have a full-time spot for a new long club in their bag and end up experimenting with clubs like these before adjusting their setup yet again.

The key is to not fall into the trap of just ordering a “real” mini driver from the 1990s! While the shape may seem similar and you can probably get one for 10% of the cost, these newer clubs are dramatically more forgiving and feel totally different, with things like titanium and graphite being able to make clubs that swing faster and are more forgiving. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a mini driver and a 3 wood?

A mini driver is going to be a slightly bigger club head (more CC’s) and be shaped to have a taller face than a 3 wood. The mini driver will also be a lower loft, typically 11-13 degrees, while a 3-wood might be 14-16 degrees. The 3-wood will be shaped better for a strike “off the deck” while the mini driver will accommodate a tee shot better, however both can be used in both situations, they just lean more towards one use than the other.

RELATED: The Lower The Loft On Your Driver, The Farther The Ball Will Go

Should High handicappers use a small head driver?

In general, head size = forgiveness, and forgiveness is the best friend of a high handicapper. So it isn’t a change that should be taken lightly. In many instances you see elite golfers either using a small head driver to control ball flights more or a mini driver to get a precise gap between their driver and fairway wood.

The clubs become useful for high handicappers if a golfer simply cannot keep their driver on the course and they feel like either aesthetically or functionally a 460-cc driver head is hard for them to manage. 

RELATED: Best Driver For High Handicappers And Beginners

Are small golf drivers adjustable?

Almost all drivers released in the past few years are adjustable. That said, each manufacturer can vary in their exact setup, but almost all will have an “adjustable loft sleeve” for a few different loft/lie configurations, and many will have screw-in external weights in the club head that can be removed or repositioned to achieve different ball flights.

Is a 3 wood better than small head drivers?

It all depends on what you are using it for and what “suits your eye.” Generally these clubs are designed to be able to “do it all” but the taller face of a small head driver makes it easier to hit off of a tee and a 3 wood is easier to hit off of the fairway, so golfers tend to try to figure out how they will use it most often and choose their club accordingly.

Additionally, players with lower club head speeds such as seniors can benefit from the higher loft of some of these small head drivers. Many people find it more effective to use a small head driver and a 3 wood, foregoing a regular driver. 

Do professionals and low handicap players use small head drivers?

Professionals and low handicappers use all kinds of drivers, but there is definitely a trend that most golfers will not give up any head size until they become extremely proficient. A small head driver is in theory “harder to hit” because the face and sweet spot are smaller, but there are tradeoffs in feel and control that are desirable for some better players.

Final Thoughts

RELATED: Golf Driver Buying Guide: What Should I Buy?

The golf world never stops turning when it comes to figuring out new ways to squeeze “new” clubs in the bag - and in this zest we often see designs that are oddly familiar. For decades, club heads were swelling and swelling and swelling, and now we have finally reached the point where people are demanding something smaller than the max!

What we have are essentially three categories of clubs in the same loft/length space: “mini” drivers, “2 woods” and “smaller headed drivers.” At least that is one place to draw the lines on the spectrum. Mini drivers are most often used by golfers who are too long to keep a big driver on the course or are so long that they need to fill a gap between clubs. They are also used by professionals who want to set up one club for a fade and another for a draw. These clubs could come in around 300cc. A “smaller headed driver” might only be 5 or 10 or 20 cc’s less than full-size but represent a slight tweak for an elite ball striker. A “2-wood” or a “3-plus wood” could be a similar loft to a mini-driver, but will have an even smaller, flatter head shaped for playing out of the fairway and used to hit yardage gaps for long drivers or completely replace a driver for a wild amateur.

Ultimately in a pinch these clubs can all be used interchangeably, but ideally they each have slight tweaks for different situations or different users. The best thing to do is to get a few in your hands and try them out, see what different flights and distances come out and what kind of contact you are getting with a shorter shaft or smaller head, and hopefully this article helps narrow down where to start. The key is you want a club that is going to either completely replace a club in your bag, or completely complement it. The thing to avoid is you don’t want or need two clubs that fly the same distance and produce the same shot shape and height, so make sure your alternate driver isn’t duplicating another one of your long clubs and let ‘er rip!

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Michael VanDerLaan

Michael is an Associate Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a playing professional with a passion for finding the best equipment through product testing and evaluation. He has an intimate knowledge of the golf swing and a very effective way of communicating his knowledge to those that are interested in learning more. As an Associate Editor at Golf Gear Advisor, Michael shares his knowledge about the golf swing, fitness and finding the right equipment for your game.

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