TaylorMade AeroBurner MD Driver Review (+ Alternatives)
Innovation has led to the creation of new niches of golf clubs in the past. The wedges of yore and the more recent hybrids spring to mind. The mini-driver is another similar concept that seems to be gaining quite a lot of fans in the past few years. And there was a compelling reason behind the success of the first ever mini-driver, released by TaylorMade in 2014. There are a lot of golfers, who for myriad reasons, dislike using drivers. Drivers are one of the hardest clubs to hit with consistency, forcing many high and mid-handicap players to opt for a fairway wood from the tee instead. It was this demographic that TaylorMade sought to woo with the SLDR Mini Driver. When that gamble paid off handsomely, they came up with the club at the center of our review a year later, the TaylorMade AeroBurner Mini Driver. Is it worth your time and money, or is it just another fad being milked for cash by the big brands?
TaylorMade AeroBurner MD Driver: Pros & Cons
- Much easier to swing than a regular driver.
- Shorter shaft makes hitting consistent shots from the center of the club head a breeze.
- Speed Pocket on the sole guarantees high ball speeds and increased forgiveness.
- Can be a replacement for 3-woods, with excellent performance on the fairway as well.
- Essentially two clubs (a driver and wood replacement) at a very competent price point.
- Not equal to a full-sized driver on long distance shots.
- Not a good choice for firm turf conditions and windy courses, when compared to high lofted woods.
- Might require some loft gap restructuring in your club set if you add this club.
AeroBurner Mini Driver Key FeaturesReleased in 2015, the AeroBurner MD is the second club in the mini-driver niche spearheaded by its predecessor, the SLDR Mini driver. Since the AeroBurner series of drivers and woods have been more popular than the SLDR series, the decision to port the mini driver niche to this series was no big surprise. When you look at the AeroBurner Mini, you can be forgiven for feeling a bit bemused: is it a case of "Honey, I shrunk the driver," or is it more along the lines of "Honey, I blew up the fairway wood?!!!" Either way, the AeroBurner Mini has quite a few features that make it a lot attractive to golfers of all skill levels. Let's check them out one by one:
1. Clubhead Size – smaller than a driver, larger than a 3-wood:The mini-driver has a 253cc clubhead, which makes it 90cc larger than the AeroBurner fairway, and a whopping 207cc smaller than the AeroBurner driver. So it is slightly larger than a 3-wood, but a little more than half the size of a 460cc driver. This translates into more forgiveness than a regular fairway and a faster swing than a full-size driver. The club head is made from lightweight titanium.
2. Shorter Shaft Length:At 43.5 inches, it is a good two inches shorter than a regular driver, and only marginally longer (.25 inches) than the AeroBurner fairway wood. The shorter shaft enables golfers to swing hard at the club and still get excellent contact with the center of the club face where the sweet spot is found.
3. Elongated Speed Pocket:Located at the sole of the club is this feature, a staple of many TaylorMade clubs including their drivers, woods and even some irons. The Speed Pocket is a slot usually placed at the sole of a club to promote ball speed, distance, and forgiveness on shots. When the club face strikes the ball on impact, the speed pocket flexes and then rebounds, improving the factors above like ball speed, launch height and distance on shots. An elongated speed pocket at the sole increases the chances of getting good results even on off-center shots that are struck closer to the sole. It also helps reduce spin on shots, which should help prevent the ball from being skied.
4. Improved Aerodynamics:The crown of the club head has a raised section that minimizes drag when the club is in the swing. This feature is further aided by a discreet fin-shaped protrusion on the hosel, which is the part that connects the club head to the shaft of course. This AeroHosel fin is angled in such a way to optimize the club head speed during the downswing.
5. Three Loft Angles:The mini driver is available in three loft angles, the shortest being 12, followed by 14 and 16-degree options. There is no adjustable hosel, but that is not a major absence for a club that is a cross between a fairway wood and a driver. The loft dispersion on the clubs offers an excellent variety for golfers of different skill levels. Those with above average swing speeds can make high launching shots from the tee and fairway with the shorter lofted 12-degree club, while average and slower swingers can look at 14 and 16-degree clubs for better launch assistance.
6. White Finish:The AeroBurner MD has a very distinctive white finish on the crown, with a red slither of "AeroBurner" badging at the center for visual alignment aid. The club head has a generous dose of black and the back and on the face, with red accents.
7. Two Versions:The standard version is the one that we are reviewing here. But the club is also available in a TP (Tour Preferred) version aimed at scratch golfers and better players, with an increased dose of fade bias, with a lower lie angle and a more open face that plays quite differently when compared to the standard model.
Looks And Design AestheticsWhite is not a traditional color on drivers in particular, but here, the combination of a white crown with a black face and red accents does look quite nice. The crown, in particular, is very easy on the eye at address, and the black and red visual alignment aid work flawlessly. Though the club head is much smaller than a driver, it doesn't intimidate at all. When placed behind the ball, the shape and size make the mini better looking than both the fairway and the driver.
Feel And FeedbackThe sound and feel of impact are excellent, and the club is a sheer joy to hit with a full swing. In fact, the impact sound is as good as what you hear on the AeroBurner driver, if not better. The feedback is also better than what you get from an ordinary driver, which is probably down to the shorter shaft length and overall compact dynamics of the club head. The club hits equally well from the tee and the fairway which solidifies its appeal for players looking for a viable 3-wood alternative.
ForgivenessCommon sense decrees that the smaller club head when compared to the driver, smaller the sweet spot should be. But the short shaft more than compensates for this handicap and makes the Mini Driver much easier to hit when compared to the full-sized drivers. The addition of the Speed Pocket at the sole increases the forgiveness palpably, especially on shots that strike the ball lower on the clubface, closer to the sole.
Flight And DistanceThe most striking aspect of the club is the fact that it performs equally well from the tee as well as the fairway. Slow swingers might struggle with the TaylorMade AeroBurner Mini Driver 12 degree lofted version from the fairway, but that is we have the 14 and 16-degree options. If you are wondering whether to choose the 12 or 14 degree mini driver, our suggestion is to go for the 14 degree variant for better fairway performance. AeroBurner Mini Driver distance stats show a strong club that easily eclipses the fairway woods. Overall distance is undoubtedly lower than what you would expect from a full-fledged driver, but the distance gap is not too high at under 10 yards. The smaller club head increases ball speeds due to the increased swing speed it generates. And the overall accuracy is also much higher, thanks to the more manageable short length of the mini driver.
Overall ImpressionThere is no confusion regarding the utility of the AeroBurner MD driver. If you hate using a full sized driver and find yourself falling back more often to your fairway wood for tee shots, the mini driver is an excellent alternative and a must-try. On the other hand, thanks to a strong performance on the deck, it can even be used as a strong alternative to your regular 3-wood. You just need to keep an eye on the loft gapping, depending on how you plan to use the mini driver. In 2017, one should find the TaylorMade AeroBurner Mini Driver for sale at highly reduced prices, making this versatile club a tantalizing option for golfers regardless of their handicap levels. Click here to see the latest price on Amazon
The SLDR Mini was the one that started it all in 2014, but it does lack in a few departments, especially distance and fairway playability.
The AeroBurner Mini displays all the advantages one would expect from a successor club, doubly so since it is a part of the more successful AeroBurner lineage rather than the SLDR line.
The SLDR Mini driver has very few things going for it since it was the first of its kind with a lot of performance quirks.
Also, it was based on the quite unremarkable SLDR driver.
What we like
- Slightly larger club head at 260cc.
- Probably cheaper than its successors.
- The silver crown and overall design look nice.
What we dislike
- Inferior forgiveness levels due to the absence of a Speed Slot.
- Poorer performance from the deck.
- The feel and feedback are also very average.
The Callaway Mini Driver was released the same year as the AeroBurner Mini, in 2015.
With a more traditional all black finish, the Callaway strikes the right note in the looks department.
While it has a few other aces up its sleeve, like adjustable loft as well as adjustable face settings, it is held back by key drawbacks that take the advantage to the AeroBurner Mini.
What we like
- The better looking club, in all black with red accents.
- Several adjustable features, like loft angles and face angles.
- A lot of custom fit choices, from grips and shaft, flexes as well as brands.
What we dislike
- Lacks a 16-degree loft setting.
- Longer than the AeroBurner Mini at 44 inches.
- Smaller club head than the AeroBurner at 235cc.
- Inferior forgiveness and playability on the fairway.
The mini driver is marketed as a capable replacement for a 3-wood, especially from the tee.
The AeroBurner fairway is a very capable club in its own right, with excellent distance on shots and a large Speed pocket for improved forgiveness.
The Mini Driver shares much of this DNA and improves on it with a slightly longer shaft and bigger club head optimized for pure speed.
What we like
- Playability on the fairway is probably better than the mini driver.
- Shares the same white crown and overall design.
- Excellent feel and feedback.
What we dislike
- Distance on shots is less.
- Forgiveness and accuracy are maybe lower than the Mini Driver.
Considered one of the best game improvement drivers, the AeroBurner is one of the lightest and fastest swinging clubs in its class.
But it has all the drawbacks common to a driver, being long at above 45 inches long.
The Mini driver shares a lot of the characteristics of the driver design as well while sporting a shorter shaft for increased accuracy.
It can also work on fairways, which is something most golfers would find hard to accomplish with a regular driver.
The driver is an established club class, but the mini driver does have its very own unique raison d’etre in the golfing world.
What we like
- Excellent distance on shots, clearly better than the mini driver in this department.
- Excellent impact sound, feel and feedback.
- Shares the same good looks as the mini driver.
What we dislike
- Will not work on fairways.
- Less accuracy and consistency on shots when compared to the mini driver.
- Slightly less ball speed on shots compared to the mini-driver.
The TaylorMade AeroBurner MD Driver has few direct competitors in its segment, save for the Callaway Mini Driver and TaylorMade’s own older SLDR Mini driver.
The Mini-Driver niche is relatively new, but it does offer value for golfers who need something more forgiving than regular drivers, but with more distance on shots when compared to fairway woods. And TaylorMade seems to have nailed it in their second attempt, with a nicely balanced club that has the best of both worlds.
It does lack regarding adjustable features, but that is a minor qualm when compared to the overall real-world performance on the course, from the tee and the fairway.
Try it out if you use 3-woods from the tee a lot, or need more distance on fairways.