Welcome to Wall-to-Wall Equipment, the Monday morning equipment roundup where the GOLF equipment editor Jonathan Wall guides you through the latest trends, gossip and newsS
The launch of the BRNR Mini Driver as part of the TaylorMade tour at RBC Heritage was strategic. Contested on one of the tightest layouts around (Port town Golf Links), the equipment manufacturer felt that if there was a place on the schedule where players could consider the idea of using a course-dependent clubhouse, it would be this week.
Tommy Fleetwood figured the club had a chance for promotion after testing it at the training ground with TaylorMade’s senior tour manager Adrian Rietveld, but was not entirely thrilled with the versatility. Fleetwood felt that with a larger head than the standard 3-wood (at 304cc), the distance and workability was more than enough to be a viable off-tee option. But the jury was still off the pitch.
If there was a knock on the previous mini products, it was because they performed exceptionally well off the tee, but lacked a sole for consistent interaction with the turf. The lack of versatility usually made the club a golf course dependent option for many pros during the season, but with the reintroduction of the popular K sole design – originally found in the Ti Bubble 2 – things were about to change in a big way.
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After using the BRNR Mini from the tee on the second par 5 hole during the practice round, Fleetwood held the stick in his hands and watched the 280-yard approach as Rietveld watched. In the video, which Rietveld still has on his phone, Fleetwood unloads the ball and ends up with a club. You can’t see where the ball will land on re-entry, but that doesn’t matter. “Ah!” Fleetwood is the only positive confirmation needed.
As it happened, the shot was the first time he hit the club off the turf.
“He must have hit that high cut and he was just fooling around,” recalls Rietveld. “He goes and hits one of the best golf shots I’ve ever seen with the BRNR Mini. It had a lot of height and take-off. I think that’s when he realized he could also throw that thing off the deck. It was a very good fit for him.”
Fleetwood used the BRNR Mini at RBC Heritage, but a funny thing happened along the way. Instead of pulling the stick out of the bag for another start at the Wells Fargo Championship, Fleetwood kept his 3-wood on the bench and continued rolling with the mini.
Fleetwood’s confidence in the BRNR Mini demonstrates behind-the-scenes research and development by TaylorMade to make the new mini product more than a secondary option.
“I think it will be a great option for the Open Championship,” Fleetwood caddy Ian Finnis told GOLF.com. “He can hit from the tee and from the ground. There’s a reason he removed the 3-wood for that.”
Fleetwood along with Bryson DeChambeau have found a permanent place for the BRNR Mini in the bag. The confidence he has in the club can be attributed to the work Fleetwood and Rietveld put into finding the perfect build early on. The Fleetwood is 42.5 inches long with a 3-wood length that is shorter, which led Rietveld to believe he could go a bit longer (43.75 inches) and give the 32-year-old the distance and control he wanted.
To build the D3 swing, Rietveld added 7 grams to the head – the retail version comes with 1.5 and 13 gram adjustable weights – and placed it in the rear position to get started. But the club was spinning too much. However, after putting weight forward, Fleetwood found its starting window.
According to Rietveld, being able to manipulate weight, specifically the center of gravity (CG), was a breakthrough for the BRNR Mini. This is the main reason Rietveld believes the club has the strength to hold on this time around.
“We can actually choose the weight and needs of the player,” he said. “I think it will help us advance our research and development. I love having a weight port front and back. For us, we can carry as much weight as we want or partially. From a spin point of view, you can adjust launch and spin with two variables which are loft and center of gravity. You can stand there with the player and move weights with a wrench and choose to spin 300 or 400 rpm. We can do it internally if there was no moving weight, but it’s much cleaner and easier.”
This week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, Fleetwood had another opportunity to test the BRNR Mini on a tight layout. Some tracks seem like a good fit for the club, but Fleetwood quickly learns that the BRNR Mini is more than just a one-trick pony.
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