The secret weapon that helped this PGA Tour rookie to his first win

TaylorMade BRNR Mini 2023 driver

Jake Knapp is one of only a few pros on the PGA Tour who uses one of these clubs off the tee, but with it he's found success.

Ryan Barath

Jake Knapp secured his first PGA Tour victory in Mexico thanks in part to smashed drives and precision iron play (he gained 2.751 shots off the tee and a whopping 8.729 on approach). But one rare club also played a role in his victory — his mini driver.

What’s a mini-driver?

A mini driver is exactly what the name projects, a club (mostly) designed to be used off the tee like a driver, but it’s a lot smaller than the maximum 460cc volume of current driver models. These clubs are usually between 280-300cc’s, which also happens to make them close to the same size as topline drivers from the late ’90s and early 2000s.

PGA Tour player Jake Knapp hits driver during 2024 Mexico Open at Vidanta
Winner’s bag: Jake Knapp’s clubs from the 2024 Mexico Open at Vidanta
By: Ryan Barath

The smaller head allows for greater variability of launch compared to modern 460cc drivers — which are designed for low-spin performance — and the extra spin produced makes them easier to draw while also being more forgiving than a smaller-headed 3-wood.

The club in Knapp’s bag is a TaylorMade BRNR Mini driver (13.5 degrees), which was launched just under a year ago to glowing public fanfare that helped it sell out quickly and required a late restock by TaylorMade.

On the flip side, it didn’t get a lot of play in the professional ranks based on its specific performance characteristics, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t find its way into a few bags.

TaylorMade BRNR Mini Custom Driver

REIGNITING YOUR GAME The BRNR Mini Driver is the first of its kind to feature Movable Weight Technology. It provides distance, control and playability, making it ideal for golfers who prioritize accuracy off the tee or struggle with traditional drivers. MULTI-MATERIAL CONSTRUCTION WITH SPLIT MWT The combination of carbon fiber, titanium and steel provide the foundation for incredible sound, feel and flight with striking cosmetics. The split weights allow golfers to switch between the standard setting (13g in the back) for balanced performance, and the low spin setting (13g in the front) for a piercing trajectory and increased roll out. PRECISE TURF INTERACTION The K-SOLE design features a unique “K” shape, which helps the club glide smoothly through the turf while reducing resistance and promoting a consistent strike. This enables golfers to have “driver off the deck” distance with the consistency often found in higher lofted fairway woods. TOUR PROVEN TECHNOLOGIES Twist Face®, Thru-Slot Speed Pocket™ and the 4° Loft Sleeve provide the ultimate suite of technologies. Twist Face helps golfers overcome inherent mis-hit tendencies for straighter shots, while the Speed Pocket is engineered to maximize ball speeds and add forgiveness on low-face strikes. The 4° Loft Sleeve allows golfers to fine tune loft and face angle for optimum flight. DESIGNED TO INSPIRE The BRNR Mini Driver, the newest member of the Burner™ family, pays homage to the late-90s Burner drivers, specifically the Ti Bubble 2, featuring copper hues, retro inspired logos and a component package that oozes nostalgia and pulls at the heartstrings.
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Who uses a mini driver?

Other than Knapp, pros such as Tommy Fleetwood and Adam Scott have continued to use a mini-driver, and at one point DP World Tour player Eddie Pepperell even used one as his primary driver before going back to a standard 460cc model.

In a recent profile in GOLF magazine, Adam Scott said this about this Brnr mini: “Tommy Fleetwood basically won the Ryder Cup with that thing. It’s unbelievable because so many holes end at 310 to 320 yards now because they’ve geared courses for us, and that’s right where the driver dispersion gets tight. If you go back to your 3-wood, you’re at 270 and you’re a ways back. The Mini goes 300 yards and is still into the widest part (of the fairway) where we play. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Tommy Fleetwood tees off at 2023 Open Championship
Tommy Fleetwood is one of a handful of pros using a mini driver. Getty images

Considering Knapp’s distance off the tee — he placed second in driving distance in Mexico (322.6 yards) — having a secondary option on holes that get tighter down the fairway makes for a great option. He even used it a couple of times off the fairway, which is mostly made possible thanks to his faster clubhead speed.

Although you might not be worried about pinched fairways at 325 yards like some of the longest players on Tour, a mini driver could provide another option off the tee that offers more forgiveness than your 3-wood. It could be your new secret weapon too.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.