What is the best driver?
Every round of golf begins the same way: the golfer stands on the first tee with a driver in hand. Drivers are the longest hitting clubs in a golfer’s bag and make a big impact on the final score. Hitting the ball far off the tee is an advantage, but hitting it straight is equally important. Finding the right driver for your distance and accuracy can change your game.
The technology and materials that manufacture drivers is advanced and often expensive. There is significant science behind the design of drivers — all intended to make it easier for you to find the sweet spot and hit the ball farther and straighter than ever before. For its innovative design that increases forgiveness at impact, the best driver is the Callaway Rogue ST Max Driver.
What to know before you buy a driver
How big of a club head should you use?
The United States Golf Association limits the head size of drivers to 460 cubic centimeters. Drivers with 460-cubic-centimeter heads have the largest sweet spot and are more forgiving, ideal for amateurs. More skilled golfers benefit from a driver head measuring 440 cubic centimeters that maneuvers more liberally at impact.
What shape of club head is best for you?
Most drivers have a round club head. Round heads are less likely to connect with the ground at impact, which increases the golfer’s confidence. Round heads are best for amateur players. Square club heads are still used on some models. They have bigger club faces but are clunky and less aesthetically pleasing.
How fast is your swing?
Every driver has a flex point. This is the spot on the driver shaft that bends from the speed of your swing against the pull of gravity. A lower flex point is closer to the driver head and best for golfers with slow swings that hit the ball high off the tee. A flex point higher up the shaft allows golfers with fast swings to hit lower trajectory drives that stay in the air longer.
What to look for in a quality driver
Titanium club heads with lightweight graphite shafts are the latest trend in drivers. These new materials add distance and forgiveness for all skill levels. There is emerging technology that is replacing titanium with layered carbon but there are few such drivers available.
The right shaft length is important based on your height. The standard shaft is built for people 69-72 inches tall. Anyone who is taller will need to adjust the shaft height by a half-inch for every three inches of additional height, while shorter golfers should reduce the shaft length by a half-inch for every three inches below the standard parameter.
The trajectory of the club face is important based on your club speed at impact. Lofts run between nine and 12 degrees. Slow swinging golfers with high handicaps should look for a loft of 10 degrees or higher, while fast swingers with low handicaps should use club face lofts under 10 degrees.
How much you can expect to spend on a driver
Inexpensive drivers cost less than $180 and have solid designs but not as many adjustable features. Mid-range-priced drivers run $180-$300 and have the adjustability that many golfers crave from all the major brands. For $300-$600, you’ll get the newest models based on the latest innovations.
Why are many drivers expensive?
A. Higher priced drivers have gained in popularity due to advanced technology and design innovation. The materials being used — especially graphite — has increased raw materials cost. And there clearly are enough golfers in the market willing to pay $400-$500 for a driver that manufacturers continue to price them accordingly. There are many options under $300 that still deliver distance and forgiveness, so let your budget be your guide.
What is moment of inertia (MOI)?
A. Moment of inertia is a measurement of the grams per centimeter squared. It measures how much the club head resists twisting. A higher MOI means a driver is more forgiving when contact with the ball is off-center.
What is the best driver to buy?
What you need to know: This driver from one of golf’s leading brands combines distance with forgiveness through its innovative design.
What you’ll love: The tungsten speed cartridge is deep in the driver head to increase speed and forgiveness with a high moment of inertia. A titanium unibody stabilizes the club with a low center of gravity, and it launches high with a slight bias toward a draw.
What you should consider: The driver is expensive and can cost more than some full iron sets.
Top driver for the money
What you need to know: This driver has an artificial intelligence designed face for more forgiveness and speed.
What you’ll love: It has a high-strength titanium face for maximum spin control and the triaxial carbon fabric leads to a higher MOI and more forgiveness when you miss the sweet spot. Two Jailbreak bars connect the crown to the sole for extra stability.
What you should consider: Some golfers with faster swings reported needing a heavier shaft to support the large clubhead.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: It utilizes 60 layers of carbon fiber to maximize energy transfer for faster speeds than what older titanium models deliver.
What you’ll love: The carbon twist face is nearly half the weight of a titanium driver. More MOI is gained from deeper weight placement in the head, and the patented Speed Pocket design adds forgiveness.
What you should consider: This driver is expensive and takes time to get accustomed to if you were using titanium previously.
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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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