What Is the Best Driver?

What is the best driver to use is an interesting question, one that all golfers professional and amateur have to deal with from week to week and golf season to golf season. Talk to golf professionals and they will probably tell you they have a dozen or more drivers and will switch depending on how they are playing at the time, the type of course they are playing, new innovations or modifications the manufacturer has made recently, health considerations and other issues. As many of you know some golf manufacturers are now selling drivers and fairway woods in which the golfer can adjust the lie and loft as well as the swing weight right on the golf course best corded electric impact wrench . Amateur golfers are not as fortunate as the pros since they have budget considerations, as opposed to the pros who get the clubs for free, consequently most amateurs probably have maybe three to eight drivers that they have collected over the years, but during the golf season will usually play only one or two drivers depending on how they are hitting the ball.

When trying to get the most out of your game, golfers should take time and patience to figure out how to choose the best golf clubs be they drivers, irons, putters, or specialty clubs. As this article is primarily concerned with helping golfers select the best driver here are key considerations that need to be taken into account:

The age of the golfer and how long he or she has been playing golf,

The number of rounds the golfer plays each year,

The golfers commitment to practice,

The type or types of golf courses the golfer plays most of the time,

The skill level or handicap of the golfer,

The golfer’s skills at course management or golf psychology traps,

The playing characteristics of the golf driver,

The general physical characteristics and health of the golfer,

Opinions of other golfers you know as well as your local professional, and

The golfer’s golf club and overall golf equipment budget

Age of Golfer

The age of the golfer both in terms of his or her chronological age and years spent playing golf is perhaps one of the most critical determinants of what kind of driver will be the best to purchase. Our opinion is that a new golfer just taking up the game and one that is also young (i.e. under 15 years of age) is best served by getting a set of used woods with at least one rescue club. A young and new golfer should probably keep the driver in his closet and focus on a three or four wood or rescue wood for at least a season maybe two seasons or until he or she gets their swing down to some degree and has established some confidence with a wood. If the child insists on having a driver we suggest selecting a good golf driver for beginners, perhaps from a set of used drivers or used golf clubs. We believe a driver, even a driver with a high loft of let’s say 11 or 12 degrees can be very intimidating to a young person or a new golfer, even a new golfer who is older.

I remember when I started playing at 17 that I used a three wood much of the time and I fooled around with a 1 iron as well only because the course I played on had many tree-lined holes. I did not use a driver with any degree of frequency until my second year of golf. In evaluating the question of how to choose a golf driver or the best golf driver, this is one of the most significant factors. Looking at senior golfers for a moment, the best drivers for senior golfers are probably those drivers that have high loft, light weight or ultra light weight shafts, and technology that helps get the ball in the air quickly and also helps keep off-center hits somewhere in the fairway. Seniors if they are new to the game should look for the best drivers for senior golfers as they do their research.

Frequency of Play

The number of rounds the golfer plays each year is also important because in selecting a driver to use, the golfer should take into account whether he or she will be playing enough golf to develop and retain a stable swing plane and rhythm or whether he or she will be playing infrequently, in which case he will probably not get the most out of his driver because his swing will be more erratic and his timing will not be as good. A golfer playing more than 30 rounds of golf a year is going to have better results than a golfer playing maybe 10 to 15 rounds a year. The frequency of play also has a direct impact on the player’s club head speed and to the extent a golfer knows his or her club head speed it should have an impact on the decision of what kind of driver to purchase whether new or old. For example, a golfer with a fast club head speed, (i.e. 100 to 120 miles per hour) can use a driver with a bit less loft and a stiffer shaft but players with much slower club head speed need a driver with more loft and a more flexible shaft. For golfers who play maybe one or two rounds a month consideration should be given to using a three wood off the tee even if the psychological imperative is to use the driver.

Type and Playing Characteristics of Golf Course

The type of golf course a person plays most of the time (i.e. his home course) should have a bearing on what type of driver is selected. For example, a golf course with many water hazards, out of bounds, or has many tree-lined fairways may lead a golfer to select a driver with less loft than high loft and maybe greater perimeter weighting to help with off-center hits. On a golf course that is often soft either due to frequent rains or significant sprinkling by the course water irrigation system, may choose a driver that gets the ball into the air quickly (i.e. a higher lofted driver) and for as long as possible because there will be little roll while a low degree driver will promote more roll. Golf courses that are typically dry or hard packed or which may have little rough or trees to catch errant drives, may give the player the flexibility to have a driver with less loft so he can get more roll and so that he can hit a more driving shot.

Handicap of Golfer

Golfers who have relatively high and established handicaps would really be better off using a three wood more often than not. The reason is that they probably do not have the confidence, necessary swing speed, or swing tempo to get the most out of a driver. Golfers who play regularly but have handicaps that rarely get below 15 should consider the three wood as the driver of choice. Golfers who play a good bit of golf each summer, at least 30 rounds, and have handicaps at or under 15 can probably use the driver as the golf course and their game on a given day dictate. Golfers who play considerable golf and who have handicaps at or under 10 usually have good swing tempo, acceptable swing speed, and confidence in their ability to hit their drives with a driver consistently long and relatively straight should use a driver that will give them the most out of their swing. For low handicap golfers the golf driver, if matched well to the golfer, can be a significant offensive weapon.

Playing Characteristics of the Driver

In trying to determine what is the best driver for you, there are many things to consider if you are confident that you have the game, skills, and confidence to take advantage of the club. Important issues that you must consider in selecting a golf driver include:

Shaft type,

Shaft length,

Shaft weight,

Size of club head,

Fixed or removable weights in the sole of head and perimeter weighting,

Technology behind moment of inertia and center of gravity features,

Loft,

Swing weight,

Fixed hosel versus adjustable hosel,

Trampoline effect,

Sound and feel, and

Look of club

We are going to touch on a few of these but as you go into a golf shop, be it a pro shop or a discount golf store you will be overwhelmed by the number and type of drivers to evaluate. We have reached a point the past few years that technology is changing the game dramatically with drivers and other woods for that matter that let you tinker with you driver in ways never available to anyone as recently as five years ago.

In looking at the driver, starting first with the shaft, the golfer has to evaluate whether he is comfortable with an ultralight weight graphite or composite shaft that helps reduce the overall weight of the club and consequently increases club head speed. The length of the shaft is important because as the shaft gets longer the potential for greater distance increases as does the potential for sharper hooks and slices. More length usually means less control of the club.

Loft is another critical factor in picking a driver. These days, drivers come with lofts from as little as 6 degrees to 12.5 degrees. Amateurs, unless they are scratch players (handicaps of 2 or less) would be advised to select drivers with lofts of 9 to 12 degrees as it makes getting the ball into the air easier and also gives the golfer greater confidence of achieving a successful swing and favorable result when he addresses the ball.

The sound of the club hitting the ball, the feel when the ball is struck and the look of the club are all very important ingredients in which driver a golfer purchases. Some drivers do not look nice, for instance they may look squarish, and there may not be a click but another feel that does not seem right and so golfers do not buy them even though they may have good technology behind them. For this reason it is always good to try out a driver before purchasing it. Go to a practice mat at the store, or try out the club if you see it on your course but do not buy a driver unless it looks right, feels right, and sounds right. These items all contribute to greater confidence on the tee.

When I was growing up golfers changed the swing weight of the driver as well as the overall weight by adding lead tape to different parts of the head. Now golfers can adjust the lie and loft of the driver by taking a wrench and making an adjustment where the shaft comes into the club head neck (i.e. the hosel). Most drivers are constructed in such a way that the center of gravity and moment of inertia can be adjusted to change the flight trajectory of the ball off the tee despite the loft of the head itself. Finally, most golf drivers are made of high-tech steel or other composites in which the face of the driver is extremely thin thereby creating a “trampoline” effect which is advertised to increase distance. While these technological advances are all nice and may even be helpful, they are not really necessary to the average golfer or the beginning golfer. For golf purists they may seem like cheating and they probably are. This technology comes at a cost with most of these drivers going anywhere from $200 to $400. For those golfers who are good (i.e. handicaps under 10) and need a new driver for some reason, one alternative to the newest drivers now flooding the market is to look at the prior seasons clubs which in many cases are cheaper and not that different in terms of technology. You should also look for good used drivers which can be found on eBay, at the pro shop, golf discount shops, or even on your own course.

Course Management or Golf Psychology Traps

Have you ever seen a golf tournament, maybe in person or on television, where one professional will use a three wood or iron off the tee while another pro will use the driver. A good example is the go for broke attitude and style of Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods in contrast to the more conservative approach of a Zack Johnson or a Jim Furyk who may use a three wood or iron on the same hole. Most amateurs get trapped into using their driver because their opponent or playing partner is using their driver. That is wrong. Golfers must know their swing capabilities, the performance standards of their clubs, and the way they are playing on a given day if they select a driver versus a more conservative club on a given club. The reason we bring this up is because golfers will often purchase a new driver just to impress their playing partners or others at the club even if it is a club they can not handle. Forget your pride and use a golf driver that suits your physical skills and playing capabilities.

Physical Characteristics of the Golfer

This is where customization comes into play. Don’t just go into the golf store and get a driver or set of woods off the rack because of a good sales pitch, the glimmer of the finish on the clubs or the encouragement of you golfing buddies. Golfers who are not tall for instance may need golf clubs, more specifically, golf drivers, that are shorter so the shafts may have to be cut down. Also, golfers of short stature will have a flatter swing and for that reason will do better with a driver with higher loft compared to a tall golfer who can use a driver with less loft because his swing will be more upright. Be sure you know someone who does golf club repair work where you live or if the place where you buy the clubs can make the necessary adjustments to fit your stature and physical characteristics.

Budget or Cost Concerns

In this difficult economic environment we are confronted with it might be wise to do you research of drivers and woods at golf stores, on line, through golf club reviews, or at a pro shop with input from the local pro. Once you have found the right club, there is nothing wrong with seeking that club on eBay or some other private source where a “mint condition” used club can be purchased for a fraction of the cost.

Opinions of Others including Local Pro

Always seek the opinions of others you know, maybe playing partners, or other members of your local club or course. Ask the pro what he thinks of the club in light of his knowledge of your game and playing skills. Ask your dad if he plays golf. You can never get too much advice before plunking down your hard-earned money.

Preowned Drivers versus New Drivers

Golf club manufacturers will constantly try to get you to purchase new clubs, be they drivers, fairway woods, utility woods, irons, wedges or putters. Advertising, combined with technology changes, is a powerful influence in getting golfers to purchase something new, well just because the clubs are new and may let you hit the ball a bit farther or straighter. As you look for a golf driver or any golf club for that matter, you should consider pre owned clubs, or prior years models that did not sell out that year. I still use my original TaylorMade metal woods that do not look anything like the ones coming into the market each year. I still use Titleist DCI irons that I purchased in 1994 because I like their feel and because I know I will not improve my game dramatically by plunking down another $300 for a new driver or $600 for a set of irons. Used drivers even if three, five or ten years of age can still be the best buy depending on whether you are a beginner, senior, mid or high handicap golfer. So do not always go for the buy new philosophy all the time.

In conclusion, what is the best golf driver for your playing partner or opponent may not be the best driver for you. All of the factors addressed before should be seriously evaluated before making a purchase. You know your game and how you play. Don’t let flashy advertisements in magazines or elsewhere seduce you into buying something that is not really any better than what you are playing now. Know whether your game is getting better or staying stable. Know whether you are committed to getting better with your golf game and the investment in a new driver and woods would be helpful. So what is the best driver for someone else may not be the best golf driver for you. Do your research first.

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