How To Buy A Golf Driver
Drivers are an expensive bit of kit. Brand-new they can lighten the pocket by as much as $900. Given this expense, golfers need to be sure they are getting the right golf club for their game.
What To Look For When Buying A Driver
There are so many different considerations when purchasing a driver that choosing the right club with all its different attributes can seem like an impossible task. To make it easier, here is a list of what to think about when purchasing a new driver.
As already mentioned, drivers can be expensive. This is fine if you have plenty of money lying around, but unfortunately, most of us don’t fit into that category. Moving away from premium clubs, there are many, quality, more-affordable drivers on the market to choose from. You don’t necessarily need to spend a whole week’s wages to find a driver.
The loft of a driver can greatly impact a golfer. The driver is all about maximizing distance. Too much loft and the ball will go too high into the air. Too little and the ball will go too low. Finding the right launch angle and spin rate will get you the yardage you require. After all, that’s why we hit the big dog! Many modern drivers now come with an adjustable loft option so as your game improves you can change it to a setting to better suit your swing.
Many drivers nowadays are 460cc though there are still a few out there that come in smaller sizes. Better player drivers are often slightly smaller say 440cc.
Some argue that having a smaller clubhead will present less air resistance and therefore let you generate more speed. On the flip side, a smaller head will have a smaller “sweet spot”, making it more important for you to have a consistent swing if you want to find the fairway.
The majority of amateurs would probably benefit from the larger sweet spot on offer with the largest heads.
The shape of the head can also be important. Some players feel more confident with the more classic-looking Titleist drivers while others are happy to trust in the engineering of Ping for example.
The shaft is an incredibly important component of any club. Getting the right shaft flex is crucial. If it’s too flexible it will likely result in hooks. Too stiff and the ball will slice off the tee. Many golfers tend to buy clubs that are too stiff for them. You don’t need extra stiff shafts unless you have a pretty fast swing.
Driver shafts used to be made from steel but modern clubs will use some form of graphite or composite material. These allow for much lighter shafts which will help the vast majority of players boost their clubhead speed.
Any golfer wants clubs that are the right length for them. If a driver is too long or too short, it will affect aspects of the swing such as lie angle, swing plane and balance. With amateur golfers, less is often more. They find that a shorter shaft allows them to strike the sweet spot more often. This gives them longer shots than a few extra mph of club head speed from having a longer shaft.
Many of the top-tier manufacturers produce models that are designed to straighten out your slice. If you are one of the majority of golfers that hits a slice then an anti-slice driver could help you without having to work too hard on your swing.
If you tend to buy clubs off the shelf then you might not give any consideration to whether the grips are the right thickness for your hands. While standard grips will be fine for many players you might benefit from jumbo grips or even just a few layers of tape.
Titanium Or Carbon?
TaylorMade released their new range of carbon-faced drivers in 2022, the Stealth to much publicity. While it is not the first time a big-name manufacturer has released a carbon-faced driver, it is the first time in two decades since the Callaway Big Bertha C4.
TaylorMade explains that the carbon face allows for “better energy transfer and faster ball speeds across a large area of the face”. Carbon is lighter and potentially gives manufacturers more scope to optimize a carbon-faced driver in the manufacturing process. The question is though, is a carbon-faced driver better than a titanium-faced driver?
It’s simply too early to tell right now and it’s something each golfer will have to decide for themselves. Callaway didn’t succeed with the C4 will TaylorMade do so with the Stealth? Rory McIlroy is certainly hitting some bombs with his.
What Loft Should I Choose?
The amount of loft depends primarily on a golfer’s swing speed and attack angle. The most common driver lofts are 9 degrees, 10.5 degrees and 12 degrees. The general principle is the further a golfer hits the ball and the more control they have over it, the less loft they need.
Trying out multiple lofts in a custom-fitting session (or two) is the best way to decide what works best for your game.
What Head Size Is Right For Me?
Most golfers are suited to a 460cc driver. The larger head maximizes distance and forgiveness. But if golfers are struggling with a head that big, there are some smaller options available. The TaylorMade Original One Mini Driver is only 275cc with 11.5 degrees of loft while the Titleist TSi4 comes with a compact, pear-shaped, 425cc head.
How Will Shaft Flex Impact My Driver?
The speed of your swing will usually determine the stiffness of the shaft you require. If your shaft is too flexible, it will result in a higher ball flight and more likely going left. Too stiff a shaft results in a low-ball flight and a tendency to go right. Both scenarios result in a loss of distance and accuracy. You can also get shafts that promise lower spin rates. If you tend to generate too much spin then this can be one way of bringing that spin under control.
How Does Shaft Length Affect My Driver?
There’s a general rule that the longer a driver shaft is, the further the ball will go. Does that mean everyone should run out and find the longest shaft they possibly can and stick it in their driver?
No! Of course not.
The longer a driver shaft is, the greater the space between the golfer and the ball is and the more room for error. There is also a maximum length allowed in the Rules of Golf.
Purchasing A New Driver
The first thing to do when purchasing a driver is research. Regardless of where you purchase from, it is always helpful to have some idea of what you are looking for. There is a wealth of information online to help you on this journey. Make sure to visit some demo days if you get the chance so you can try out some new models preferably using a launch monitor.
Online is a great way to hunt for the best deal. By comparing prices with other retailers, you can always be sure of getting the lowest price. And if you want any specific adjustments made you can select them during the checkout process. The only downside is not being custom fit. Of course, it depends on how well you know your specs.
While going to a golf store limits you to only one price, it does give you the added benefit of speaking to employees at the store and getting their advice and guidance. Many of these employees will either be professional golfers or capable amateur players up to date on the latest technology.
Golf stores usually have a bay in which to get custom fitted or try new clubs. Testing new clubs prior to purchase is a huge advantage. I prefer to hit clubs on a driving range but not every retail outlet has the space.
Local Golf Professional
It’s always good to support your local pro. This is someone who knows the game inside out. They are experienced and knowledgeable and will do their very best to help you choose the driver that is right for your game.
Even better, they might be able to provide expert custom fitting. Most will also try to be competitive on price as they know many consumers are price sensitive.
The popularity of second-hand clubs has grown in recent times. Before they were seen as a cheap alternative for beginners, but the quality of modern clubs means they can be used over an extended period without seeing major dips in performance. By going to a trusted seller of second-hand clubs, you can get a great price befitting the quality and condition of a club. You can even check out eBay, gumtree or Facebook marketplace for deals. However, some caution is warranted due to the wide availability of counterfeit clubs.
How Do I Test Drivers?
There are two options for testing drivers. You can go to a range or indoor bay with a launch monitor, or you can try them out on a course. If you are still early in the process then I would opt for the range or fitting bay to narrow down your list of possible options.
Once you have only a couple of possible choices then I would try to take a demo club out on the course to see how it performs in the wild, especially if this is a premium driver with the price tag to match.
Should I Get Custom Fit?
It’s a great idea for all golfers to get custom fit to find a club that suits them best. Custom-fit clubs can make a world of difference to your game and help elevate it to the next level. Many stores now do custom fitting for free when purchasing new clubs.
How To Buy A Golf Driver: Conclusion
Buying a driver can be expensive and confusing. Thankfully there are experts out there who are willing to help and can simplify it all. Custom fitting is a huge benefit to amateur golfers who, maybe for the first time ever, will be able to see the stats behind their swings and get the right driver tailor-made (no pun intended!) for them.
Unless you have money to burn there’s probably not much point upgrading if you were custom fit in the last 3-5 years.