We take a look at the best golf drivers. Is 2021 the year to upgrade? Let's see what's on the market
Best Golf Drivers
When it comes to drivers, brands have showed no sign of slowing down when it comes to innovation. So perhaps a new big stick could be just what you need to get your season off to a flier.
Whether you’re a fast swinger looking for workability or a beginner searching for as much help as possible, today’s drivers offer a new level of playability that should help you find a few more fairways.
To give you an idea as to what might work best for you, we tested a whopping 17 of the latest models, both on the Foresight Sports GCQuad launch monitor and on the driving range at West Hill Golf Club, using Titleist Pro V1x balls to see what golfers can expect.
Neil Tappin tests and compares 17 of the best drivers in 2021 before picking his overall favourite
How we tested
We requested samples of each model from all the leading manufacturers in the stock x-stiff shaft where available in 9° or 9.5°. We then first hit them on the Foresight Sports GCQuad launch monitor indoors using Titleist Pro V1x golf balls to collect dry ball, controlled data – tweaking the specs along the way to optimise performance in each model.
We then took the drivers to West Hill Golf Club and did further testing on the range outdoors to assess feel, sound and ball flight.
If you’re looking for a specific type of performance, take a deeper dive with some of our other guides on the most forgiving drivers, best golf drivers for distance, or the best high handicap drivers.
Best Golf Drivers
Titleist TSi3 Driver
+ Improved shaping at address
+ More effective adjustability
– Some may need more alignment assistance
The best Titleist drivers are often complete packages and the TSi3 continues that trend. It features a more compact, pear-shaped profile and a new SureFit CG Track positioned around the rear skirt, allowing players to alter their shot shape and launch characteristics.
Comparing it to the outgoing TS3, we prefer the more rounded toe and the quieter thud it produces – which is closer to what you might experience with carbon fibre drivers like Callaway Epic Speed and TaylorMade SIM2.
We believe many golfers will also prefer how the sole weight setting is now visible – with the TS3 you had to unscrew and remove the weight to see what it was.
With the multitude of settings and shafts available, some of which made it into our best driver shafts guide, a custom fitting is a must to get the most out of it, but with its more varied adjustability and extra forgiveness on offer it will appeal to a range of golfers, not just the better player.
TaylorMade SIM2 Driver
Used by Rory McIlroy
+ Improved alignment
+ Impressive distance at a lower price point than SIM
– Performance gains over SIM very marginal (player dependent)
Hoping to become one of the best TaylorMade drivers ever made, SIM2 carries over the Asymmetric Inertia generator and Speed Injected Twist Face from last year’s SIM drivers, but the head of SIM2 is now created using a Forged Ring construction made from aluminium, which saves nine grams of weight.
This means there is now no moveable weight on the sole to adjust shot shape but TaylorMade say this was redundant for the majority of players at all different skill levels.
We found that the SIM driver set a very high bar but the SIM2 models provide significant improvements around looks, launch and also forgiveness while keeping spin low in the case of the SIM2 model.
In summary, everything about SIM2 seems to be about finding fairways without giving up distance – the enhanced alignment, bigger faces and greater stability on off-centre hits.
Ping G425 Max Driver
Powerful And Forgiving
+ Increased forgiveness and accuracy over G410
+ Better fitting options across three models
– No obvious gains in distance over G410 on centred hits.
To achieve the new performance levels in the G425 Max, Ping has implemented a new 26-gram tungsten movable weight called a CG Shifter, which is made possible by weight savings from advancements in the driver’s dragonfly crown design.
The weight can be secured in one of three settings – neutral, draw or fade – to influence forgiveness and shot shape. The average MOI increase is 14 per cent across the three weight positions compared to the G410 Plus.
Indeed when comparing to the older model, down at address, the G425 Max certainly has a more rounded profile than the G410 Plus, which to some people will look more user friendly.
That isn’t to say performance has gone down though, because the Max still feels just as powerful and has the same sound we loved in the G410.
Overall, in our testing we think the Max, along with the other models with the G425 name, is a range of drivers that will work for every player type to maintain distance while finding more fairways.
Callaway Epic Speed Driver
Best For Technology
+ Streamlined shape increases clubhead speed with the same effort
+ Three models cater for different swing types
– Compact address profile could be intimidating.
The new line of Epic 21 drivers feature the next generation of Jailbreak called Speed Frame designed using Artificial Intelligence to form a completely new shape, connecting with the head at four different points top and bottom to provide extra rigidity in the horizontal direction.
The result, Callaway say, is a five per cent increase in efficiency and when combined with a lighter triaxial carbon crown and enhanced face design unique to every loft, should increase ball speed and forgiveness as well as spin consistency.
There are three models to choose from. The Epic Speed is the fastest as it has the same cyclone shape as last year’s Mavrik driver where the tail of the driver lifts up to improve airflow over the head during the swing to increase clubhead speed for the same amount of effort.
The slimline look of Epic Speed may be intimidating for some, but it is easy to align and undoubtedly strikes an ideal balance of catching your eye without looking cheap or gimmicky.
In our testing we thought this Speed, as well as the two other models, felt fantastic – very powerful, solid and stable, whilst the higher pitched sound of the Speed wasn’t off-putting.
Mizuno ST-Z Driver
Large Profile Aids Forgiveness
+ Very good value for money
+ Better differentiation between the models
– No moveable weight
The Mizuno ST-Z driver, which is already in the bag of staff player Keith Mitchell, has been designed to be ultra-stable but still offer low spin. It has a balanced toe/heel carbon composite construction with deep central 11g back weight for a spin efficient, straight-line ball flights.
It has a wide, low footprint, with a neutral visual lie angle and comes with four degrees of Quick Switch adjustability to fine-tune look and trajectory.
The Mizuno ST-X driver features a draw-biased carbon composite construction aided by a heel side sole weight.
It offers a more compact profile, a slightly deeper back portion and more upright visual lie angle and boasts the same Quick Switch adjustability.
Those with mid-lower swing speeds will benefit from the J-Spec (Japan Specification), incorporating a lightweight 39g MFUSION graphite shaft and lighter 4g sole weight.
Cobra Radspeed Driver
For Distance Chasers
+ Adjustable sole weights to alter launch and spin
+ Three models to choose from
– Lowering spin to increase distance reduces playability
The name comes from the Radial weighting, whereby the distance between the front and back weights has been increased to create a more optimum blend of faster ball speed with low spin and forgiveness to maximise performance for all player types.
In the three Radspeed drivers, Cobra has managed to significantly increase something called the radius of gyration, which is the distance from the club’s centre of gravity to each weight location, to produce extra yardage in different ways.
The 460cc Radspeed driver has forward-biased weighting with 28g positioned in the front, (16g fixed, 12g adjustable) and 10g in the back (8g fixed, 2g adjustable). The two adjustable weights can be interchanged to fine-tune the desired launch and spin performance.
So how did the club test?
Well first things first we preferred the crown’s matte finish on the Radpseed as opposed to the gloss black finish on the other two designs. It also has a more compact profile which better players will like.
On centred hits, you will likely experience longer carries with Radspeed than prior generation Cobra drivers. The lower spin will work for many but not all, but the options of the moveable weight in the Radspeed makes it an appealing prospect.
Titleist TSi2 Driver
Best For All Playing Levels
+ Excellent off-centre forgiveness
+ Suitable for a wide range of player types
– No moveable weight on the sole
Another Titleist model to make this guide on the best golf drivers is the TSi2, which we found to launch a little higher and give us a straighter, more stable ball flight – especially on off-centre hits.
At address, we found the TSi2 to look generous in size but not too big that it looks chunky and unwieldy. It also has a more rounded toe compared to the previous TS2 which really adds to the inviting aesthetics.
We also noticed how good it sounded through impact – a powerful acoustic thanks to the appealing ‘thud’ sound.
As an overall package it neatly balances distance with forgiveness and consistency, making the Titleist TSi2 truly impressive.
If you aren’t fussed about having moveable weight and want a higher ball flight but still with low spin, it could be a good driver to explore further – especially if you already know your spec.
Callaway Epic Max LS Driver
Ideal For Low Spin Players
+ Surprisingly high off-centre forgiveness
+ Large profile inspires confidence at address
– Low spin won’t suit everyone
The Epic Max LS is the better player model within the new driver range offering with low spin but higher MOI than the Mavrik Sub Zero. It is also the most fade capable thanks to the 13g sliding weight providing 14 yards of shot shape correction.
It has a slightly stretched shape compared to the Epic Speed above but doesn’t look too large at all. We found alignment to be easy as well.
When it came to hitting shots, this driver was the longest and most playable of the three models with the sliding weight allowing us to fine-tune shot shape, so is certainly one to consider if you’re thinking about an upgrade in 2021.
Honma T//World GS Driver
Modern Yet Classic Design
+ Stunning looks from every angle
+ Noticeably forgiving on off-centre hits
This draw-biased option features a crank-shaped slot on the sole to maintain fast ball speeds across the face and reduce loss of distance on off-centre strikes.
The variable thickness of the face helps to reduce spin on strikes low and out of the toe, both of which are common amongst mid and high handicap players.
The Non-Rotating System in the hosel promotes consistency of strike and flight by ensuring the spine of the shaft remains in the six o’clock position when loft and lie are adjusted.
Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Driver
Ideal For Beginners
+ Stable feel at impact
+ Off-the-rack performance
– No adjustability
The Launcher HB Turbo driver features a Turbocharged Cup Face, which offers a unique variable thickness pattern that delivers more speed across the entire face.
It stretches along the crown and sole, flexing at impact and reflecting that energy back into the ball for increased ball speeds at impact.
It may lack adjustability, but it certainly has the power to straighten out a slice.
Due to the new Miyazaki C. Kua shaft, which pulls weight from the length of the shaft and repositions it on the grip end, it also felt easy to swing quickly.
Wilson Staff D9 Driver
Best For Simplicity
+ Satisfying impact sound
+ Ample off-centre forgiveness
– Limited shaft options
The design of the D9 driver comes from computer modelling software used to simulate hundreds of different club head variations to find the most effective design. It also features a three-layer composite crown which helps deal with vibration and reduce the weight of the club.
A 10-gram sole weight comes as standard or a super-lightweight 3-gram weight giving the player the option of adjusting and fine-tuning the moment of inertia and forgiveness on offer.
The impact noise was a pleasingly dull thud and the look at address was clean and unfussy. The sole is also understated but modern when it comes to appearance.
The conclusion we made from testing was, if you want more forgiveness from your driver at a decent price point, then it is definitely a model to consider. It will also suit those players with below average swing speeds who want more consistent results too, whereas faster swingers who want as much distance as possible will perhaps best be suited to look elsewhere.
Srixon ZX7 Driver
Best For Looks
+ Solid, explosive feel
+ Appealing look at address
– Hosel adjustability system appears complicated
Srixon’s ZX7 driver feature a 15 per cent larger carbon crown the previous generation to reposition mass low, deep and around the perimeter, increasing forgiveness.
Rebound Frame Technology works by layering alternating zones of flexibility and stiffness that work in tandem to focus more energy into the ball at impact for more distance.
The ZX7 driver delivers a slightly more penetrating ball flight than the ZX5 and adjustability comprising of 4g and 8g sole weights to give any player their desired launch conditions or alter swing weight.
It wasn’t just the looks which impressed us – it combined good speed with the ability to control accuracy in a multitude of ways.
The smaller more rounded profile of the ZX7 will suit the eye of the slightly lower handicapper it has been designed for.
PXG 0211 Driver
+ Improved consistency of ball speeds
+ More affordable price point
– Looks at address may put off some golfers
The PXG 0211 driver is said to be designed for all player types thanks to a new head construction optimised for both distance and forgiveness.
You’ll notice the hybrid crown design with a carbon fibre centre section surrounded by a titanium skeleton to prevent energy loss while optimising the CG to enhance ball speeds.
A special Ti412 face material is both strong and flexible, increasing face deflection. There’s also a Honeycomb TPU Insert located low and back in the head that improves forgiveness, sound and feel assisted by the railed sole geometry.
A 10g weight comes as standard but there are lots of options from 2.5g up to 20g to fine tune head weight and launch conditions via a fitting.
Callaway Big Bertha B21 Driver
Best For Slicers
+ Stable feel
+ Blue carbon crown and red lines add modern touch
– Appeal limited to golfers with a slice
Callaway claims its use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a new face material and Jailbreak has unlocked extra performance for the high handicapper who struggles with a slice.
The larger A.I. Designed Flash Face SS21 has been made of a super strong, heat treated TA-15 titanium, which allows for the complex face architecture required to promote optimal speed, forgiveness, and spin characteristics.
Clearly this driver is designed for golfers who tend to utilise a large portion of the face over the course of a round.
It feels light, partly down to the 55g shaft, but when you find the middle of the clubface it also feels incredibly explosive and stable, even on mis-hits.
What to consider when buying a new golf driver?
When purchasing a new big stick, it is crucial to ask yourself just what you need from it.
Is distance your main priority or are you looking for something to help you find more fairways?
We’d always recommend a custom fitting with a PGA Pro but if you know what you’re looking for you can make an informed decision.
If accuracy is what you’re after, go for something with a high MOI or adjustable weights to help alter spin and flight characteristics.
If distance is key to you, look at a low-spinning driver to help ensure your ball doesn’t balloon too much.
If you enjoyed this guide on the best golf drivers, check out the Golf Monthly website.