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For one reason or another, not every golfer wants to get fitted for their next driver. Whilst many manufacturers emphasise the importance of being fitted to get the most from their latest technology (something we'd agree with), there is an acknowledgement that a sizeable number of golfers want to buy straight off the rack. If you fall into this category, some smart pre-purchase thinking will help you find the best driver for your game.
With this in mind, we’ve laid out the key considerations. From your shot patterns to your swing speed, here are things you should be thinking about if you’re considering buying a new driver off the rack.
VIDEO: Best Drivers 2022
How much forgiveness do you need?
For me, the level of forgiveness you need is the most important aspect of any gear buying decision in the long game - regardless of your handicap. And it takes two forms. Firstly, does the driver you are about to buy look easy to hit? Some drivers, the PING G425 Max springs to mind, have a larger footprint behind the ball and for many, will feel easier to hit. If it inspires confidence, your golf swing is likely to be a better, more committed one. If you’re already a confident ball striker, then a more compact shape may well suit your eye - the TaylorMade Stealth was particularly impressive on this front.
The second part is about the forgiveness that’s been built into the head. It’s important to say here that the vast majority of drivers are 460cc in size and as such, are very forgiving on off centre hits (even the ones used on Tour). Some however, like the Wilson LaunchPad driver have a draw bias built-in and the internal weighting is designed to help golfers get the ball up and away without having to swing the club too hard. In the driver sector, this is an important ingredient that adds forgiveness. If these are considerations for you, our most forgiving drivers 2022 guide is well worth a look.
How fast are you?
This is an incredibly important question and the answer is one that, naturally, many golfers over-estimate. So first and foremost, try not to fall into that trap!
Generally speaking, slower swingers (those with driver clubhead speeds under 90mph) will need more flex in the shaft to optimise their ball speed, flight and distance. Those with fast swing speeds, in excess of 110mph, may wish to consider something on the stiffer end of the spectrum.
It may well help to think about your current driver shot pattern. Shafts that are too stiff will struggle to offer enough flight and the ball will have a tendency to drift right (for right handers). Shafts that have too much flex will tend to create too much spin and right-handed golfers may miss left more than right. These are the clues to look out for.
What’s Your Shot Pattern?
If you are about to buy a new driver, think about your shot pattern. What’s your typical shape and which side of the fairway do you miss most often? If you’re as likely to miss left as you are right, then a head that has no shot shape bias is probably sensible. But if, like many others, you tend to slice the ball, then the options are many and varied. The best drivers for slicers all feature internal weighting that will help you guard against your most destructive shot.
The next question to ask yourself is what loft should you go for. Of course, this will depend on the specific way you deliver the club to the ball, including your angle of attack through impact. It is something of a generalisation to say it but a typical driver loft sits somewhere between 9˚ and 12˚. Again, generally speaking, the slower the swing speed, the higher the required loft. This will help you launch the ball and find maximum carry through the air. As you start to swing faster, extra loft can diminish both your control and your distance.
Our advice would be to think about your current ball flight off the tee. Use this as the start point to make a decision about whether you need more, less or the same loft. If in doubt, we’d err on the side of having a little too much than not enough. If you can find a club that allows you to adjust the loft then you can always retro fit yourself to the loft set up that provides you with the best ball flight.
There’s no doubt that finding the right driver for your game is crucial if you want to improve and the best way to do that is with the help of a good fitter. If this isn’t the path you want to go down, and there are many good reasons why that might be the case, then hopefully this advice helps.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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