There is certainly a space in the market for a driver like this.While I struggled a little for consistency, I was surprised by how long it was. It also looks smart and confidence-inspiring at address.
Confidence inspiring at address
Solid distance and strong ball flight
Lacked consistent accuracy
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The benefits of playing with a premium driver, one that’s been fitted for your own swing, are well documented: more distance, more control, and greater accuracy; it’s why we always recommend going for a custom fitting. It also explains why the many of more expensive models, with more varied fitting options available, tend to dominate our list of the best golf drivers.
But what if you were to buy a cheaper driver off the shelf? What performance benefits would you be giving up? We decided to do just that – and the results, which we discuss in the video below, are very interesting.
I went online to buy a driver that cost a little over $100. What I settled on was from Mazel, a brand that has its own store on Amazon, and offers a few different models. There were a few options to choose from so I opted for a Mazel Z35 driver with a 10.5˚ head and a stiff shaft set up, which was as close as I could find to my fitted spec.
I tested it against my fitted TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver (the TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver has since been launched), one of my favourite clubs of 2022.
For testing, I put both drivers through their paces indoors on a TrackMan launch monitor, using the Titleist Pro V1x golf balls, and I also took them out onto the course at the London Club. Below, you can see the data from my indoor testing, which makes for interesting reading. At a glance, the stats suggest that my Mazel Z35 driver performed well.
In terms of the profile down behind the ball, the Mazel Z35 driver has quite a deep face. I like the fact that the face is silver, as it highlights the loft on offer and it doesn’t look too hard to hit. The blue finish on the crown might not suit everyone, but I didn’t find it too offensive. I also like the simple alignment aid.
The TaylorMade Stealth Plus is a stunning driver with a beautiful compact shape at address. There's no doubt it was one of the most aspirational drivers of 2022. If I have one criticism, it’s that the dark red face and matte black crown could seem a little intimidating for some. Ultimately, these elements are down to personal preference.
The Mazel Z35 produced quite a high-pitched impact sound, which wasn’t unexpected. I swing the club at around 112mph, and the sound was a little too loud for me, but if you have a slower swing, this higher pitch might help you feel as though you can launch the ball without too much effort. The grip, meanwhile, felt a little thin, and the shaft was a bit too soft for my liking, which perhaps explains the relatively spin rates.
Even so, I was encouraged by the numbers from the indoor testing. The cheap driver produced quite a strong ball flight, and I found that I was able to hit a nice draw. However, the flight was quite low for a 10.5° set up, and I did lose a couple of drives quite badly to the right, which was a concern.
For a fair comparison, and after I was nicely warmed up, I hit some drives with each driver on the golf course using the Garmin Approach R10 launch monitor. I got what I expected from the TaylorMade driver – good accuracy and distance, and a consistent ball flight.
The cheaper driver stacked up well in terms of distance during my on course testing (the video with this review shows what happened). And whilst I did hit some good straight drives, I was also much less consistent with the big misses I saw on the launch monitor, reappearing on the course. I hit one 35 yards right. The club also felt lighter and to me, just not as solid.
CHEAP VERSUS PREMIUM DRIVER: THE VERDICT
I appreciate this comparison isn’t one a lot of golfers will be making for themselves, but it is interesting to see what you get at both ends of the price spectrum if you’re looking for a new driver.
In terms of distance, the cheap driver performed really well. It wasn’t quite as long as my TaylorMade Stealth Plus, but the spec wasn’t 100% right for me. However, it consistently offered pretty good speed. I did struggle a bit more when it came to control, which is what really sets a fitted, premium driver apart. I know I can hit my fitted driver straight under pressure (most of the time!), and as an avid 3-handicap golfer that's important to me.
For those people who are just starting out, there is something to be said for this Mazel driver. If you make a good swing and catch it well, then the Z35 will perform for you. It will get you up and away off the tee and provide a good platform to build on.
For me this was an interesting test, on that highlights just how good premium drivers are, while at the same time proving there’s a space in the market for cheaper models.
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 TSR2 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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