Golf Drivers Guide: 10 things to know before you buy your next driver!

There's much to learn about golf drivers - check our guide before you buy...

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 26 Feb 2019
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The driver is typically the most expensive club in the bag and the one we use most frequently off the tee on a par-four or par-five. It therefore makes sense to find one that is right for you. 


 

With no such thing as a one-size-fits-all driver, given the variety of heads, centre of gravity positions and adjustable gadgets now available, the driver selection process is often one of the toughest to decipher for players. 

Yes, it's hard to see fault in any of the new premium drivers the world's best players are using on Tour right now (many of which we've tested in the video above), but sometimes that 'impulse buy' just because your favourite golfer has it in the bag isn't always the prudent play.

RELATED: WHICH NEW DRIVER IS RIGHT FOR YOU? TAKE THIS QUICK TEST!

It's crucial - especially if you're playing regularly and looking to get better fast - to find a driver that is going to help you shoot the lowest scores. 

From loft and launch to CG and shafts, there is much to learn about the club labelled the "big dog".

Let's take a look at the 10 things you should be considering when in the market for your next driver...

TESTED: BEST GOLF DRIVERS 2019

1. CLUBHEAD SIZE

The size of a driver head is measured by volume in cubic centimetres and the maximum size allowed by golf's governing bodies is 460cc.

All of the latest drivers sit between 440cc (drivers suited for players who like to shape the ball more in the air) and 460cc (drivers suited for players who crave more forgiveness). 

Size matters. Find the one that appeals most to you at address. 

2. MATERIALS

Gone are the days when we used persimmon woods or metal woods made of steel. The latest drivers on the market are either made of titanium or carbon composite heads, or both in the case of the new TaylorMade drivers! 

Titanium has become a particularly popular choice for driver heads because it is a strong, light and durable material. 

As a result of using either titanium or composite materials, golf companies can design 460cc drivers without increasing weight. This means players can swing the club faster and hit the ball further and more accurately because of the larger sweetspot on the face of the driver.

When used on the crown or the rear section of a clubhead, carbon can reduce the overall weight of a driver. 

When it comes to the crown, you also want to not only find the right shape as you stand over the ball at address, but also the right design and colour that fits your eye. Some crowns are shiny, others have a matte finish that reduces glare. In our personal opinion, the latter appeals more (well, certainly when the sun comes out!)

3. MOMENT OF INERTIA (MOI)

MOI is a common phrase in golf, particularly when it comes to the driver.

It refers to a club's forgiveness, specifically its resistance to twisting at impact.

RELATED: A BLUFFER'S GUIDE TO GOLF TECH

A driver with a high MOI means it it is less likely to twist or rotate when you strike the ball outside the centre of the face.

From our recent 2019 Drivers Test, if you seek forgiveness, then you certainly want to be looking at the latest models from TaylorMade (M5, M6), PING (G410 Plus), Cobra (KING F9), Callaway (Epic Flash) and Mizuno (ST190G) his season.

4. CENTRE OF GRAVITY (CG)

CG is another common phrase and it refers to the single balance point of the driver. Different brands have opposing views on where best to place the CG in their drivers. 

The CG of a driver can be moved vertically, horizontally, or back and forward in a clubhead by moving fixed or adjustable weights inside the head. 

FEATURE: CUSTOM FITTING - HOW IT CAN HELP

It can be a bit of a minefield, so the only real way to find out which CG location works best for you is to get custom fitted. 

In general, the lower and further back the CG is, the higher the ball will launch as the spin is increased. The driver will also be more forgiving as the MOI will be higher. Moving the CG forward will increase ball speeds but reduce the ball spin and the MOI.

A balance of high launch, low spin is the holy grail.

5. LOFT AND LIE

Driver loft refers to the angle of the face in relation to the vertical, and each model is typically available between eight and 13 degrees. 

Lower lofted clubs (e.g. eight degrees) have a slightly lower trajectory, but go a little further in the hands of players who can generate plenty of clubhead speed. 

Higher lofted clubs (e.g. 13 degrees) are better for player with slower swing speeds or players that need extra help to get the ball airborne. 

Lofts in between (e.g 10.5 degrees) are for the vast majority of players who have neither particularly fast or slow swing speeds.

With a plethora of adjustable drivers now available, however, it means you can tinker all day and play about with your loft. To do this, you simply remove a screw in the heel of the club, connect the shaft to the clubhead and replace it to a predetermined setting.

However, be careful when adjusting the loft of your driver because that will sometimes also change the lie angle - the angle of the shaft to the ground at address. A change to the lie angle will affect your ball flight horizontally left or right.

But remember, you cannot change the setup of your driver during your round.

6. WEIGHTS

Using weights in the clubhead of a driver can have a significant impact on improving a player's ball flight as it changes the club's CG and MOI properties.

Of the drivers that feature weights, you can expect to see sliding weights or plugs from anything between one and 20 grams on the sole of the club. 

The benefit of using more weight in the heel is that it will create a draw bias, while placing more weight in the toe will produce a fade bias. 

And if a player craves a higher ball flight, they can simply place weight in the back portion of the head.

7. SWINGWEIGHT

This one often goes overlooked, but it's an incredibly important feature of a golf club to note.

Knowing how much your driver weighs (total weight), and of that weight, how much of it is in the head (swingweight), is becoming a critical part of improving a player's driving.

FEATURE: TAYLORMADE ON THE REAL IMPORTANCE OF SWINGWEIGHT

The total weight and the headweight of your driver have to be matched to your physical strength, your swing tempo and your golfing athletic ability.

Play with too light of a total weight or swingweight for your strength, tempo and ability and your percentage of off-centre hits increases.

8. SHAFT FLEX

Shafts are important in all clubs, but especially drivers.

Using lighter, less stiff shafts will produce a higher, right-to-left biased ball flight, while heavier, stiff shafts will launch the ball lower with a higher tendency to shape the ball to the right.

The right shaft can help players hit the ball further, straighter and more consistently. Most manufacturers will offer drivers in regular (R), stiff (S) and extra stiff (XS) shaft flexes.

Other flexes include light or ladies flex (L), senior (A) and more extra stiff options (XXS, XXXS).

9. SHAFT LENGTH

Although the legal limit for the length of a driver is 48 inches, most drivers have a shaft of around 45 or 46 inches to strike the best balance of distance and control.

While longer drivers will typically increase speed and help players hit the ball further, the additional length of the driver will sacrifice an element of control and accuracy. 

So unless you are a basketball player, anything around 45 inches in driver length will typically suit the vast majority of players. 

10. SOUND / FEEL AT IMPACT

Yes, finding the right shaft, clubhead and swingweight combinations are all important traits to consider when it comes to the feel of a driver, but the sound at impact is also what is going to make you want to keep coming back for more.

If your driver doesn't sound and feel right to you at impact, then it's going to become pretty unattractive to you. Yes, there are no pictures or or sounds on the scorecard, but this in all likelihood is an expensive purchase for you and you want to feel satisfied every time you pull the trigger.

Find yourself a driver that not only works for you off the tee peg, but also gives you a satisfying feeling at impact and makes you want to keep coming back for more.

Many of the major golf manufacturers have dramatically improved their acoustics through the years, however, so we'd be surprised if you find one in the class of 2019 that fails to satisfy your needs.

Need more help in your next driver purchase? GolfMagic is here to help. Drop us a line on our social media channels, or visit our YouTube page where you find all the latest equipment reviews, and we'll give you all the information you possibly need.

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