Drivers are the most difficult club in the bag to execute to their full potential. This is due to the length of the shaft, the speed of the swing, and the flatter swing plane compared to most other clubs.
Recently a number of brands have revealed ground-breaking innovation, making it an exciting time to purchase a driver. The most significant advancements have been achieved in face technology and testing the COR limits, ultimately maximizing ball speed.
- Things To Keep in Mind When Buying a Driver
- The Best Drivers in 2021 Reviews
- New Golf Driver FAQ’s
Things To Keep in Mind When Buying a Driver
The perfect drive is the most exciting shot to hit and witness. It provides the player with a feeling of achievement that few other shots can emulate.
It is for this reason that equipment manufacturers spend billions of dollars in R&D and release new equipment every year.
Most players will stick to tried and tested drivers for many years; with the average number of rounds that a driver is used set at around 200 – 300. This excludes visits to the driving range.
There are many categories for comparing equipment, a few of which are mentioned below. This review will focus on the category where there are the most active players; namely the most forgiving drivers for mid to high handicappers.
Although most drivers were released as pairs, for e.g. TaylorMade M5/M6, we will highlight the major differences between the clubs, but only review the one that is most applicable to the mid to high handicappers.
It is advisable to have a club fitting with your local club professional to ensure that you gain maximum benefit and consistency from your driver
The player’s skill level should impact greatly on the final decision of equipment purchased. Although the advertisers would want you to believe that the newest driver would add a major distance advantage to your game, this is not always the case.
Purchase the equipment that will suit your game and budget, rather than spending vast amounts on equipment that will not add value. It is recommended that the money should subsequently be spent on arranging a fitting with a professional in order to achieve better results.
This review is based on the intermediate players (mid to high handicappers). Please find a brief description of the categories for the reader to decide whether they fall into this category.
The players in this group require as much assistance as possible. In most cases, this means less equipment and basic fitting until a constant swing is established. Purchase the most forgiving clubs on the market and improve your game.
The majority of players fall into this category and this is where the equipment reviewed will add the most value.
The clubs chosen should be mostly forgiving for the off-center hits as consequently up to 90 percent of hits in this category are still off-center.
Even in this category players (including some professional players) still use forgiving equipment.
Most heads released conform to the maximum of 460cc. It is advisable to purchase a driver with the maximum size as very few players benefit from smaller sized heads.
The loft of your driver should be in line with your assessed club-head speed.
|< 85||20 – 14 Degrees|
|85 – 94||13 – 12 Degrees|
|95 – 104||11 – 10 Degrees|
|105 – 115||9 – 7 Degrees|
|130+||7 – 4 Degrees|
The adjustability of the driver will play a big role depending on the skill and the personal preferences of the player.
Some players prefer to tinker with the setup on a regular basis, whereas others are more inclined to take standard options and concentrate more on the workability of the ball.
It is important to note that adjustability will add weight to the driver as well as increase the cost. Not everyone needs adjustability.
If you do select a club with adjustability, take the time to understand how it works so that it can help and not hinder your game.
Although there are many factors that play a role in the shaft, flex is probably the most important. The table below can be used as a guideline.
|Swing Speed||Ball Speed||Flex|
|53 – 62||< 100||L – Ladies|
|63 – 76||100 – 110||A – Seniors / Amateur|
|77 – 92||110 – 139||R – Regular|
|93 – 107||140 – 160||S – Stiff|
|108+||160+||X – Tour Xtra Stiff|
The lighter the shaft, the faster you can swing it. Lighter shafts are a bit whippier than heavier shafts.
The length of the shaft plays a role in the consistency of the shot and strike. Have the shaft fitted for length and you will continue to reap the benefits.
|Callaway Epic Flash/Epic Flash Sub Zero||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Cobra King F9 Speedback||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Mizuno ST190G / ST190||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Ping G410 Plus / G410 SFT||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|TaylorMade M5 / M6||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Titleist TS2 / TS3||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
The Best Drivers in 2021 Reviews
1. Callaway Epic Flash/Epic Flash Sub Zero
With the original jailbreak technology, plus an AI designed face generating thousands of virtual prototypes resulted in increased ball speed across the meat of the face. The stable head accommodates off-center hits without major loss of direction and distance.
- Flash Face Technology for low spin and high MOI
- Jailbreak Technology for faster ball speeds and therefore distance
- Highly forgiving
- Adjustable Perimeter Weighting allows for control and versatility
- Some find the crown design distracting
- The sound is not to all golfers liking
New Flash Face technology is as a result of AI technology being put to use to design the new face of the drivers.
The AI simulated more than 15000 iterations to set the correct thickness across the face and remain within the trampoline effect parameters as set out by the USGA.
The new technology allowed the thickness reduction from 5/1000 to 2/1000 inch by forging the inside then milling the front pushing the boundaries of legal limits.
The results of the improvements have been proven and the majority of players have seen speed gains of up to 10 MPH while still conforming to regulations.
The increase in ball speed necessitates a stronger face. Epic Flash Face is tempered for strength before being welded onto the head to create the 595C Super Aged Forged Titanium clubhead.
The club retains the original jailbreak technology from the Epic range into the new Flash Face design. The Epic Flash model will suit more players than the SubZero.
The Epic Flash Sub Zero driver is more suited to improved players wanting to shape the ball flight than the Epic Flash.
The classic Callaway curved line is set back from the leading edge and the club sits well at address. The head-on the Sub Zero version has a slightly deeper head giving it the impression that it is more forgiving.
The Flash Face is a series of thick and thin swirls that give it the appearance likened to an ear. The Epic Flash is neither round and compact nor stretched and triangular.
The boldness of the headcover design has to be applauded. The crown has thin green and gold stripes on a backdrop of black carbon fiber. At address, you can see the ball framed by two lines of white dots to assist in alignment.
The look is improved by the laser-etched lines together with the five larger rectangles around the sweet spot at the end of the lines. The Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver comes in a smaller more compact head as the standard model without losing any of the features.
The sound of the ball meeting the Flash Face sounds explosive without hurting the more sensitive ears. It will intimidate those playing partners that have a lesser ego though.
It’s in the middle of the sound spectrum between a hollow sound and wooden-bat-solid. The volume and pitch are neither too high nor too low.
Generally, there is great audible and sensory feedback through the hands that will speed up the adjustment process when playing with the new driver.
Shafts come standard with a Golf Pride Align grip helping alignment through a raised ridge on the back to help with hand alignment.
2. Cobra King F9 Speedback
The Cobra is the driver to beat in 2021, it is the best value for money as it is the least expensive.
The balance of colors and visuals appeal to a bigger market than before.
- Aerodynamic head
- Low deep CG
- Good speed and distance
- CNC milling allows for consistency across the face
- Good adjustability options
- Some golfers do not appreciate the feedback and muted sound produced
- Graphics are distracting to some
Cobra’s King F9 Speedback Driver aero package was inspired by supercars that Cobra dubbed “aeroficiency”. The ground-breaking combination of low CG and an aerodynamic head is the first of its kind resulting in more distance from faster clubhead speed and reduces spin.
Aerodynamic enhancements and enhanced rigidity of the carbon crown is achieved through the strategically placed “PWR Ridges maximizing speed and distance.
A reduction in drag is achieved through the use of lightweight polymer crown trips and titanium sole trips positioned relative to the direction of airflow.
The more triangular shape compared to other drivers on the market helps to slide the club through the air. The high placement of weight on the clubhead causes a loss in distance due to increased spin.
By raising the perimeter skirt and rounding the leading edges to increase speed and stability through drag reduction, Cobra created what they call an “Aeroficient” driver.
The main color on the 2019 range is a yellow and black color scheme with a secondary option called Avalanche color of snow, which is not quite pure white.
The sound and feel of the King F9 driver was also a little better too and combined with a good selection of quality shafts you get a club that feels very poised and stable.
Increased ball speed is achieved through the aerodynamic crown and restyled sole.
The most noticeable change from the 2018 model is that the blue color is replaced by black to achieve wider acceptance in a market that is returning to the conservative side.
The polished weave pattern on the crown provides a confident feel. The less pronounced sole utilizing Wave Technology has fewer ridges resulting in a stiffened sole and improved ball speed. Here is a markable improvement in feel from its predecessor and the ST190 with a reduction in the pitch off the face compared to the ST180.
Mizuno’s use of Harmonic Impact Technology results in a fine-tuned solid sound at impact. The improved adjustability with the Fast Track increases the workability of the club allowing for control of spin and direction.
The ST190 is a simpler, weight-back driver with the ST190G being super adjustable with two sliding weight tracks allowing for fine-tuning of spin and shaping shots.
It retains the distance of its predecessor but creating too much spin. The ST190 Cortech Face is 10% than the rest of the head while retaining the same Forged SP700 titanium for the rest of the head.
Mizuno offers 26 shafts without an upcharge.
The ST190 is a competitive driver in the current premium driver market with the company returning to a dark look rather than the limited appeal of the blue drivers of the previous model. The ST 190 is a competitive driver but by no means a class leader.
Ping is not the golf business rushing into equipment changes that have no benefit to the player. The G410 Plus is the first time that Ping has added movable weights to their drivers.
Ping’s new G410 SFT (Straight Flight Technology) Driver is their most fade correcting driver yet built with a draw bias
Maximized clubhead speed is achieved through a lighter swing weight but allows additional to achieve a square face at impact
The Ping G410 range has a slightly lighter color than the preceding G400 range, which is only really noticeable when placing the clubs alongside each other.
The long white grooved lines on the face (Turbulators) is meant to assist with alignment when addressing the ball.
The aerodynamically shaped crown has more-efficient Turbulator Technology creating less drag during the downswing creating improved clubhead speed and distance. The patented heat-treatment process used by Ping to create the precision forged face creates a thinner and hotter impact are resulting in maximum flexing.
An awesome sound and feel are achieved through the process of forging and the head’s internal geometry. By adding movable weights for the first time, Ping has produces its most workable driver to date.
This fist moveable weight product from Ping is highly recommended for people that are fighting a fade bias and that want to move to a more draw-biased club. It is recommended that the draw bias be set on the G410 Plus.
5. TaylorMade M5 / M6
The M6 is an all-round offering that is one of the easiest drivers to hit currently on the market. The combination of soft looks, stable head, great sound, speed, and forgiveness will suit the majority of mid to high handicap golfers.
- Highly forgiving
- Intuitive adjustability
- Impressive ball speeds and distance
- Relatively expensive
- No major improvements on earlier versions
TaylorMade introduces new technology named ‘speed injected twist-face’ in the new M6 driver pushing the boundaries at the edge of the Coefficient of restitution (COR) yet staying within the legal limits of speed regulations.
The technological improvements despite, the player still experiences more forgiveness than in previous models.
More ball speed is generated as by a larger sweet spot resulting from the screws in the clubface.
The M6 player would likely:
- Require maximum forgiveness
- Have limited to no need for adjustability
- Be able to work the ball
- Not be overly concerned with spin
TaylorMade M6 Specs:
- 460CC head
- Length: 45.75 inches
- Loft: 9, 10.5, 12 degree
- D3 swing weight
- Adjustable Loft Sleeve
The M6 has a sleeker aerodynamic shape than the M4 before it. The crown consists of a 6 layer carbon fiber sole allowing for weight to be applied elsewhere to improve stability.
With the weight savings, engineers were able to create a sleek, aerodynamic shape inclusive of the new ‘inertia generator.’ The inertia generator houses the additional discretionary weight extremely low and back for maximum forgiveness while lowering the CG compared to previous models.
The M6 has a lower and deeper weight in the sole thanks to a carbon sole. The M5 has a moveable inverted T-track on the sole allowing for a 20 gram movable to be installed. The matte black traditional shaped crown inspires confidence and assists with the easy of alignment.
The sound off the face is more muted than the M4 with a stronger feel through the ball.
There are four key features to the design of Speed Injected Twist Face that allow TaylorMade to maximize ball speed;
- Ultra-thin Titanium face with redesigned Inverted Cone Technology (ICT)
- Reengineered, more-flexible Hammerhead 2.0 slot
- Internal support foam with variable amounts of injected resin
- A proprietary algorithm to tune each head, which is inspected, measured and then tuned for maximum speed and to ensure conformity.
6. Titleist TS2 / TS3
The TS range is a major improvement on the 917 range with increased feel and performance. With TS range, Titleist is back in contention regarding distance whilst continuing to have consistency.
- Low drag
- High clubhead speeds and good distance
- Highly forgiving
- Some find less control with the longer shaft
From start to finish, the TS (Titleist Speed) Project was about driving ball speed and unlocking a level of performance that golfers simply couldn’t ignore. – Josh Talge, VP, Titleist Golf Club Marketing
The TS2 allows for a straighter higher-launching fairway finder. The TS3 is more for traditionalists that prefer to optimize performance and shape shots.
The weight chamber at the back of the sole allows for an increase or decrease of the head’s weight. This, in turn, assists in choosing the shaft as a result of the changes in MOI and swing weight.
To assist in the effectiveness of the thinner features the Titleist designers streamlined head shape of the TS2 and TS3 drivers by raising the top of the club just behind the leading edge.
This reduced drag by 20% and assisted in achieving swing faster clubhead speeds. An improvement in aerodynamics was furthermore achieved by a steeper chamber between the face and the top of the crown,
The titanium crown is 20% thinner than the 917 drivers and in the process shaved 20% or 1mm of the crown. In terms of the face where 6g was cut of the weight which is a tremendous amount in terms of clubhead weight.
The face is now .35 mm thinner resulting in Titleist’s thinnest ever face. This was achieved through the implementation of Titleist’s Radial VFT (variable face thickness) concept which reduces the weight of the head and with the Speed Chassis system at the heart of unlocking speed.
Titleist drivers have improved 12% in forgiveness over previous drivers as a result of the changes.
This steeper camber from the face to the top of the crown and then a sharper drop off behind that is effectively what improves the aerodynamics. It holds the air closer to the head for longer in the same way these air tripping devices like SpeedSteps and Turbulators do and is just another way of achieving a similar result.
The Speed Chassis lowered and deepened CG more than any previous Titleist drivers. New lighter and longer stock shaft add to the increase in speed gains.
- Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage Black Dual Core 50: Lightweight, high launch and spin shaft. Straight Flight Weighting (SFW) reduces fade flight.
- Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei AV (Aluminium Vapor) Blue 55: Lightweight, mid-launch/spin shaft that also features SFW technology. The AV stands for, which is a coated weave by the hands that’s tighter, denser, and thinner for control.
- Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 60: Low/mid-launch and spin shaft with a higher balance point to optimize the swing weight. An 80-gram shaft is also available at no upcharge.
- Project X Even Flow T1100 White 65: Heavy with low launch/spin. An 85-gram shaft is also available at no upcharge.
New Golf Driver FAQ’s
How much forgiveness should I expect from a new driver?
Consistency is crucial in your ability to lower your handicap and improve scores. Knowing your weaknesses will aid you in selecting the correct driver.
Consistent misses in direction can be rectified by purchasing an adjustable driver that will enable you to fine-tune the weighting of the driver to correct your predominant miss and set up a draw or fade bias.
Inconsistent misses, however, lead to weak drives lacking in distance, and loss of direction on off-center strikes. This will require a driver that reduces the amount of backspin and sidespin.
A reduction in sidespin will keep your golf ball closer to the middle of the fairway and fewer drives in rough. Contact on the heel of the clubface results in weak slicing ball flight while contact with the toe of the clubface results in a draw or hook.
Another area where golfers often struggle is making contact too high or too low on the clubface. The sweet spot of the driver clubface is not exactly in the middle but slightly to the right and the upper end of the middle.
Contact low on the clubface, often referred to as a thin shot, you will lose distance but still fly straight. High contact is the preferred miss as it reduces spin that can lead to more distance. A word of caution though, if you make contact too high it will leave unsightly marks on the crown for everyone to see that you have hot some pop-ups
To mitigate the mishits, manufacturers continue to make improvements in drivers to produce a clubface that reduces the impact of your mishits. The most forgiving drivers will minimize the loss of distance and direction by providing a larger sweet spot and minimize the effect of off-center hits.
Which shaft flex should I choose?
The flex of a shaft can be defined as the rating of the ability to bend during the golf swing.
The strength and swing speed exerts a variety of stresses on the driver shaft affecting the optimal distance and direction of the golf ball.
The is no industry standard for the rating of the shaft flex adding some complexity in the selection of the correct flex which is of extreme importance.
Selecting the most suitable shaft for your swing speed can improve your carry distance to up to 20%. Lighter shafts with less flex produce a higher draw-biased ball flight, while heavier stiff shafts will produce a lower ball flight that tends to shape the ball to the right.
Fast swing speeds will necessitate either a stiffer shaft, median swing speeds will favor a regular shaft, low flex in the shaft will produce better quality shots and provide more control for slower swing speeds or seniors.
Other than weight and flex, other factors play a role in the efficiency of a shaft.
The twisting movement of the shaft is measured in degrees and referred to as torque. Increased shaft twist leads to a higher rating and a softer feel. The higher the torque the higher the ball trajectory will be.
Kick-point or flex-point is measured at the point where the shaft bends and impacts the ball trajectory. For a low shot trajectory, a high kick-point is preferred while a high shot trajectory requires a low kick-point.
What head size is right for me?
The question that is frequently asked is whether a smaller size driver can perform as well or better than a larger one. The resounding answer to that is that the majority of golfers believe that a bigger clubhead on a driver is better.
Due to the demand for larger clubheads from the market, manufacturers provide the maximum
The larger clubhead enables the manufacturers to provide a higher Moment of Inertia (MoI) leading to better performance on off-center strikes.
It is possible to produce the same amount of spring capability, or Coefficient of Restitution (CoR), on a smaller clubface that still achieves the limit set by the governing bodies.
Most drivers available measure between 440 and 460c. Golfers that prefer to shape their drives prefer the 440cc drivers while 460cc heads which generally offer more forgiveness.
What is the best material?
In the early days of golf drivers were manufacturers from wood and later steel was used. With the advancement in technology, manufacturers have discovered that they can produce larger heads with more forgiveness using titanium.
Most drivers available today are manufactured using titanium, carbon composite heads, or a bit of both.
Titanium is commonly used for its strong, long-lasting, and lightweight properties. This enables manufacturers to maximize the clubhead size without adding weight thus creating a faster and longer drive with a reduced margin for error with a larger sweet spot.
The use of lightweight material enables manufacturers to alter the weighting or Center of Gravity (CoG) and a titanium face produces optimal ball speeds. Manufacturers use heavier materials such as tungsten to increase a club’s perimeter weighting for a higher MOI.
How does shaft length affect a driver?
The legal limit set by the governing bodies for a driver shaft is 48 inches, but most drivers are between 43 and 46 inches.
The reason that manufacturers do not push the envelope on this specific limit is based on physis. A longer shaft can create more speed, but you will have to sacrifice some control and shot dispersion.
Studies have proven that shafts between 43 inches and 46 inches provide the optimal combination of speed and control.
Should I use weights in the clubhead?
Golfers have been adding weights to their clubs for many years to achieve their preferred ball flight.
The additional weight can alter the CoG and MoI properties of the club. Adding weight to the heel of the club will create a draw bias while the additional weight on the toe side of the club will lead to a more fade bias.
To launch the ball higher you have to add weight to the back of the driver sole.
Manufacturers have made the use of weight to optimize the ball flight by adding sliding weights or plugs between 1 and 20 grams on the sole of the club.
Top of the range drivers will enable you to adjust the weight between the heel and the toe of the club as well as the front and the back of the clubhead.
Final Thoughts On Choosing a New Driver
There are so many drivers available and this is due to there being no “one size fits all”. We all have different priorities and needs. A good driver that works well with your swing style and speed is an essential piece of equipment. While all clubs are important, there is a good reason people invest more time, effort, and money in their drivers and driving skills. Getting it right is important.
We have presented some of the best golf drivers and there is something for everyone. Consider your needs, your strengths, and weaknesses and select the best one for your game.
The Callaway Epic Flash/Epic Flash Sub Zero stands out as our top pick for the best golf driver for this year. The technology and design of this driver give it forgiveness and distance. It is a pleasure to drive and will help many golfers perform better off the tee.
- The Best Drivers for Beginners
- Best Golf Driver For Distance
- Drivers For High Handicappers
- Drivers For Seniors and Older Golfers
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.