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 →|
|Cleveland Golf Launcher Turbo Driver||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|TaylorMade M5 / M6||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Titleist TSi3 Mens Right Hand Driver||VIEW LATEST PRICE →|
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.
The Cleveland Golf Launcher Turbo Driver is designed to benefit the vast majority of golfers who play a round of golf at a Golf Club. The average golfer is not looking to shape the ball but merely wants to strike the ball from the tee as far and as straight as possible. There is now also a Draw option for those golfers who need more help in correcting the slice.
A turbocharged Cup Face that has a unique variable thickness pattern that stretches around the crown and sole providing extra flexibility over a larger impact area will increase the speed and distance that the ball travels and the Hi Core Crown design means the head is more rigid and that causes the face to rebound more when the ball is struck high up on the clubface.
Instead of having all the additional weight incurred from adjustable hosels, moveable weights and, other additions that are now found on most drivers these days. The reduced weight of about 35 grams is transferred to a large weight that is placed low and deep against the back of the head creating a good loft for a higher launch at impact.
The center of gravity is further reduced due to the Hi Core Crown design that has a prominent step down from the leading edge to a crown that angles down to the back creating a center of gravity that is 4.4 mm deeper and 2.2mm lower than the previous model.
The ultralight hosel has been designed to distribute the weight low and deep for a higher launch and more forgiveness. The MIYAZAKI C has a counterbalanced shaft design that is specifically designed for the Launcher Turbo driver. The center of gravity is relocated higher toward the grip enabling additional head mass for improved MOI or resistance to twisting on impact.
The Cleveland Golf Launcher Turbo Driver is a no thrill, reasonably priced driver that is designed for the average club golfer looking for a driver that will give good clubhead speeds and distance while still being forgiving.
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.
The Titleist TSi3 uses a titanium alloy (ATI 425) in the face of the driver. The ATI 425 is an alloy originally developed for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander and is also used in military armor applications.
The unique, titanium alloy face is lighter, much stronger and, durable while also providing more elasticity thus providing more ball speed across the face and more forgiveness on shots that are hit either high or low on the clubface. The TSi3 driver offers an improved powerful and appealing sound through impact.
The TSi3 has an Aeronamically designed 460cc head that has up to a 15% reduction in drag. The TSi3 head is smaller, more pear-shaped with a more rounded toe than the previous TS3 head. The improved shape increases clubhead speed and reduced spin thus the ball moves faster through the air achieving greater distances.
The slightly deeper and lower center of gravity offers increased stability to shots irrespective of where the ball strikes the head. The 5-setting SureFit CG adjustable weight track in the rear of the head accommodates five positions for the eight-gram weight: two on the heelside, two on the toe side and, a neutral setting.
While these settings indicate that heel-ward settings are draw settings and toe-ward settings are fade settings. The Director of Metalwood development for Titleist, Stephanie Luttrel explains that the center of gravity location can be referred to as a speed-fitting tool as well.
If a player tends to always miss toward the toe, aligning the center of gravity more with the toe of the head can help to increase their speed potential.
The TSi3 also has a 16-way hosel to enable you to adjust the loft and lie to fit what is most comfortable for you. The TSi3 driver (8,9,10 degrees) is offered in several standard shaft options. The Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black Dual-Core 5G. Mitsubishi Tensei AV RAW Blue, HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX and, Mitsubishi AV RAW White.
The TSi3 features commendable improvements to the TS3 model that it has replaced. It delivers increased clubhead speed with the resulting extra distance attained. The unique titanium face plus the adjustability of the center of gravity and hosel assist players from high to low handicapped players to hit longer and straighter with more forgiveness.
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.