Are you a lover of golf, looking for the best driver? Join the club. If you’re anything like me then the driver comes out of the bag even when you know it shouldn’t. “He who dares, wins” and all that. Too often though, “he who dares” ends up in the shrubbery on the right, 50 yards from the tee, regretting the decision not to go with the 3 wood.
But it’s those occasional, glorious blasts up the middle that make it all worthwhile and keep us regularly going against our better judgement. Those are the shots you remember. The ones you brag to your friends about. That’s why so many of us have such an obsession with the driver and the search for that magical club that will allow us to hit at least a little bit like the pros, every once in a while.
With the continuing advancements in golfing technology this is now more within reach than ever before, but choosing the best golf driver can still be a daunting task. Unless you read our handy guide to the best drivers, of course.
How to buy the best golf driver for you
Little in golf is simple, and buying the best driver it isn’t as straightforward as just going into the pro shop and buying whatever your favourite pro golfer is using. The best driver for Rory McIlroy is probably not going to be the one best for you and your swing.
One of the most important things to remember is that the higher the loft the more forgiving the club. So while the pros and low handicappers will be smashing it miles with a 7 degree loft on their driver, for the rest of us mere mortals a 10.5 or even a 13 degree club would be a more prudent choice.
Manufacturers will try to sell you on the extra distance their latest state of the art driver will give you, but be wary. It might help you if you have a swing like Dustin Johnson but there is no guarantee it will add extra yards to your game and if it comes at the cost accuracy then is it really worth it anyway? A good rule of thumb is to try it before you buy it.
The first thing you should do is to have a club fitting with an expert (your local golf club or retail outlet usually provide this service). The benefits of this are huge. For instance, if you don’t know your swing speed then how do you know what shaft is right for you? Then there are other factors, such as length, lie, loft and grip.
Matching a club to your swing gives you the best chance of improving your game and this is especially important when it comes to finding the right driver as it’s the most difficult club in the bag to master, not to mention the most expensive.
Give yourself the best chance to do it by ensuring that whichever one you choose is suited to your swing. Don’t just go and buy a club because “Tiger Woods used it to win the Masters”.
To be the best golfer you can be you need to kit yourself out with the equipment that suits you, not somebody else, especially when that somebody is better than you’ll ever be. This is especially important with the driver. So with that in mind, here are a variety of the best drivers that will help you do just that.
The best golf drivers you can buy today
So here it is: the best driver. In my humble opinion, when it comes to state of the art golf technology, this bad boy leads the way. Callaway apparently spent around $5m on Super Computers, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to produce a club that has raised the bar in driver design. The results are spectacular, as the Epic Flash and this, the Epic Flash Sub Zero really are something to behold.
The new Flash Face technology allowed Callaway to focus on increasing ball speed for shots that do not come off the centre of the face, as well as for those that do. In layman’s terms this means your bad shots won’t be as bad and your best shots will be better, making this club ideal for mid-to-low handicappers.
Jailbreak technology (two internal bars that connect the crown and the sole to stabilise the club head) and a lighter carbon fibre in the crown gives the club more discretionary weighting and helps generate faster ball speed, reduced spin and longer carry.
Other benefits include adjustable weights. These allow golfers to easily create subtleties in their swing, aiding with ball flight and shape of shot, promoting or, just as crucially, negating, a draw or fade. An adjustable hosel means you can set the loft of the club to whatever suits you best. Who doesn't love an adjustable hosel?
As you probably know, in Callaway this year released the Mavrik, which it claimed will add five yards more distance than even the Epic Flash. However, having tested both this was definitely not the case for me. The Epic Flash is still The Daddy.
Please note: In case you were wondering what the difference is, Epic Flash Sub Zero has two moveable weights, while the Epic Flash has a heavier sliding track weight.
The result of this is that the Epic Flash has a higher ball flight and so may be easier for the higher handicap player to use. I would recommend testing out both to see which one best suits your swing…
• Buy from American Golf in the UK (but not in America, ironically)
Pound for pound the best driver on the market, the Cobra F9 SpeedBack feels great and sounds great. Some will say it looks great too, but that’s more down to personal preference and it won’t be to everybody’s liking. That doesn't change the fact that in terms of performance, this is a great club at a terrific price.
Cobra made a conscious decision to keep the price for the F9 at a much lower level than their competition. The F9 is up there with the very best drivers on the market but it’s considerably cheaper than its rivals.
The F9 was Cobras’ 2019 offering, but for 2020 they released the SZ (SpeedZone). In truth the difference is negligible, but by shopping around you should be able to pick the F9 up at a lower cost, making it the best value high end driver on the market.
The F9 doesn’t have the sliding weights that allow you to adjust for the shape of shot which might be off-putting to some, but personally I’d rather not have that option as it can lead to too much second guessing and tinkering after errant shots.
There are adjustable weights at front and back to aid with higher launch, however, and the Cobra Connect shot tracking in the grip allows you to connect to your smartphone via an app and record your distances, fairways hit and more.
The mid-high handicapper can’t go wrong with the RBZ. It’s much more affordable than many Taylor Made drivers but that isn’t reflected in its performance.
The RBZ is a forgiving club that will help you keep it on the fairway and it has a great feel to it when the ball comes off the club face. When you catch it on the sweet spot the ball comes off like a shotgun blast, which will really make you feel good about your game.
Titanium weights in the rear of the driver gets the ball higher at impact while the patented speed pocket feature reduces side spin while increasing distance. Another cool feature is the adjustable loft sleeve which gives you the option of increasing or decreasing the launch angle, ensuring greater control on drives.
More accomplished golfers might prefer a higher end driver, but for the higher handicapper – which is an awful lot of golfers, let's face it – there is no reason whatsoever not to buy this great club.
• Update: except that it is currently largely sold out. However, perhaps surprisingly, Decathlon has the TaylorMade RBZ driver in stock in the UK.
• In the USA, Amazon has stock of the RBZ
The new EZone Elite from Yonex packs plenty of features into a package that retails well under 100 bucks. For a start, there's the EZone's famed Octaforce technology, which can now be found in the club face as well as the crown (providing a lower and deeper centre of gravity as well as more repulsion). It's pretty forgiving on your swing despite offering a lower spin and higher launch.
This slightly older Callaway driver is nicely stabilised by its hourglass shape and thinner jailbreak bars, resulting in a faster ball for you. That weight distribution also makes this more forgiving so even on your off-day this could keep you firing straight and far. There are plenty of options to suit just what you need, from a maximum forgiveness Standard head to an added fade bias of the Sub Zero head or sole weight adjustable 2g and 14g Draw head versions for slicers.
This is a regular Swiss army knife of a driver, with the ability to adjust even the smallest of elements to improve your swing. With this in mind, the Titleist 917 is definitely for advanced players looking to polish the finer details of their game.