Drivers Buyers' Guide


With dozens of different models on offer, the choice of drivers can be a bit overwhelming. To help narrow down the options, we’ve put together a quick 6 Step Guide.

 1: Which Material?

 2: Which Model?

 3: Which Shape?

 4: Which Loft?

 5: Which Shaft?

 6: Next Generation?

Which Material?

A driver is the big fella you used off the tee on long holes. The size of the head is measured by volume in cubic centimetres – 460cc being the biggest allowable. As a rule, the aim with the driver is to hit the ball as far as you can – and preferably down the fairway (hitting it miles into the trees is not going to impress your buddies or help your score).

Virtually all drivers manufactured today have heads made of titanium (e.g. Callaway Diablo driver below - right) and/or carbon composite (e.g. Callaway FT-9 driver below - left) – materials which are much lighter than steel and allow manufacturers to make a great big head which has a great big sweet spot. Drivers have very thin faces which, on contact with the ball, produce a 'trampoline effect' whereby the face 'gives' slightly on impact and, in a fraction of a second, restores itself, catapulting the ball off and increasing distance.

As an aside, you may have heard of some drivers being deemed Non-conforming – or illegal - in club competitions – after January 2008. The technical term for the trampoline effect mentioned above is the Coefficient of Restitution – and the legal maximum is 0.83. In simple terms, this means that if you fired a golf ball at a clubface at 100 mph – it would rebound at 83 mph. If it rebounds at a higher speed, the club would be illegal. No such are clubs are made any more – and no such clubs are on golfbidder.

All Golfbidder's drivers are legal and conform to the rules.

A carbon-composite headed Callaway FT-9 driver and a titanium headed Callaway Diablo driver

Which Model?

Unsurprisingly, all the manufacturers claim that their drivers are the longest/most forgiving etc etc. The reality is that modern drivers from the top manufacturers such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Ping, Titleist and Mizuno are all superb pieces of equipment. And which one you opt for will come down to a combination of the look and feel, budget, brand loyalty (if you have one – don’t worry if you haven’t!). Aside from the standard models, some manufacturers now offer a choice of ‘Offset’, ‘Draw’ or ‘Neutral’ options. Let’s look at why...

The vast majority of golfers slice/fade the ball (for right-handed golfers that means the ball veers to the right when you don’t want it to). This occurs because the clubface is more ‘open’ (pointing to the right in simple terms) than it should be when the ball is struck – often because the player’s hands are ‘behind the ball’ at impact – instead of ‘ahead’ which with a good swing they would be.

The manufacturers attempt to compensate for this in one of two ways – by placing weight inside the clubhead (something heavy – normally tungsten) in such a position that it helps you keep the clubhead more ‘closed’ at impact. A draw is a slight right-left (for right-handed golfers) swing on the ball – the opposite of a slice and much more desirable – hence ‘draw’ enhanced woods. Courtesy of Callaway golf, the graphic belwo shows the draw, neutral and fade options on their award-winning FT-5 driver.

Chart displaying corrective nature of Draw, Neutral and Fade weighted clubs

Some manufacturers – notably TaylorMade and, latterly, Mizuno with the new MP-600 driver, allow you to actually change the weighting yourself. This option allows the user to customise the weighting of the club to their own specific needs - taking adjustability one step further than the factory weighted clubs outlined above. Of course you cannot change the setup of your driver during your round - but if you find youself playing a course that suits a fade one week then a draw the next you’ll have a driver that will suit both - without any changes to your swing, grip etc. Your essentially getting 3 drivers in one - a draw, fade and neutral!

TaylorMade CBG Max and Mizuno MP-600 drivers

A more extreme solution for inveterate slicers is to make the club so that the head is a little ‘offset’ behind the shaft – which has the similar effect of keeping the clubhead less open at impact. Such ‘Offset’ drivers are good for those with slower swing speeds such as seniors.

Which Shape?

It was Nike who were first to move away from the traditional shape driver with their Sumo Squared driver. I understand that it was K.J. Choi who was the first of their Touring Professionals who first took it out on the PGA Tour - causing quite a strip and quite a racket!) when he first hit it on the practice range. Callaway soon followed suit with the FT-i and more recently the FT-iQ (pictured below).

Titleist flirted with the idea of a triangle shaped driver but this soon fell away with them reverting back to their traditional par shaped head on the new 909 range.

The idea of the square-headed driver is really rather simple. By moving weight to the perimeters the Moment of Inertia (MOI) can be increased. Another feature of the square driver is that it aids in the alignment of tee shots. The square club helps the player visualise the line of the shot much more easily than traditional shaped drivers.

Callaway FT-iQ (Squared) and a Nike Sumo 5000 (Traditional) drivers

Which Loft?

Driver loft refers to the angle of the face in relation to the vertical - and on drivers, each model will typically be available in a range from 8 degree to 13 degrees.

In very simple terms, lower loft clubs have a slightly lower trajectory – but go a little further in the hands of very powerful golfers (they go less distance in the hands of normal players who can’t generate the clubhead speed required to get the most from the club). Higher loft clubs (eg 12/13 degree) are best for those with slower swing speeds who need the clubface to help get the ball airborne more easily – typically seniors, juniors, or lady golfers).

Lofts in the range 9-11 degrees (like the TaylorMade driver pictured above, are for the vast majority of us (90% or more) who have neither a particularly fast or slow swing. Almost all drivers sold nowadays are in the 9-11 degree and you won’t go far wrong with one of these regardless of your handicap.

TaylorMade R9 and a Titleist D Comp driver

Which Shaft?

All drivers manufactured today have shafts that are made of graphite (rather than steel). Stiff flex shafts offer a little more accuracy for those with fast swing speeds (but less distance for those with slow speeds). A light flex shaft (that is, they are ‘whippier’ than normal) are good for those with slower swings speeds (again, seniors being an obvious example). Regular flex shafts are for the vast majority of us.

Various graphite driver shafts

Next Generation?

What sets the R9 driver apart from all other drivers is that it incorporates TaylorMade’s new Flight Control Technology, or FCT for short, with their original level of adjustment - Moveable Weight Technology. With a simple twist of a wrench, FCT allows you to change the R9's face angle, loft and lie angle.

It was a similar case with the Nike STR8-FIT. In 2008 the USGA and R&A announced that other forms of adjustability (other than weight adjustment) may also be permitted upon evaluation by the USGA and R&A. After this announcement Nike took this incredible opportunity to bring adjustability and customisation to all players with the introduction of the STR8-FIT driver. It differs from the R9 in that there are no weights to move. The STR8-FIT adapter built into the hosel gives the user 8 flight options with the simple twist of a wrench.

At Golfbidder we’re sure that this is not the end. Manufacturers spend millions of pounds each and every season so if you and we’re patient then I’m sure there’ll be another ‘revolutionary’ product on the horizon very soon.

The Next Genertaion - TaylorMade R9 and Nike Dymo STR8 Fit drivers

To Conclude

It follows from all of the above that the most golfers will be best off with regular flex drivers with a loft in the range 10-11 degrees. Fast-swinging, low-handicappers may opt for 9 or maybe 10 degrees with stiffer flex, while an offset driver with 11 or 12 degree and a light flex would be an ideal choice for a golfer who doesn’t swing the clubs as fast as he used to.

There’s no substitute for trying a few out and seeing what suits you best. All Golfbidder’s clubs comes with a No Risk Trial Period. Try one that seems to fit the bill, if it’s not an improvement on your current driver, simply send it back for a full refund – or try something else.

If you need any further help or advice, feel free to contact our PGA-qualified Customer Service Team.

Telephone: 0208 401 6901

Email: help@golfbidder.co.uk

They are here Monday-Friday 9-6 and will be more than happy to answer any questions.