Best New Drivers 2018
Golf Digest editors Mike Stachura and Ashley Mayo examine how companies are improving driver technology despite increased equipment regulations.
Released on 1/30/2018
It seems like the rules of golf have
decided to pick on drivers
in controlling their design more than, say,
irons or other clubs.
Is that true? And if so, are we seeing better
drivers this year than other years?
Certainly from a practical standpoint, right,
the driver is the big bad cause of
distance gains and all that other stuff.
So there have been a lot of regulations
kinda limiting performance.
But manufacturers have said what's not limited
is things that we can do to improve
launch conditions, right?
So we can lower the center of gravity
and that's gonna help shots launch
higher with less spin.
That's a perfect recipe for distance.
So, there are all kinds of elements to helping
golfers take advantage of the technology
that have nothing to do with, say,
how fast the driver is off the robot.
So engineers are working well within the rules,
but they're still being creative.
Is there a big new design idea out there in drivers?
[Mike] I think the big idea is that
there are no compromises anymore, right?
There has certainly been this trend toward adjustability,
and whether, if there's a second trend,
it's toward forgiveness, right?
You have bigger drivers with big faces,
very stable, have very little adjustability
and then maybe more player's type drivers
have a lot of adjustability.
Well now what we're seeing is that
drivers that are super adjustable
are also forgiving,
therefore giving you this sort of
the same sort of forgiveness that you're
getting from the giant drivers,
and those giant drivers which tended to be
a little bit higher spinning,
which is not great for distance,
they've gotten better at lowering the CG,
so now you've got forgiveness and low spin.
That's a super combination for distance,
especially for people who tend to
hit it all over the face.
So adjustability has clearly evolved.
Is it necessary?
[Mike] I see players who are really,
really benefit from a lot of adjustability
because they're trying to dial in
a perfect ball flight.
Essentially that they're trying to enhance
their high skill level. Right?
The second group, which is a pretty big group, is,
Well, adjustability, not so much.
I want some, maybe, not too much.
But what I really want is the ball to go high
with less spin and maybe even a little
anti-slice in there if you wanna throw that in.
[Mike] Those are great things,
and as a matter of fact, on the hot list this year,
we have a driver that is not adjustable at all.
[Ashley] And then on the other
end of the spectrum as well, totally adjustable.
[Mike] On the other end, we have drivers
that have 13,000 settings on them.
Literally. I mean, the number of settings
on some of our adjustables are close to infinite.
And I think in addition to adjustability,
you've got really important face features
like TaylorMade's Twist Face,
which is designed to help things go
a little bit straighter.
You've got Callaway's Jailbreak,
which is sort of maximizing this ability
of the face to flex all over.
[Mike] So that you get more consistent ball speeds.
I think, at the end of the day,
whatever driver you want, you're gonna find it
in a better opportunity than you had before.
That's great. So, a lot of options out there.
What's the best way to find one,
the right one for me?
Don't go alone, right?
You need the benefit of a fitter.
[Mike] The benefit of fitting is that
with launch monitors,
you know what you have coming in
and what your options are on the other side,
and I think, in every case the other side is better.
Our testing shows that your four- or five-year-old
driver is six yards shorter on an on-center hit
and 11 yards shorter on an off-center hit.
Those are benefits that you can,
that will pay off in big time distance.
Alright. Go see a fitter.