This is The Hardest and Easiest Year to Find a Driver | The Hot List | Episode 1
Golf Digest equipment editors Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson break down the 2020 Hot List drivers, diving into their range of features and helping find the right match for your game. The Hot List presented by DICK's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.
Released on 2/13/2020
And I'm Mike.
Welcome to the Discovery Studios
here in lower Manhattan,
where we're about to embark on a new series,
dealing with the topic of golf equipment.
I think what we're trying to do in this setting,
is teach people the same things we teach them
on our website, and in the magazine:
how to be a smarter consumer,
in a world that's really complicated,
and full of a lot of confusing things,
but things that'll make them a better golfer.
We got a lot of clubs here to deal with.
We have a lot of technology to talk about,
and hey, how cool is this?
We even have our own simulator.
Welcome to the Hot List,
presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.
So it's everybody's favorite topic, drivers.
It's the biggest hit on the Golf Digest Hot List.
It's what everybody wants to call
the sexiest club in the bag, and with good reason,
because it's all about hitting the ball farther.
And I think what we find this year,
looking at the Golf Digest Hot List,
this is at one sense the hardest year
to find a driver that's right for you,
and in another sense, the easiest year
to find a driver for you.
There are, on this year's Hot List,
there are nine drivers that make the list,
but they're really 23 models,
and that is a impossible search,
if you don't know what you're doing,
if you're not getting some guidance from a fitter,
but the point is, there's a model
that's gonna maximize your potential.
And it's not just maximizing the potential,
it's maximizing the potential
for a certain type of golfer.
The reason they're 23 drivers instead of only nine,
is that there are so many different types of player types.
You may need someone whose got a need
for ultimate forgiveness.
Someone else may need low spin.
Someone else may need high launch.
Or if you're like me, you might need a draw biased driver.
Yeah, exactly, and I think the search is the challenge.
You need to be open to that possibility.
It's too easy to say, I know what I am,
and not know what you are,
but just grab the standard model.
I think what we've seen in driver design
over the last decade or so is,
is obviously this race to more distance.
The idea that, well, the USGA put limits
on how much the face can flex,
and how much off center hit forgiveness there can be,
so let's push as much as we can,
whether it's saving a gram here,
or using a different material in the face, etc., etc.
Okay, we've got maximum distance,
and I think all of these drivers have figured out a way
to maximize the way the face flexes,
the amount of ball speed that you can get.
What we're figuring out now,
what we're seeing right now, is sort of beyond distance.
This is distance that has no compromise,
so in other words, I don't have to have a driver,
for instance, that works for everybody,
because I only need the Callaway Mavrik Max,
or the Taylormade SIM Max D.
I know those are the drivers
that are gonna give me the best potential distance,
so I don't want another driver,
because it has things that don't really help me.
So I think the idea of optimizing for the individual
is where we are,
and that's how you get the longest distance.
And it's not just optimizing for the individual, right?
I mean one question we get all the time is,
well the center of the face is maxed out,
how do you get more distance?
Well it's easy how you get more distance.
We don't hit it on the center of the face very often,
you don't hit it on the center of the face at all,
and I remember years ago talking
with one of the R and D people
at one of the big equipment companies,
and I said, Well you're pretty much done.
The center hit's maxed out.
And he took his Sharpie out,
and he put dots all over the face of a driver,
and he goes, When I can make all those behave
like the center of the face, that's when I'm done,
so, driver design evolves.
It's for individual players.
It's why a club like the Titleist TS1,
lightweight club is really great for grandpa,
and why the Titleist TS4, you know,
it's for a beast.
It's for Adam Scott and maybe
not many other players on Earth.
And the thing is,
those drivers sound different in ways,
and they are fundamentally different,
but the core technologies,
the things that make them work,
and make the ball go far, are very similar.
Whether it's thinning out the crown,
or having a new face structure,
or a new face geometry.
Whether it's embracing an aerodynamic shape,
like SIM has done, or embracing three different shapes
the way Callaway Mavrik family has done.
We saw this idea several years back.
Ping has done it for years with their G drivers.
So you had most recently the G410,
the G410+, the G410LST, the G410SFT.
Core technology, but in specific ways
that sort of don't compromise for the individual golfer.
Yeah, and one of those individual golfers is me,
and I know exactly what we're talking about here,
because I've experienced it firsthand.
You know, my...
I've experienced you firsthand also,
and it's ah,
it's a special moment. It's a wonderful thing,
Isn't it a great moment?
Love means never having to say you're sorry.
What we have here are two drivers
from Cleveland Golf, the Launcher HB Turbo,
the standard version and the draw version.
And I tend to hit the ball off to the right,
sometimes it's a fade, sometimes it's a pretty big cut,
so I need help getting the ball moving left.
So, this is the standard version.
I'm probably gonna end up on the right side
of the fairway hopefully,
and not in the right trees.
Let's take a look.
that's in the right trees. That's in the
right trees all right.
[Mike] Looks like fairway though.
That's a wide fairway,
I wish all of them were like that.
So, you know, that is 58 1/2 yards to the right.
Now, granted, you now sitting at the desk there,
that's a little bit of a stiff swing,
but you get the idea.
My typical shot is off to the right.
Well let's look at that backspin number too.
That's a clear indication that there's way too much spin
on your shots, which is also true,
regardless of what kind of driver you're using.
Exactly, 4686 RPM of spin,
that is way too high for me.
Good tee shots should be somewhere, 32, 3300.
So we'll haul out the draw version,
and see if we can't at least get the ball moving
a little bit to the left,
and maybe kill some of that spin a little bit,
and take it from there.
Wow. That is much better,
and that's why I use a draw driver.
That is life changing, boys and girls.
As you can see, that ball's going left
of the center line modestly.
You know, 19 yards to the left.
The spin's still a little high, 3800,
but you know, I will take that.
242 yards off the tee, down the middle,
that plays for most folks,
and one of the differences,
and one of the reasons I was able to achieve that,
is the draw driver takes weight,
and it puts weight in the heel.
That allows the face of the club
to rotate through the ball much more efficiently.
It also has a shut face.
It may not be always pretty to look at,
but when that face is turned in a little bit,
and that face angle's turned in a little bit,
that is gonna be a very effective means
to help you get the ball moving to the left.
So, anyone who's like me,
who has trouble hitting the ball down the middle,
or even getting it to move right to left,
I would implore you, give a draw driver a try,
or a driver with adjustability traits
that allow you to put weight way into the heel.
There are a lot of different ways
to get that ball moving to the left.
Well again, look at the reduction in spin,
and I think, you know, another thing
that we don't really talk about
when you're talking about getting in the right driver,
is that it frees you up to make a better swing
Without question. when you know
the shot to the right isn't in play anymore.
Isn't something that is any part
of your thought process. Right, if you're terrified
of hitting it into the right trees,
you're gonna take a tentative swing.
There's just no doubt about it,
and if you can just free that swing up,
you're gonna make a much better pass at the ball.
And I think we also need to learn something
about the fitting process here too.
Whether you're getting fit on a range,
or getting fit indoor on a simulator,
with the GC Quad that we have here,
what's projected in the range is basically all fairway,
so it looks like you're getting a lot of roll,
even if it lands 50 yards to the right.
The fact is, obviously when you play a golf course,
you're in the right trees, you're in the right rough,
you're not getting any roll,
so the shot's gonna be shorter in the rough.
If you hit it straighter,
if you get it in the fairway,
there's a lot more roll once that ball lands,
so not only are you straighter,
you're longer, and I think generally better looking
and more intelligent.
And the beer tastes better at the bar, right?
Especially when someone else is buying it,
And odds are greater of that if you are in the fairway.
But I think the real takeaway here is,
don't be afraid to go out and fiddle
with an adjustable driver if you have one.
I mean, there are myriad of settings.
Go out, take a bucket of balls, take the wrench,
try them all out.
It reminds of an interview I did
with Charles Howell III last year,
where I asked him about his Titleist TS3 driver,
and I said, Hey Charles, do you ever use
the adjustable features on that club?
And he said, Absolutely I do.
He said, I take it out.
I try it in all 16 settings, which is a lot.
He knows 14 of those settings he's never going to use,
but he wants to know what the ball's gonna do,
how it's gonna behave,
because he said, You never know
if there's a weather condition that might dictate
that I need to put it in one of those settings.
Thing is, obviously as a professional,
you wanna be very close to your equipment, right?
Whatever your job is, you don't wanna be holding something
that feels completely foreign to you.
On a golf course, your job is to be a golfer.
You wanna be very familiar with your equipment.
Know how you respond to it,
know how it responds, and I think that breeds confidence.
That breeds a smoother swing,
and let's face it, if you can't get the tee shot right,
the whole day is gonna be
a waste of time, okay? It's pretty bad.
It is hard to play golf
when you're re-teeing several times a round.
First hand knowledge
right there. Thank you very much.
That's why I'm here.
We are here to inform, educate,
hopefully entertain a little bit,
but also answer some of the questions
that you might have of us,
and we received one from the lovely Twitter handle,
@thecigarmafia, who hopefully won't whack us
if we don't give him the answer he wants,
but he asked us, Do golf clubs have a shelf life?
And, you know it's a question we get quite often.
People wanna know, is this driver
of mine gonna hold up over time?
And the answer is, if you're a tour player
like Cameron Champ, who broke his driver
prior to the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship,
A lot of tour players, they use the club so often,
they swing at such a high rate of speed,
that eventually, you know, metal will fatigue,
and it will crack, or it'll cave in,
or whatever it'll be.
But, you know, for everyday players,
I think the answer's a little different.
Well again, not to cast aspersions
on Mr. Cigar Mafia,
but what manufacturers do in terms of testing durability
is what's called high cycle fatigue.
They're hitting thousands of shots.
Thousands of shots at literally 120 miles an hour or faster.
Now 120 mile an hour clubhead speed,
that is .001% of the population,
not just of earth, but probably the entire solar system,
so there are not a lot of individuals
who can swing that fast.
So if you're not swinging that fast,
you may not even get to that point,
to where you're creating anything like fatigue
in the face of a driver.
We talked to Doctor Paul Wood at Ping,
one of the smartest people we know,
and his simple explanation is,
the club itself will last longer
than the golfer using it, okay?
So, I think what's gonna happen is,
you're gonna wanna buy a new driver,
you're never gonna need to buy a new driver,
because it doesn't work anymore.
Without a doubt.
I mean I've been playing golf for 45 years,
and I've never had a driver
that's just flat out broke,
or had the face cave in, or had the face crack,
so if you got a club and you use it fairly regularly,
how's that, you're gonna be able
to hold onto that as long as you want to.
And I think the other thing,
and the beauty of where we are in fitting today,
is that if you think your driver's lost something,
take it into a place where you're gonna get fit.
They've got a launch monitor right there.
They've got new drivers right there.
You just test your driver against the old one.
If you see a difference,
then you have a decision to make
about whether your difference that you're seeing
is worth the investment.
We think in a lot of cases,
especially with the new crop of drivers,
you're gonna find that it's worth the investment.
As we said, we're here to answer your questions
if you have them.
If you do, hit up Mike or myself on Twitter.
We'll get to them either in this segment,
a future show, or online.
Like we've been trying to say,
it's not just that new equipment will make you better.
It's that the right new equipment will make you better.
And the way you get to the right new equipment,
is to get smarter, get with a fitter,
and you're gonna get better and more confident
with your golf game.
Til next time.