How to Find the Right Driver for You | The Hot List | Episode 2

Golf Digest equipment editors Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson dive into the wide variety of drivers available on the 2020 Hot List, and what to look for when buying a new one. The Hot List presented by DICK's Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy.

Released on 2/24/2020

Transcript

00:00
Wait a second old man.
00:01
I wouldn't be me if I weren't rude.
00:03
[ball thudding]
00:05
[Mike J. laughing]
00:06
Can we do better than that?
00:10
Welcome to the Hot List presented by Dick's Sporting Goods,
00:12
and Golf Galaxy.
00:14
We're talking drivers.
00:15
And the drivers we're talking about today
00:16
are not any old drivers.
00:18
They're the drivers specifically for your game.
00:21
We're gonna talk about the technologies that allow
00:23
the manufacturers to kinda dial that in.
00:26
I think what we've seen with this year's crop of drivers
00:29
is this idea of customization, specialization,
00:33
no compromise; in other words, not getting a driver
00:36
that only works for all people in a limited way.
00:39
These are drivers that are specifically made
00:41
for your skillset, and that may be
00:43
I want forgiveness all the time,
00:45
that may be I need something that kills spin no matter what.
00:49
Yeah, and there's no shortage of options to do that,
00:52
as you can see from just what we have on the desk here.
00:54
I mean, you take the Callaway MAVRIK series, for example.
00:58
I mean, they have a max forgiveness driver,
01:01
they have a standard version that'll fit a lot of folks,
01:04
and then they have their Sub Zero version
01:05
which'll just absolutely kill spin
01:08
no matter how bad someone kinda gets it out there.
01:11
Now exactly, TaylorMade obviously has three drivers.
01:13
With the SIM series, you've got the most adjustable driver
01:17
in our lineup.
01:18
the SIM Max driver, is kinda the opposite of that.
01:22
It's still adjustable, but doesn't have the moveable weight
01:25
that the SIM driver has, so you've got, again,
01:28
a forgiveness-focused driver, and an adjustable driver
01:31
with forgiveness.
01:32
All three of those drivers emphasize aerodynamics.
01:35
Certainly the Titleist family of drivers
01:37
runs the gamut from a lighter weight driver,
01:40
to a more forgiving driver, to a super spin-killing,
01:46
low-launching, tour driver that someone like Adam Scott
01:51
will be perfectly made for.
01:53
I think sometimes we make this more complicated
01:55
than it actually is.
01:57
Something that most golfers talk about
01:59
is I want a driver that is forgiving.
02:01
How would I know that a driver is forgiving?
02:03
Well, one of the easy ways is to just look at the driver.
02:08
Another easy way is to look at its name.
02:10
So you look at what Cobra's done with the King Speedzone,
02:13
you have the standard King Speedzone,
02:16
and then you have the King Speedzone Xtreme.
02:18
Anything named Xtreme is gonna be
02:21
definitely something that's gonna help you out.
02:23
And like Mike said, you can just look at the driver,
02:27
the size of it front to back,
02:29
but also look at the size of the face.
02:31
A big face is usually a sign that you can hit it
02:35
on a wide swath of that, and get a fairly decent result.
02:38
And I will say this, obviously face technology
02:41
has come a long way just in the last five years.
02:45
I know for a fact that manufacturers were talking about
02:48
essentially the hot area of the face
02:51
being about the size of a dime.
02:54
Today that hot area of the face,
02:56
basically the area of the face that's really fast,
03:00
is now the size of a quarter.
03:02
And if you don't think that sounds like a lot,
03:04
next time you're out hitting,
03:05
really take a look at the face of your driver
03:07
and the impact points on it.
03:09
Yeah, you'll hit some outside of that area of a quarter,
03:12
but you're gonna hit an awful lot of them
03:14
within that spot.
03:15
You're not gonna hit very many within a dime.
03:18
So you're really able to take advantage of that technology.
03:21
Or you could just say, how many things can you buy
03:23
with a dime today?
03:24
That would be an indication that a dime's not really
03:26
that helpful anymore.
03:27
I mean, we should put some of these to the test.
03:30
I think many, many golfers struggle with high spin.
03:35
So I talked earlier about the Callaways driver,
03:41
the MAVRIK, and the MAVRIK Sub Zero,
03:43
and the Sub Zero really helps kill spin
03:47
by center of gravity movement.
03:49
Basically, they're moving the center of gravity
03:51
closer to the face.
03:53
That's gonna get the ball usually going a little lower,
03:56
a little less spin, and we should be able to see that.
03:59
Wait a second.
04:00
Wait a second, old man.
04:01
What?
04:02
We got a few more episodes to go through--
04:03
Old man?
04:04
And we need maybe a little young blood in this situation.
04:07
Okay, you're being replaced then, right?
04:09
I'm not volunteering, but I think Greg is our man
04:12
to might generate a little bit of club head speed
04:15
without going into traction, say, might be an issue for you.
04:19
We're doing that. Help us out here, please.
04:20
No problem.
04:23
So we're starting--
04:24
So we're starting with the standard version here.
04:27
So Greg's a big, strong boy, so he's gonna bring
04:30
some club head speed here.
04:32
We should be able to see some noticeable differences
04:35
between the two clubs.
04:39
[ball thudding]
04:41
And hopefully not ruining our simulator at the same time.
04:46
[Mike S.] Ball go far.
04:49
[Mike J.] That's a big boy hit right there.
04:51
284 yards, very nice,
04:53
backspin 2693; decent.
04:58
Not super low, but not super high, either.
05:01
So why don't you give the low-spin version a shot,
05:05
and see what we get?
05:06
Again, when you look at these drivers,
05:08
obviously they're adjustable for loft,
05:10
they're adjustable for lie angle, as well,
05:13
face angle, as well.
05:14
The MAVRIK Sub Zero has moveable weights front and back
05:18
so there's actually a heavier weight that you can
05:20
put to the front, and that should lower the spin even more
05:23
than having the heavier weight at the back.
05:29
[ball thudding]
05:32
So you should see a slightly lower flight--
05:34
[Mike J.] Even though he cut it.
05:36
[Mike S.] What?
05:37
[Mike J.] Let's see what the spin does.
05:42
277 in the distance, 2658 rpm's.
05:46
Greg, hit one more.
05:47
You hit a little bit of a cut,
05:49
that probably added to that backspin number a little bit.
05:54
And I think this is another illustration,
05:56
obviously, when you're going through a fitting
05:58
you don't wanna look for that one shot
06:00
to base your decision on.
06:01
You wanna kinda look at an average grouping of shots
06:04
and take the driver that gives you the best average,
06:07
the most consistent hit.
06:10
[ball thudding]
06:11
[Mike J.] Yeah, I think Mike made a very important point
06:13
on fitting there.
06:15
Too many golfers, they get enthralled in the cage,
06:18
or with the launch monitor,
06:19
and they end up saying, Hey, I hit that one shot
06:22
eight yards further than anything else.
06:25
Don't get fall into that trap.
06:27
You wanna find what's a typical hit for you,
06:30
and then compare your clubs based on your typical hit,
06:34
not your Sunday punch.
06:35
That one there, we see Greg brought it down
06:37
to 2251 rpm's, that's about 400 rpm's less
06:43
than the standard version.
06:45
A big boy like him may not need that,
06:47
but someone like me very well might.
06:50
Yeah, exactly.
06:51
When we're talking about low-spin drivers,
06:52
the tendency is to think that, oh, well that's only
06:56
for a tour player.
06:58
And I think, again, we want to emphasize that
07:01
you wanna be open-minded in this whole process
07:03
because you, as a high-slice, high-spin player,
07:09
might wanna explore the possibility of a low-spin driver
07:12
because it's a good way to knock off spin.
07:14
Instead of, for instance, feeling like,
07:17
well, I've just gotta get the lowest loft possible
07:19
to knock off spin, if I have a low-spin driver,
07:21
I can play maybe a little higher loft.
07:24
So I'm gonna launch it higher, but not as much spin
07:27
as I've been doing, and it might be a more
07:29
playable alternative for you even though you're not
07:33
necessarily quote a low-spin driver player,
07:36
or tour level-type player.
07:37
So again, expand the mind.
07:40
There's opportunities to get better
07:41
that are outside what you think normally.
07:43
And Greg, I apologize for my rude partner.
07:45
Thank you very much for helping us out there.
07:48
I wouldn't be me if I weren't rude.
07:49
That's true.
07:51
Hey, but part of what we see with all of this, though,
07:54
is there may be low-spin driver, max-forgiveness driver,
07:58
drivers that give you a high launch,
08:01
but one thing all these drivers do
08:02
is bring plenty of heat with them.
08:04
The face designs are really impressive,
08:07
they're getting super-thin,
08:09
you're coming with a really big trampoline now,
08:11
all of them are butting up against the USGA limit
08:14
for spring-like effect,
08:16
and sometimes if you're Xander Schauffele,
08:20
or some of the other players on the PGA Tour,
08:22
may be a little bit over that limit accidentally.
08:25
Yeah, it's a very complicated idea,
08:28
but essentially what's happening is that
08:30
driver faces are getting so thin, so close to the limit,
08:34
that there is a tendency for some of them, over time,
08:37
to get closer and closer to that limit,
08:39
and maybe over that limit.
08:41
Like Mike said, the idea with manufacturing and design
08:45
is to get as close to the rules as possible,
08:47
but still stay within the rules.
08:50
When we do the Hot List at Golf Digest,
08:53
we bring in the USGA to do performance testing for us
08:57
in terms of CT, what's known as characteristic time,
09:00
which is spring-like effect, and we occasionally find
09:03
drivers that are over the limit.
09:05
We find drivers that are very close to the limit,
09:08
but we wanted to talk about what it means
09:10
to be quote non-conforming.
09:13
These are not drivers that are trying to be non-conforming.
09:16
These are drivers that are trying to be at the limit,
09:19
and get just a little bit over,
09:20
and what does that mean in terms of performance?
09:23
Is it really that much of an advantage
09:25
to have a non-conforming driver?
09:26
I think what we should see with an average player is--
09:30
Probably very average.
09:32
Probably more informative than what we'd see
09:35
with a tour player.
09:37
So what we're gonna do is we have got two drivers here.
09:41
One of them conforming, one of them non-conforming.
09:45
We have hid, as best we can,
09:48
the names to protect the innocent because,
09:51
as we were saying, no one goes out with the intent
09:55
of making a non-conforming driver.
09:57
I know some people think they do.
09:59
I can guarantee you not a single manufacturer
10:02
sets out to make a non-conforming driver.
10:04
So before you get here,
10:06
as it turns out, we actually have a question from a reader
10:10
that kinda fits right into this discussion.
10:13
[ball thudding]
10:16
This is from @CountDownDave,
10:20
and excuse the reading glasses,
10:21
but this is the most complicated question I've ever seen.
10:24
Do you foresee the big manufacturers
10:31
increasing the safety band on face conformance
10:37
in reaction to the new driver testing initiation
10:42
announced by the PGA Tour?
10:45
Can we do better than that, Dave?
10:48
Can we somehow approach the English language
10:52
and simplify the discussion?
10:54
Well, Dave's not a professional writer like we are,
10:56
so what Dave's trying to say
10:58
is actually a very good question.
11:00
He's saying with all this talk about hot drivers,
11:03
and tour spicy drivers, and drivers that maybe
11:05
are over the limit, are the manufacturers actually
11:09
gonna throttle back for fear of going over that limit?
11:12
And the answer is no, and there's a very good reason
11:15
why the answer is no.
11:16
It's kind of akin to you going out and driving your car.
11:20
You know the speed limit's 65 miles an hour,
11:23
you know if you go over that speed limit
11:25
a couples miles per hour, you're not gonna get caught
11:27
speeding, and that's kinda the thought here,
11:30
is there's really no penalty for making
11:33
an unintentional hot driver
11:36
that's one or two points over the limit.
11:38
On the tour it's just going to be
11:40
we'll take your driver away before you put it in play,
11:43
and you have to play with your backup.
11:45
So no one's gonna throttle way back and give up yards.
11:49
The other reason, though, is the difference really
11:52
shouldn't be that big.
11:55
So if you take a look at the numbers here,
11:58
the last one I hit went 225 yards, a total distance of 241,
12:03
with a conforming head, and now we're gonna hit one
12:06
with a non-conforming head, and the guess is
12:12
it may be a few yards, maybe.
12:15
And it's not always even that.
12:17
And I think there's another reason
12:19
why manufacturers are not gonna throttle back,
12:21
and it's that launch monitor right there.
12:23
We got--
12:24
[ball thudding]
12:25
the GCQuad from Foresight Sports that is giving us
12:28
all this data, and that's in a lot of golf shops
12:31
across the country, it's how fitting is done.
12:34
You're not gonna give up speed
12:36
when you're trying to sell drivers, and I think that's why
12:39
manufacturers are gonna continue to push wherever they can.
12:42
Yeah, I mean, they weren't terribly different,
12:45
and the conforming driver went further.
12:48
If it was really that big a deal,
12:51
you would see distance increases on every type of shot.
12:55
And we just don't see that here,
12:57
and I don't think you'll ever see that.
13:00
The difference between a driver just under the limit,
13:03
just over the limit, can literally be measured
13:06
in feet, not yards.
13:08
Yeah, I think it's an issue of manufacturing
13:11
probably getting tighter in how manufacturing is done.
13:15
I think that's one of the intents about the USGA's rule,
13:18
and the PGA Tour's increased testing, is like, hey guys,
13:22
we're watching you a little bit more closely that we have.
13:25
Let's keep this thing maybe under wraps a little bit
13:29
so that everybody's playing on a even playing field.
13:31
Yeah, and I think at their base,
13:32
everyone wants to play within the rules.
13:34
I don't know anyone that I play golf with.
13:36
Do you play golf with anyone on tour
13:39
wants to play outside the rules?
13:40
So this is a good way to make sure everyone is,
13:43
but I also think everyone understands
13:44
from a performance standpoint, just not that big a deal.
13:48
And I think the bigger deal is if you're looking
13:50
to get more yards, it's not gonna be from purchasing
13:54
a non-conforming driver.
13:56
It's gonna be from getting fit.
13:57
Getting fit, getting the right driver for you.
14:00
And I think that's what we're trying to do
14:02
with these little instructional episodes here.
14:04
We're trying to get you in a position
14:05
to embrace finding the right driver
14:08
through a proper fitting.
14:10
Till next time.
14:11
[electronic sounds]
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