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