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Review: Adams XTD Driver

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Pros: The XTD is hot. Volcanic. Radioactive, one might say. Even mishits seem to careen off the face and down the fairway, straighter than most. The adjustability of the club is about all you need—a degree and a half in either direction, with base lofts of nine, 10.5 and 12 degrees available.

Cons: While the technological reason for Adams’ Cut-Thru Slo feature is sensible, it is a bit odd looking down at a long rectangular sloping channel cut into the crown of the driver.

Bottom Line: If you hit a lot of drives in the center of the clubface, this driver is for you. If you hit some out on the toe, this driver is for you. If you hit a lot of drives, as Johnny Miller would say, “a groove low,” this driver is for you. The XTD is long, forgiving and adjustable enough to fit the caprice of your own swing.

Overview

Quick, name the top golf club manufacturers!

I don’t expect you to shout aloud (if you did, though, that’s 100 percent cool), but if you did, chances are your exclamation sounded something like “Taylor-Calla-Title-Cobra-Ping-Nike!” And that’s fine—they are the titans in golf club manufacturing, design, marketing and sale, and Adams Golf has not reached the popularity level of golf’s largest equipment manufacturers in the last 20 years. The company did loose the innovative Tight Lies fairway woods on the golf world back in 1996 (and revive them this year), but save for their well-regarded hybrids, they have struggled to attain the name recogniztion of the big boys.

adams golf xtd driver

Their new XTD line of clubs, which comes in the wake of their sale to TaylorMade-Adidas golf, may just start to turn the tide and establish Adams as a more top-of-mind golf equipment player. That line starts with the XTD driver.

Like almost all drivers these days, the XTD head measures 460cc . It comes standard with a high-end Matrix 6Q3 “Red Tie” shaft, though custom-orders can certainly provide other shafts for the consumer. It is available in three lofts: 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees (12 degree available only for righties); the hosel of the club is set up so that players can add or subtract up to a degree and a half of loft, dialing in the correct setup for their swings. The stock grip for the XTD driver is made by premium Japanese grip maker Iomic.

Every single XTD driver head endures four separate rounds of testing to ensure quality control and maximum USGA-legal spring effect. 

2014 adams golf xtd driver review

See the discussion and gallery of the full Adams XTD line in the forums

Performance

In short, the Adams XTD stands up to its billing as having a scorching-hot titanium face. The Cut-Thru Slot feature—channels cut into both the crown and sole of the club—works to stabilize the face through impact, producing boring tee shots that find the fairway very often. Players who have trouble squaring up the clubface at impact will be soothed by adjusting the clubface closed (and thereby increasing the loft) to promote more of a draw.

adams golf XTD driver

As primarily a feel player, I wanted to get some on-course time in with the XTD before going straight to a launch monitor. After two swings with the XTD, I was giddy at the noticeable springiness of the face, even on imperfect contact. My stock ballflight is a fade, and I tend to lose tee shots to the left (I am left-handed), but I was immediately pleased to see even mediocre swings produce drives in the left side of the fairway, rather than deep into the left rough, once I adjusted the face angle of the XTD a little bit closed.

I visited my local PGA Tour Superstore in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to use their launch monitor to test the ball speed, launch angle and spin of the XTD against my current driver, an 8-degree PING i15 with an RT Technologies “ZEUS” shaft. I have always liked the combination, but have felt at times that I could use a little more loft.

2014 adams golf xtd driver review

The XTD solved my loft problem immediately. I found my drives exceeding the height attained with my normal “gamer” with the XTD. I try to hit the ball on the upswing, but I now felt I didn’t have to overdo it to send the ball flying with the XTD. Also, I can hit the XTD off the deck.

In terms of raw average numbers, the comparison is somewhat deceiving (ball speed/launch angle/spin):

PING i15:                  159 mph / 12.4 deg / 2,250 rpm

Adams XTD:            157 mph / 12.7 deg / 2,387 rpm

These results would seem to equate the two drivers, but the complicating factor is that the shaft in my PING is 46.5 inches, while the XTD rings in at 45 inches. The reason long drivers (and some shorter hitters like me) favor longer driver lengths is to gain a bit of distance, even if it means sacrificing a little accuracy. In this way, the XTD is the superior club because it delivered equal results but at a shorter, more manageable driver length. Anecdotally, the positive difference in accuracy has been noticeable, and there has been no loss of distance whatsoever.

See the discussion and gallery of the full Adams XTD line in the forums

Looks and Feel

Going from a traditional-looking modern driver to the XTD may take some getting used to. The Cut-Thru Slot feature on the crown is not insignificant, but after a few long, straight drives, it becomes easier and easier to deal with.

2014 adams golf xtd driver reviewadams golf xtd driver

Click to enlarge images above

Feel- and sound-wise, the XTD is solid. To compare once again to my PING i15, the pitch of the sound of a good strike is noticeably lower: a “WHECK” rather than a “WHINK” sound. While muted, it certainly doesn’t sound “dead.”

The feel, as usual, mirrors the sound of the XTD. The sensation of the ball jumping off the club is less sharpened than with some clubs, and feels “bigger” than others without being overwhelming.

adams golf 2014

The Takeaway

If you decided that 2014 would be a year for a new driver, you owe it to yourself to check out the Adams XTD as you investigate what is admittedly a very strong field of contenders for your bag. While other companies’ names may rise higher in your mind, you would be ignoring one of the best if you do not give the XTD a try. From the effectiveness of the Cut-Thru Slot to the high level of quality control in which Adams engages, this driver is a very good one across the board.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://adamsgolf.com/XTD-Driver/DW-AL097.html” oemtext=”Learn more from Adams Golf” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FXLELKG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00FXLELKG&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=WL5ASYB7Q5CF2NLM”]

See the discussion and gallery of the full Adams XTD line in the forums

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Jimbo

    Aug 23, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    i have just purchased an xdt
    Can anyone tell me why the shaft has an Upright mark.

  2. Warrior808

    Aug 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Been playing with this driver for two rounds. My ball has seen places they have never seen before. My mishits are about the same as my regular TM Burner. When I do catch on the screws, the ball ends up 20 to 30 yards down the fairway. I am able to find my mishits because they are not off somewhere in deep rough or bushes. When struck, the ball seems to carry the same distance down the fairway, BUT when I get to where I think the ball is, I have to walk another 20 to 30 yards further. So, the specs on this club in terms of ball speed and spin may be similar, however, the ball off the XTD rolls much farther!

  3. Bjh

    Jul 20, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Tried one at demo days on the range. I am not a spec guy, just looking for results. After a couple of nice hits with the 12 degree head on a stiff, nice looking grey shaft, the pro changed to a 10.5 club head with same adjustments and after a few hitting more balls, he was taking my order! I had just played 18 holes so my impression of ball flight, direction, and feel with my current TM driver was still fresh. I am a 16.5 handicapper with limited time to practice and but not a impulsive buyer. This club made an immediate positive impression that I can pull out a bag and hit well in the expected direction with little effort is a “gotta have”

  4. tlmck

    May 6, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Have not tried the driver yet, but if it is anything like my 14 degree Tight Lies 3 wood, they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands. Best 3 wood ever, including the original Tight Lies.

  5. Tyler

    Apr 4, 2014 at 1:31 am

    I tried one of these at the Boston Golf Expo in February. I’m not an incredibly fast swinger but found the stiff option much better feeling. Bottom line: good sound, VERY stable feeling (something about it made it easy to bring it back into slot on the downswing and square it at impact), shots were good from center, toe or high on the face.

    …I haven’t compared too many other current drivers to say this is better or worse, but dang it felt very nice to me.

    By the way…are any manufacturers making drivers LESS than 460cc anymore? Do we need another Slotline Hammer?!

  6. Hamish

    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    First was the 9.5 stiff which played like a SX and launched very low like a 8.5 with a rock solid brick like feel that was difficult.
    Next was a 10.5 Reg with the spine at 3 0 Clock that did play ok and drive straight, however it was still launching low/mid. I gave up and went to the Ping i25 10.5 stiff and have my launch up and longer drives….yes longer!
    I like the XTD 3 wood of the deck, still giving the hybrid a chance but my xcg6 is better.
    To me the XTD Driver is a modified R1 with the Adams speed slot, and the SLDR/Jetspeed weight in the middle.
    Basically it hits straight like the R1 and launches very low, The speed slot is there to gain ball speed at the cost of a thicker brick like feeling face in the center. The forward weighting I don’t care for anymore and am going back to rear weighted higher MOI drivers.
    I think this driver is a collection of different technologies that are yet to be determined if they should all exist together in the one head.
    If your SS is +110 and you hit a high ball this club is ideal

  7. benseattle

    Mar 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Low spin. LOW SPIN. “LOW SPIN!!!”

    Really… THIS is the new standard in driver performance? Let’s get serious. If you’re one of the rare golfers who’s spinning the ball too much, by all means either look at a ‘low spin’ driver or change shafts but the majority of golfers actually NEED spin to keep the ball in the air so it carries so be careful what you wish for. Hitting a driver that doesn’t create enough spin results in tee balls that take off and quickly fall out of the sky. And you don’t really want that, do you?

    And since the USGA set the C.O.R. limit at .83 YEARS ago, will somebody tell me how you think that this year’s “latest and greatest, hottest and most advanced” driver is actually longer than the one already in your bag?

    • WILSON

      Mar 25, 2014 at 12:46 am

      If you are not getting the ball up in the air enough, more spin is not the answer. More loft is. That old-school rising ball after takeoff being eliminated is one of the big reasons why modern drivers are much longer than the older, smaller headed variety. Low launch, high spin creates a shot that starts low, rises, and then lands soft with no roll. the energy is not used efficiently in this instance. please go study some physics.

  8. benseattle

    Mar 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    This:

    “Taylor-Calla-Title-Cobra-Ping-Nike!”

    Ha. Nike belongs on this list about as much as Northwestern or Ram. Nike is a not a Golf Company but a HYPE company. Nike belongs right next to Nickent in a plain old sporting goods store. The only people playing Nike are newbies and those who are PAID to play Nike.

    • WILSON

      Mar 25, 2014 at 12:48 am

      I’m not one to brand bash too hard for no good reason but I completely agree with your Nike comments. Their irons and wedges are decent, maybe even good, but the rest of the lineup has never seen my bag.

    • leftright

      Mar 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

      and Tiger lovers….

    • SnazzyD

      Jul 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      They make excellent putters, and their old quad keel fairway woods/hybrids were amazing. They also make some great bags!

      The more you know…

    • Thomas

      Apr 18, 2015 at 2:42 am

      What are you smoking? I play the VRII forged Pro combo irons and they are the best irons I have ever hit and I’ve hit them all. I also just switched from a Titleist 910 D3 driver to the Nike VRS Covert 2.0 and it is night and day better. The only complaint is the newer wedges. The original VR wedge was the best wedge I ever hit but the grooves do not comply anymore and the would shred a ball to peices in a few holes. If they had that wedge with the new grooves it would be awesome. From what I hear the putters are great and skid less than any putter made but I have never tried them. Sticking with my Scotty. My handicap has gone from 10 to 3 since hitting the Nike irons and I just recently broke par for the 1st time. Like Tiger and Rory are going to play inferior equipment. Tiger just needs some Vokey’s and his old Scotty putter in his bag. Same goes for Rory.

  9. Nick

    Mar 19, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I have hit every driver out this year, the privileges of working in a shop and this thing is the best by far. lowest spinning head of any i’ve hit, even SLDR to you tmag honks. Great shaft and grip combo as well. Adams really went all in on this one. It is a little funky looking but ive already ordered mine and it will be replacing my RFX with ADDI7 combo the second it comes in.

    • Rohan

      Mar 20, 2014 at 6:31 am

      SLDR – Overrated

      So Justin Rose ‘Lofts up’ with the SLDR driver and achieves the worst driving stats since 2002, and with higher spin than in the past years.

      Stuart Cink ‘Lofts Up’ and has worse stats than several years ago.

      Dustin Johnson ‘Lofts Up’ and achieves identical numbers to 2008 and worse than previous seasons.

      Jason Day ‘Lofts Up’ and achieves his worst driving stats since turning pro and 10 yards less.

      Get the idea?

      Rohan

      • WILSON

        Mar 25, 2014 at 12:49 am

        Petterson leaves nike and starts hitting the SLDR and his driving stats jump up almost 100 places …. anecdotal evidence works both ways.

        • Rohan

          Apr 25, 2014 at 11:19 pm

          Hi Wilson, his stats are the same as 2012 when he was using the Nike VR Pro STR8-FIT (11.5°), which is the same loft as his SLDR. Same launch, ballspeed, spin etc = Same results. He was actually spinning the ball less with Nike in 2013 than with SLDR and carrying the ball further with the Nike, but simply getting more roll in 2014 based on course conditions, as his spin is higher in 2014.

  10. GD

    Mar 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    If it’s so good, why did it get Silver in GolfDigest? lol

    • Nick

      Mar 19, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Because golf digest medals are bought not earned

      • wad

        Mar 20, 2014 at 3:12 am

        As opposed to all these Sponsors on GolfWRX? And, I have to point out to you, the one who isn’t paying attention, that GolfWRX IS A DIVISION of GolfDigest. You moron.

  11. leftright

    Mar 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I have a Adams xtd 10.5 with the stock 6Q3 shaft in regular. I dialed back the loft to 9.5 to make it 1 degree open. I live in Tampa and we have a shop that digitally measures loft and the XTD was .1 off stock. That is tremendous because I have checked Taylors, Titleist and Callaway’s and have “never” found one stock better than .3 from it’s stated loft. These clubs are mass produced but the XTD is guaranteeing you .830 COR and a quality head and loft with a high end shaft. I average 101 on my driver swings and the regular is pretty stout on the Matrix shaft. It is also 65grams stock. Adams has entered the “boutique” arena with the XTD charging standard prices for a club that is “better” than the others. I agree, the COR is maxed out, ball speed for balls, maxed out but this driver launches high with roll. I gained 5 yards of carry and much more roll over my stage 2 tour with aftermarket Fubuki 63 tour which I thought could not be beat. By the way, it took 5 adapters to find one that would give me 10 degrees -+ .1 for the Stage 2 tour. The heads are all far off in loft, as much as .5.6 a degree. Golf fans, this is why the one you demo and the one you order are “never” the same. As much as we say we don’t, we always adapt to the club, not vice versa, not unless your are a touring pro like Bubba who slaves out the Ping guys for the right lefthanded stuff. By the way I am lefthanded and know for a fact LH stuff does not get the degree of attention RH stuff does.

  12. Chuck

    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I expect that I’d get used to the slot; but I might want to dial it down in loft (and make it more open) than otherwise, just because the slot makes my eye think it is more closed than it actually is.

  13. Barry

    Mar 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    What is the best?
    In order to compare apples to apples, you have to equip the heads with the same shafts.
    Generally the shaft is what makes the difference between clubs.
    Get past;
    Color of clubs
    Color of shafts
    Shape of heads
    Use what is best for you.
    B.

    • John S

      Mar 21, 2014 at 1:22 am

      Generally, the shaft won’t make that much difference. The clubhead is what actually hits the ball. That is the most important part. If shafts mattered that much wouldn’t I just put a “better shaft” in my 975J each season instead of getting something new?

      • SnazzyD

        Jul 4, 2014 at 11:18 pm

        Wow….really?
        The shaft is the engine of your driver and is at least as important as the head. Marry the right shaft *for you* on a good head with the right grip *for you* and it’s magical. Anything else is called “off the shelf”…

  14. Brenden Grant

    Mar 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Hey all: Nice review and yes there are allot of good looking and performing drivers available this year. As for the slot on top It didn’t need to get bigger than it was on previous Adams models ,but after seeing the new tight lies fwd at a local sports store it didn’t seem as distracting or as big looking as it does online. thanks

  15. ken

    Mar 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    At $400, pass. A brand which is used by few players on Tour should no command the price of other more popular brands.

    • Jim

      Mar 19, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      You should try hitting some of adams stuff the fairways are sweet the hybrids are fantastic and the drivers are just as good as anything else out there and they make a good iron too. Definetly worth the try.

    • WILSON

      Mar 25, 2014 at 12:52 am

      quality over popularity.

    • SnazzyD

      Jul 4, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      I agree – I too will pass….for now. I’ll be hunting these down in a year or so when the prices have fallen by 70% or so for a mint used one.

  16. Larry

    Mar 19, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Has there ever been a bad review on this site?

    Consensus – all new clubs are great, all drivers are pretty much the same!

  17. Kevin Steenburg

    Mar 19, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Just bought this and can not wait for the snow to melt to give it a try.
    I plan a pairing this driver with an Aldila R.I.P Beta, just love the feel of those shafts.
    I have found since Adams has been purchased from TM that they are branding themselves with more subtle looks but higher build characteristics. Who needs a giant marketing machine to sell your products, let your products sell themselves with quality and performance.

  18. Bogey

    Mar 19, 2014 at 10:06 am

    There’s nothing but glowing praise here in terms of “Performance”–enough to make me give this driver a second look–so why only 4.5 stars for that particular category? What is it lacking, or what other driver(s) perform better?

    • Tim Gavrich

      Mar 19, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Bogey, to my way of thinking, at least, a 5 for “performance” for any club is going to be very unlikely. There are a lot of very good and great clubs out there–the XTD driver is one of them, I found. A “perfect” club would be reviewed by me, at least, with more effusive words.

  19. Joe Golfer

    Mar 19, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Glad to see Adams Golf getting some respect.
    I think Adams has been under-rated for some time now.

    Also like the dark finish. It seems that companies are listening in on the forums and going with the matte black finishes on their drivers more and more.

    Almost every company is putting out a good driver nowadays. It’s just a matter of trying them out on a Trackman or Flightscope and seeing your results, finding that right shaft and loft and face angle combo.

  20. Chris

    Mar 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Just got mine shipped to me today with an attas elements proto shaft. Can’t wait to hit it! For now I’ll have it in my bag and stare at it when I dream of warmer days

  21. paul

    Mar 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    I hit it into a net and liked the feel. Play a ping anser. I really liked the irons though. Incredible feel.

  22. LorenRobertsFan

    Mar 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I currently play all Adams woods, and love their products. I’m not a fan of how bulgy & rounded the club is from address but the slot usually isn’t a factor that distracts me. The Red Tie & iomic grip are a nice touch!

  23. ZJohnson

    Mar 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    As ugly as this thing may be it is one of the better performing drivers this year…and I get a chance to hit and see others hit them all. If you have issues with the ball going left, this is the club for you. It is so hard to hit the ball left it’s almost unbelievable. Do yourself a favor and at least give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

  24. Teaj

    Mar 18, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Have yet to try the driver but I was hitting the hybrid lastnight, at first I did not like it but once I settled down and just smoothed the 3 iron hybrid out to 230 repeatedly its differently given me a lot to think about as there are now 3 hybrids on my want list (i25, X2 Hot Pro and now the XTD). I may just hit the driver this week to see what its like.

  25. Dpavs

    Mar 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I think the XTD will be one of those over achiever under loved Drivers this year. As for the slot, I actually found it very helpful in making sure the club face was square to the target line at address.

  26. Peter

    Mar 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I demo the XTD Driver last Saturday.
    Very impressed with the results
    I got about 13 extra yards in carry vs my driver Adams Super Speedline LS (245 vs 232).
    Settings were adjust to 11.5 degree loft.
    XTD driver is a beast plain and simple(hot face is the big reason)
    As a lefty I am very please with the drivers Adams has put on the market for the last two years.

    • Jon L

      Mar 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      I would be interested to know how the ball flight and stiffness differed due to shaft of Super LS (Kuro Kage) vs. XTD (Red Tie)?

  27. Bman

    Mar 18, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    lose, not loose

  28. jim

    Mar 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I just can’t get by the slot on the top. The rest of the club looks pretty good, but then you look at the top and yikes. Just could never play this club, it would be too distracting.

    • Curt

      Mar 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Dont agree; wouldn’t bother me at all, might even serve as an alignment aid for me. The shape of Adams driver faces are second to none. Still love my 9015D, which still might be second to none!

      • Tony Lynam

        Mar 18, 2014 at 11:11 pm

        I’m a Adams XTD and CMB guy all through the bag except for wedges and putter (Vokey and Cameron). Great review, can’t wait to try this driver.

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Driver Reviews

Review: Ping’s G400 and G400 LST Drivers

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I still remember the first time I hit Ping’s G30 driver. It was July 2014, and I was at Ping’s HQ in Phoenix. Super low-spin drivers were all the rage at the time. With their forward center of gravity, they were helping golfers optimize their launch conditions beyond their wildest dreams: crazy high launch, ridiculously low spin. Many in the business, including myself, had one of these drivers and spent many launch monitor sessions trying to figure out how to get more distance from these high knuckleballs. The bad news was that forward-CG drivers, by nature, were really unforgiving. Bad shots were really short and crooked.

Before I knew the G30 was a big deal, Marty Jertson, Ping’s Director of Product Development, explained to me his vision for the perfect driver inside a conference room at Ping Headquarters. In his eyes, the perfect driver didn’t have the low, forward center of gravity (CG) that was being touted at the time. Its CG was located as low and as rearward in the driver head as possible, which he said would offer the best of both worlds: optimized launch conditions on good shots, as well as the best possible forgiveness on bad shots.

Building the perfect driver was a long way off (and still is), but Jertson was excited where Ping had landed with the G30. When it was released, the driver was a powerful testament to his vision. Its rear-CG design created great distance on good and bad shots, and it was also a very straight driver. The G30 sold incredibly well and, as a result, the industry mostly shifted away from forward-CG drivers.

It’s been nearly three years since the release of the G30, and Ping has just made another counterintuitive driver release. The company shrunk the size of its new G400 drivers in a climate where full-size drivers have become the norm. Granted, it’s only 15 cubic centimeters smaller, but it’s noticeable at address. Compared to the Ping G drivers they replace (which replaced the G30), the G400’s look like they cut carbs.

Despite their slimmer frames, however, the G400 drivers are actually more forgiving than the G drivers (which were even more forgiving than the G30). That’s why Ping representatives say smaller is actually better in the G400’s case. The drivers have the lowest, most rearward CG of any Ping drivers ever, and their smaller size is said to improve their aerodynamics so golfers can swing them fractionally faster. The other big change is a new face material made of T9S+ titanium, which is thinner and more flexible to help golfers generate more ball speed.

Ping_G400_LST_2

For this review, I wanted to put the G400 and G400 LST to the test against the G and the G LST drivers that they replace, so I took them to the Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. I hit five shots with each driver on Trackman IV, and to ensure as much of an apples-to-apples comparison as possible, I tested each driver head with the same shaft. Each driver head was adjusted to the same loft, or as close as possible.

Note: The G, G LST, and G400 drivers I tested were 10.5-degree heads adjusted to 9.5 degrees. The G400 LST had a loft of 10 degrees, and it was adjusted to 9.4 degrees.

The Test

PingG400_2017

In my personal driver tests, I don’t usually see a huge uptick in distance or accuracy when comparing the latest drivers to the most recent models from the same manufacturer. Improvements generally come in the form of improved head shaping, a better feel, or enhanced adjustability. That’s why I was surprised to see such a big change in my launch conditions and dispersion with the G400 drivers.

G400 Test Results: With the G400, I launched my drives an average of 1.6-degrees higher than I did with the G while dropping spin an average of 416 rpm. That led to a significant improvement in distance. With my swing speed and ball speed staying about the same, I added an average of 7.2 yards more carry distance and 8.7 yards more total distance.

G400 LST Test Results: First, a note about the G400 LST. It has a CG that’s slightly lower and more forward than the standard G400 driver to help golfers reduce spin. Like the G30 LST and G LST, it’s still very much a rear-CG driver, but its design helps high-speed golfers who can consistently find the center of the club face maximize distance without highjacking forgiveness. When I test Ping drivers, the LST is generally the model that creates the best performance, and the G400 LST was no exception. I saw an average of a 1.2-degree higher launch angle with all other things staying about the same when I compared it to the G LST. The result was an average of 6.6 yards more carry distance and 3.1 yards more total distance. It was the longest and straightest driver I hit in the test.

Note: Ping also sells a G400 SFT (Straight Flight Technology) driver, which has added draw bias. To learn more about it, click through to tech story on the G400, G400 LST and G400 SFT drivers. 

Dispersion

G400_Dispertion

One way to explain the improved launch conditions is that I hit the G400 drivers more consistently. As you can see in the Trackman dispersion chart, I hit the G400 and G400 LST drivers straighter on average than the G and G LST. Is that its slightly enhanced forgiveness shining through? Maybe, maybe not.

To me, the changes Ping made to the look and feel of the driver were just as important as the performance difference I saw on Trackman. I’ve always preferred smaller driver heads, or at least 460-cubic-centimeter drivers that appear smaller than their size. For that reason, I felt more confident with the G400 drivers in my hands. I didn’t mind that I didn’t see any added swing speed or ball speed from the smaller driver head. I was sold on the looks alone.

I also preferred the sound of the G400 drivers to the G drivers. There was definitely much more of a “thwack” than a “ping” at impact, which made the G400’s feel more powerful. Looks and feel are subjective, of course, but to me the improvement was night and day. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that my fondness for the looks and feel of the G400 was at least a contributing factor to my improved performance in the test, if not the most important factor. When I like the way a club look at address, I tend to hit it better, and I know I’m not alone.

I do want readers to keep in mind that this was a one-person test and I hit a limited amount of balls. Yes, it’s a great indication that the G400 driver can be measurably better than a G driver, but it’s not a guarantee.

I also want to address the weaknesses of the G400 drivers. While they’re few, they could push golfers into another driver model in a fitting. Unlike Callaway’s GBB EpicTaylorMade’s M1 or Titleist’s 917 drivers, the G400’s don’t have CG adjustability. That means there’s no way to fine tune ball flight outside of a shaft or loft adjustment. A bigger deal for some golfers might be the G400 crowns. Despite their smaller size, there’s still a lot to look at address, as was the case with the G drivers.

Ping_G400_LST_4

Aerodynamic features on the front of the crowns, “Turbulators,” have been thickened for the G400 release. There’s also Ping’s “DragonFly Technology,” a geometry on the back of the driver crowns that helps push CG lower and more rearward in the driver heads. I personally think the G400 crowns give the drivers an old-school, muscle car-like look, but there’s no question they won’t fly with all golfers.

Whatever your thoughts about what’s on top of the G400 drivers, there’s no question that what’s under the hood can offer something the G and G30 drivers did not. Maybe you’ll like the smaller head. Maybe you’ll prefer the quieter sound. Maybe the improved forgiveness will show up on a launch monitor or on the course. Or maybe you’ll just flat out rip a G400 farther and straighter down the middle like I did.

If that last bit happens, try not to second-guess it.

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Driver Reviews

Members Choice: The Best Driver of 2017

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What determines the best driver on the market; is it the opinion of professional club fitters, professional golfers or testing results from a group of amateurs?

At GolfWRX, we believe all three sources can lead golfers to an answer. Being a website founded by passionate golfers with a mission to serve passionate golfers, though, we place a special emphasis on the opinions of our GolfWRX Members — the most knowledgeable group of golfers on the planet. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively as GolfWRX Members. So who better to poll to get an initial indication of the best performing drivers so far in 2017?

So we asked them, “What’s the best driver of 2017?” They voted for the three drivers they felt most worthy of the title and provided feedback about their selections in our special forum thread. You can see the results below (as of the first three weeks of voting), as well as quotes we pulled from GolfWRX Members about the drivers from our forum.

Remember that our polls will remain open for voting throughout the year, and we’re going to keep an eye on the percentages as more and more golfers have an opportunity to test these drivers. We’re also working on another Best Driver list, which will evaluate clubs in another important way. Stay tuned!

Keep in mind that there’s no single driver on the market that is the absolute best option for every golfer: that’s why nearly every manufacturer makes at least two different models. As this list indicates, however, some drivers are working better than others this year. Happy Testing!

Note: Forum posts were minimally edited for grammar, style, spelling and clarity.

Cobra King LTD Black (3.00 percent of votes)

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  • The General: All-black LTD is really clean looking. I’m about to cover up the orange on my LTD with lead tape. Orange is played out
  • mh7vwLove my LTD, but wish the black finish (or even this gray) didn’t have that subtle checkering you see in some like. Prefer plain black.
  • dbleagI am a fan of the black/orange combo. The performance and sound of the LTD is very appealing to me. I also like that the standard length is 45 inches. For me, that helps it be super-accurate. With the low-spin design, I hit it longest of the current offerings and can’t remember the last time I missed a fairway. Straight, solid, low spin and nice.
Further Reading

Mizuno JPX-900 (3.20 percent)

Mizuno_JPX_900_Driver

  • johnnythundersJPX goes straight. Best real-deal shaft and is long and very adjustable.
  • KT35That blue head looks awesome sitting on the ground. I hit balls off the toe and heel and didn’t see the big drop off in distance like the previous models.
  • nmortonThe JPX-900 is definitely more forgiving compared to the JPX-850, and sounds much better. Though they did sacrifice a bit by going with a little larger profile, but it’s easy to get used to. The graphics are so so, but this driver performs. I’m really digging the Evo II (shaft).
  • jay65I can see that Mizuno is really making a decent effort with its drivers/fairways in terms of tech and aesthetics, and they compliment the new JPX-900 line of irons really well, but if they’re going to make any inroads they really have to address this issue of their custom shafts options. It’s rubbish.
  • bok006The JPX-900, after being properly adjusted by the fitter, gave me an extra 20 yards just like that. My swing speed suggested I was borderline S to X (flex), but the fitter said unless I was fighting a hook I should stick with the S.
  • bubbagump: …the JPX-900, when properly fit, is just as long on a consistent basis than all the new models I tried in real life situations. It looks great, sounds solid and just knows the way to keep the ball in play.  
  • ChazbI’m 69 years old, have a swing speed of 91 mph and played nine with the JPX-900 this morning. It was in the 40s with a brisk wind hit it around 220 to 230 yards. It was a fairway finder, has great feel and is one of the easiest to control drivers I have ever hit. I can’t wait ’til it is warmer and can dial it in more. So far I have the two weights all the way forward for a lower flight and the other set with a draw bias with 10.5 degrees of loft. This driver is the real deal; it may not be the longest or the shortest, but it is a fairway finder which IMO makes it a winner.
Further Reading

Ping G (3.80 percent)

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  • Wesquire: Ping G is the most forgiving so it wins.
  • bopper53: Ping G hands down. Great distance and the most forgiving.
  • Dannydubbbs: The Ping G series is just too forgiving. The distance is comparable between most models, but Ping always seems to win out with forgiveness.
  • Bruin BearThe Ping G is going to be overlooked because it’s looked at as “game improvement,” but this driver is a beast. I liked the LS, but it requires a faster swing to get results and in the cold outdoors I just don’t have that all the time. I think the G is the perfect blend of performance and forgiveness.
  • cmrl1986Only reason I switched from the Ping G25 was that the G felt less harsh off the face. Same distance just about.
Further Reading

Cobra King F7+ (3.90 percent)

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  • EntourageLife: Ball really flies off face. Driver head controls spin well. Not one drive “ballooned” and trajectory was high and best of all… very easy to work ball right to left for a confident draw.
  • GollieThe F7+ is another great offering from Cobra… I didn’t get the “MAN, this is gonna take my LTD out of the bag” feeling, but it has very good sound, feel and performance.
  • J13F7+ is a great offering from Cobra and IMO is in the top-3 drivers this year. Epic is the standout for me numbers wise, then M series and F7+ are right behind it. Love the Agera (shaft) in there!!! Such a great shaft; I can’t seem to get mine out of the bag.
  • Golfer from MOHit both Cobras lefty and as a lefty the LTD is the shizzle. Last year it was the LTD and Big Bertha down to the absolute wire… the F7+ is more workable than the LTD, but not longer and a little worse on mishits.
  • BoognishI took a few swings with the F7+ at Golf Galaxy yesterday. 9.5 degrees with heaviest weight forward. The stock shaft is actually the same model I play in my GBB (albeit in smoked black instead of yellow). Ball flight and distance were similar to my GBB with good consistent sub-3000 backspin. Sound was OK, feel was harder than the GBB.
  • thechief16Just from the range (no LM), I didn’t see a noticeable performance improvement with the F7+ over the original King LTD. And I like the look and sound/feel of the LTD better.
Further Reading

Ping G LS Tec (4.90 percent)

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  • drvrwdgeI played the G LS with the Ping Tour 65X (shaft) tipped an inch for about a year. Just put the HZRDUS Yellow 75 6.5 tipped an inch and never thought it was possible, but it’s longer and straighter. Best driver shaft combo I’ve ever hit. You can feel that HZRDUS throughout the entire swing. Really gives you a solid connected feel.
  • Mtngolfer1: I am not sure that I would consider this a 2017 Driver, but my vote went to the Ping G LS Tec. The fact that my G is still holding its own against the latest 2017 releases has me very excited to see what Ping will release later this year.
  • 3woodvt: Fairway finder and plenty long.
  • pitchinwedgeI’ve found the LS to be nearly as fade biased as the M family. I get pretty good results with the LS by making a conscious effort to make more of an in-to-out swing. Any lapse in concentration and everything goes right. The M’s require even more effort, which is the reason I stayed with the LS instead.
  • 3 Jack ParAfter an up and down year with the G LS, I’ve actually recently gone back to my G30 LS head. I only have a couple of rounds as a sample so far, so I can’t really draw a conclusion about whether one or the other is better, but with the same shaft it seems like my G30 head might be a little longer. Honestly, the performance differences are pretty minimal if you really compare the two generations.
Further Reading

Titleist 917D3 (5.30 percent)

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  • GavaThe 917D3 is in my bag now, and I’ve found it incredibly long with a recently purchased Graphite Design Tour AD MJ 7TX shaft. Feel and accuracy has been a real improvement as well.
  • Togatown22I find my 917D3 to be just as forgiving as my 915D2 was, and man do I prefer looking down at the head shape and color versus the 915. Very confidence inspiring.
  • NIxhex524I would definitely give the D3 a whirl. I feel like Titleist has made great strides at making the smaller head way more hittable for us ams.
  • KPH808So in conclusion, I was hitting the ball about 9 yards further on average and 3-4 mph faster ball speeds with the 917D3 vs. the 915 D4. The biggest thing for me was the forgiveness between the two; the 917D3 was more forgiving on mishits.
  • brushieThe 917D3 head feels soft like the 910 and sounds great. I never had an issue with the 915 sound; it wasn’t great, but it didn’t bother me too much. This is much better, though. The 917D3 head shape is perfect to my eye as well. The area where the 917 shines is forgiveness. 

Further Reading

TaylorMade M1 440 (5.35 percent)

TaylorMade_M1_440_Feat

  • Tigermatt31: The M1 440 is best driver I’ve had ever.
  • TollBros: The M1 440 is definitely lower spin than the M1 460 or M2 from last year. Launch angle isn’t really any lower, but spin is lower for sure.
  • specimania: This year’s 440 is more forgiving.
  • MCozYes, this 440 is more forgiving, and yet it also appears to be more workable than both of the previous M1 and M2s.
  • nitramTo save you a bunch of reading and crunching numbers, I quickly concluded there was a little more forgiveness and exactly +0.4 mph ball speed with the 440. By forgiveness I simply mean this: A 1.48 smash 440 will give you the same ball speed and distance as a 1.49/1.50 430. But if you get a 1.50 from both there is no measurable gain. Side-to-side dispersion was better by 4.7 feet with the 440. Workability was a wash between them, although the 430 seems a bit more fade biased whereas I’ll describe the 440 as a scosche more neutral.
  • tj24: I hit the M1 440 with my Aldila RIP at an 80-gram X-flex. For me, the spin numbers were around 1700 rpm which is probably to low for my swing. I did, however, like the shape of the head and I felt like I could easily work the ball both ways.
  • halfsumoI really think they nailed it with the shape of this 440 head. Nice pear shape, no weird bulges or ridges that you have to get used to.
Further Reading

Titleist 917D2 (6.65 percent)

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  • tsletten: Love the sound of the 917D2.
  • bladehunter: No doubt the 917D2 is an accurate, forgiving driver that doesn’t look as big as it is and sounds fantastic.
  • JStangMaybe it’s just me, but I find the face to be more shallow (top to bottom) with the 917D2 than other drivers that I’ve tried lately.
  • LuckyLowbrowI was actually spinning it too low with the D4. Going up to the D2 normalized my spin rate, but led to such an improvement in consistency across the face.

Further Reading

TaylorMade M1 460 2017 (11.81 percent)

TaylorMade_M1_460-Feat

  • Ereim: I ended up going with the M1 460. It gave me a slightly tighter dispersion, and I liked looking down at it slightly more.
  • jdenham15: The 2017 TaylorMade M1 is a great driver, but I tend to miss wide right and struggled to turn it over.
  • ZBigStick: The M1 460 gave me the best results. Was able to increase launch without much added spin with the (T-Track) weight. Feel is good and felt forgiving; dispersion results backing that up.
  • BillMurrayGolfingThe face is hot, receptive, thin and makes a nice sound. I like that.
  • JStangSound and feel were both fantastic. I couldn’t ask for much more in the sound and feel department than what this club offers. Plenty of feedback was provided based on impact as I would expect. I could easily tell where I missed based on feel.
  • tnordJust as another tester found, moving the weight back and forward absolutely does impact how the club sounds. I’m much more a fan of the weight back.
  • chickenpotpieMoving the slider to the draw position made the feel of the driver a little harsher. Feel was much much smoother with that weight in the middle. I didn’t see any such changes with the front/rear slider.
Further Reading

TaylorMade M2 2017 (11.86 percent)

M2_Speed_Pocket

  • ZBigStickI liked the feel of the new M2 but seemed to get better results and numbers with the new M1. Could be the extra 5 grams of head weight?
    It was dynamite with the GD TP-6 (shaft)!
  • erock9174On Trackman it didn’t put up the most ball speed, but counting all shots the M2 had the longest average distance.
  • gripandripThe M2 seems to have a little bit of a fade bias for me. And the head is HUGE. Maybe it’s a mental thing to be able to turnover a head that large.
  • Bomber_11M2 has very big shoes to fill, as the 2016 M2 was arguably one of the best drivers of the last 3-4 years.
  • LONG&STR8It’s hard to ignore the sound of the new M2. That may be TaylorMade’s biggest fail with that driver, as the sound and feel was one of the best things about the first version that I’ll have in the bag until something better comes along.
  • Z1ggy16The new M2 was terrible for me, not sure why. Unsure if it was the shaft I used but it spun up like a monster and ball speeds weren’t any better than previous M2.
  • Peanut191I don’t really think that the new M2 was much of a step backward, probably more that it doesn’t seem like a big step forward compared to last year’s model. I was hitting my 2016 M2 against a 2017 M2 indoors (which usually amplifies the louder, more obnoxious sound) and I didn’t notice that much of a difference in sound. It could have been that I might have just happened to get a hold of a head that was more muted than normal with the new one, but I just didn’t notice much difference. Performance wise, I could tell that the 2017 was slightly more forgiving than the 2016 model, but I was basically getting the same ball speed and spin numbers, so I didn’t see the need to upgrade.
  • gioguy21: Played 54 holes this weekend. The M2 was as reliable as it could get. I hit 11/12 fairways Friday, 10/12 Saturday and 5/9 or so yesterday (windy). Controllable, just wants to go straight. The sound no longer bothers me. I think it’s when hitting indoors or in range bays that it gets unbearably loud. Makes a different sound when hit on the screws I’ve found, similar to last years M2/M1 with less high-pitched ring. The forgiveness is very obvious, as I hit a couple that were close to center of the face but either high or little out toward the toe that flew similar trajectory and distance to how a well struck shot would react. I think where this driver really shines is the ability to either tee it high and hit it with higher trajectory or the ability to hit it lower with a low tee (3/4 of the ball under the crown) and hit laser beams that don’t move left or right.
  • G-BoneFrom what I’ve seen on Trackman, 2017 M1 was a big jump from 2016; however, 2016 M2 was so good, 2017 is a minor jump.
Further Reading

Callaway GBB Epic (14.91 percent)

GBB_Epic_Hero

  • HDTVMAN: I hit both the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion and Epic with a 44.5-inch UST Recoil F3 shaft and the results were very close. From customer testing, it appears the Epic is longer for those with higher (95+) swing speeds. I have also seen that 44.25-44.5-inch lengths promote tighter dispersion with customers, no loss of distance and better over-all drives.
  • mbbrewer: Tried them all and for me Epic was the one. Fastest ball speed, lowest spin and tightest dispersion.
  • Ereim: Epic felt great, looked great and the numbers were basically 99.9 percent optimized for my swing.
  • johnnylongballz72There is Epic and there is the M series… then there is everyone else. The votes here show it, the PGA Tour use shows it and launch monitors everywhere show it.
  • misplacedtexan83: GBB Epic/Sub Zero pushed the envelop in design and materials to produce increased ball speed and gains. For once a driver did what a company said it would do.
Further Reading

Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero (16.91 percent)

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Hero

  • jdenham15: I tested the Epic Sub Zero and Epic against my 2016 TaylorMade M1 and the ball speed was 5 mph higher on average, which gave me about 10 yards more carry disstance. That was great, but the part that sold me was the forgiveness. I love my Epic Sub Zero. I feel like it’s easier to turn over and I can work it both ways.
  • Z1ggy16Sub Zero was hands down the best, including my gaming M1 (yeah, not even top-3) due to the combination of lower spin, good forgiveness and feel and looks.
  • jimhaire: I had a 2016 M2 and went with the Epic Sub Zero. The look at address suited my eye and the feel off the face was better for me. And the club went straight.
  • Sef: I have tested a lot of these drivers and for me the Epic Sub Zero was so much better than everything else. I wish I could just apply all three votes to it.
Further Reading

Members Choice 2017

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Driver Reviews

GolfWRX Members Gain 7 Yards on Average with 2017 TaylorMade M1, M2 Drivers

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5 GolfWRX Members
Gamer vs. 2017 TaylorMade m1/m2 Drivers
+7.01 Yards Distance Gained on Average
-615 RPM Spin reduction on Average

What can the new 2017 TaylorMade M1 and M2 drivers do for your game?

Five GolfWRX Members found out last week when they pitted their drivers against TaylorMade’s latest models at The Kingdom, the custom-fitting facility at TaylorMade’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.

The event was the first of #TaylorMadeTuesdays, a series of TaylorMade-sponsored events that are exclusive to GolfWRX Members. The five members received Trackman 4 fittings for their drivers, which were built immediately afterward so that they could test the clubs the next day at Aviara Golf Club, home course of the LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic.

12_things_TaylorMade_2017_M1_M2_drivers-1021x580

Our editorial team was present to observe and document the fittings, where they saw the five GolfWRX Members add an average of +7.01 yards to their drives with a new TaylorMade driver. Key to the success of TaylorMade’s 2017 M1 and M2 drivers was their ability to remove excess spin from the drives of each GolfWRX Member (-615 rpm on average). As a result, each player was hitting longer drives on their best shots, while achieving a straighter ball flight that was less affected by wind.

Every GolfWRX Member gained yardage with a new TaylorMade driver; the largest distance gain was an impressive +10.1 yards, while the smallest was a very respectable +4.8 yards.

TMDrivers2017_groupshort

Our testers were better players, but they covered a range of handicaps (+1 to 7.1) and swing speeds (95 to 117.5 mph) within the better-player category. Learn more about the five GolfWRX Members, their new drivers and their experiences in our individual recaps below.

Andrew Harveson (drewtaylor21)

Andrew_WRX_Aviara-4864

  • Distance Gained: 4.8 yards
  • Handicap: +1
  • Swing Speed: 117.5 mph

New Driver: M2 D-Type (9.5 degrees, set to 9 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Prototype PT6F5 (65X)

Old Driver: TaylorMade SLDR (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya ProForce VTS 6X Silver

Andrew Harveson brought a TaylorMade SLDR (10.5 degrees) driver with him to his fitting, which was already optimized for his game. He fits into a group of golfers who are often hard pressed to see distance gains from new clubs. The former college golfer, now 34, has an ability to consistently contact drives in the center of the club face. He also has an upward angle of attack with his driver (+3 degrees on average) that helps him maximize the distance of his drives.

Nonetheless, TaylorMade’s fitters helped Andrew find an average of +4.8 yards with a new TaylorMade driver, but it took some experimentation and outside-the-box thinking.

TMDrivers2017_andrew

Andrew’s SLDR driver was set to a neutral loft and lie setting, but to combat his tendency to hit shots that slid to the right his SLDR’s front weight track was shifted to the max draw setting. According to TaylorMade fitter Jason Werner, the SLDR is a more draw-biased driver company’s current M1 460, M1 440 and M2 models. After seeing the ball fade too much with those drivers, Jason had Andrew try the company’s M2 D-Type driver (9.5 degrees), which is designed with more draw bias to help golfers eliminate excessive left-to-right curvature.

Andrew’s Dispersion Chart

Andrew_Harveson_Dispersion

Andrew achieved slightly more left bias with the 2017 M2 D-Type, which was what he wanted for his tee game.

The M2 D-Type gave Andrew the confidence to play his preferred cut shot off the tee without fear that it would drift into the right rough. Actually, it created a bit too much draw bias for him, which is why the loft setting was lowered 1-click to 9 degrees. The change helped him lower his spin rate -553 rpm on average, while also opening the club face slightly to take the left side out of play.

“While the averages don’t really look better with the D-Type compared to SLDR, I had a few mishits in the D-Type grouping that, if removed, would have shown a more accurate picture of the results,” Andrew wrote in the forums.

The last piece of the puzzle for Andrew’s fitting was finding the correct shaft. He tried several low-launching shafts that proved to have too little torque for his swing, exacerbating his rightward miss. He ended up seeing the best performance from his gamer shaft, UST Mamiya’s ProForce VTS Silver 6X, which has a mid-torque design. TaylorMade’s Tour Department also provided him with a similar alternative that they thought he might like, UST’s Elements Prototype PT6F5 (65X), which proved to be a winner on the course the next day.

“[TaylorMade] gave me the newer [better] UST Elements Chrome Platinum Prototype PT6F5!” he wrote. “Supposed to be a very similar profile to the [Aldila] Rogue [Silver] 125. I was a bit anxious to see if it would hold up as the right fit, but after just a couple swings on the range at Aviara, I was convinced! It’s a bomber.”

With the M2 D-Type, Andrew’s good shots got better. His peak ball speed went from 175 mph with his SLDR to 178 with the M2 D-Type, enhancing his distance potential. He was also seeing a lower ball height from the new driver — his peak height was reduced from 135 feet to 122 feet — that he “really liked.”

“It was a bit amusing though, everyone at [TaylorMade] seemed shocked that I got put into the D-Type,” he wrote.

You wouldn’t expect the fastest swinger and most accomplished player in the group to be a fit for TaylorMade’s most draw-biased driver, as the model is generally reserved for slower swingers. As a traveling +1 handicap, however, Andrew’s needs were very specific and met perfectly by the 2017 M2 D-Type.

In Their Own Words: See what Andrew said about his experience

Brian Ussery (BCULAW)

Brian_WRX_Aviara-4252

  • Distance Gained: 5.5 yards
  • Handicap: 6
  • Swing Speed: 106 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 6X

Old Driver: Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Black 60S

Brian Ussery arrived at The Kingdom with a Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees) driver that he knew wasn’t right for him. The 43-year-old was aware of the fact that his low-launching, high-spinning drives were costing him distance, but he wasn’t sure how to improve.

As it goes in a lot of fittings, Brian didn’t swing as well as he wanted to at The Kingdom, but his outlook on the game of golf allowed the fitting to be a success. “Golf is my therapy and my chance to find peace, quiet, time away and fun,” he wrote in the forum. Spending time with the former minor league baseball player who’s now a lawyer, his commitment to improving his game was immediately apparent. On this day, getting better required patience with his swing and an open mind to the recommendations of his fitters. He was up to the task, and in the end he was rewarded with a new solution for his tee game.

TMDrivers2017_brian

The TaylorMade fitters started Brian with an M2 D-Type (9.5 degrees) driver, but he struggled to hit it high enough to be effective. He found much more success with an M1 460 that had more loft (10.5 degrees). Excessive spin was still an issue, however, especially with the added loft, but the M1 460 had a solution. By sliding the driver’s Back Track weight all the way to the front of the driver, he achieved a lower-spinning trajectory that not only allowed him to hit straighter drives but achieve more roll-out, too. It helped negate his negative angle of attack of -4.5 degrees, which was the main culprit for his low-launching, high-spinning trajectory.

It was at this point in the fitting that Brian had to make a decision. Did he want to continue to chase more distance or did he want a driver that would help him hit more fairways? With his busy work and family schedule, he’s only able to play nine holes of golf per week. That made the choice obvious; he was going to target consistency.

The TaylorMade fitters recommended Brian try a shorter driver. His 915D2 measured 45.25 inches on TaylorMade’s ruler, and he was advised to try a driver that measured 44.75 inches. With the shorter driver his consistency was immediately improved, and it was time to dial in the right shaft.

Brian’s Dispersion Chart

Brian_Ussery_Dispersion

Brian hit most of his shots with Fujikura’s Pro Tour Spec 73X shaft, which produced good results, but in the end he made the decision to go with Graphite Design’s Tour AD-DI 6X. It provided the stiffness he needed for straighter drives, but offered a smoother feel (Note: since Brian hit limited shots with the AD-DI 6X, the data displayed in the chart above shows his performance with the Fujikura shaft). His fitter, Jason Werner, supported his shaft decision. And as Brian put it: “Based on my on-course play … it would seem he is pretty spot on.”

With the M1 460, Brian saw an additional 5.5 yards of total distance over his gamer, but more important to him was the increased accuracy. Even at a higher loft, he was able to reduce his spin rate an average of -744 rpm. So now when his drives hit the fairway, they will keep rolling. And Brian expects to be hitting a lot more fairways.

In Their Own Words: See what Brian said about his experience

Chris Scheeweiss (Schnee)

Chris_WRX_Aviara-4802

  • Distance Gained: 10.1 yards
  • Handicap: 3
  • Swing Speed: 112 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (8.5 degrees, set to 10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex)

Old Driver: TaylorMade SLDR (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Blue 75TX

Chris Scheeweiss was the biggest gainer of the five GolfWRX Members, finding +10.1 yards on average when compared to the TaylorMade SLDR (10.5 degrees) driver he brought with him to the Kingdom.

Key to Chris’ success, a 3-handicap with ample club head speed (112 mph), was reducing the spin caused by his big miss, which was high and to the right. While that isn’t Chris’ typical miss, it’s what showed up at the Kingdom. TaylorMade’s M1 460 proved that he could handle that miss, as well as any other miss he might encounter on his journey to improve his game thanks to its wide-ranging adjustability features.

TMDrivers2017_chris

During the fitting, the M1 460 scrubbed -627 rpm of spin off Chris’ drives. To do so, TaylorMade Fitter Jason Werner gave Chris a 8.5-degree M1 460, but he increased the loft of the driver to 10.5 degrees, maximizing the full range of TaylorMade’s 4-degree Loft Sleeve. Adding two degrees of loft closed the club face, which helped eliminate Chris’ slice spin.

Jason made the adjustment without telling Chris, however, and he was glad when Chris said he didn’t notice the change at address.

The reason Chris didn’t notice the more closed club face? The crowns of TaylorMade’s 2017 drivers are engineered to look as square as possible at address regardless of what setting is used due to their cleverly designed black-and-white graphics. Chris had recently been fit at a local club fitter for a 2017 M2 driver (10.5 degrees), but this setup was “much better than the combo I was previously fit for,” Chris wrote in the forum.

Finding the right shaft was a faster process that Chris expected. Project X’s HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex) offered him the lower trajectory and added stability he needed to hit his best drives.

Chris’ Dispersion Chart

Chris_Scheeweiss_Dispersion

“Jason … didn’t think we had to go much further,” Chris wrote in the forum. “I wasn’t completely sold on the combo, but I deferred to his knowledge. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust the combo itself, it’s that I wasn’t hitting ANYTHING all that well, so I didn’t know how it would perform on course when my swing was better. I’m glad I trusted him, because it was AMAZING on course.”

As Chris works to eliminate the right tendency in his swing, Jason recommended that he try lowering the loft of the driver, which will open to face to reduce left bias. They agreed that at some point in the future Chris may be able to return to the 8.5-degree loft setting, which could net him even more distance. And if he needs more spin to optimize his launch conditions at that point, he can gradually slide the Back Track’s weight rearward to achieve it.

In Their Own Words: See what Chris said about his experience

Darrin Sloan (DNice26)

Darren_WRX_Aviara-4675

  • Distance Gained: 7.1 yards
  • Handicap: 1
  • Swing Speed: 110 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M2 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 65 (6.0 flex)

Old Driver: Ping G (10.5)
Shaft: UST Mamiya ProForce AvixCore 69 Red (Tour-S flex)

Darrin Sloan, 36, knew exactly what he wanted from a new driver. He arrived at his fitting with a Ping G (10.5 degrees) that was giving him the height he wanted, but he was looking for a straighter ball flight.

The 1-handicap, former college golfer started his fitting with a TaylorMade M2 (10.5 degrees) with a Project X HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex), a combo that significantly lowered his launch angle and spin rate. While it was giving him more distance, the ball flight was too low for his needs despite his 110 mph swing speed and average angle of attack of +2 degrees.

TMDrivers2017_darrin

Darrin told TaylorMade Fitter Jason Werner he needed a higher ball flight to cut the corners of the doglegs at his home course, where he plays 95 percent of his golf. So the two starting experimenting with different heads and different shafts in search of a more familiar trajectory, as well as more distance.

He actually preferred liked the look and the feel of TaylorMade’s M1 460 driver, but there was no denying the performance of the M2. It offered him nearly +4 mph of ball speed on average over his gamer, an incredible improvement.

Once the M2 (10.5 degrees) was linked up with a Project X HZRDUS Yellow 65 (6.0 flex) shaft, it was clear Darrin had a winner. The counter-balanced shaft helped him launch his drives higher, giving him the trajectory he needed to tackle his home course. It also helped him eliminate his miss to the right and easily execute his preferred right-to-left ball flight.

In terms of distance, Darrin was also able to sightly increase his carry distance (+0.6 yards) while significantly increasing his roll out (+6.5 yards). His total yardage gain with the new driver was +7.1 yards.

Darren’s Dispersion Chart

Darren_Sloan_Dispersion

The takeaway for GolfWRXers is that TaylorMade’s new M2 driver can offer more ball speed than the company’s M1 driver for certain players. And if you’re struggling with either a ball flight that’s too low or a rightward miss, a counter-balanced shaft like Project X’s HZRDUS Yellow can help.

In Their Own Words: See what Darrin said about his experience

George Cellette (GC70)

George_WRX_Aviara-4360

  • Distance Gained: 7.6 yards
  • Handicap: 7.1
  • Swing Speed: 95 mph

New Driver: TaylorMade M1 460 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-BB 6S

Old Driver: Callaway XR (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujkura Speeder Evolution 565 (S-Flex)

Like a diesel engine, George needed some time to warm up during his fitting. But once he did, he began pounding drives down the left center of The Kingdom’s range.

At first, it looked as though George might post a ridiculous distance gain with a TaylorMade M1 460. He increased his distance more than 30 yards over the Callaway XR ’16 he hit at the beginning of the fitting. As he and TaylorMade Fitter Jason Werner dialed in the loft, shaft and CG setting, however, Jason noticed that George’s swing speed had jumped nearly 10 mph from 85 mph to 95 mph since he first started hitting balls. He asked George to retest his Callaway to make sure that the final data would reflect a fair comparison of his old and new drivers.

TMDrivers2017_george

The result was a smaller average distance gain with his new TaylorMade, but still an impressive one.

George first tested TaylorMade’s M1 460 with 8.5 degrees of loft, but because George was fighting a slice he closed the face to 10.5 degrees to create a left bias. As George loosened up, however, his slice turned into a gentle fade. For that reason, he switched George from the 8.5-degree head to a 9.5-degree head in a neutral setting.

While George’s warmed-up swing was the biggest contributor to the improved trajectory, a new shaft and weight setting also helped. At first Jason gave George a Project X HZRDUS Black 65 (6.0 flex) shaft, a low-launch shaft with ample stability to help him reduce spin. It would have been a good combo, but George wanted to test a few more shafts to see if there was more distance available to him. The winning shaft ended up being Graphite Design’s Tour AD-BB 6S, which gave George an even lower-spinning trajectory.

The adjustable weight settings of the M1 460 further optimized George’s ball flight. Since he already had enough height on his drives, Jason was able to slide the M1 460’s Back Track weight all the way forward to decrease spin. He also slid the driver’s Front Track weight all the way to the heel to maximize draw bias. The two changes had George hitting high-launching, low-spinning bombs that barely had any curvature.

George’s Dispersion Chart

George_Cellette_Dispersion

When all was said and done, George was able to scrub an incredible -908 rpm of spin off his drives. And along with his straighter trajectory, he walked away with +7.6 yards of added distance.

In Their Own Words: See what George said about his experience

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