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2015 Gear Trials: Best Drivers

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Who should create the list of the best clubs in golf: members of media, or the best golf club fitters in the world?

That’s NO to members of media and YES to the best golf club fitters in the world, right? At GolfWRX, we put our faith in the best fitters, and we think you should, too.

To create this year’s 2015 Gear Trials: Best Drivers List, we polled six of the best golf club fitters on the planet. That’s not our opinion. Four of the six are rated top-100 club fitters in America by Golf Digest, while the other two (Modern Golf and True Spec Golf) are top international club fitters.

The 2015 Gear Trials Panel includes:

Each of these six club-fitting staffs performs in excess of 1,000 professional fittings each year, and they can attest to this:

There is no single “best” driver of 2015, but there is certainly a best driver for you.

So how do you know which one it is?

The preferred method is to go through a custom fitting with a top club fitter, but even then it can be difficult. There are a head-spinning amount of new drivers on the market, and for a variety of reasons, some people aren’t able to visit a top-rated club fitter.

what if GolfWRX could create a short list of drivers that perform better than all the other drivers on the market?

What if that list was backed BY six of the best club fitters in the world, and verified by independent testing?

Well, that’s exactly what we did.

For this year’s list, we asked our Gear Trials Panelists to rank the top-6 performing drivers in three different categories:

  1. Distance: The drivers that go the farthest. These tend to work best for golfers with high swing speeds and/or golfers who need to lower their spin rate to create more distance.
  2. Forgiveness: The drivers that are the most consistent, and fly the straightest. These tend to work best for golfers who struggle to hit the center of the face consistently.
  3. Best Overall: Our most stringent category. These offer the best blend of distance and forgiveness.

We could have stopped there and published our results, but we knew our readers would want us to go a step further.

Click here for more information about Gear Trials and FAQ

To confirm the performance of the clubs selected by our Gear Trials Panel, we had Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Mich., perform a comprehensive Trackman-based club test of all the latest models. We saw a direct correlation between the Panel’s top-6 picks in each category and the test results.

That wasn’t a surprise.

There was a shocking amount of overlap this year in the votes cast for 2015’s Best Drivers. Of all the drivers our Gear Trials Panelists could have voted for — and each Panelist could have voted for any driver it felt was worthy — seven drivers received an overwhelming majority of the votes. Furthermore, five of the seven drivers secured a place in each of our three categories (Distance, Forgiveness and Best Overall), a testament to just how well-rounded today’s drivers truly are.

So here it is, our 2015 Gear Trials: Best Drivers list.

composite_drivers

It’s backed by the experts, verified by independent testing, and in our opinion, the most important best driver list in existence. You could test every driver in your local golf store, but in the end, we’re confident that these seven choices (or their lower-spinning equivalents) will perform best for you.

The Ratings

chart_geartrials15_bar_7drivers3

Below are the distance, forgiveness and overall ratings for each of our 2015 Gear Trials: Best Drivers. The ratings (scaled 1-10) represent the votes of our Gear Trials Panel in each category.

Note: The list below is in alphabetical order.

Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815

geartrials_slider_callawaybigbertha815

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 4-degree loft range
  • Price: $449.99

What you need to know: The strength of Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers lies in their lightweight chassis, which use eight different materials — including a forged composite crown — to allow engineers to move more weight low and deep in the clubhead. That leads to high-launching, low-spinning drives and great ball speed — even if you miss the sweet spot.

The Big Bertha Alpha 815 is also a leader in adjustability, offering golfers complete control over launch angle, spin rate, and trajectory bias.

The coolest feature is Callaway’s “Gravity Core,” a removable stick that fits vertically inside the middle of the driver head. “Flipping the stick,” so to speak, allows golfers to manipulate the driver’s spin rate independent of launch angle. There’s also two adjustable weights on the sides of the heads — one lighter, one heavier — that can be swapped for more draw or fade bias.

Need less spin? Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond driver ($499) has a deeper, 460cc head shape that works for better golfers who want to maximize distance on their best shots. It’s one of the lowest-spinning drivers of 2015, and while it’s not as forgiving as its counterpart, it can help golfers create even higher-launching, lower-spinning drives.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.callawaygolf.com/golf-clubs/drivers-2015-big-bertha-alpha-815.html” oemtext=”Buy it from Callaway” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NR33OYG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00NR33OYG&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=FYIW4WR3KACK3RXI”]

Callaway XR

geartrials_slider_callawayxr

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 4-degree loft range
  • Price: $349.99

What you need to know: Callaway’s XR driver doesn’t have all the adjustability of the company’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers, but if you’re not into adjustability, this could be a better choice — especially if you’re looking to save $100.

The XR has the same R-Moto Face Technology as the 2015 Berthas, which removes weight from the face of the club to deliver more forgiveness — and quite forgiving the XR is.

Our club fitting panelists says that the XR works especially well for golfers who need higher-lofted drivers — it’s offered in both 12- and 13.5-degree models.

The XR also has Callaway’s new “Speed Step Crown,” bumps on top of the driver head that help make the driver more aerodynamic. It can lead to gains in club head speed and ball speed, which of course, lead to more distance.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.callawaygolf.com/golf-clubs/drivers-2015-xr.html” oemtext=”Buy it from Callaway” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QRJAAIK/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QRJAAIK&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=TUTPQZQCAMW7KKGW”]

Cobra Fly-Z

geartrials_slider_cobraflyz

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 4-degree loft range
  • Price: $329.99

What you need to know: Making a top-performing driver is all about putting weight in the right places. Cobra’s Fly-Z driver was designed to move as much weight as possible low and rearward in the club head. That makes it Cobra’s best model for golfers who want a low-spinning driver that delivers maximum forgiveness.

If you must buy a driver off the rack without being custom fit, the Fly-Z is likely the safest option on this list. Its MyFly8 adjustable hosel and SmartPad sole technology work together to allow golfers to pick one of five lofts from 9 to 12 degrees and still retain the neutral face angle that most golfers prefer.

The Fly-Z also has a “Speed Channel,” which looks like a moat around the club face, and it helps improve ball speed on off-center hits. And if you’re into colors, the driver is available in six of them.

Want more control over launch conditions? Cobra’s Fly-Z+ driver ($399) has what the company calls “Flip-Zone Weighting,” which allows golfers to slide the driver’s sole weight forward if they want a higher-launching, lower-spinning trajectory. The lower, more forward center of gravity causes the driver to become slightly less forgiving, but some golfers need the weight more forward to hit longer drivers, while others may prefer the Fly-Z+’s more compact appearance at address.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.cobragolf.com/fly-z-driver” oemtext=”Buy it from Callaway” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R438VAM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00R438VAM&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=MJRDJGSBSXCLYDTW”]

Ping G30

geartrials_slider_pingg30

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 2-degree loft range
  • Price: $349

Ping’s G30 is hands down the most forgiving driver in golf. That’s thanks to its large club face and extremely low, rearward center of gravity, which give it the highest ball speeds we’ve seen on mishits.

Even if forgiveness isn’t a primary concern, the G30 will likely still be a top contender to be the next driver in your bag. It launches impressively high for its low level of spin, making this G-Series driver a potential candidate for golfers who needed Ping’s lower-spinning I-Series drivers in the past.

Most golfers recognize the G30 for its “Turbulators,” four ridges on the front of the driver’s crown that lead to better aerodynamics for increased club head speed.

Still need less spin? For you, Ping created the G30LS Tec driver ($349), which has a slightly lower, more forward center of gravity that reduces spin roughly 300 rpm compared to the G30. The LS Tec looks the same as the G30 at address, but it’s slightly more workable, and is a better fit for golfers who want more fade bias than the G30 offers.

TaylorMade AeroBurner

geartrials_slider_taylormadeaeroburner

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: No
  • Price: $299

What you need to know: The AeroBurner driver combines TaylorMade’s new aerodynamic head shape with the company’s latest Speed Pocket — a deep slot that runs along the entirety of the sole — to reduce spin and improve ball speeds across the face, particularly on shots struck on the bottom half of the face.

If you’re looking for a lightweight driver, which can help some golfers swing faster and create more distance, the AeroBurner is our top pick. Fully assembled, the AeroBurner driver weighs less than 300 grams, making it the lightest driver on this list.

Like all recent drivers from TaylorMade, the AeroBurner has a low, forward center of gravity, which helps golfers hit the high-launching knuckleballs that lead to more distance. While the AeroBurner is not adjustable, it’s offered in four different lofts (9.5, 10.5, 12 and 15 degrees).

Need more fade bias? TaylorMade’s AeroBurner TP driver ($399) has a face angle that’s 1-degree more open, and a lie angle that’s 2 degrees flatter, which creates the neutral ball flight most better players prefer. It also comes stock with a stiffer, heavier shaft stock shaft that are often a better fit for stronger golfers.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://taylormadegolf.com/taylormade-drivers/” oemtext=”Buy it from TaylorMade” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLVN8ME/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLVN8ME&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=FUJT5XPTAWCFU37Z”]

TaylorMade R15

geartrials_slider_taylormader15

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 4-degree loft range
  • Price: $429

What you need to know: When it comes to reducing spin, few drivers can match TaylorMade’s R15, which is likely the lowest-spinning driver on this list. The R15 has an extremely low, forward center of gravity that helps golfers hoist their drives higher and with less spin than any TaylorMade driver in the past.

What our fitters love most about the R15, however, is the unparalleled control it gives golfers over trajectory. For that reason, TaylorMade earned a top spot in our “Forgiveness” category for the first time.

[quote_box_center]”When you get the right loft, the right shaft and the weights in the right position, it’s like magic,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]

Need more fade? Slide the two weights on TaylorMade’s R15 Front Weight Track more toward the toe of the club. Need more draw? Slide them toward the heel. And if you’re looking for more forgiveness from the club, you can split the weights across the weight track, which improves the driver’s moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of ball speed retention on mishits.

Need freakishly low spin? TaylorMade’s R15 430 driver ($429) will give it to you. It’s 30cc smaller than the standard R15, which gives golfers enhanced workability and the smaller head shape that purists prefer. Golfers will pay a noticeable penalty in forgiveness with the R15 430, but if you’re looking to hit your best shots as far as humanly possible, this is often the driver to do it.

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Titleist 915D2

geartrials_slider_titleist915d2

  • Headsize: 460cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 2.25-degree loft range
  • Price: $449

What you need to know: Our biggest knock on Titleist drivers of the past? They spun too much, causing many high-spin golfers to look elsewhere. Thanks to the 915D2, that’s no longer the case.

With the 915 series, Titleist’s added its “Active Recoil Channel,” a deep slot that extends from the heel to the toe of the driver to increase ball speed on mishits and substantially lower spin rate. Most impressively, Titleist was able to do this while maintaining the forgiveness that we enjoyed from the 913D2 driver.

Like previous versions, the D2 comes in a staggering amount of lofts (7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12), which are enhanced with the driver’s SureFit adjustable hosel. It allows golfers to make the small tweaks in loft, lie and face angle so they can get the exact launch conditions and look they need to play their best.

Titleist also leads the way with six premium stock shaft options, including Mitsubishi’s Second-Generation Diamana Plus Series and Alidila’s Rogue shafts.

Prefer a smaller driver head? Titleist’s 915D3 driver ($449) performs quite similar to the 915D2, but it has a 20cc smaller head that that makes the driver more workable and slightly lower spinning.

Drivers also receiving votes

Is your favorite driver not on the list? The models below also received votes for our 2015 Gear Trials: Best Drivers list, but not enough to make our final list. They are:

  • Callaway Big Bertha V-Series
  • Nike Vapor Speed
  • Nike Vapor Pro
  • Nike Vapor Flex
  • Srixon Z545
  • Tour Edge Exotics E8/E8 Beta
  • Wilson D200

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116 Comments

116 Comments

  1. Pingback: Research. Apply. Document. #1 Data-Ink Ratio – UX Journal

  2. Golfwell.net

    Oct 5, 2015 at 3:07 am

    The TaylorMade M1 became the number one driver on the tour overnight. Worked well for Jason Day the first day he tried it. Then hit it OB the second day he used it? http://www.golfwell.net/golf-equipment.html

  3. Desmond

    Jun 10, 2015 at 8:39 am

    The “distance” on the Callaway XR Driver does not make sense at all … unless the stock shaft is keeping it back.

    Pros are playing this head because of the added distance it gives some of them over the BB 815. Same MOTO face with more aerodynamics and lighter head equals more distance.

    Change the shaft and I bet that scale changes. I am playing a V Series, which has a reputation as “long”, and am getting a XR Driver – will compare using the same shafts.

  4. Butch

    Jun 8, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    What a bunch of whiners! I enjoyed the presentation. I would probably would not take the time to read a treatise anyway. For me it was just right! You can’t please everyone.

  5. Casey

    May 29, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    So with a score of 10 that means no driver ever made in the future will be longer? Well that’s nice to know.

    • Rory

      May 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Hahaha!! Why not rent a Robot for the day and post actual data….its what Myth Busters would do….

  6. Rory

    May 19, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Oh and same for dispersion numbers for forgiveness…

  7. Rory

    May 19, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    The point system is the problem! Its not a relative system but subjective! Distance says R15=10 and 915= 8. We hear if R15 =300 yards then 915 = 240 yards when we know that’s not true. IF 915 went 295 yards in testing compare to R15 at 300 yards then 915 should get 9.8 points!

    Golfers aren’t dummies except for the group in front of us that wont hurry up LOL!! Give us real information not subject…. you took a lot of time compiling a lot of data and then didn’t use it properly!

    Please redo its really easy now that you have the data!!!

    • Philip

      May 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      This right here^^^ I had same thought that point system is useless and is just a RANKING system. If WRX has the data just make it a multiplier like Rory says and give us REAL information not a fluff ranking system. I also read if R15=10 and XR=7 then same as R15=300 yards then XR=210 yards. Its like saying we have the data but you don’t get any….Tease!! Was XR 10 yards back or 90 who knows…WRX. I’m in market for a driver which should I buy?!

  8. Desmond

    May 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Guys, it is just a guide – from this, and knowing my game, I can eliminate a few of the above, demo the others that may fit my game.

    I am surprised by the distance ratings on the XR Driver – I suspect it is the stock shaft that is an issue although on other reviews, the distance among the XR, Aeroburner, Mizuno, Fly Z, Titleist were about the same. So the guys who see it tested day after day by various golfers may not be getting good data…

    But otherwise, I can take out the R15, DBD, anything that denotes “Pro”, the G30 (heavy for me), anything not adjustable, and try the rest.

    • Ben Ross

      Jan 17, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      People don’t come to GolfWrx for vague info. That’s what Golf and Golf Digest and the litany of other publications are for. GolfWrx is for people who are the sabermetricians of golf. While this info was nice, it doesn’t really help. What they should say is frankly that most of the top clubs are phenomenal and spend more time practicing ; )

  9. Dpavs

    May 7, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I guess I am finding these kinds of rating do nothing more than give you some suggestion as to what you might like to try… from my own personal demo of the drivers I would tend to disagree with the overall rankings, as well as the individual rankings for distance an forgiveness. To each his own!

  10. Jim H

    May 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Everyone is a critic. Maybe next year you let all the readers give their “expert” opinions on which clubs they view as “best” in each category and then they can beat each other up with negative comments.
    Sorry, but I actually enjoyed this article. It confirmed several of my own findings from hitting many of these same clubs, yet provided other opinions from fitters who deal with these products every day. I play Ping driver, fairway and hybrids and the evaluations were spot on, in my opinion. These clubs aren’t the “longest” but they are very forgiving to me. I also play Titleist AP1 irons. Not the “longest” irons, but I enjoy the consistency. Most of the fitter’s views confirmed my findings and rationale for playing those clubs.
    Unfortunately, many readers of this site appear to have unrealistic expectations about what a club comparison from people who work with these products daily will “magically” produce. I would expect these results to be very similar to the magazine article results that are also published every year as these tests are all subjective. The negativity of the comments after this article are mostly of a “piling on” nature, usually found after an article concerning political candidates. That is especially sad to me that such a low level respect is offered from a community of people who all love the same game.

  11. Skip

    Apr 2, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    “move more weight low and deep in the clubhead. That leads to high-launching, low-spinning drives and great ball speed”

    “The R15 has an extremely low, forward center of gravity that helps golfers hoist their drives higher and with less spin than any TaylorMade driver in the past.”

    So, I guess CG placement has no effect on launch conditions; both are high launch/low spin, regardless if it’s towards the face or the back. Okay.

  12. johnnyb

    Apr 1, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for adding the Ratings section, and for listening to the members!

  13. Kadin

    Mar 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I guess what comes to mind is…

    You used “custom” fitters that do 40 hours a week of “custom” fittings….but I don’t see any custom component heads being tested, all I see are OEM heads?????

    KZG, Maltby and Wishon did any of these companies get a shot??

  14. Paul

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:18 am

    So – you show the ‘show’ ponies but don’t provide any data (despite stating it)

    If you were going to do this the right way (at least you tried…) – you should list the data from each entrant (not just your top 10) and then some testers opinions, then using your fiters show the reader/forum member how you got to your conclusion. without all the data that you say you used…the lack of transparency makes this popularity contest; birdcage material.

    i respect golfwrx and think you guys do a phenomenal job but this was a sincere swing and a miss. mulligan please.

  15. slider

    Mar 28, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    the 915 is my favorite

  16. Dpavs

    Mar 28, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Much better article with at least some ratings included. The one thing I thing I would debate is that you can simply take the distance rating + the forgiveness rating and divide by 2 to come to a fair overall rating. A 10 in distance and a 6 in forgiveness is hardly going to be driver most golfers will want to consider gaming regularly, yet it would rate an 8. Perhaps assessing the cumulative deviation from the average (tossing out the top and bottom performers) would be a more accurate way of assessing the best all around performer?

    • Chris

      Mar 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      I would hope people could read the very handy charts and be able to draw some of these conclusions on their own…a driver with a 10 for distance and 6 for forgiveness is great for a player who wants maximum distance and doesn’t miss the center of the club face often.

      Again, keep in mind that these 7 were far and away better than the rest of the tested clubs, so it’s the lowest ranked driver in terms of forgiveness is still likely more forgiving than many other drivers…

  17. David

    Mar 27, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    the ball the ball

  18. Rich

    Mar 27, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Awesome, thanks Golfwrx for posting the extra info in the article. It completes the article for me now. Thanks for listening to your members. Cheers

  19. P Hostrup

    Mar 27, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    There can be no Winners in this competition – the Best driver head with the wrong shaft will losse anytime compared to a medium quality head with just the right spine aligned shaft for the player
    PAY for it and GET FiTTED !

  20. wyane77

    Mar 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Good job golfwrx for posting the rankings and data. This is the best effort and now comparison tool for a driver shootout. I will not take your word for it but it does narrow me down to a few. Big Bertha and R15 will be on the short list. If I spin it to much I will try the DBD lower spin Big Bertha vs the R15.

    Good job WRX!

  21. jgpl001

    Mar 27, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Everyone should relax, it’s just a typical driver test with predictable results

    Most golfers have a brand loyalty and won’t change anyway. However, if your in the market with a totally open mind then you would or should test all of them, plus those that didn’t make it

    Given the core followers of this site they should have tested 20 to 30 minimum, especially drivers from Bridgestone, Nike, Cleveland, Srixon, etc.

    • Chris Nickel

      Mar 27, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      If you read the article again, you can see they did have a process for narrowing it down to the 7 which are listed. All of the companies you mentioned could have been amongst the final seven, but simply their product wasn’t good enough across the board.

  22. mk

    Mar 27, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Kudos for the revision and keep up the good work.

  23. JOL

    Mar 27, 2015 at 8:58 am

    I’m not really sure why you bothered to publish this article. You start with the premise that everyone should be fit to accommodate for individual differences and then you proceed to narrow the list of drivers to be considered to 7. IMO, your readers would be better served by stopping at recommending they get fitted for a driver and allowing the fitter and the individual decide what to consider.

    • jon

      Mar 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Take a look now. Looks like there is data to support the top 7. Good job golfwrx!

    • JOL

      Mar 29, 2015 at 7:52 am

      The numerical ratings are a definite plus, thanks for the revisions.

  24. johnnyb

    Mar 27, 2015 at 2:52 am

    There are a lot of great car companies making a lot of great cars from all over the world, and somehow Motortrend is able to pick a “car of the year” and a “truck of the year”. Why is it so hard to do with a few drivers?

    • jon

      Mar 27, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Well maybe they listened to you. They posted the rankings.

  25. MRC

    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:41 am

    I’m sticking w my Mizuno JPX-850 driver!
    4 degrees of loft adjustment and quietly goes about its business….Long, Forgiving and Long….Did I say Long?

  26. bunty

    Mar 26, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    if most of you blokes hit these drivers blind, there would be minimal discernible difference besides obvious things like this one goes higher or this one spins more.

    They are all high quality products and all these clubs are maxed out on tech, besides a multi million company that sells golf clubs is not going to release duds.

    Stick to your mizuno’s or srixons or what ever else golf hipsters are hitting.

  27. Golfmaddness

    Mar 26, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    It sounds like companies who paid the most money where the best drivers.

  28. DJM

    Mar 26, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Is this the whole article? Or is there second part coming with the review in it

  29. johnnyb

    Mar 26, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    All these drivers are really great and tie for best driver! None of them have anything bad about them, and all the CEO’s of these companies can now hold hands and sing Kumbaya and everyone lived happily ever after.

  30. Geoff

    Mar 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    This was promoted as having a few tricks up its sleeve but, after all the hype, there isn’t anything in the results that hasn’t already been provided by a manufacturer’s marketing team or a publication’s puff piece. It provides about as much useful information as a list on BuzzFeed. This plays out like an obvious attempt by Golfwrx to do what other golf magazines have done in the past with their so called reviews: get manufacturer’s to link their web sites to that of the reviewer, generating more web traffic and ad revenue for said reviewer. And…it appears they are on their way to achieving exactly that. The second sentence of the editor’s letter (http://www.golfwrx.com/291623/gear-trials-feedback-a-letter-from-the-editor/) states: “In the 24+ hours since it’s been published, we’ve set records in views and comments.”

    Mission accomplished.

    • Cut and paste year after year

      Mar 27, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      I couldn’t agree more! A pretty useless article with the same marketing text that’s been published a million times from each company.

  31. Rex

    Mar 26, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I tend to read the comments section prior to the article…for perspective. Based on the balance of those comments, I wont be reading this article….

  32. Chris

    Mar 26, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Zac, just a TERRIBLY written “gear trial”.

    As other forists mentioned, if you’re not planning to give people any data whatsoever (which would be quite simple: absolute longest, absolute dispersion, median distance/dispersion, spin range, etc) what’s the point of calling this a gear trial? You’ve not even listed them in any order…?!?

    I love the forums but the articles are becoming more vanilla by the week. Not sure if this is what it takes to get invited to launch events and gear shows but from a pure “editorial” perspective and knowing that you consider yourself a serious journalist you should be ashamed to distribute this article as anything else than it really is – a thinly veiled advertising article for 90% of all major OEMs

  33. David

    Mar 26, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Funny how they keep deleting comments if you mention a website that tests drivers based on actual data. Cowards.

  34. Kevin

    Mar 26, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Constructive criticism… take a position, do something to show some level of differentiation. If not hard data, at minimum the visual sliding scales used last year. I enjoy much of the content on this site, but for such a high hype, major interest article, the regurgitation of the manufacturers’ marketing points is a major let down and added nothing new to what any semi-serious player already knows.

    No one driver is best for all players or swings, but if you don’t attempt to differentiate (low, med, high swing speed player data for instance) why bother making a “best list”? Just make a page to link to the respective reviews and don’t pretend to call it a competition. You guys have a good site, but judging by the comments, I think it’s clear you missed on this year’s trials approach.

  35. simon

    Mar 26, 2015 at 12:05 am

    stick them and lesser known drivers such as bombtech on iron byron and just publish the results.no need for any words we can make our minds up on what we want.

  36. Ballstrikaaa

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    I’ll go with Ryan’s take. Do your own trials based on your geometry and approach to the golf swing.
    I think it’s great that companies have produced a great batch of product for all of us to explore this year. I selected the R15 TP driver matched with the AeroBurner TP HL 3 wood. I’m not going to bore everyone with my sparkling numbers and inflated distance gains, but I will say these two selections feel great and go deep for me! I’d like to think these two clubs will be in the bag for at least………………3 months!!! Lol! Only kidding.

  37. j

    Mar 25, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    so you guys took the time to let players test the drivers on trackman, collect all of the distance and accuracy data and then you let the player VOTE on whichever driver they wanted to?

    am i reading this correctly? if so why even collect the data? if you collect the actual data you do not need the player to vote for a driver, the data gives you the longest, the straightest, and with a little math, the one that is a good mix of both.

    this gear trial test was hyped up to be more than the thinly veiled advertisement that it seems to be. i love how instead of actually listing them in the order they placed for distance, etc. you chose to list them alphabetically.

    if i want a real driver test with actual data published, fortunately there are sites that actually do that kind of testing now.

    this article was just about as meaningful as reading ads in a magazine honestly

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 25, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Players did not vote. I’m not sure how you came to that.

      • j

        Mar 25, 2015 at 10:41 pm

        zak,

        are you serious?? if you are not sure how i came up with that, re-read this section of the article

        “There was a shocking amount of overlap this year in the votes cast for 2015’s Best Drivers. Of all the drivers our Gear Trials Panelists could have voted for — and each Panelist could have voted for any driver it felt was worthy — seven drivers received an overwhelming majority of the votes. Furthermore, five of the seven drivers secured a place in each of our three categories (Distance, Forgiveness and Best Overall), a testament to just how well-rounded today’s drivers truly are”

        also in the faq article it goes through the panelist voting process & procedure in detail.

        so you let panelists, who hopefully are players otherwise why are they voting on golf clubs, vote. am i missing something??

        i understand that there is a group of panelists and then a group of testers as well. i am just curious about how you came about the actual lists. was it a combination of panelist votes and tester data? if so where there any drivers that made one list and not the other? were the drivers ranked in different order for panelist vs testers?

        just a lot of unanswered questions and none of the actual data and no stack rankings

        overall in my opinion this is a pretty weak article for what it was hyped up to be.

        just my opinion

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          Mar 26, 2015 at 1:59 pm

          The panelists are the six custom-fitting staffs that we named, not players. We wanted the opinions of the experts who fit clubs 40+ hours each week.

      • j

        Mar 25, 2015 at 10:48 pm

        zak,

        i think i understand what you are saying. i guess my wording in the original post was not the best. i was just wondering why even have the panelist vote if you are going to collect the data from the testers. the panelist (fitters) can be just as biased to certain brands that they have good relationships with or are associated with

        i just dont get the logic of the test or how the “winners” were listed alphabetically

        seems like a cop-out to the companies you get ad dollars from

        jmo

        • jon

          Mar 25, 2015 at 11:25 pm

          I don’t think so. Nike who is best friends with Golfwrx didn’t make the list. Ouch. there is #1,2 and 3 reasons why this isn’t the HotList.

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          Mar 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm

          You’re right, fitters can be biased to certain brands. But we know these fitters well, and kept their votes confidential to give them the freedom to vote for the drivers they thought were the best in the business. Our independent test verified that they did indeed choose the best performing drivers currently available, as we expected.

          We are proud to list these seven drivers as the best drivers available. If you were to test them all, which we encourage, you would likely find the best one for you on this list.

          Best of luck with your search!

  38. Troy

    Mar 25, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Wow what a shocking article. Pick the top drivers from the top 4 golf companies and state no negatives about them. I thought I read the golf digest hot list last month??

    • RG

      Mar 26, 2015 at 6:05 am

      It’s just advertising.

      • jon

        Mar 27, 2015 at 2:30 pm

        You sound like a troll. Why are you reading if you think that way. Golfwrx posted earlier the rankings.

  39. Ryan

    Mar 25, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    While I did not have a chance to participate in these trials, I do work at one of the fitting places mentioned. While it’s true that guys in the shop are sponsored by certain manufacturers, if you take the time to go through a fitting with one of them, you would understand that those fittings are completely unbiased. You will walk out with whatever driver works the best for you based on the numbers. When I’m fitting, I run the gamut on whatever clubs I think will work best for you. I’m not sponsored, but I have never felt pressure by any particular rep or manager to push a product. There are certain companies that hamstring us with what they give us fitting wise. At the time of these trials, I can guarantee that certain companies had only given us one or two loft options with maybe one stock shaft. It’s very possible that the combination didn’t match well with anyone that was testing and therefore led to poor numbers. There are always good products and bad products. This year happens to be a year where the products are all pretty darn good. If you compare that to last year, where at least 4 major manufacturers had subpar products, then people should see this as a good year to upgrade their equipment. My policy is if the new product isn’t significantly better, then you shouldn’t buy it. Take the time, get properly fit and do your own gear trials to find out what works best!

  40. joe c

    Mar 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    What a joke !……… Golf Digest 2.0

    • jon

      Mar 25, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      I don’t think so. Nike who is best friends with Golfwrx didn’t make the list. Ouch. there is #1,2 and 3 reasons why this isn’t the HotList.

  41. JH

    Mar 25, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    why promote the purchase of these clubs on amazon/etc. when you’re using local facilities and people who are knowledgeable and do this for a living doing the testing and providing the data? why not promote the local businesses?

  42. Kyle

    Mar 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for the useless article. I thought one out of the listed drivers was any good. Many drivers that aren’t listed as the “best” were easily better. And no data to go with the claims. This information is as bad as the hot list.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Kyle,

      I’d love to know what drivers you think are better.

  43. Golfraven

    Mar 25, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Just give me the Titleist, thanks. Ok, so you looked at current driver models and listed those for better players or masses. Nothing new here and aside two months too late. By now everybody who had a driver on thei list to buy likely made up his/her mind.

  44. Jason

    Mar 25, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    It’s funny they started this out by saying they trusted club fitters over editors but ended up with the exact same list.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      We listed the top-ranked drivers, according to our Panel, and kept our opinions out of the vote, with the exception of tie-breaking.

  45. myron miller

    Mar 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Interesting, as others say, opinion only. No details at all. And makes one wonder especially since shaft chosen can make tremendous difference, even stock shafts have several options.

    Lastly, had a friend go to a Callaway fitting center and compared the new Callaway drivers with his several year old Titleist (913D3 if I remember correctly). Fitter told him to keep 913 as it was just as long and dispersion as good as any of the new Callaways. So like others said, it really really would be interesting to see if performance gains are really there. Each year, the manufacturers say x + yards over the prior year. Adding those up over several years, should be lots and lots of yards. yet when people compare fitted several year old drivers versus new, most of the time, minor distance differences. Why?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 26, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Your friend now has the peace of mind that his driver is giving him his best chance to play his best golf. We hope that our readers will get fit, as your friend did, so they can have the same peace of mind when they tee it up during their next round.

      The 913D3 is an awesome performer, as is the 915D2 and 915D3. But it takes a fitting to find out what’s best for you. More often than not, in a professional fitting environment, the best for you will be one of the drivers on this list.

  46. Roosterredneck

    Mar 25, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    This is not like the previous tests from years past. Let us see all the data as years past!

    • Marc

      Mar 25, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Well at least you are being up front by adding affiliate tags to the BUY NOW buttons to make sure you are getting Amazon commissions. This site is becoming so entertaining to watch you get hammered by the readers. What a train wreck. Hahaha

  47. Zac

    Mar 25, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Would have loved to see if the Bridgestone J715 was at least considered. Seems like this is a just a list of the biggest manufacturers latest offerings.

    Of course the other interepretation of this article is it dosen’t matter at all what manufacturer or what club you buy, they are roughly all the same. That in and of itself is useful information. Just go to a store and buy the one most pleasing to your eye, take it home, and filddle with the adjustments.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 26, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Zac,

      That process can work, but a proper fitting is best. And usually, one of these seven drivers (or their low-spin equivalents) will be the best performer.

  48. James

    Mar 25, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    You didn’t ask me to test these drivers for you, so it couldn’t have been the best club fitters in the world 😉

  49. johnnyb

    Mar 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Why can we not pick a best driver? Just pick one, and hurt everyone else’s feelings.

  50. Bruce

    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Review brought to you by “China club makers”

  51. MK

    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Last year’s “sliding scale” graphic for each driver in the respective categories was much more helpful and you could compare and rank clubs based on each attribute. Would be interested if GolfWRX brought that back.

  52. Jim

    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Looks like all major manufacturers tie for best golf equipment, no need to worry just pick what pleases your eye. Kinda makes the whole process an excercise in futility. Might be of more interest to me if someone would compare the equipment from five years ago to those made today.

  53. MHendon

    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    So what we learned is all the top manufactures make good products and you need to hit each to find out which is best for you. Wow what a concept.

  54. Geo

    Mar 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Doesnt GolfWRX get advertising dollars from these manufacturers??? biased testing and results???

  55. DPavs

    Mar 25, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Unfortunately with no data these kind of reviews are subjective nonsense… we don’t even know that from fitter to fitter the same criteria were used and weighted appropriately let alone if the statistics support the conclusions. So what we end up with is these are the best, just take our word for it.

  56. joe c

    Mar 25, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Just Terrible !!!!

  57. Jason

    Mar 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Golf Magazine’s reviews beat the crap out of this one. Don’t be so freaking biased and give opinions and state the facts that they list on their very own website. Be objective, sheesh. Golf Digest Jr.

  58. Josh

    Mar 25, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    If the driver you have or want didn’t make the list = The list is bunk.

    If your driver made the list = The list is a good one!

  59. Mark

    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    About as informative as the GolfDigest hotlist

    • HT

      Mar 25, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      My thoughts exactly. Although, this has actual links to the OEM website or Amazon to purchase!

      I thought we would see some empirical Spin, Ballspeed, and Dispersion data. In the absence of that, one can only assume the advertising revenue was the driver of these driver recommendations.

    • Dave S

      Mar 25, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      This may have been sarcasm and if so, well played. If not, it should be pointed out that Golf Digest owns GolfWRX…

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        Mar 25, 2015 at 1:45 pm

        GolfWRX has no affiliation with Golf Digest, and has been independently owned and operated since 2005. We ended our association with Golf Digest in 2014, which was a non-editorial agreement.

        – Zak Kozuchowski
        GolfWRX Managing Editor

  60. DB

    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    What do you guys want? You want them to run a bunch of tests and spit out lots of data without any statistical analysis? You will very likely end up with results that are:

    1. Not statistically significant
    2. Not repeatable

    • Robert

      Mar 25, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      How about listing the top 5 in each group with the avg numbers of each one? This list tells us absolutely nothing. I know nothing more about any of these drivers that I didn’t know before today. I think that’s why people are complaining. For such extensive testing that they did, which I’m sure cost a ton of money, they basically came out with the equivalent of the Gold, Silver ratings of the Hot List. If I want the most distance, which driver should I get from this list? If I want the most accuracy, which driver should I get from this list? No one can tell me. How does that help anyone?

      • TR1PTIK

        Mar 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

        If you’re relying on a list written by someone else with data compiled from a number of people that AREN’T you, then you really need to learn the importance of custom fitting. This list was never meant to be a “de facto standard” for any one person.

        More than likely, the drivers on this list represent the number of golfers that were properly fit and achieved the best numbers with a specific club. That is all people.

        Why do you need to have someone tell you what club is best for YOU? Are you all robots incapable of thinking for yourselves and completely reliant on the input of others to make a decision? Get real!!!

  61. Peter

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:56 am

    This wouldnt qualify as an empirical study, why spend all this time and effort and not backing it up with factual numbers??

  62. Tom

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Aren’t club fitters incentive based to sell certain brands?

  63. Dan Riley

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:38 am

    With over 2000 shafts available, how can one title an article “Best Drivers” using stock shafts? IMHO the best driver is the one that has the best fitted head, the best fitted shaft, and the best fitted grip combined. A “Best Driver” test using only heads is kinda’ like a “Best Golf Shirt” test using extra large as your only criteria. Next time, use independent fitters who are not tied to sales organizations and who have access to all of the major component manufacturers. You can get the “Best Driver for YOU” fitted and built for less than the price of some of the drivers on this list.

    • Realisitic

      Mar 25, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Why don’t you do your own review on your dime

      ALL FITTERS ARE TIED TO SALES

  64. Sea-golfer

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I wish all golf equipment were tested by Iron Byron machines.

    • other paul

      Mar 25, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Or by a large group of people with lots of shots on each club with all measured data so we can compare properly.

    • Golf41

      Mar 25, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      Agreed. In a closed system – Controlled environment (Wind, Temperature, Humidity) – Wind Tunnel at Beoing or Airbus facilities? Balls are important too..:-)

  65. BeerMe

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I vote for the Srixon 545 DRV.

  66. Regis

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

    I think its one of the best articles that has appeared on this site. Especially if you spend the time to read the individual reviews. The bottom line is that all the major manufacturers put out good lines. IMHO some have better stock shafts than others but that depends on an individual’s swing speed angle of attack etc. No matter who comes out on top the critics will be quick to challenge the result or the testing modality. Usually because their brand didn’t win or didn’t fare so well. Same as the next day callers or posters on sports radio or blogs challenging every call made by the refs against their team.

    • Leave a reply

      Mar 25, 2015 at 10:59 am

      There is zero critical thinking in this review. Anyone can find better info by just visitin the repsective websites of each oem.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Mar 25, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you for the praise, Regis, and I’m glad you enjoyed our work.

  67. Robert

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Will we see the top Drivers for each category? If all I care about is distance or accuracy, how do I know which is which? This is really cool and a lot of time was spent doing this, but I don’t really know what this information tells me except those above are rated the 7 best drivers in no particular order.

  68. Tiger Woods Glutes

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

    This “review” read like each OEM’s sales brochure. This feels a lot like the GolfDigest Hotlist: useless

    The panel has one mission: make sales on the products they carry.

  69. Joe

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:37 am

    No Nike. Which confirms my experience that they are mediocre at best. Shocked that the titleist got on the board. Similar to Nike. Callway and r15 were very good in my testing.

  70. The Dude

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Yea I’m shocked about the Mizuno 850 too. I had similar results in my fitting.

  71. Matt

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:11 am

    While I appreciate all the work that went into this I would like to see more critical reviews. We know all these drivers are great, especially when fit for you, we also know that each has a weakness. Why not call those out? Or maybe put drivers in different categories… swing speeds/ball flight/handicap/etc? I’ve done some testing with one of the major manufacturers, testing other brands offerings against theirs, and it was clear that some were better for me than others.

  72. JP

    Mar 25, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Great job and very informative.

    The Nike driver guys won’t be too happy, however. My own personal trials earlier this year found similar results to yours here. The TM offerings worked great, the Nike models were OK, but didn’t “wow” me, the Cobra impressed, the Callaway’s were solid, and the Titleist was also a great driver. In the end however, I ended up with the Ping G30 LS.

    • Tiger Woods Glutes

      Mar 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

      What was informative? The write up was just the badic sales brochure points for each head. There was nothin critical in this “review”

  73. Mb

    Mar 25, 2015 at 9:55 am

    No Nike is shocking especially after tai’s shoot out

    • Steve Barry

      Mar 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      No it’s not. While that driver was best for HIM, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be best for everyone. If you read his actual review of the whole thing, it took him a while to get it dialed in. The long and short is he had access most can’t get.

      I don’t particularly see the benefit in this whole ‘review’ as anyone worth their salt on a course should know the value of a real fitting. Maybe this will lead the average golfer who buys whatever off the rack to narrow the selection down, but anyone wanting the best driver for them should know they need to be fit.

  74. Dan

    Mar 25, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Wow voters gave no love for the miz jpx 850? at my fitting it gave me better #’s than 2 of the finalists and 2 more of the ‘honorable mentions’. If it only weren’t 4 bills i’d be gaming it right now.

    • Brian

      Mar 25, 2015 at 10:24 am

      good for you, I guess? Everyone is going to have better numbers with different clubs. That doesn’t mean they all need to make the short list.

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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.

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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)

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  • 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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