Real testers. Raw data. Complete Transparency.
When we were dreaming up our 2016 Gear Trials: Best Drivers Club Test we had one goal; provide golfers with the best information possible to help them make the most informed buying decisions. As you’ve heard us say before, there is no “best” driver on the market, but there certainly is a best driver for you.
We set out to prove that this year by handpicking real golfers — 15 of our top forum members with handicaps of 13 or better — for a one-of-a-kind driver test on February 6 at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At the end of the 10-hour day, each tester learned which new driver was best for their game.
With the publication of this article, our readers now have access to the raw data from the most comprehensive, transparent and credible driver test ever conducted. Before you buy your next driver, you need to read this article.
Testers arrived at 8 a.m. and were systematically placed into three groups of five players based on their swing speed and tendencies. Each group was paired with one of Miles of Golf’s expert fitters, who specialized in fitting golfers with slow, medium and fast swing speeds. A total of 30 new driver models, as well as each golfer’s “gamer driver” were in play for the test, and every shot was recorded on Trackman using new Callaway Chrome Soft Golf Balls.
It’s important to note that this wasn’t a “swing-until-your-hands-bleed” test. Testers hit three different batches of heads, and were given roughly 90 minutes between batches to recover so they remained fresh throughout the day. When an uncharacteristic mishit occurred, its shot data was removed in real time by fitters to ensure the performance of each driver was accurately represented in the data.
The unprecedented amount of raw data we’ve published is highly specific. When a change to a driver’s shaft, loft, lie angle or adjustable weight was made, it was tagged on Trackman and separate data was created for that specific driver setup. That’s what allowed us to create Trackman Driver Optimizer Graphics and Dispersion Charts for each tester’s top-3 drivers and gamer driver, which can be found in the Player Profiles at the bottom of this story.
After testing the three different batches of heads, the top performers were identified by the fitter through the observation of ball flight, tester feedback and Trackman data, and a top-driver “showdown” ensued. The top-3 performing drivers for each tester received awards:
- Gold Medal: 1st Place. The winner. The best driver for each tester.
- Silver Medal: 2nd Place.
- Bronze Medal: 3rd place.
When we tallied the results, we found that seven drivers dominated the medal count, and those models are highlighted in the chart above. The spirit of our test, however, was not seeing which driver or drivers could accumulate the most medals, but rather to learn which driver was best for each individual tester and why. For that reason, we have also highlighted the three drivers that earned Gold Medals, but did not place in the top-seven. Those drivers are shown below.
With all the talk about driver heads, let’s not forget about shafts. To make this year’s club test the most thorough we’ve ever conducted, we did something very special. On top of Miles of Golf’s extensive selection of stock and aftermarket shafts, we sourced each tester’s “gamer shaft.” Gamer shafts were given Club Conex’s Universal Fitting Adapters so each player could test their gamer shaft (cut to their finished length and tipping preference) in any of the 30 different driver heads, if necessary.
Drivers Tested, Medals and Analysis
By clicking on the driver cards below, you can read a full analysis of each driver tested. Why did this one perform so well? Why did that one perform so poorly? We supply all those details, as well direct quotes from our testers, for each of the 30 drivers tested.
Click the images below
Complete Player Profiles
Want even more details about Gear Trials? You got it. Our editors wrote individual articles about each tester’s unique 2016 Gear Trials fitting experience. By clicking on the Player Profiles below, you can access their swing videos, detailed launch monitor data from Trackman for each of their top-3 drivers (and their gamer) and learn exactly why each tester ended up with the driver they did.
On the day of the test (February 6), Gear Trials testers began documenting their experiences in real time in this forum thread. Go behind the scenes, and read the in-depth discussions between our testers and other GolfWRX Members.