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GolfWRX Members Choice: The Best Drivers of 2018

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The bedrock of GolfWRX.com is the community of passionate and knowledgable golfers in our forums, and we put endless trust in the opinions of our GolfWRX Members — the most knowledgeable community of golfers on the internet. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively, or is armed with such in-depth information about the latest technology.

So we asked our GolfWRX Members, “What’s the best driver of 2018?” As part of the voting process, we allowed members to vote for up to three drivers they felt most worthy of the title. We also encouraged them to provide feedback about their selections.

You can see the results below (since the polls opened on Feb. 5), as well as quotes we pulled from GolfWRX Members about the drivers from our forum. Remember, the Members Choice poll will remain open for voting throughout the year, so keep an eye on the results and feedback as more and more golfers have an opportunity to test the drivers for 2018.

Related: See what drivers professional club fitters voted as the best of 2018

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

TaylorMade M3 440 (3.35 percent of votes)

Mcoz: My vote went to the club in my bag. “In the bag” should mean something. My choice is the TaylorMade M3 440. I tested many of the others with shafts suitable to my game (not stock shafts)… By the way the twistface seems to work very well for me. Heel shots always come back, although a little lower than a well struck shot. Toe shots do draw back with a high trajectory. Heel shots usually more in center of the fairway, and toe shots carry longer.

Titleist 917D2 (5.62 percent)

Kratus977: I hit the 917D2 and went nuts for the feel. Then looked at my numbers and solemnly put the club down. Not even close. And I wanted to love it.

Adbeach321: From a Titleist fan, I thought the 917D2 had a very odd shape to it. Felt good though.

TaylorMade M4 (6.26 percent)

wldchld22: In all my testing the longest ball I hit was with an M4 with a HZRDUS Black shaft, but the consistency wasn’t there. My fitter didn’t have a T110 shaft with TaylorMade tip, which may have given the M4 a better chance. I was surprised that twistface didn’t seem to work for me the way I thought it would. This is close to my 2016 M2 that I loved, but the feeling that I could go flat out at it wasn’t there for me.

Craigstands17: TaylorMade M4: something about this head and shaft combo just seemed perfect for me. Had the trifecta; lowest spin, highest clubhead speed, highest ball speed. Twistface: I’m not sure it’s not just all a marketing gimmick, but I did have very tight dispersion.

Honman: For me the M4 was the clear winner. I was consistently getting the most out of it and it seemed effortless compared to some of the other drivers I hit. I had consistently faster ballspeed and a far higher smash factor. I swing around 90 mph and was getting a 1.51 smash factor.

Callaway Rogue (7.34 percent)

Rapatt95: The Callaway Rogue surprised me, honestly. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Epic and didn’t expect much out of the Rogue. However, what I found was a driver that definitely felt better, looked better, and performed better than the Epic. This driver launched much lower and spun low (1900-2200 rpm), but for some reason just stays in the air. It’s just dead straight low-medium launch missiles. I’ve hit balls miles off the toe with this that launch around 9 degrees with 1600 rpm, and the ball speed does not drop off at all despite the toe strike. With the maintaining of ball speed across the face, that terrible toe strike just ends up being another low but long bullet down the middle.

wldchld22: Rogue with the bigger head made upgrading from Epic a no-brainer for me. I was very ready to stay in Epic this year but this new head does increase forgiveness (my dispersion got better with same shaft as Epic) and it launched the same as my Epic SubZero with only slightly higher spin.

m5power: Really liking my Rogue with an Even Flow Blue shaft. Came from a 2017 TaylorMade M1. For a low-spinning driver, I’m totally impressed by the workability of the Rogue. My ability to be able to turn it over easily has given me extra distance I was looking for. It’s an odd combo of allowing me to turn it over without the duck hook creeping in. I can easily fade it, as well. I went into the store looking to get an m3 or m4. Tried the Rogue on a whim and easily won out in the simulator. On-course testing has confirmed simulator results. (Not always the case for me)

Cobra King F8+ (7.67 percent)

Rapatt95: I immediately fell in love with it. It feels amazing. Simply a wonderful driver to hit. Like the Rogue, this thing just hit absolute bullets for me. Slightly higher than the Rogue, but still much lower than the G400. Even on low hits on the face, it still felt good and spin didn’t jump dramatically. Very well-balanced club that I enjoyed hitting.

redrage22: Gaming the F8+with a Tensei Pro White 60 TX shaft… what a combo!! I tried the F8+  today with the Graphite Design MT-7X shaft and that showed good promise too! I’ve hit them all this year and the feel of the Cobra sold me. I’m slightly longer with the TaylorMade M4, but didn’t like the feel. Rogue Sub Zero spins too low and I didn’t like the shape of the standard Rogue… great ball speed tho!

Craigstands73: CNC face milling on the front was pretty interesting and for me was the second best feeling driver I hit. The spin was just too high for me, and wasn’t giving me the best ball speed and smash factor. Dispersion was so-so, had some low lefts with it.

Honman: Cobra F8+ was my second best driver. I could happily play that. Ping G400 max spun too much, PXG wasn’t as forgiving, and the Mizuno was OK but a bit blue.

booker: Cobra F8+ is a great looking head, feels good, and provides good ballspeed and spin numbers. Not quite as long as Epic, Rogue and M3, but does everything well.

Ping G400 (8.96 percent)

GC70: I’m loving my Ping G400; feel, sound, distance, and the most forgiving driver I’ve ever gamed. I’ll be testing the Rogue, M4, F8, and Max shortly.

indianalawguy: Ping G400 regular with VA Raijin shaft!!!

tbowles411: The G400 series is the truth. Rogue is up there as well.

Kratus977: Loved the G400 and G400 LST, but the distance did not match my Epic.

TaylorMade M3 (9.50 percent)

Flogzero: Wasn’t a fan of the M4, but the M3 was solid. Just think the twistface is a gimmick.

GravityWell: Tops for me are M3 and G400 LST. I also have the F8+, but don’t get along with it.

ThunderBuzzworth: M3 is No. 1 for me, followed closely by Ping G400 LST, and no other driver gets a vote from me because they weren’t even close to those two. The M3 showed the highest ball speed consistently out of the bunch that I tested. I currently play a 2016 M1 with Tensei White 80TX shaft, and the M3 is a very close match to my current setup, so maybe it was a comfortability thing to me. The M3 I tested had the stock 6X shaft, so it was much much lighter and longer than my current driver and it was a bit spinny in flight compared to my M1 setup, so total distance was down but I could see myself making a switch to the M3.

Chadillac65: I have hit most of these at Club Champion, and the TaylorMade M3 has the highest ball speed

rxk9fan: The longest club for me time after time was the M3 with Tensei White X Stiff shaft, and 9.5 degrees of loft. The best dispersion with very little draw was the same club. The best spin numbers were produced by the same club. I know my swing speed would not indicate to me I would want the X-stiff shaft (averaged 98mph) but it averaged about 273 yards, which was a good 6 yards past the next best average. For some reason this combo allowed me to consistently hit the club face.

Ping G400 Max (10.58 percent)

jefferyl: At my local fitter, I tried the TaylorMade M3 and M4, Callaway Rogue and the Ping G400 Max. The G400 Max was longer and easily had the best dispersion. Needless to say it’s in the bag for our trip to AZ, next week!

dmac4g: Ping G400 Max has been a huge surprise to me. I had a G400 LST and the G400 Max has matched it for launch and spin but is offering even more forgiveness.  If I miss a fairway, it sure isn’t the clubs fault!

1Mordrid1: I have not hit the LST, but the G400 Max for me was spinning around 1400-1600 rpm consistently, and was similar to my numbers with the Rogue Sub Zero. I would have had to go to a higher launch, higher spin shaft to make either of those work for me. But the G400 Max felt amazing and I found it really easy to hit a controlled right-to-left shape.

Ping G400 LST (11.77 percent)

Mtngolfer1: Performance differences in drivers have really narrowed. With launch monitors becoming more of the norm, it has really come down to marrying the head to the shaft that produces the best results for the individual. The Ping G400 LST has produced great results for me in my short time with it. Ping has narrowed what many considered a distance gap while still maintaining that legendary Ping forgiveness. I am looking forward to seeing more from this driver in the coming season as the weather becomes more golf friendly. I have seen some impressive distances with the Callaway Epic, but the G400 LST finds the fairway more consistently it’s been fun putting these two great drivers head to head I expect to see continued success with both as familiarity grows with each.

Rapatt95: The G400 LST is easily the best driver I’ve ever hit. The thing just wanted to go straight and long. It’s also the only driver I’ve ever hit that didn’t start to slice when I started to go after it. It launched higher than any driver I’ve hit, but with good low spin numbers so it didn’t balloon to get that high.

osubuckeyes691: G400 LST with a Kuro Kage Dual Core XT or Aldila Synergy Black proto shaft. Combo is unreal. Ping head is ridiculously forgiving and both of those shafts cut spin enough so the Ping head becomes playable.

ThunderBuzzworth: Ping G400 LST was a surprise to me as it reached the second highest ball speed of the bunch and was able to keep spin down at the same time.  I hit the 8.5-degree head with the stock copper 6X shaft in this driver as well. It felt like a wet noodle in comparison to my Tensei, but it performed quite well for keeping spin down and ball speeds up. The one issue I had with G400 LsT was that it wanted to turn over, moreso than the M3 when I swung more aggressively at it.

IL2AZ: Ping G400 LST with the Tour 65 shaft is consistently giving me the highest ball speeds with low spin and elite forgiveness. A close second has been the standard Callaway Rogue with an Even Flow Blue shaft, which is very similar to my 2016 M2 with a Tensei PO shaft. I never thought I would play a Ping driver, but the numbers are too good to ignore and have been proven out with three launch monitor sessions and three rounds on the course.

Craigstands73: The Ping G400 LST gave very good dispersion and low spin. It was the winner until I hit the M4. Wasn’t the biggest fan of the feel, and the Dragonfly tech on the top just doesn’t do it for me. I can see this being a good head for a lot of guys.

FilOfFuture: Ping G400 LST gave me about the same distance as the Rogue Sub Zero, but I almost could not hit it far from center. I was amazed to get about 15-20 yards more distance and cut the side spin/ distance and left/right misses almost out of the equation.

Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (13.82 percent)

wldchld22: Great ball speeds for me on this one. To me this matched all the numbers of Epic Sub Zero. I don’t see this as an upgrade for people from last year but then Sub Zero is a great driver and ultimately why it made my top three. Last year’s performance was that good from Epic SZ that Rogue SZ shouldn’t be penalized.

Radeon962: Rogue Sub Zero, but I did not see a huge increase over my fitted Epic SZ so I plan on using the Epic SZ again this season.

Stumpnav: Rogue Sub Zero with Synergy holds the lead now… I still want to try it with the Even Flow shaft.

Haloha: Even though I’m a TaylorMade guy, after testing the Rogue Sub Zero with a Graphite Design shaft, I think I’m gonna switch. The Rogue SZ was just easy to walk up to and hit straight.

ThunderBuzzworth: I hit the Rogue Sub Zero expecting a giant slayer, and I vaporized one that I literally couldn’t hit any more perfect. It was 9 mph slower ball speed than the best drive I hit with the M3, and 7 mph slower ball speed than I hit with G400 LST. The Rogue SZ felt really good, but the ball speed was not there and it just didn’t have the firepower I was expecting.

gripandrip: I love my Epic Sub Zero with the RIP Alpha 60 shaft, but the Rogue SZ with the Even Flow is the real deal. The frustration with Callaway is I bought the latest technology 10 months ago and now it’s new and improved, basically making mine obsolete.

FlyOver: I recently was in the market to replace my Ping G400 driver because it was spinning too much on me, and I replaced the stock shaft with a Diamana White 70 stiff flex. I was on the GC2 and got numbers for the Rogue Sub Zero, TaylorMade M3, and Ping G400 LST. The Rogue SZ came in with the lowest spin numbers for me at 2300 rpm, but that was with a Hzardus Yellow shaft, 76 grams, 6.0 flex and the 14 gram weight set in the back. So I purchased this club and gamed it this past weekend with great results. Longer, straighter with a lower trajectory than my standard Ping G400.

Related: See what drivers professional club fitters voted as the best of 2018

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. HDTVMAN

    Apr 2, 2018 at 11:34 am

    As a fitter, I’ve played with the Epic and Ping 400 MAX, have hit the Rogue on the range, and was fitted by Taylor Made for an M3 460. My issue with the Epic and Rogue, to take advantage of the “jailbreak”, you need speeds of 100+, and if you are off center, heel or toe, the ball will squirrel left and right. The Taylor Made, when hit off-center, has tight dispersion, but the distance did not equal the Ping G400 MAX. Both had tight dispersion, but I constantly had 8-12 yards more distance on Trackman with the Ping, which is now in my bag.

    • ogo

      Apr 2, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      If your impact is within a quarter (25¢) you don’t need all the fancy accoutrements in all these over-engineered driver heads. Better to practice your driver swing until you can hit it on the sweet spot consistently… and you will reject a 400-460cc jumbo driver head for a smaller more workable driver head.

  2. SK

    Apr 1, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Why do all these driver heads have fancy graphics and useless curves and ridges? Is it because it suggests there is something special about the design so that gearheads have something else to “love”/

  3. acew/7iron

    Apr 1, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Another “Epic” year for me in 2018

    Once I notice the sweet spot wearing and the metal getting thin Ill consider going Rogue…Until then…Love my Epic Driver

  4. ogo

    Mar 31, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Oh, my… the WRX members are overflowing with love for these beautiful drivers. A man and his driver shall not be parted… until the next batch of new and improved drivers are revealed to the adulation of the golfing masses. xoxoxoxooooh

    • SK

      Apr 1, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      .. and I still love my old old driver …. smooch

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pga tour

K.J. Choi WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Valero Texas Open (4/18/2018).

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-6x

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ozik Matrix MFS M5 60X

3 Wood: Ping G400 (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7x

5 Wood: Ping G400 (17.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8x

Hybrid: Ping G400 (22 degrees)
Shaft: Atlus Tour H8

Irons: Ping G400 (4-PW)
Shaft: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 120X

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50-12SS, 54-12SS, 58-10)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping Sigma G Wolverine T
Grip: Ping Pistol

Putter: Ping PLF ZB3
Grip: Super Stroke KJ

Putter: Ping Sigma Vault Anser 2
Grip: Ping Pistol

WITB Notes: We spotted Choi testing a number of clubs at the Valero Texas Open. We will update this post when we have his 14-club setup confirmed. 

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Choi’s clubs. 

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Equipment

Titleist AVX golf balls passed the test, are now available across the United States

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Titleist’s AVX golf balls first came to retail as an experiment in three markets — Arizona, California and Florida — from October 2017 to January 2018. AVX (which stands for “Alternative to the V and X”) are three-piece golf balls made with urethane covers, and they’re made with a softer feel for more distance than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.

After proving their worth to consumers, Titleist’s AVX golf balls are now available across the U.S. as of April 23, and they will sell for 47.99 per dozen (the same as Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls) in both white and optic yellow.

According to Michael Mahoney, the Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing for Titleist, the AVX is a member of the Pro V1 family. Here’s a basic understanding of the lineup:

  • AVX: Softest, lowest trajectory, lowest spinning, less greenside spin and longest
  • Pro V1x: Firmer than the Pro V1, highest spinning and highest trajectory
  • Pro V1: Sits between the V1x and the AVX in terms of feel, spin and trajectory, and will appeal to most golfers

Different from the Pro V1 or Pro V1x, the AVX golf balls have a new GRN41 thermoset cast urethane cover to help the golf balls achieve the softer feel. Also, they have high speed, low compression cores, a new high-flex casing layer, and a new dimple design/pattern.

For in-depth tech info on the new AVX golf balls, how they performed in the test markets, and who should play the AVX golf balls, listen to our podcast below with Michael Mahoney, or click here to listen on iTunes.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the AVX golf balls

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