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Nike Covert Drivers: Editor Review

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Pros: Thanks to their radical cavity back design (a.k.a. the large chunk missing from the rear portion of the sole), the Nike Covert and Covert Tour drivers less spin and are more forgiving than previous models. Surprisingly, they also have a very pleasing sound. Their adjustable hosel system, Flex Loft, is also one of the widest ranging and most intuitive in the industry.

Cons: Not everyone will love the shiny red paint and the white Nike Swoosh on their crown. Flex Loft is easy to use, but it’s not as fine-tuned as other systems, allowing only 1.5-degree changes in face angle (from neutral) and 1-degree adjustments through its 5-degree loft range. The drivers also lack a non-invasive way to adjust swing weight, which would have been nice to have.

The Takeaway: The Covert and Covert Tour drivers will be hard to beat for golfers who are looking to reduce spin without parting ways with forgiveness. That’s why for the first time, Nike will have non-Nike Golf fans interested in its driver. It’s cool, it’s adjustable and it’s long and straight.

Overview

Before Covert, we never had a reason to play a Nike driver.

EditorsChoice_13Sure, Tiger and the rest of the Nike Golf staff played one. But at GolfWRX, we tend to measure the success of equipment by the usage habits of golfers who are not getting paid to play certain equipment. For Nike drivers, that number was low.

We didn’t know what to say when we first saw the Nike VR_S Covert driver. Unlike the company’s position in some other sports, Nike is the new kid on the block in golf. And here they were in 2013 attempting to sell consumers a driver with one-third of its sole missing. And it was red. And it had a Swoosh on the crown. Were they crazy? Tiger was never going to hit that. But as the technology behind the Covert drivers began to leak out, we suddenly became very interested.

Performance

For years, industry leader TaylorMade has been touting its movement of the center of gravity lower and more forward in the head, which helps create the high-launch, low-spin conditions golfers need to optimize their launch angles. But there’s a problem with moving the weight really far forward in a driver head – it decreases MOI, or in layman’s terms, it makes a driver less forgiving.

2Y9G4284

 The cavity-back design removes the back-middle section of the sole, allowing Nike to bring perimeter weighting to the tee box.

That’s why the cavity-back design of the Covert drivers makes perfect sense. The removal of mass from the rear portion of the driver sole gave Nike engineers more discretionary weight to put in other places – not just forward, but in the rear corners as well, which boosts forgiveness.

nike driver

 The eye popping red crown and white Nike Swoosh will be the first thing golfers see, but the cavity on the bottom of the head is even more significant.

So even though the standard Covert driver measures 460 cubic centimeters and the Tour model measures 430, Nike’s slick engineering makes them play larger and faster than that.

Flex Loft

Nike’s adjustable hosel, called Flex Loft, allows golfers to adjust the loft from 8.5 degrees to 12.5 degrees, a five-degree range that’s as wide as any of the big boys. According Ray Sander, the Nike Golf engineer who was behind the Flex Loft system, it also has another huge benefit. Because Flex Loft is a dual-axis system, not a single-axis or quadrant system, it allows golfers to adjust their loft and face angles independently.

post-1-0-73083600-1363299565_thumbpost-1-0-26128600-1363299568_thumb

 FlexLoft allows golfers to adjust loft and face angle independently.

Single-axis adjustable hosels, the ones used by all of Nike’s competitors, have an innate problem — when golfers add or subtract loft on those drivers, they also change the face angle. But different companies have found different ways around that problem.

nike driver 2013

 Covert drivers can be set to five different lofts (8.5 to 12.5) and a right, left or neutral face angle.

TaylorMade’s R1 driver has an adjustable dial on its sole that allows golfers to negate face angle effects by changing the orientation of the dial. Cobra created a specially designed section of the sole of its new AMP Cell drivers that allows the club to sit relatively square in all loft settings. But not all golfers sole their driver before they hit their tee shots, which can make TaylorMade’s adjustable dial a non-factor. And golfers who want a specific opened or closed setting with an AMP Cell driver can’t get it. According to Sander, however, it doesn’t matter if the club is soled or not because the Flex Loft system’s two sleeves work independently to keep face angle consistent during loft adjustments.

[youtube id=”k-YbgT4FLBo” width=”620″ height=”360″]

During face angle adjustments, the loft sleeve (the one closer to the club head) doesn’t move. But the upper sleeve and the shaft do, rotating the head 1.5 degrees to the right or 1.5 degrees to the left (from the neutral setting). During loft changes, the loft sleeve is the only one that moves, tilting the head forward (for less loft) and back (for more loft) without changing the face angle.

So does it work? Based on our FlightScope findings, it was hard to disprove. Our tester set the standard model of the Covert at 12.5 degrees in the right setting and watched his launch and spin numbers climb as high as 11.3 degrees with 3087 rpm of spin. At 8.5 degrees in the right setting, his launch was as low as 8.7 degrees with 2347 rpm of spin with a similar dispersion pattern.

Covert or Covert Tour?

The reason our tester hit the standard Covert (Nike calls it the “Performance” model) in the “right” setting is because Nike intended for it to have a a “square” face angle at address, not the opened look that many golfers with fast club head speeds prefer.

nike covert driver

The reason our tester hit the standard Covert (Nike calls it the “Performance” model) in the “right” setting is because Nike intended for it to have a a “square” face angle at address, not the opened look that many golfers with fast club head speeds prefer. With Nike’s Covert Tour driver, he didn’t have to adjust it to the right setting — the Tour has a face angle around 1.5-degrees open in the neutral setting, which gives golfers the ability to have the club face square or as much as 3-degrees opened if they wish.

covert driver review

According to Nike, the Covert Tour is about 0.75-degrees lower launching and spins about 300 rpm less than the standard model. Every player is going to get slightly different results from the different models, but Nike’s range is pretty close to what we saw on FlightScope.

The biggest factor for golfers who are choosing between the Covert and Covert Tour will be the size difference of the two heads. The Covert is 460 cubic centimeters, while the Covert Tour is 430. Thirty cubic centimeters doesn’t sound like a lot, but the Tour’s deeper, or taller face makes it look even smaller than what it measures — at first glance, it would be easy to mistake the Covert Tour for a large 3 wood. That difference in size and construction makes the tour model more workable, but far less forgiving than the non-Tour model.

tiger woods driver

Some golfers may gravitate toward the Tour model because of it’s black face and sole, which is much cleaner looking than the standard model, and also because it’s the one Rory McIlroy is playing. But unless they need the extremely low launch and low spin of the Covert Tour, most will be better off with the standard model.

Sound and feel

Both the Covert and Covert Tour drivers sound exactly the opposite of what we expected — traditional.

2Y9G4273

According to Tony Dabbs, a product line manager for Nike Golf, the drivers can look like they do and still sound normal because of a support structure at the edge of the cavity that looks like an I-beam and runs from the crown to the sole and helps quiet the sound.

nike covert red driver

Covert Tour Address image

“Think of a cowbell,” Dabbs said. “It’s hollow and makes a loud sound. But if you put a bolt through it, it ties things together and quiets things.”

Because of their different designs, the Covert Tour has a harsher-feeling, higher-pitched sound than the standard Covert, which feels softer and sounds quieter.

Final Thoughts

Golf’s ruling bodies have made it extremely difficult for equipment manufacturers to continue add yards to a golfer’s drives, which is why manufacturers are doing everything in their power to make their drivers as adjustable as possible.

2Y9G4302

Engineers aren’t finding as many yards in the lab as they used to, but there are plenty of yards left for the average golfer to find through proper fitting.

red nike driver

With Covert, Nike has given golfers all the adjustability they could want and something new as well — a driver that can be low spinning and forgiving.

The Covert comes with “real deal” stock shaft options, Mitsubishi Rayon’s Kurokage Black 50 in the standard model and a Kurokage Silver 60 in the Tour, making the VR_S Covert ($299) and the VR_S Covert Tour ($399) a lot of driver for the money.

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54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. Yokalow

    May 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    I just test drove the Nike Covert 2.0 at Golf Smith. Very nice grips feel and sound to it. At 8.5 it took me out to ~308yrds 110 swing speed at 13deg loft. I almost bought it except when I compared it to my 6.5 deg Adams, I was at a consistent 320-330yrds. This is all on computer screen so take that for what it is. Head speed on Adams ~110 with about 9.5-14 degree loft.

    +100 swing speed with an x-stiff shaft, you can’t go wrong. Not sure of the longevity of the adjustable head.

  2. Archie Aquino

    Apr 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I took the tour to the range to compare it against my driver (Nike VR Tour). The sound was really my first indication that it was different. My current driver already sounded “funny” compared to others, but this sounds like an aluminum bat. The next thing that caught my eye was the feel. I like my current driver but NCT launched the ball into the air without much effort. It caught me by surprise. A good surprise. I was able to shape my shots well and play with the trajectory very much like I do with my NVRT. My next step is to compare distances … it feels like I get a few more yards, but I haven’t quantified it yet.

  3. Chris

    Mar 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I found this difficult to hit the first couple of rounds. 16 handicap. Very low trajectory. Nice deep ping impact sound. Stiff kuro kage 60g feels like a regular. Increased loft tonight from 10.5 to 11.5 so we shall see…

  4. Bobby

    Feb 20, 2014 at 12:28 am

    I ordered an new covert driver and it came yesterday. I took it to the course today and was very disappointed. I set the shaft to the 10.5 LOFT and set the face to left. I did not hit it straight not once. each time I used it the ball sliced. would like to know what to do. I weighed it and the swing weight is way different than my other clubs. this club had a swing weight of D5. My old driver which I hit pretty good has a swing weigh of D. I need some help with this Nike driver. help. It looks good but made me feel bad when the bad flew over into the opposite fairway.

    • sage Fitchko

      Mar 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      I have been hitting the covert for about 5 months and had the same problem at first. Mine was set at left 9.5 and would slice it off to the right. I fixed it by quitting golf

      • Paul Hauser

        May 31, 2014 at 9:58 pm

        Now THAT is the PERFECT ANSWER!! I got a job at Golfsmith recently, and I get free lessons. I had a terrible time slicing the ball. With the free lessons, I have learned to things to cure my slice. If you’re slicing the ball, it’s because you’re picking up the club on the backswing out to in. When you come back down it’s the same, so the ball spins to the right. To cure this, lift the club with your shoulders FIRST. NOT your arms. Make sure you turn your shoulders. Another issue I had is hitting the ball flat footed. My instructor suggested I hit the ball like Gary Player, taking a full step forward with my right foot on the downswing. These two things have made a major difference in the way I hit the ball.

  5. carl

    Dec 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    was in Golfsmith hitting the covert tour and ball was flying off head good flight, looked at setting and it was set at 8.5 and the shaft was x-stiff. I usually play regular shaft so I was surprised at how well the ball took off and climbed. Well try on course and see if it beats by x hot driver

  6. Brian stamps

    Oct 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Have the regular 460cc nike covert VRS driver, love it!

  7. John

    Oct 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

    “no your increasing a slice when its closed set it on open”??
    Can you elaborate a little?

    Why would ‘closing’ my face (settting to left) increase a ‘slice’ for a right-handed golfer?
    Wouldn’t I be kind of forcing a pull or hook to the left instead? Don’t see how I can be increasing a slice…

  8. johnny

    Sep 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    no your increasing a slice when its closed set it on open

  9. BRUCE

    Sep 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    IF I SET THE LOFT ON MY COVERT DRIVER TO 10.5 AND THE FACE ANGLE TO LEFT WILL THAT CLOSE THE FACE OF THE CLUB AND MINIMIZE MY SLICE . I AM RIGHT HANDED???

  10. Ajm

    Sep 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I was a bit skeptical at first. I’m a 4 handicap and hitting it 20+ yards longer (apples to apples). The thing is an absolute sledgehammer coming through the ball. My mishits are 250 and if I catch it right I’m 280+. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

  11. Les

    Sep 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I have been playing an R11, one of my playing
    partners bought the Covert and said I needed to hit it.I loved it from the start and bought one my self.I now hit it longer straighter than ever definatly my best purchase.
    Now all my regular foursome bought them and we have all improved at our club we are now called Team Covert

  12. Pingback: Non-adjustable Nike Covert driver spotted – from Golfwrx.com | NG NATION — Nike Golf Fan Blog

  13. joe quinn

    Jul 17, 2013 at 5:08 am

    Great club, great results.

  14. joe quinn

    Jul 10, 2013 at 10:29 am

    just ordered the Nike 460. Is there much difference between the regular and stiff shaft that comes with the club? My swing speed is about 95mph. As long as anything I’ve ever tried but much more forgiving and gives me confidence over the ball. I play off 12 and am a leftie!Had no intention of changing from my Titliest 913d until I stumbled on the Nike 460!

    • mark

      Sep 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      If you have a swing speed above 89 mph it is recommended that you have a stiff shaft I have a swing speed of 109mph an find I cut anything less than a stiff if I was you I’d go hit the driver in a stiff an a regular an see what gives you the straighter an best balk flight

  15. j.a.

    Jun 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Although my Cleveland Launcher DST won my Nike Challenge by 30 yds., I was more consistent with the Covert. This convinced me to get it. It’s much better to have a shorter shot in the fairway than a long drive in the woods, water or out of bounds.

  16. Foz

    Jun 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I pulled the trigger on the Nike Covert Driver & 3 Wood. As the flight is much lower with the Kuro Kage shaft, it took a couple outings and adjustments to get it right. I am using the 12.5* Neutral setting with the following results. Steaight, Straight, Straight down the middle of the fairway. Long, Longer, than my Powerbilt AFO w/PX 5.0 shaft. Yesterday, I measured 220’s, 232’s 235 & a 243 yds. On the one short drive (184 yds. )I birdied the hole!

    And the 3 Wood….I am now consistently getting 200 yds. Yesterday I reached two Par 5’s in two! (Driver & 3 Wood).

    I am really having fun now!

  17. Cal

    Jun 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I just ordered this club through an incentive program with Volkswagen. I am 55 and ordered the “Senior” staff. Being a limited part-time golfer,what is involved with getting the club “fitted”?

  18. Shakka

    Jun 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Just hit an entire rack of drivers at a golfsmith fitting. The last club I thought I’d buy or want is a Nike. I am a 220 and occasionally 240 knocker with a 10.5 degree burner. Somehow, with the fitters adjustment to 8.5 degrees, I was hitting 240 consistently but importantly with much tighter dispersion and 30% less spin. I love my burner but mistakes off the Tee was usually accompanied by high ball spin. When I hit off the toe with the Nike standard, I was surprised how forgiving this club was still hittin 210-220. The stats didnt lie after a solid hour of testing. I would have kept my burner had I not witnessed the tight dispersion, lower spin speed and extra distance. Get fitted before buying drivers. It is a science and everyone swings differently.

    • John

      Jun 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      Look if this doesn’t tell you to look into Covert I don’t know what will. I’m 16 and this thing 300 with 280 carry at the least. I am stronger than most but I NEVER hit anything like this! My only recommendation is to get fit with correct head and shaft. JUST DO IT! BUY IT!

  19. wink

    Jun 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    this club is even better than my callaway razor.
    best shots are similar but slight heel shots are amazing.
    I used it right away in club tournament team event and it
    was awesome. I lost zero accuracy and was 20 yards further
    on most holes than usual. great club. get it fitted by your pro though.

  20. Scott I

    Jun 1, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Tried all the drives in the demo rack at golfsmith today and the Nike Covert Tour performed far and away the best for me. Really strange considering that I’m a short knocker. Normally struggle to pop it out there 230 (80-90mph swing speed, 15 handicap), and the simulator showed that for virtually every other club. I had a few 245-252’s with this club. If it wasn’t for the $399 pricetag, I would have owned it today. Also, if golfsmith would have offered me more than $48 to trade in my 910D2… *sigh*.

  21. Mark L

    May 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    This new driver is the best Nike has ever made, I have all Nike equipment and I used to have the VR driver tiger uses. This driver is 15 yards longer with a better feel and the 3 wood is the best on the market, gained 20 yards switching to the 3 woods

  22. Tom Klintworth

    May 5, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Performance is great! problem is i have cracked two heads in 4 weeks

  23. dakota jones

    May 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Finally hit it at a demo day 150 ball speed, 258 carry, 1800 rpm, low side spin it a freaking keeper and I hate Nike golf Clubs

  24. Aaron Morris

    Apr 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

    This driver is very very surpising. It was every bit as long as my 9016d. Spin numbers were more consistent, dispersion and launch angle were tighter. Plush feel and sound and gave a few extra yards more then the Cally X-Hot. Most accurate for was the R1, Distance goes to Cally and Nike, all around game benefit goes to Nike.
    Any gripes about paint schemes is a failure to realize that “confidence” comes from knowing what to do with the body to move that club in your hands.

  25. Jtmcgk

    Apr 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I was playing the Cobra ZL Encore when my so got me interested in this club. I’m only 42 but due to a bad snowboarding accident that required eleven total surgeries Four on the knees (I tore both ACL’s) and seven shoulder surgeries all on the left shoulder that culminated in having it replaced twice (I’m right handed). Before the crash I played to a two, thirteen years after the crash I’m back down to a seven. My issue is distance off the tee. I’m a 235-260 guy and it killls me. I’ve found that my average drive distance has increased by about twelve yards. Realistically I was avg. 245 of the tee now I’m close to 260. Its huge. The club is fantastic. I’ve got the performance and to be able to adjust loft and face angle is great. I’m very impressed. I replaced the stock shaft with an Adila PROTO vs. love it. Bravo Nike

  26. kirk

    Apr 7, 2013 at 8:04 am

    went to nike golf covert challenge, best I counldnt get under 3000spin,
    8.5,xstiff kuro kage. my numbers were 115 club head, 160 ball speed, 295 distance, 3100-3000 was lowest spin

    • Stocksie

      May 19, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Got the same numbers with the same loft, but my spin was even higher with the TM drivers. Maybe it was you steep swing?

  27. Andy B

    Mar 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Nike had a rep at the range in Glasgow today doing a distance challenge. I ended up trading in my Razr Fit 9.5 for the Nike 460 set to neutral and to me, a surprising 11.5. Distance with my new Nike is more consistently long, although my best shots were similar with both, but what sold me was the tight dispersion and how straight it was on off centre hits. I play off 8 at a super tight Scottish links course, but at 6’4″ my naturally steep swing path can result in the odd, very destructive wild one. I can’t wait to hit more fairways in my next round!!

  28. Bill Henwood

    Mar 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    This design was first developed for the Toney Penna Innovator and then again for for the Nicklaus N-1 driver in 1992. I knew it worked then and it works now.

  29. Ed L

    Mar 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I’m not a fan of this trend for OEMs to use the crown of the clubhead for their branding. It’s distracting and makes the clubs look cheap. Offering different colors is one thing, adding distrtacting graphics is another. If OEM’s are trying to sell customization, give me the option to buy the latest technology that has a clubhead not designed for NASCAR. I’m sure golf shops doing club refinishing will see record revenues this year.

    • michael

      Mar 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      then don’t buy the club. I hate the Taylormade R1 and all that other crap they put out so I decided to stick w/ my Titleist 905R. However, when the Covert came out I had to have one. That thing is beautiful and more people would agree than not.

    • Jack

      Apr 5, 2013 at 1:40 am

      News flash: people like it. They are buying it. You are in the minority so I would doubt that the club refinishing would get any more than normal.

    • JK

      Jul 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Ed, you are supposed to be keeping your head down and eye on the golf ball not on the club head
      ….how is the swoosh distracting you?

  30. Ken

    Mar 20, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Is this cavity as radical as Nike would have us believe? In a driver maybe! Sonartec had cavities in their hybrids and fairway woods over a decade ago………………….

    • willM

      Mar 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Which is why I still use my sonartec 3-wood to this day. No wood to date has matched it for forgiveness, flight characteristics, and workability. Mitsubishi shaft a little stiff, but it flies!

      • Jack

        Apr 5, 2013 at 1:37 am

        Yup still love my royal collection (japanese version same technology) 3 and 5 woods. I think they are more than 10 yrs old now! Have some fujikura i think 757s in there. Best ROI on any club that I’ve owned!

    • willyboy

      Mar 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Whats a Sonartec? Under water radar system?

  31. Internet Marketing Miami

    Mar 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Just got this golf club for my birthday. Can’t wait to take out clients on the course and show it off!

  32. Cory Collins

    Mar 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Article says Nike has the only dual axis system. Isn’t the titleist fitting system dual axis?

    • michael

      Mar 18, 2013 at 12:39 am

      yes however it’s worthless in my opinion because when you change the loft +1.5 for example, you change the face angle to closed

  33. Kris

    Mar 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I’ve got the Performance with the Tour KK Silver 60g X shaft. Set at 11.5° and open for now. Hit on the range a few times, and while it’s not easy to draw or fade on demand, it can be done. Normally though, it just goes dead straight for me. Beats my old power draw!

  34. G

    Mar 16, 2013 at 4:21 am

    It’s really very poorly manufactured. They used some cheap epoxy, and the badging inside the cavity will fly out after a little bit of use. Be warned.

  35. Pingback: VR_S Covert Review from Golfwrx.com | NG NATION — Nike Golf Fan Blog

  36. Chris Voshall

    Mar 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Actually moving weight back in the head of a driver increases MOI and forgiveness…big time. Just sayin’

    • Ian

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      That’s what he’s saying.

    • Jacob

      Mar 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      I think that’s what was being said about forward weight decreasing MOI than back weight for MOI. Are you the Mizuno Chris Voshall by the way???

  37. Mark H

    Mar 15, 2013 at 9:51 am

    FYI, the Kurokage Silver 60 shaft has no up-charge in the Covert Performance model. I’ve got this setup at 11.5 degrees neutral cut down to 44.5″ and it just bombs!

  38. GEORGE STEEN

    Mar 14, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    nice looking deepfaced driver beat that hideous new r-1

    • Darrell

      Jun 28, 2013 at 3:53 am

      Just bought the new covert. Great club diffently worth th money. Bad shots stay straighter and added distance. Plenty on confidence on the tee box with this in hand

    • Francisco de Carvalho

      Sep 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      After reading all reviews i decided to buy the VR_S Covert Tour; im a 28 handicap! I played yesterday on Ocean Club in Nassau and i had the best time in my life!!! Out 18 hols i hit 16 straight on the green for the first time in my 3 years of golf. This driver teach you how to play and sounds amazing. Very happy with my investment.

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Driver Reviews

Review: Ping’s G400 and G400 LST Drivers

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

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

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

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

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

Ping_G400_LST_2

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

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

The Test

PingG400_2017

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

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

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

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

Dispersion

G400_Dispertion

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

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

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

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

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

Ping_G400_LST_4

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

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

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

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Driver Reviews

Members Choice: The Best Driver of 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cobra King LTD Black (3.00 percent of votes)

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

Mizuno JPX-900 (3.20 percent)

Mizuno_JPX_900_Driver

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

Ping G (3.80 percent)

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

Cobra King F7+ (3.90 percent)

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

Ping G LS Tec (4.90 percent)

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

Titleist 917D3 (5.30 percent)

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

Further Reading

TaylorMade M1 440 (5.35 percent)

TaylorMade_M1_440_Feat

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

Titleist 917D2 (6.65 percent)

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

Further Reading

TaylorMade M1 460 2017 (11.81 percent)

TaylorMade_M1_460-Feat

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

TaylorMade M2 2017 (11.86 percent)

M2_Speed_Pocket

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

Callaway GBB Epic (14.91 percent)

GBB_Epic_Hero

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

Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero (16.91 percent)

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Hero

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

Members Choice 2017

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Driver Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

12_things_TaylorMade_2017_M1_M2_drivers-1021x580

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

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

TMDrivers2017_groupshort

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

Andrew Harveson (drewtaylor21)

Andrew_WRX_Aviara-4864

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

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

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

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

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

TMDrivers2017_andrew

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

Andrew’s Dispersion Chart

Andrew_Harveson_Dispersion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Ussery (BCULAW)

Brian_WRX_Aviara-4252

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

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

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

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

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

TMDrivers2017_brian

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

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

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

Brian’s Dispersion Chart

Brian_Ussery_Dispersion

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

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

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

Chris Scheeweiss (Schnee)

Chris_WRX_Aviara-4802

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

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

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

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

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

TMDrivers2017_chris

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

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

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

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

Chris’ Dispersion Chart

Chris_Scheeweiss_Dispersion

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

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

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

Darrin Sloan (DNice26)

Darren_WRX_Aviara-4675

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

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

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

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

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

TMDrivers2017_darrin

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

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

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

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

Darren’s Dispersion Chart

Darren_Sloan_Dispersion

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

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

George Cellette (GC70)

George_WRX_Aviara-4360

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

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

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

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

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

TMDrivers2017_george

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

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

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

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

George’s Dispersion Chart

George_Cellette_Dispersion

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

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

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