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Best Drivers 2013: Editors’ Choice

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600 best driver

[dropcap]’T[/dropcap]his year’s crop of drivers seem to have more buzz than we’re used to. Even though golf’s ruling bodies capped the COR (coefficient of restitution) limit on drivers to 0.83 and club head size to 460cc more than a decade ago, manufactures have still found new ways to improve on their designs every year. This year is no exception — crazy graphics, cavity back sole designs and small tweaks to the center of gravity have made this year’s drivers better than ever before.

EditorsChoice_132Click here to read the specifics on the voting committee and how we picked the best.

Late-season releases from Callaway and TaylorMade forced us to revise our original 2013 list. The TaylorMade SLDR is not only performing well in the hands of tour players, but amateurs as well. Our panel of elite club fitters have been complimentary of the driver’s looks, sound, feel and performance, enough that it bumped TaylorMade’s R1 off the list.

Callaway’s FT OptiForce drivers are the same story. They’re an improvement on Callaway’s Razr Fit Xtreme and X Hot drivers, offering a more adjustable hosel, a more pleasing head shape and improved performance for many golfers, both in the 440 and 460 heads.

The mainstays of the list: Cobra’s AMP Cell, Nike’s Covert and Covert Tour, Ping’s G25 and Titleist’s 913 D2 and D3 continue to get top marks from our club fitting panel, and offer a range of launch conditions, head shapes and adjustability options that work for a wide range of golfers.

Take a look through our updated list of the best drivers of 2013. If you’re in the market for a new driver, one of these six big sticks will probably get you some extra yards, confidence, or both.

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2Y9G0087-600x400TaylorMade SLDR

Our testing showed that the SLDR is one of the special drivers that comes around every few years that has the potential to win over an enormous amount of golfers. The combination of the SLDR’s faster ball speed, lower spin and foolproof adjustability makes it arguably the best driver that TaylorMade has ever produced.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/121878/taylormade-sldr-driver-editor-review/”]See Review[/button]

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nike covert driver reviewNike Covert Drivers

Nike’s new VR_S Covert Performance Driver comes in two models — a 4600cc head and a Tour model that is 430cc. 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. Like the R1, the Covert only comes in one loft and you adjust the loft and face angle independently.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/75403/nike-covert-drivers-editor-review/”]See Review[/button]

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callaway optiforceCallaway FT Optiforce

With two premium stock shafts to choose from, both drivers are lighter and offer more adjustability than previous Callaway models. Most golfers will find the 460 launches higher with more forgiveness and has more consistent ball speeds across the face. Better players will favor the lower, more penetrating trajectory offered by the 440.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/126396/callaway-ft-optiforce-drivers-editor-review/”]See Review[/button]

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titleist 2013 driversTitleist 913 D2/D3

The new 913 driver adds more length over the older 910 Driver. That had to be hard for them to do, because the performance of the 910 D2 and D3 were so good. Titleist says the additional distance is as a result better speed, launch and spin. Winner of the GolfWRX community choice awards says that these drivers work and was the people’s choice.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/63939/titleist-913-d2-and-d3-driver-review/”]See Review[/button]

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ping g25 driver reviewPING G25 Driver

Ping’s new G25 Driver incorporates the beautiful matte black crown that debuted on the company’s i20 and Anser drivers. Ping moved the center of gravity (COG) substantially lower and further back from its previous model, the G20, to help golfers lower their spin and launch the ball higher.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/58845/ping-g25-driver-fairway-woods-and-hybrids-pics-story/”]See Review[/button]

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cobra ampCobra AMP Cell Driver

The AMP Cell (pictured) and AMP Cell Pro Drivers feature Cobra’s new MyFly technology, allowing golfers to select from six different loft/trajectory settings. Cobra is offering the AMP Cell driver in a choice of four different colors —  silver, blue, red and orange, and the AMP Cell Pro in a choice of two colors: silver and orange.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/85979/cobra-amp-cell-driver-editor-review/”]See Review[/button]

 _____________________________________________________________________

Click here to see the “Best of” winners for other club categories.

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

69 Comments

69 Comments

  1. whatisthis

    May 22, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    It’s funny how each year, a company claims that the new model will ad 20 yeards. We should all be hitting 400 yard drives by now with that math. I’m not surprised that you have so much variation in quality with off the shelf equipment. It’s corporate greed that’s the cause, and it’s not just in golf equipment. I’m pretty happy with my 3 year old driver, but I wouldn’t mind trying all the new equipment every year. Unfortunately, I have to pay for equipment…

  2. free credit advice

    Mar 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm

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  3. paulchai

    Oct 17, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I tried the Covert tour with Kurokage X flex yesterday. The shaft does not feel too stiff to me. Overall, it is a very beautiful club (my opinion). However, the head is not to most forgiving head to date. I also own a few more drivers. I say TM drivers, R9 supertri, R11S (both tour issue) are a lot more forgiving. Some may argue that because I chose tour head version and the X flex shaft.
    I say it is more comparable to Titleist 910D3 in term of flight and foregiveness. It requires very good swing. I may have to do more experiment with the flexloft system then.
    Just my 2 cents.

  4. leftright

    May 19, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I use a 2y/o F11 Adams with Voodoo and have tried all the new stuff and hit nothing longer but I do hit a couple straighter. I got driver fitted and the guy wanted to put me in a $375 shaft. I asked him would he buy it back if I didn’t hit it any further. I liked the Adams stuff but TM will ruin the company with their over the top marketing and what I consider poorly made products compared to especially PING of which I do not own one club of theirs. This “game” is boring me and costing people lots of money for nothing gained. The stock shafts are crap, the lofts are mostly wrong and the equipment varies from piece to piece. When what you can measure suffers then what kind of product is in what you can’t measure. Is it really titanium or some exotic alloy or 17-4 or 431 or 303SS? It’s a shame when you buy some irons the first thing you have to do is have them checked for loft and lie corrections. I have “never” seen a set that was 100% accurate but PINGS are the closest by far. There is also no comparison to PING and say Wishon or TM, cut one open and you will never own another TM product…crap. What the pros get and the regular folks get is no comparison. There was an article from WRX itself that verified this statement. Titleist pays union labor in Mass and gets $1000 for a set of irons and $399 for a driver that is 15yds shorter than the rest and puts “made for” shafts in their products. DG shafts cost manufactures about $2 apiece and they weigh in like neutron stars, why would anyone play that shaft. I play golf because I love it but the equipment end of golf sucks bigtime.

    • Fred

      Aug 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      Leftright: a very interesting comment. It seems today (according to the Golf Channel) that the sport of golf is suffering greatly due to continued lack of interest by the general public. I think you’ve hit on a few of the reasons why this is so true. I started playing golf in the mid-60s when Karsten Solhiem, a close friend of my father’s, and founder of PING, gave me a set of PING 69s for my birthday. To this day, I still see the same quality and pride PING puts in its clubs that Karsten did when he was working out of his garage in Phoenix so many years ago. I feel the same about Titleist, Mizuno and a (very) few others. As you were alluding to, it’s sad that those of us who genuinely love the game have to pay so much to enjoy it.

  5. EJ

    May 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    It seems that you need to have colour and a good marketing strategy to make this list. The Titleist 913D3 and Ping Anser would be my top picks.

    • GolfWRX

      May 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      G25 is a standard black just like the Anser you say. There is no marketing or color bias. There is a real world objective process. The 6 clubfitters that fit over 500 players a month each have weighed in and formed an opinion that lead to the “Best of”. You can see how and who voted… http://www.golfwrx.com/reviews/best-of-awards-and-the-inside-scoop/

      Also as new models come into the picture or a revelation/shift in votes occurs we always acknowledge. We ask the fitters to cast their votes for all categories once a quarter.

      • John spur

        Mar 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm

        Just lost all cred.
        SLDR is worst garbage ever produced.
        You put it as best ever.
        How do you sleep at night?

  6. Rob Smith

    May 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I`m 60 with a bad back. Have always fought the slice and poor distance. Bought the Amp Cell all stock and immediately my drives started to straighten out and my distance improving. Now three months later I hit consistently straight or slight draws, and I average 250-260 off the tee. Would`nt trade it for any club.

  7. Todd Keasey

    May 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    What happened to the Adams Golf super s and super ls? Awsome drivers.

  8. evanm

    May 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Seriously? no Anser? Covert and razr fit xtreme are garbage. x hot fairways are much better than the driver.

  9. Paul

    May 7, 2013 at 12:56 am

    i think its funny that people whine cause there club didn’t make the list when half the clubs in our Canadian market are on the list for “best driver”

  10. JBro

    May 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Do you care that your grammar is lousy? There are two errors in the introduction alone. I know that some people may not care, but if you are working towards being a legitimate publication (which I honestly think you are) you should look into these corrections.

  11. David Mc

    May 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Nothing on here beats my Titleist 910D2, keep trying though.

    • Fred

      Aug 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      David: just curious – what shaft did you decide to use with your D2? I see that three are offered at Golfsmith. Thanks.

    • JCorona

      Jan 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      I abhor my 910 D3…. way too light with the RIP….. but for a price of free it stayed in my bag for the year…. wedding gift. Selling it along with the 910F my buddy gave me with it.
      Wifey wasn’t happy since she didn’t get anything but, hey, she ‘got’ everything else!

  12. Kj

    May 3, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Sorry to see theTour Edge XCG6 got snubbed. I have hit em all on a launch monitor and I was sold on the TE. Although the R1 performed well also I preferred the softer feel and much better looking XCG6.

  13. Corey Kasif

    May 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I have hit all these and out of them, the Super LS is the biggest surprise to me. VST in a RBZ driver. But, one that is not on here that should be noteworthy is the Wilson D100 SuperLight. A Beast!

    Snapped the shaft of the G25 twice – Garbage IMO

    Cobra Amp Cell I was least impressed with

    The Covert was much better that the Covert Tour as far as feel and performance.

    With TM and Callaway, every year you get what you get. A cool name and some color.

    • Cg

      May 9, 2013 at 3:06 am

      There is no way that the Adams driver is a better then the cobra amp cell? The cobra is the most accurate driver that I have ever hit. I hit all but one fairway playing it today. Average drive about 270 with one at 320.

      I have hit all of the new callaways ( the fit extreme is very good). I did not like the x hot at all. All the new taylormades ( not much performance differences from last years drivers). None of these drivers perform on the range like the cobra amp cell. The key word is the range. Not a mat at dick’s sporting goods.

      The titleist d13 is the only other club that I hit that performed like the cobra amp cell. It is a joke that the d13 did not make this list. In my first three rounds I have played the cobra amp cell I have averaged four to 6 less strokes then my handie cap. I am currently a 13.

      • leftright

        May 19, 2013 at 10:53 am

        It’s all about the one “you got.” You were lucky to get a decent Cobra piece with a shaft that fit you. I bet I could give you 5 Cobra drivers, same shaft, loft and you would hit all of them different. You hit a demo good, buy the demo because you won’t hit the one you order the same 9 out of 10 times. This crap is made in Chinese factories by people making $2 a day, what would you expect.

    • Cg

      May 9, 2013 at 3:48 am

      I am guessing you are about a thirty handicap.

      • Corey Kasif

        May 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

        Are you referring to me being a 30 handicap because I was not impressed with the Amp Cell. The club felt dead to me and I am not a fan of the look at address. I have no affiliation with this website, just giving my opinion since I do reviews for other sites and I have hit all the new clubs for 2013. I play to a 6, have an average swing speed of 108 and my ball speed is 160. My daily is the 913 D3. And yes, the Adams Super LS is much better IMO than the Amp Cell.

        • Cg

          May 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

          Cobra amp cell has out performed la in every robot test. Ball speeds and forgiveness. I made my comment because every driver you liked was designed for a higher handiecap. I will agree to disagree.

          It is surprising that you think the x hot is a better driver the. The fit extreme. It is not. Much better feel with better adjustable options.

          My swing speed is faster then yours and the cobra has more pop then the ls. Not even close.

          I am glad you play the d13. It is awesome

          • Corey Kasif

            May 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

            When I test clubs, I also compare them. I make observations based on feel and performance. The Adams LS is the “tour” version of the Super S. The LS is a great club IMO. The Wilson D100 is a club nobody really cares about, but was a sleeper in my comparisons. I mention this to give people different options. I don’t care what did better with a robot hitting it. Based on feel, I don’t like the Amp. Did I hit it well? Yes, I have hit all these new drivers 300+. I will give the Amp props and tell you it is better than the ZL Encore, but still not a club I will use on a daily basis. I don’t know where you got the info about my opinion with the Callaway drivers though, I didn’t think I mentioned it yet, but I prefer the feel and performance of the Razr Fit Extreme over the XHot Pro. Again, this is my opinion.

      • leftright

        May 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

        Even 30 handicappers should expect decent quality, it does not exist although.

  14. joe

    May 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    NO titleist 913 D2? ……why not?

  15. Matt

    Apr 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Super Ls looks so so good.

  16. Pingback: Big Dogs! « The Sultan of Swing

  17. tlmck

    Jan 12, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Tried the G25, but did not get any better numbers over my old Cleveland. It is a very, very nice driver though. Well done Ping!

    And hell will freeze over before I hit a white driver. They clash with my yellow golf balls.

  18. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 12, 2013 at 2:40 am

    I agree with the early comments made here about the omission of the Cobra AMP Cell.

    I bought one about 2 months ago and absolutely love it. It’s easily one of the best ‘feeling’ drivers on the market today.

    I’m getting extra carry off the tee as well as distance.

    Try this driver at the very least and you won’t be disappointed.

  19. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 12, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Some great new drivers out for 2012. I particularly love the look of the new Callaway XHot driver.

    This is a great new addition to the Callaway line. I was really disappointed with the previous RAZR fit model and I have heard similar feedback. Hopefully this newer model will be a huge success because on looks alone this appears to be a great driver.

    Look forward to testing one in the coming months.

    Cheers

  20. chuck watson

    Jan 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

    i guess you’re right, Puma doesn’t have any money……..

  21. George

    Jan 11, 2013 at 5:52 am

    The Pings coming home!!!

    • leftright

      May 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

      I don’t own one PING club but their quality is by far the best off the shelf.

  22. Lee

    Jan 11, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Guys are we really gonna be fooled that new paint jobs (which you either like or don’t) plus the latest marketing spin is going to give us more yardage and accuracy?
    Answer very likely, even though in reality those of us who have a correctly fitted driver from the past 2-3 years know deep down they won’t!
    Now where’s my credit card….

  23. Mike

    Jan 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    It’s all about advertising dollars. Guess who will get gold awards on Golf Digest’s Hot List? These guys are so in the biggies pockets, they can’t even see it anymore!

    • Garry

      Jan 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

      So true. I remember reading an article by the great Tom Wishon on this subject. Money buys reviews !

      • Jack

        Apr 22, 2013 at 3:26 am

        Whats the point of the medals. Most of the drivers are gold medals anyway.

        • leftright

          May 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

          PC in golf, everyone gets a trophy. When someone gives you lots of money you don’t dare write a bad review. When Golf Digest does their hot clubs it’s a circus and a political fiasco. They write what they want and if a tester says it is bad it will never make the magazine. I currently have a TM R11 that says 9 on the head. It is 10.3, off 1.3 degrees, it weights 207 grams and TM says 202 and the lie is off 2 degrees. The shaft is about as much like a regular Blur as a $10 Chinese graphite you get in K-Mart with very little carbon fiber, mostly glue or resin if you like that term. I have the facilities and know how to check this stuff and I tell you most all of the stock stuff…sucks in quality. Most golfer don’t care and couldn’t tell but I don’t care if you are a 25 handicap, you should expect the equipment to not hinder you.

  24. Adam

    Jan 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Oh wow, that Covert is huge… 4600 cc? how can you swing that?

    • CJ

      Jan 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Nice Adam….. Finally someone that pays attention to detail.

  25. golfforlife

    Jan 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    what about 913?

  26. David

    Jan 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Shame the Cobra AMP Cell was omitted. Cobra drivers are every bit a big dog as these featured. Always depressing to see how much publicity the ones with deep pockets can buy. Callaway, Ping, Nike, and TaylorMade/Adams…seriously?

    • Alex

      Jan 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Exactly what I thought. The Cobra AMP driver was amazing when I hit it at my local store, but held off the purchase simply because the AMP Cell line was coming out in February.

    • Cobra nut

      Jan 10, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      Funny that this is also the second post wondering why this review left out Cobra and no reply?!! Time to dump this sight and move to one that is not bought with money from the so called big boys. Cobra for me feels the best, hits the best and I can control it and it was actually unveiled before Tm, Adams, and Callaway so why not cover it?

    • leftright

      May 3, 2013 at 7:50 am

      I hate to say it but WRX like all the golf magazines are in the pockets of the golf manufacturers. Taylormade could make a driver that totally sucked and they would get Gold in Golf Digest. I’ve been hitting Adams for years and found the new LS no longer than the old LS so I will be waiting another year. I don’t care for Taylormade stuff and really hated it when they bought Adams.

      • GolfWRX

        May 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm

        there you go. Glass half full huh? Only 2 of the winners out of 6 are sponsors. Hummmm. Now what was that about advertising $$$?
        Not on WRX my man.

        • leftright

          May 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

          You have lied, I have no way of verifying your statement is true. It’s the same crap year end and year out. I appreciate the WRX forums, input and pictures of clubs “us regular Joe’s) cannot get. I would love a driver that I know is accurate in loft, lie and weight but I can’t get that except form Boutique shops. I have a serious peeve about this and know the standard stuff is of poor quality. Quality must be better because many of us expect it and for the prices they are charging we should get that quality.

  27. JEFF

    Jan 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Too bad these drivers are going overboard with too much busy crap on them. Ping used to be the ugliest things going and now the most conservative……. and thats not saying much!

  28. reddevilwheezy

    Jan 10, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I will have a Speedline LS sooner than later. Love it.

  29. reddevilwheezly

    Jan 10, 2013 at 10:39 am

    “The X Hot Pro is available is lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 for $299, while the standard version is available in 9.5, 10.5 and 13 for $399.”

    Shouldn’t the Pro be $399 and the standard be $299?

  30. Casey

    Jan 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

    No Cobra? That’s sad.

  31. seb

    Jan 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Ping is nice

  32. Hula_Rock

    Jan 10, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Already ordered the Covert, BUT man that PING is SEXY…..

  33. Square

    Jan 10, 2013 at 4:24 am

    For some reason, I think I’ll eventually give the Adams a try.

  34. Jason

    Jan 10, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Am I the only one who sorta hates the looks of all of these?

    • Andrew

      Jan 10, 2013 at 3:46 am

      Jason – You’re not the only one!

    • kpg

      Jan 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Agreed! I will stick with old equiptment when new stuff look likes this. They are stating to like cars from the 90’s.

    • G

      Jan 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

      I agree except for the Ping

    • Yo!

      Jan 11, 2013 at 10:28 am

      We have to admit that we are getting older.

    • Jason

      Jan 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      The shape of the adams looks nice to me, but I would honestly paint the crown if I try it and like it enough put in the bag.

    • Ryan Jacobs

      Mar 14, 2013 at 3:18 am

      No Taylormade is a disgrace to the game of golf with their hipster crown designs on their clubs!

  35. Sean

    Jan 10, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Really nice job! Thanks for the side-by-side photos. 🙂

  36. Alex

    Jan 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    What about Cobra’s AMP Cell Drivers?!

    • Darren

      Jan 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Cobra Amp Cell Pro driver in the bag here in Australia. Long time Cobra devotee, but still surprised how awesome the new driver is. I use the words, Long, Control and altogether to describe it.

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Driver Reviews

GolfWRX Spotlight: Tour Edge Exotics C721 driver

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Tour Edge’s Exotics line of high-end golf clubs has been known for excellent fairway wood and hybrid performance over the years. The Chicago-based company has been consistently putting out high-quality products, and golfers are really taking notice. The new line of C721 drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids take yet another big leap forward from last year’s EXS line. 

The new C721 driver takes a lot of technology from the 2020 EXS line and further refines and expands on it. I know it is a little cliche when companies say every model is their best ever, but Tour Edge is 100 percent right this time.

When unboxing the C721 the first thing I noticed was the much-improved looks and shape over the previous Tour Edge drivers. The biggest change to my eye is the added bulge, giving a more rounded and softened topline.

The overall shape of the C721 is slightly stretched from front to back, giving it just a hint of a triangular look. The Ridgeback is a titanium spine flanked by two carbon fiber wings that add stability and forgiveness to the head, but they can also work together and an additional aiming device to ensure you are lined up down the center of the fairway. 

Getting the C721 out on the course is where you really start to appreciate all the technology that went into this driver. Well-struck shots are very long, very boring, and will hang with anything out on the market today. Center contact is rewarded with a long and very low spin shot that is just fun to hit.

The sound and feel are very solid, you can really feel the ball compress on the face as it leaves at high speed. The sound is more of a muted crack and much quieter than I anticipated. If you practice on an enclosed range your ears will thank you for your choice in drivers. Shots hit away from the center of the face retain a lot of ball speed and stay online really well.

My miss is low on the heel and those misses stayed in the air fairly well and went a good ways. Shots hit down on the heel or higher on the toe side still stay online really well due to the Ridgeback spine and rear weight. The C721 is just slightly higher than mid-launch for me, but the low spinning head never allowed my shots to balloon or rise even into the wind. I do wish the face was just a touch deeper as I had to play with my tee height in order to find the optimal setup. The better players will enjoy the neutral weighting and there seems to be very minimal draw built into the driver.

Overall, the Tour Edge Exotics C721 driver is a great club that will probably be overlooked by too many golfers. If you are looking for added distance, a lot of forgiveness and want to keep some money in your pocket, then you should seriously take a look at Tour Edge.

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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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