What are the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers in 2022?
The driver is the club the majority of beginner golfers and high handicappers struggle with the most, so we’ve picked out the best options that offer plenty of forgiveness.
The driver has the longest shaft, is swung at the highest speeds, and (should) hit the ball further than any other golf club in your bag.
Whilst no two golfers are the same, most new golfers struggle with slicing their driver and/or failing to get enough launch angle to maximise distance.
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No golf club is a magic wand that can overcome your swing flaws – lessons and practice are what you need for that – but some drivers are better than others when it comes to mitigating the common problems beginners and high handicappers face with their driver.
We test every driver that comes to market, and have picked 10 specific models as being best at helping beginner golfers and high handicappers. We’ve also highlighted the five best older models if you’re looking for a great performing club with a lower price tag.
It’s also worth noting that these drivers aren’t only good for beginner or high-handicap golfers. They can help golfers of varying handicaps, and, importantly, will continue to serve you well as your golf game improves.
If you’re in the market for any more new equipment this year, make sure you read our guides to the best drivers, most forgiving drivers, hybrids, irons, mid-handicap irons, wedges and putters and use our recommendations to narrow your shortlist. And, if you can, get fitted for your clubs, as that’s the only way to optimise new models for your game.
But here are selection of the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers…
RRP £398 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 10.5° | Adjustable? Yes (+/- 1.5º loft) | Stock shaft: Ping Alta CB
The Ping G425 is designed to be the ultimate slice-buster.
23g of draw weighting means you can now dial in 10 yards more left bias than last year’s G410 SFT, and 25 more than the new Ping G425 Max.
The Ping G425 SFT’s counter-balanced stock Alta CB shaft is great for many, but if you need help adding extra speed to your swing, Ping’s lightweight, soft regular 40g Alta Distanza shaft is a great option.
TG verdict: Over the last two generations, the draw-biased Ping SFT has morphed from a subtle “keep a slice in check” driver into a flat-out slice buster.
Ping are happy to turn the SFT into a more extreme draw-biased offering as they know the G425 Max (with the sole weight in the draw position) will suit golfers who want a more subtle draw bias from their driver.
As a result, the Ping G425 SFT is probably the most draw capable driver available in 2021.
Not only that, the Ping G425 SFT was moderate swing speed tester Simon Daddow’s longest driver of the year.
The important takeaway is that the Ping G425 SFT does exactly as Ping promise – help keep golfers away from the right-hand rough. Anybody who is sick of losing balls off to the right is likely to be more than happy to turn a blind eye to the Ping G425 SFT’s slightly closed face at address and the somewhat loud impact sound.
RRP £399 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5° | Adjustable? Yes (Non-rotating hosel allows loft and lie to be changed) | Stock shaft: Honma Speed Tuned
GS stands for ‘Gain Speed’, which gives away immediately how the GS is aimed at boosting mph.
A sole slot and radially-weighted face structure help preserve ball speed for typical low face and high toe misses, which are the common misses for typical club golfers.
Nine grams of mass are located on the sole towards the heel to promote additional stability and aid consistency.
TG verdict Leading golf companies have learned a thing or two over the last few years about how brands like Honma get draw drivers to perform in the hands of very average swing speed players.
Japanese golfers regularly have long, flowing swings and getting a driver to add speed and square up the face for that sort of motion has meant their draw drivers have traditionally been very different to ours in Europe.
Honma are at the forefront of the lightweight and draw bias movement, and last year’s XP-1 was a top performer. The GS is brand new for 2021 and if you’re a fan of traditional pear-shaped heads, you’re guaranteed to warm to it.
The Speed Tuned shaft is very lively, which means you’ll need to ‘time’ shots to get the best from it. If you can do that, it’s a really friendly driver for reasonably consistent players who like the feel of a lightweight set up.
RRP £399 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 9°, 10.5°, 12° | Adjustable? Yes (+/- 2º) | Stock shaft: Fujikura AirSpeeder 45
Thanks to the new carbon fibre, aluminium construction, along with 22g of backweight, TaylorMade reckon the Max D has 15% more MOI than last year’s original, which means it will be one of the highest MOI draw drivers on the market.
A new AirSpeeder 45 shaft is light and will suit typical mid-slow speed golfers who buy off the rack, while other shafts can be combined with this head for stronger players.
TG verdict: We’ve been big fans of TaylorMade’s D drivers ever since the first M2 D-Type back in 2017.
We love how the engineers have come up with some clever paintwork to beautifully disguise how the face sits a little closed at address.
It means the TaylorMade SIM2 MAX-D is a serious proposition for any slicer (with a proper shaft fitting), not just slower speed players who struggle with a slice.
If you’re looking for a draw-biased driver, the TaylorMade SIM2 MAX-D must on your shortlist.
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RRP £529 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 9°, 10.5°, 12° | Stock shaft: Project X Cypher 40 / Project X HZRDUS Smoke IM10 50/60
The Epic Max is Callaway’s mass-market driver for 2021. Not only does it have the most draw capability of the three 2021 Epic models, it’s the highest launching and the most forgiving too, which means it’s very versatile.
There’s 17g of backweight to dial in up to 20 yards of shot bias and because the new Project X Cypher 40 is a stock option shaft it can also be a brilliant lightweight performer for those needing to add swing speed.
TG verdict: The Callaway Epic Max made an appearance in our best forgiving drivers category, but thanks to the way you can set up the head’s back weight, the ability to choose a more upright lie angle and the shaft options available, it can also be a brilliant draw driver.
The Callaway Epic Max has an elongated head but it’s a lot nicer shape than the Mavrik Max, which was Callaway’s top performing draw model in 2020.
What really makes the Epic Max stand out this year is the excellent array of shaft options available. Simon’s best numbers came from the new 40g Project X Cypher, but we only found that set-up after trying the regular flex and light flex HZRDUS at 50g. That just reinforced the importance of a proper driver fitting to get the most from your swing.
That said, it’s worth remembering that at lower swing speeds, the carry difference from one driver to the next tends to be smaller, so personal preference and how each driver makes you feel at address should also play a role in your decision.
RRP £205 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 9°, 10.5°, 12° | Adjustable? Yes (+/- 1.5º) | Stock shaft: PXG insist on fitting golfers to their best performing option
It looks like PXG have pulled off a master stroke by launching a £325 driver in 2021. The PXG 0211 sits right in the middle between the brands previous low spinning 0811 X and super forgiving XF Gen 2 models.
The PXG 0211 offers an excellent blend of distance and forgiveness that will suit a huge audience of golfers.
Don’t think that PXG offering drivers at a lower price means you’re getting less tech; the 0211 has a titanium face, which is new to golf, and a crown made from a hybrid of carbon fibre and titanium, which removes mass from high up in the head.
TG verdict: The PXG 0211 isn’t as draw biased as most of our top performing models, but thanks to PXG offering a good selection of shaft options it’s entirely possible to set the model up as an excellent lightweight performer.
The PXG 0211 has a bigger face, which not only makes it look really friendly and forgiving at address, it also means the centre of gravity is naturally lower in relation to the centre of the face, which makes it really easy to launch.
The PXG 0211 was Simon’s third longest driver of the year, which warrants merit, but what really impresses us is PXG’s dedication to custom fitting. PXG offered tour-caliber fitting experiences for their £650+ drivers, and they’re not scrimping on service even though they’re now competing at a lower price point. You can get the PXG 0211 at any shaft length from 44-46″. For some golfers, a shorter shaft will help improve strike, which improves ball speed and consistency. While other golfers will want to chase speed at all costs and go after a longer shaft. Whatever your preference, PXG will cater to you.
In the current market, with many leading models priced at £450+, the PXG 02
So if you feel a shorter driver will help impact shots on the centre of the face more often (for some golfers this will improve speed and consistency) PXG will gladly cater to your needs. And of course if you want to chase speed and go longer that’s an option too. In the current market 0211 looks like a lot of driver to us for £325.
RRP £399 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 10.5°, 12° | Adjustable? Yes (+/- 2°) | Stock shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 60/70, Fujikura Motore X F3 50/60/70, Project X Riptide CB 40/50/60
The ST-X is not your traditional draw-biased driver. The head’s a little more compact from face to back, and it’s a little deeper, which has meant big-hitting Mizuno staffer Keith Mitchell now prefers it over the Z.
TG Verdict The ST-X seriously challenges what golfers traditionally think of as a draw driver and blows the category wide open to more golfers than ever before. If you’re thinking about a Mizuno driver in 2021, you have to try the X head as well as the Z. The X head is a slightly nicer shape than the Z. It sits beautifully at address and the impact sound is fantastic.
Our test sample was set-up with the lighter 4g sole weight and a cracking Even Flow Riptide counter-balanced shaft. And that for us is the beauty of this driver: how it can set up to suit so many different players. And for those who struggle for speed, the ‘J’ spec (Japan set-up) is a very credible lightweight option. A driver that has to be tried alongside the very best before you make any decision.
RRP £249 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 10.5º, 11.5º | Adjustable? No | Stock shaft: Cobra Airspeed 40g
With the average age of golfers creeping up year after year, golf brands have started taking slower swing speed players very seriously. Just a few years ago, low speed models had less built-in technology and were much more about hitting a certain price point than genuinely helping the golfers they were designed for.
Today, though, things have changed. Golfers with slow swings have more choice than ever, and if you’re a Cobra fan you really are spoilt for choice. The RAD Speed XD is their headlining draw model, but there’s also a F-Max Airspeed which is lightweight and draw-biased. And the F-Max Airspeed offers a choice of offset hosel (which is easier to launch) or straight neck.
Big, friendly and forgiving drivers are where Cobra built their reputation back in the 1990s. And thanks to the Cobra F-Max Airspeed’s wide and shallow head profile, lightweight shaft and offset hosel, we don’t think you’ll find another driver that’s easier to launch.
If you swing the driver around 80mph mark, you really should be looking at drivers like this in 2021.
RRP £249 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 10.5º, 13º | Adjustable? No | Stock shaft: UST Mamiya Helium
The Wilson Launch Pad is an all-out assault on the common slice. A shallow face, offset hosel, upright lie angle and bulbous head shape, plus plenty of heel weighting, are all classic slice-busting tricks.
The Wilson Launch Pad is also a very lightweight option (13g lighter than Cobra’s equivalent F-Max Airspeed) which makes it an excellent choice for slower swing speed golfers who also need help keeping shots away from the right rough.
RRP £499 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 9°, 10.5°, 12.5° | Adjustable hosel: Yes (-1°/+2°) | Stock shaft: Callaway RCH 45/55/65
It’s great that Callaway have the lightweight and draw-biased Big Bertha B21, but there’s no doubt it adds a level of confusion for those considering the Callaway Epic Max, especially as both models do a great job of reducing unwanted slices.
If you’re struggling to pick between the two, Callaway’s Big Bertha B21 is probably best-suited to slower swing speed golfers, while golfers who generate average and above swing speeds may prefer the Callaway Epic Max.
It’s worth remembering that the Epic Max can be paired with a good lightweight shaft in the Project X Cypher 40g, making it a great lightweight option for slow swingers. And that’s exactly why the Big Bertha B21 won’t be seen in anywhere near as many golf bags as the Epic Max.
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RRP £369 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 10.5°, 12° | Adjustable: Yes (+/- 1.5º lofts with three draw settings) | Stock shaft: Fujikura XF1 or XF3, Project X HZRDUS RDX Blue, Project X Evenflow Riptide CB | Adjustable hosel: Yes (+/-1.5°)
Thanks to two draw-focused drivers, Cobra are in prime position to target average speed players who want a draw driver with the Radspeed XD, whilst also catering for a slower speed audience with the F-Max Airspeed.
Compared to models from Ping, TaylorMade and Callaway, the King Radspeed XD head is quite bullet shaped, which makes it look fast. And we love how sat behind the ball there’s not even a whiff of an old school closed face draw driver.
Bearing in mind the XD is £130 less than some of the competition, pound for pound with its CNC Milled face, carbon crown and toe sections plus an Arccos shot tracker, Cobra have produced one of the most tech laden drivers of 2021.
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How we tested the drivers
– We gathered all of the 2021 driver models at our indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre. They were provided in the ideal specs for Today’s Golfer’s Equipment Editor Simon Daddow’s ideal spec.
– We used Callaway Chrome Soft X Triple Track balls and a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor to create the most reliable data possible.
– We recorded how shots launched, span, peaked and dropped out of the air, before crunching the numbers to come up with our conclusions.
How the drivers performed on our launch monitor
Ok, they’re not the latest models but that doesn’t mean they’re not great options, especially if you’re new or returning to golf or just looking to get that high handicap down.
Many of the world’s best players continue to play a previous generation of driver if they’re happy with its performance, so wouldn’t you?!
Not only are the five models below brilliant golf drivers in their own right (just see our 2020 driver’s test for the proof), the fact they’re not this year’s models means you’ll be able to pick them up for a great price and may even find them on sites such as Golfbidder.
RRP £349 | VIEW OFFER
The TaylorMade SIM Max range is probably the best looking driver in golf this year. You might think that looks aren’t important, but feeling good when you look down on your driver is key to building confidence, which is hugely important for beginners and high handicappers.
The SIM Max D model is designed to help reduce the fade or slice that most beginners and high handicappers struggle to control (the ‘D’ stands for ‘draw’). It does that by adding extra weight in the heel, which will help you square the face at impact.
This model also has an 18% larger face than the standard TaylorMade SIM, which will help beginner golfers and high handicappers who tend to have an inconsistent strike pattern.
It’s also the easiest to launch, thanks to the way the head shape has been designed to put the weight low and deep.
TaylorMade have made several draw drivers and the SIM Max D is their best yet. You get a great-looking carbon crown, Twist Face technology to help off-centre strikes, Speed Injection (which puts every driver face TaylorMade produce right on the limit of golf’s rules, great aerodynamics to increase clubhead speed, plus an excellent stock shaft and grip – all in a package that will reduce your slice, helping you keep the ball on the straight and narrow more often.
RRP £349 | VIEW OFFER
The Callaway Mavrik Max is Callaway’s easiest to hit driver, making it a great option for beginners and high handicappers.
It’s built for high launch with medium spin, and the head is designed to be ultra-stable, making your misses left and right less severe.
The Callaway Mavrik Max features two interchangeable weights; one setting offers maximum forgiveness and a slight draw bias, while the other increases the draw bias further, which will be great for any beginners and high handicappers who are suffering with a slice.
The Mavrik Max comes with a full range of shaft options as standard, from lightweight and fast to stiff and heavy. Not all beginners and high handicappers have slow swing speeds, so Callaway have provided options to suit you no matter how much speed you generate.
RRP £399 | VIEW OFFER
The Ping G410 SFT is a draw driver pumped full of performance-enhancing steroids. It offers even more draw bias than Ping’s brilliant G410 Plus with its weight in the draw position, which makes it a serious slice-tamer for beginner and high-handicappers sick of seeing their ball curve off into the trees.
We love the matt finish, and how the crown ridges and aero turbulators focus attention on the ball at address; it’s something you won’t find on other models and it’s really useful for golfers of all abilities – not just high handicappers.
The Ping G410 SFT is a brilliant all-round driver that delivers excellent distance and plenty of help for beginners and high-handicappers. It’s a lot louder than most drivers these days; whether that suits you or not will come down to personal preference.
RRP £349 | VIEW OFFER
The ST200X is Mizuno’s best driver for years, and beginners and high-handicappers who want to increase their clubhead speed will love it.
The 39g shaft weight is about as light as it gets, which will help maximise speed, while the heel weighting and upright lie angle are designed to reduce a fade or slice and promote the draw shape that so many beginners and high-handicappers dream of.
It’s also considerably cheaper than most modern drivers, which could save you some money to spend on the rest of your bag or on lessons.
RRP £279 | VIEW OFFER
Cleveland have taken a very different approach to driver design. Where most manufacturers release several models, hoping to offer a driver to every possible golfer, Cleveland have simply come up with one solid, powerful, non-adjustable model that suits a decent amount of the golfing population – and that includes beginners and high-handicappers.
The head sits beautifully at address; there’s quite a few creases and ridges on the crown, but thanks to a matt black paint job it’s inoffensive and the Cleveland Launcher’s reassuringly wide footprint inspires confidence.
It’s the cheapest driver in our selection, but that isn’t a reflection on the quality; it’s simply because Cleveland is a less premium brand name in the driver category and the Launcher HB driver doesn’t offer the adjustability you get with other models.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk
Simon has worked in the golf industry for 30 years. Starting out as trainee professional at Downes Crediton GC where he learned the art of golf club making, before going onto work for Clubhaus Plc and Tony Charles Ltd as a golf club maker, and running Product Development at Benross Golf.
Joining EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) in 2006 as Equipment Editor Simon has worked for Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines and the Today’s Golfer website.
Simon is 46 years old, he’s played golf for 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.