Best Golf Drivers 2018

Published:

Best Drivers 2018: We bring you our the best drivers of 2018 - tried and tested as part of our biggest ever golf club equipment guide, Top Gear. For our best drivers of 2017, click here.

In our biggest ever equipment test we reviewed hundreds of golf clubs, and when it came to selecting the best drivers of 2017, the only way we thought we could fairly do it was by splitting it in to three different categories.

There are our top 10 Drivers under £400, our top 5 drivers over £400 (jump to), and for the first year ever - our top 5 draw drivers of 2018 (jump to). We've done this to make sure there are plenty of options available when it comes to picking a driver that suits your needs in 2018. 


Drivers Under £400

Ping G400 Driver - £389

Website www.ping.com
Lofts  9° / 10.5°
Shafts Ping Alta CB55 / Ping Tour 65
Adjustable hosel Yes
How much loft change: +/- 1°

ping g400

You need to know:

A slightly smaller head with improved aerodynamics and forgiveness stability make the G400 Pings fastest most forgiving driver ever. Ping reckon the multi-material construction improves ball speed by 2mph over the previous G model. Extensive frequency and vibration research delivers a deeper muted impact sound, similar to puring a persimmon driver.

We say:

Over the years Ping have set the benchmark for club golfers drivers, they’re always very solid, build on sound engineering principles and perform just as well on the golf course as they do on the driving range. Ping say the G400s slightly smaller head (445cc vs 460cc) means its faster through the air, yet MOI and forgiveness are higher than the competition. None of our testers recorded their very longest carry distances with the G400. Our test pro though equalled his fastest individual ball speed (159 mph – tied with Rogue Sub Zero, Rogue Standard and Cleveland Launcher HB) with a shot 9mm off the toe which speaks volumes about the G400s forgiveness. The sound of the G400s all titanium head, is a lot like modern carbon clad drivers (carbon fiber absorbs vibration), muted and powerful, which is much nicer than the original G and previous Ping models. Our test pro reckoned the single colour matt black head gives a simple look at address, meaning for many golfers the G400 is a really honest, straight forward, high-performance golf club.

Verdict:

G400s been going great guns since it arrived in the shops last August, if you’re considering one in 2018, make sure you try it alongside the new G400 MAX (460cc). We can’t take anything away from G400 but comparing it to the MAX in this test (in the right golfers hands), we saw some very impressive gains in favour of the MAX.   

Ping G400 LST Driver - £389

Website www.ping.com
Lofts

8.5°  / 10°

Shafts Ping Tour 65 / Ping Alta CB55
Adjustable hosel:  Yes
How much loft change: +/-1°

g400 lst

You need to know:

All the same aerodynamic and ball speed performance gains as the standard G400 driver but thanks to moving mass forward backspin is lowered by 300rpm. Ping say the tech promotes a slightly lower ball flight, with stable and controllable spin which is particularly well suited to high swing speed players.

We say:

We’ve said for a few years how Ping’s driver set up is very clever. They were the first to stick their marker in the sand and say different golfers need different set ups, not just a-one-size fits all sliding weight solution. Callaway have taken a similar approach for 2018 with Rogue (standard, Draw and a low spinning Sub Zero). Think about it, having no weight tracks means no wasted weight where you don’t want it, and maximum mass to position to influence either cutting spin, improving MOI and stability or to create a draw bias. We’ve seen the LST work before in Ping’s previous G driver and it does the same in the G400. Our test pro (who’s suited to lower spin drivers) found the LST cut backspin by close to 500rpm, lowered launch by 0.5deg and added 5 yards of carry distance, over the standard G400.       

Verdict:

A fantastic low-spin option. Just like all the G400 drivers, the LST sits beautifully at address, it sounds better than previous Ping models and comes with a choice of some decent shaft options. It means along with a good fitting you’ll be able to tailor performance to suit your own game.   

Ping G400 MAX Driver - £389

Website www.ping.com
Lofts 9deg / 10.5 deg
Shafts Ping Alta CB, Ping Tour 65 / 75, Alta Distanza
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change +/-1°

g400 max

You need to know:

All the same aerodynamics, acoustic, fast face and dragonfly crown tech as the standard Ping G400 driver but with a 460cc headsize, to improve forgiveness. Tungsten weighting is wrapped from the sole onto the back skirt raising MOI 700 points higher then the standard G400. Extensive frequency and vibration research delivers a deep muted impact sound. 

We say:

MAX is a really interesting addition to the G400 driver family. Where the other heads are 445cc in size Ping have taken MAX to the 460cc limit. Ping say golfers may lose a little club speed, thanks to the extra size, but whatever’s lost is more than made up for in forgiveness. It’s particularly useful for golfers who spray shots around the face and those that could really benefit from hitting more fairways. For our erratic TG editor, MAX was a revelation, posting his fastest average ball speed (142mph) along with his longest individual shot carry distance (249 yards). Simply put you can’t buy a G400 driver in 2018 without looking at MAX too. Like the other G400 models it sits beautifully behind the ball, and Ping say it’s massive MOI makes it the most forgiving driver on the market.      

Verdict:

MAX isn’t just for hackers and it doesn’t make the standard G400 redundant either. Both have their place, Tony Finau, one of the tours longest hitters has MAX in his bag. If you want help deciding between the pair think about your normal driving game. If you miss lots of fairways and spray shots all over the face MAX could be a great shout. If though your game would benefit from all the speed you can get your hands on, the standard G400 could be the better option. Either way make sure you get fitted.         

Cleveland Launcher HB Driver - £279

Website www.clevelandgolf.co.uk
Lofts 9° / 10.5°  / 12°
Shaft Miyazaki C (High balance point)
Adjustable Hosel No

launcher hb

You need to know:

Cleveland reckon by freeing up mass which is usually taken up by adjustable hosels and weight tracks they create a longer more forgiving driver. Flex fins direct more energy to the ball, a cup face preserves ball speed on off centre hits and a HiBore crown promotes high launching low spinning drives.       

We say:

It’s incredible to think the Launcher at £279 is one of the least expensive drivers available from a major brand in 2018. The price points due in part at least to the Cleveland’s complete lack of adjustability. We reckon the thinking behind the Launcher is sound, removing adjustability frees up weight which can be positioned to better influence forgiveness and spin. The only issue with a single fixed shaft (in regular or stiff flex) means taking a huge punt on where the “average” golfer needs weight positioned inside the head (for optimum spin and launch) and which single shaft suits the golfing masses. With all that in mind its impressive Cleveland’s engineers have got the Launcher to perform admirably for all three testers. Our test pro generated his single fastest ball speed (159mph tied with Rogue, Rogue Sub Zero and the Ping G400), while both Simon and Chris were both above their test average carry distance using the Launcher.

Verdict:

Take nothing away from the Cleveland as the only non-adjustable driver in our test, it showed it could just about hold its own for all three testers without any fitting. Compared to some the shaft feels pretty long (probably because its white towards the tip) and because the lofts are true the Launcher looks a bit daunting at address. Overall though if you can’t be bothered to get fitted you could spend a lot more and get a worse fitting driver.  

Cobra King F8 Driver - £329

Website www.cobragolf.co.uk
Lofts 9 – 12deg
Shafts Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 50, Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60,
Aldila NV 2KXV Green 65, Project X Hzrdus Yellow 75
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: 9 – 12deg

cobra f8

You need to know:

The F8s the first driver to have a 100% CNC milled face. Cobra say it allows the face to be 3% thinner and 10% lighter and improves consistency between every head produced. 360deg aero trips improve aerodynamics throughout the whole swing, two sole weights dial in a neutral or draw bias shot shape. A 5-layer carbon crown helps lower and deepen the centre of gravity for excellent forgiveness. Every F8 comes with an Arccos shot tracking sensor in the grip, allowing  you to record and analyse where you hit every drive on the golf course.  

We say:

Cobra drivers have been amongst the most hi-tech big dogs we’ve tested since Puma took control of the company a number of years ago. But for us the reason Cobra haven’t quite smashed their way into being major players in the driver market is the brands insistence on wacky orange, blue and white paint jobs over the years. Puma say for 2018 they’ve grown up and are sticking to a single grey offering, and we reckon it’s a huge step forward. Cobra haven’t shouted nearly as loud as TaylorMade about their new 100% milled face tech but its every bit as complicated to create as Twist Face. There’s actually 3 different radi vertically on the face, which helps optimise launch and spin for low and high face strikes. The F8 performed best for Simon with its 12g sole weight in the Draw position, posting a carry distance just 2 yards down on his longest of the test. A massive plus for us is the selection of premium shaft weights and profiles, from a light, responsive Mitsubishi Tensei 50g all the way up to a heavy Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75. 

Verdict:

The F8 is a fantastic driver. It looks the business, it’s powerful and forgiving, sounds great and  it’s the only driver on the market that will record where you hit every drive (to help you improve), thanks to an Arccos sensor in the grip. If you’re considering a Draw driver, the F8 should be on your shortlist, sole weight and hosel adjustability means there’s 12 yards of draw bias on offer which is every bit as good as the competition.  

Cobra King F8+ Driver - £329

Website www.cobragolf.co.uk
Lofts  8 – 11deg
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change

9 – 12deg

cobra f8+

You need to know:

A smaller tour profile head than the standard F8 with front and back sole weights to deliver lower spin rates for high swing speed players. Cobra say spin can be cut by 500rpm and ball speed increased by 1mph by positioning the 12g weight in the forward port. Apart from these features essentially F8+ utilises all the same CNC Milled face, aerodynamic performance and carbon crown tech as the standard F8.     

We say:

We’re not usually in the business of recommending tour profile drivers, to TG readers because generally they suit a very small audience of players. But after an impressive performance in our test pros hands, F8+ is well worth considering if you find yourself gravitating towards a lower spinning tour style driver. Switching from the standard F8 our test pro added 1mph of ball speed, cut spin by 500rpm and gained a straight 10 yards of carry distance, which to us proves how much difference sole and internal weight set-ups can impact a drivers performance. That’s not to say it’s for everyone, but for hard hitting golfers who really need help controlling spin it’s an extremely powerful option.   

Verdict:

It’s the driver Rickie Fowler’s gaming for 2018, which speaks volumes about who the F8+ is aimed at. If you’ve been told controlling spin’s an issue for your game before, it’s well worth a second look as our data shows it can definitely help. It sounds absurd but with an Arccos shot tracker in the grip and a CNC Milled as well as a choice of premium shafts, £329 looks like reasonable value for the F8+.      

Mizuno ST180 Driver - £399

Website golf.mizunoeurope.com
Lofts 9.5deg, 12.5deg
Shaft Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change +/- 2deg

mizuno st180

You need to know:

For golfers who like the look of a wide driver head but don’t want the spin usually associated with stretched heads. Mizuno’s first driver to have a wave sole (to face deflection and maximise ball speeds), Mizuno say it commits every last gram of weight low and forward to drop spin rates for even the fastest, most downward strikers. A new SP700 titanium multi-thickness face protects ball speed for off-centre hits.        

We say:

Competition in the driver market is fierce, and Mizuno would be the first to admit their business is not based around driver sales. But the STs price runs to £399, which puts it above TaylorMade’s M4 and the Ping G400, so there needs to be some serious performance on offer to get punters to dig deep and invest in one. Don’t get us wrong we have absolutely nothing against the wide headed blue ST. All three testers felt the head sat a little closed at address, but sound is perfectly acceptable and forgiveness thanks to the wide head was good enough to see our test pro’s longest shot come from 7mm away from the centre of the face. Our test pro was the STs biggest fan feeling he could easily put one in the bag, even though it wasn’t his longest or fastest driver on test. 

Verdict:

You’ll need to be a serious Mizuno fan to give the ST a second look at this price. For those who do put one in play, you won’t be disappointed, it’s a decent performing driver. We just can’t help thinking for most club golfers there’s probably slightly faster, longer drivers on the market for slightly less money.     

Wilson Staff C300 Driver - £349

Website www.wilson.com
Lofts 9deg / 10.5deg / 12deg
Shaft Fujikura Speeder Pro 58
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How mcuh loft change +2/-1deg

wilson c300

You need to know:

Speed pockets and power holes have featured in irons for a number of years, the C300 is the first to bring the tech to the crown, toe and sole of a driver. Wilson say it improves ball speed performance across the entire face, and alone can add 7 yards of extra distance. Three sole weights (2 x 6g, 1 x 2g) can be interchanged to dial in a neutral, draw or fade bias to suit any golfers game.  

We say:

Like hybrids it seems drivers have evolved very much into a couple of body width categories recently. Stretched wide body drivers target ultimate forgiveness and protection of ball speed, but taller, narrower heads help reduce spin and improve workability. The C300 is unashamedly in the taller category (it’s got a very deep face) meaning its highly likely to appeal to the “players” market. Slightly surprisingly the C300 was our test pro’s lowest spinning driver, which meant it naturally performed pretty well for distance. A 268 yard carry distance average was just 6 yards short of our test pro’s longest which has to say something positive about the effectiveness of Wilson’s Power Hole tech. Red heads aren’t usually everyones cup of tea, but if you’re a fan, and own a powerful golf swing that could benefit from cutting spin the C300 should definitely be on your short list to try in 2018. 

Verdict:

Wilson are targeting a very specific player with the C300, if you fit the bill, trust us you won’t be disappointed by the performance on offer. Don’t be put off by the power holes appearance they quickly fade into the drivers design at address. Golfers with much more average swing speeds are highly likely to be better off with Wilson’s speed optimised D300 instead.

TaylorMade M4 Driver - £369

Website www.taylormadegolf.com
Lofts 8.5deg / 9.5deg / 10.5 deg / 12 deg
Shaft Fujikura Atttos Red
Adjustable hosel Yes
How much loft change +/- 2deg

taylormade m4

You need to know:

All the same Twist Face and Hammerhead tech as the M3 but with 41g (up from 22g in the M2) of weight positioned in the rear weight pad to max out forgiveness. Geocoustic engineering means the recessed sole frees up volume (to create a bigger more forgiving footprint) and produces higher frequencies to sound and feel better. A five-layer carbon crown and matte silver paintjob give an indisputably TaylorMade look.   

We say:

TaylorMade’s new Twist Face tech has commanded tons of column inches and You Tube videos views, but the first thing you’ve got to realise is the M4s face (like the M3s) is nowhere near as twisted as the graphics you’ve seen. Sit the M4 down alongside an M2 and the untrained eye will struggle to spot the difference, which trust us is a really good thing. All three testers found M4 generated higher levels of backspin, which is likely down to 41g of mass being located so far back in the head, meaning it’s well worth your time to select a shaft carefully as our test pro picked up 13 yards of carry distance by finding a good match. They’re only tweaks but we like the new silver matt colour and how the carbon fibre crown joins the titanium leading edge is more subtlety shaped. After plotting where every impact occurred during our drivers test (for all three testers) we’re able to prove Twist Face launched shots from the high-toe and low-heel faster with less side spin (they also flew 5-6 yards further) than the competition. It doesn’t mean you’ll hit every fairway but we’d always like any advantage stacked in our favour.       

Verdict:

World #1 Dustin Johnson won on his first tournament outing of 2018 with an M4 in his bag, giving the club instant tour validation. It produced very solid distance and forgiveness numbers for our testers without quite topping the pile. Experience tells us along with the Callaway Rogue and Ping G400 MAX it will be amongst the best-selling drivers of 2018.  

Srixon Z765 Driver - £325

Website

www.srixon.co.uk

Lofts 9.5° / 10.5°
Shaft Miyazaki Kaula Mizu 6
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change 12 settings +/- 1deg

srixon z65

You need to know:

The 765’s slightly smaller head (445cc) is aimed at faster swing speed players. The smaller size is easier to shape shots with while a “power wave sole” allows the entire sole of the driver to flex, enhancing spring back particularly when shots are hit low on the face. A new larger face cup expands the sweet spot across more of the face, 4g of weight has been removed from the crown to enhance MOI.  

We say:

The Z765 was in our Top 10 drivers in 2017 and it’s back for 2018. There weren’t many surprises when it came to our Top Gear testing, but if there was any it has to be the 765. Make no mistake it’s an absolute beast in the right hands. Our test pro for this year and last impacted shots both high and low on the face, giving the 765 a seriously good work out. It’s got to be said shots hit low on the face performed particularly well, which is worth remembering if your natural tendency is to impact shots below centre. The heads unashamedly fuss free and aimed at the better player, there’s no crown graphics or alignment aid, which will float the boat for a small niche of very decent golfers.         

Verdict:

We’d never recommend a smaller tour profile driver to the golfing masses, that would just be irresponsible. But if you’re a fan of slightly smaller headed drivers and have a tendency to hit shots low in the face the 765 is well worth seeking out. It’s now in it’s last year on the shelves so there’s a chance you might even find one for a bargain price.    


Drivers over £400

Mizuno GT180 Driver - £449

Website golf.mizunoeurope.com
Lofts 7.5deg – 11.5deg
Shaft Choose from 11 premium options
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change 8 settings from 7.5deg – 11.5deg

mizuno gt180

You need to know:

The ultimate fine tuneable driver. 3 weight tracks (and two 7g weights) in the sole allow customisation of launch, spin, forgiveness and the ability to dial in either a draw or fade bias. A face angle prop lets you decide how you like the club face to look at address, and the forged SP700 titanium face is optimised for ball speed. An 8 position hosel lets you dial in loft and lie and there’s 11 premium shaft options available at no extra cost.     

We say:

Drivers just don’t come more adjustable than this, the GTs a real triumph of Mizuno engineering. Our test pro loved hitting the Mizuno and was up for putting all its settings to the test. Naturally his faster swing speed was best suited to a low spin set up, but we found by decreasing loft (via the adjustable hosel) spin could be controlled and ball speeds increased even further. Like most of the all titanium heads we tested we can’t say the GT180 was one of the very longest, but if you’re always searching for the perfect optimum ball flight you can tinker with the GT180s weights, face angle prop and adjustable hosel until your heart’s content. To really see a change in spin or ball flight our data suggests keeping both weights together (as more mass means a bigger impact on numbers), unless they’re split between the draw and fade slots to increase stability and lower ball flight.   

Verdict:

A super complex driver to set up correctly if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing, and our data suggests you put up to 18 yards on the line by getting it wrong. £449 is an eye watering amount for a new driver, but for decent golfers with above average swing speeds the GT180 looks, feels and sounds fantastic.  

Callaway Rogue Driver - £469

Website www.callawaygolf.com
Lofts 9deg, 10.5deg, 13.5deg
Shaft Aldila Quaranta (40g)Aldila Synergy (50g),
Project X EvenFlow (60g), Project X Hzrdus (70g/80g)
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change -1deg/+2deg

callaway rogue

You need to know:

All the game changing “jailbreak” tech you’d find in last years Epic, but pumped full of performance enhancing steroids for 2018. No weight track saves 15g, the stretched wide heads 10% bigger, and because MOI performance has increased by 600 points Callaway say dispersion is 10% tighter, than the Epic. Callaway say all the tuning along with the established aerodynamics and jailbreak tech adds up to 1.5 – 2mph of extra ball speed over the Epic. 

We say:

For us Rogue is light years ahead of last years Epic, it’s just got a more friendly stretched wide head shape which for a majority of golfers will boost confidence standing on the tee. Callaway openly admit where “Jailbreak” tech in the Epic was a giant sized step forward in performance, golfers are likely to see smaller gains moving from Epic to Rogue, which spells out how Rogue is a sensible purchase for golfers with pre-Epic drivers. In our test pros hands Rogue produced his fastest average ball speed and longest average carry distance (274 yards) shared with TaylorMade’s M3. It speaks volumes about Rogue’s excellent combined package of distance with forgiveness. A similarly strong performance for TG Editor Chris Jones  (who’s prone to spraying shots all over the face) racked up his longest average carry distance (238 yards) and fastest ball speed (158mph), meaning Rogue is an excellent match for lots of club golfers too.

Verdict:

£469 is an eye watering amount to pay for a new driver, but Rogue’s (like a number of other drivers) jammed full of technology, and that’s how much the latest all singing and dancing models cost. For the average club golfer Rogue’s a leap forward in forgiveness performance, just make it your business to get the right shaft as there’s plenty to choose from.

Callaway GBB Epic Sub-Zero Driver - £469

Website www.callawaygolf.com
Lofts 9deg, 10.5deg
Shaft Aldila Rogue MAX, Project X HZRDUS, Fujikura Pro Green
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change 1deg / +2deg

gbb epic

You need to know:

Jailbreak technology sees two titanium rods connect the crown to the sole behind the face which Callaway say stiffens up the head for faster ball speeds. An exo-cage body structure is paired with a carbon crown and sole, making it possible to position the CG inline with the neutral axis, to control spin. 12g and 2g sole weights can be interchanged to lower spin or increase launch and MOI, while a speed step crown improves aerodynamics for quicker club speeds.

We say:

Epic Sub Zero was one of our favourite drivers of 2017, and just because it’s been superseded by Rogue for 2018 we aren’t quite ready to ditch our love for it yet. TG Editor Chris Jones still has the Sub Zero in the bag and he swears by it’s long and forgiving properties. With Callaway’s new Rogue Sub Zero being designed very much more as a players driver (our test pro launched it 2.5deg lower than the Epic in the same shaft and loft) we reckon the more forgiving Epic Sub Zero is still well worth a place amongst our five best drivers available over £400. Just remember you only get the full force of forgiveness with the 12g weight in the back port, and you need a decent amount of speed and/or launch to get the low spinning Sub-Zero airborne sufficiently enough to maximize carry distance.

Verdict:

Callaway insist the Epic drivers are still very much in their range for 2018, but the chances of golfers buying an older model for the same money as a new one is pretty slim. If you really must go low-spin the Epic Sub Zero is a brilliant option and out there in front of Rogue for 2018. You might even find one for sensible money as the year progresses.      

TaylorMade M3 Driver - £479

Website www.taylormadegolf.com
Lofts 8.5deg / 9.5deg / 10.5deg / 12 deg
Shaft Mitsubishi Tensi Red / Blue / White
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change +/- 2deg

taylormade m3

You need to know:

TaylorMade say Twist Face tech opens the face angle and increases loft in the high toe area. A slightly more closed face and less loft in the low heel area means golfers typical misses have more consistent side spin, tightening dispersion by up to 11 yards. A Hammerhead slot in the sole reinforces the outer portion of the face, meaning it’s lighter and more flexible. 22g of weight can be positioned in the Y shaped sole track to lower/increase spin, increase forgiveness and/or influence shot shape bias.

We say:

Alongside the M3, TaylorMade’s original M1 looks positively agricultural, which shows how far TaylorMade’s dual weight track driver has come in just 3 years. A carbon crown and two carbon fiber sole sections, mean the M3’s a serious feat of engineering. It’s rumoured almost all TaylorMade’s tour staff were fitted for the M3 at the start of the year, which is no surprise as it’s an absolute beauty to look at. More so than any driver we’ve tested before the effect of repositioning the sole weights has a bigger effect on ball speed, back spin and carry distance. Which for you means finding the right set-up is absolutely crucial. Our test pro recorded his longest average carry distance (274 yards) as well as his longest single shot (282 yards) with the M3, even though ball speed was a couple of mph slower than the fastest on test. How the longest shot came 8mm from the toe and 12mm high on the face, without the sole weights being positioned for maximum forgiveness, shows how stable and efficient the M3s slightly smaller footprint (compared to M4) really is.  

Verdict:

Another TaylorMade driver which will dominate on tour, as its ability to let decent players dial in launch, trajectory, back spin and forgiveness to suit their own game is unparalleled. It’s not just for brilliant golfers either, TG Ed Chris Jones, was a massive fan, even though M3 was out gunned by a couple of yards and mph for his longest and fastest shots.          

Titleist 917 D2 Driver - £450

Website www.titleist.co.uk
Lofts 8.5° / 9.5° / 10.5° / 12°
Shafts Aldila Rogue Max / Fujikura Speeder Pro /
Mitsubishi Diamana RED, Blue, White
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change +1.5°/-0.75°

titleist 917 d2

You need to know:

Titleist’s first adjustable CG driver. A SureFit weight cartridge can be flipped to allow the CG to be moved from toe to heel and back to forward. An improved Active Recoil Channel in the sole engages more of the head in the flexing process at impact and a new Radial Speed face delivers greater off centre ball speeds. A SureFit hosel allows independent loft and lie set up for ultimate precision fitting.

We say:

Titleist have the likes of Justin Thomas averaging over 310 yards on tour with a D2, so there’s no doubt the 917 has pedigree. But Titleist work on a two-year product cycle, which means the D2 was introduced in 2016, so its tech now feels a bit old hat against the latest 2018 drivers in this test. The 917 though is a good-looking, old fashioned shiny driver, Simon played one until switching to the G400 midway through last year but there’s no escaping how two testers averaged 10 yards less than their longest drivers. What you do get with Titleist, that you don’t get with every brand is an absolutely first-class fitting service. If you can take the time and effort to get to a proper fitting centre, there are literally tons of shaft options, ensuring you get a driver optimised for your own game. 

Verdict:

We’re here to serve you our readers and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t highlight how it’s highly likely come August or September, Titleist will bring a new driver model to market. It means if you pay £450 for a 917 D2 now its highly likely to be superseded by a newer model within a few months. It’s that point alone, which makes it difficult to heartily recommend the D2 right now, especially as the competitions hotter than ever.  


Draw Drivers 

Note: The Mizuno GT180 also features in our best drivers over £400

Ping G400 SFT Driver - £389

Website www.ping.com
Lofts 10°  / 12°
Shaft  Ping Alta CB55
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change +/1°

sft

You need to know:

SF stands for “Straight Flight”, specifically designed to help golfers iron out a slice. More mass is positioned towards the heel to help close the face at impact, counteracting the slice that plagues 80% of golfers. A slightly lighter swingweight maximises swing speed and enables slower swings to square the club face.  

We say:

It could be said Ping have pioneered good looking Draw drivers, as slice-busting SFT (Straight Flight Technology) big dogs have been part of their range for years. It means the G400 comes with pedigree, and in our eyes the SFT is a proven performer as gear editor Simon Daddow’s had one in his bag since it launched last year. Like cameras, data doesn’t lie and although, the G400s been a very solid fairway finder for Simon (it was fitted for him) when it comes to raw ball speed and carry distance (4 -5 mph slower ball speed and 7 yards carry distance down on both the Rogue and M4) it didn’t quite compete with the Callaway or TaylorMade. Some golfers will say there’s lots to look at with the G400s dragonfly crown and turbulators, but we reckon because the heads wrapped in a matt black finish the details quickly vanish into the background.       

Verdict:

Make no mistake the G400 SFT is a brilliant driver for lots of golfers. It’s got a massive MOI, so it’s hugely forgiving and a great fairway finding driver, even if for Simon it wasn’t quite able to produce the fastest ball speeds or carry distances in our test.

Cobra F-Max Driver - £229

Website www.cobragolf.co.uk
 Lofts  9.5° / 10.5° / 11.5°
 Shaft  Cobra Super Lite 50
 Adjustable Hosel  No

fmax

You need to know:

Specifically designed for golfers with moderate swing speeds. Back and heel side weighting offers maximum draw bias and higher launching drives for more carry distance. Lighter shafts and overall weights plus an offset hosel generate speed and help eliminate a slice. A crown alignment stripe aids setting up square.

We say:

Way back in the 90’s King Cobra offset drivers were all the rage, particularly amongst senior golfers, and it’s this heritage Cobra have tapped into with the new F-Max. Higher lofts, lighter swing weights and offset hosels are all really useful at helping lower swing speed golfers hit straighter and further more often. During our testing we didn’t need the brain power of Einstein to decipher F-Max is aimed at a very different audience to the Callaway, TaylorMade and Ping. Even at Simon’s average swing speed the F-Max launched shots 4deg higher, with 2500 rpm more back spin than average, which meant shots flew high but not very far. Throw in the fact the Cobra doesn’t have an adjustable hosel and only comes in a single shaft option and it’s plain to see we’re not the target golfer for this model. This absolutely don’t mean the F-Max is a bad driver, in fact it’s very nicely set up thanks to the thicker grip to perform for senior golfers who really could do with generating more air time to maximize distance.           

Verdict:

A particularly good option for senior golfers who’ll benefit from the Max’s additional launch capabilities. No hosel or sliding weight adjustability means prices are much more sensible too.      

Callaway Rogue Draw Driver - £469

Website www.callawaygolf.com
Lofts 9deg, 10.5deg, 13.5deg
Stock Shafts Aldila Quaranta (40g)Aldila Synergy (50g),
Project X EvenFlow (60g), Project X Hzrdus (70g/80g)
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change -1deg/+2deg

rogue draw

You need to know:

Draw drivers have come a very long way, over the last 18 months and from looks alone (apart from the name) most golfers would have no idea the Draw isn’t a standard Rogue. Callaway say there’s 7 yards more draw bias than golfers could get from the Epic, which not only helps keep shots away from the right side of the golf course, but also improves ball speeds for heel strikers. All the same aerodynamic, jailbreak and composite crown tech as the standard Rogue.   

We say:

What a change to Callaway’s 2016 draw offering. The Rogue’s wider, streamlined head shape and bigger footprint looks much friendlier than the Epic, it’s a huge step forward in our opinion. The Draw heads got 7 yards more draw bias than the Epic (in a draw setting) and it’s worth remembering Rogue’s lower spinning too, so there’s every chance you’ll want to move up a loft for 2018. Rogue’s graphics, single speed step crown and cosmetics are also much cleaner and less busy than last years too. As far as numbers go the Rogue Draw posted a ball speed 1mph slower than the M4 for Simon but on average exactly the same amount of carry distance (as backspin was reduced). With such similar performances between the Rogue and M4 and because many golfers are swayed by either Callaway or TaylorMade’s branding, it’s difficult to recommend either above the other. We love Callaway’s idea though of offering shaft weight options from 40g to 80g, it means even the Rogue draw can be set up to suit almost all swing speeds.   

Verdict:

A cracking driver from Callaway. As far as draw options go they just didn’t have anything like this to offer in 2017. Think forgiveness, think confidence inspiring big wide head shape, think muted sound just like the Epic, oh and a draw driver that doesn’t make you look like a hacker.     

TaylorMade M4 D-Type Driver - £369

Website www.taylormadegolf.com
Lofts 9.5deg / 10.5deg / 12deg
Shaft Matrix Platinum White Tie
Adjustable Hosel Yes

m4 d-type

You need to know:

All the same Twist Face and Hammerhead tech as the standard M4 and M3 but with 41g of weight positioned more towards the heel, to fight a fade to slice shot shape. A slightly offset hosel gives golfers extra time to square the face at impact, but thanks to a clever paintjob the face doesn’t look closed at address.       

We say:

Time and again we’ve seen TaylorMade battle it out to claim their drivers deliver more ball speed and carry distance than any other on the market. For Simon at least the M4 D-Type delivered his joint longest carry distance (217 yards) with the Callaway Rogue Draw (both after being fitted), proving Draw drivers really can deliver more powerful results, in the right hands. For ball speed alone M4 edged it against the Callaway, but it’s been said more than once Callaway’s “Jailbreak” tech has more effect the faster you swing. As light and responsive as the Matrix stock shaft is it would have lowered Simon’s average carry distance by 13 yards, which reinforces the importance of a proper fitting. If you’re wondering if Twist Face actually works,  Simon hit 52% of shots from the high toe area (which TaylorMade say is more open and lofted). These high-toe shots with the M4 D-Type produced 3mph more ball speed, 125 rpm more back spin and 93rpm less side spin. Amazingly that all added up to 7 more yards than Simon’s test average for high-toe impacts. Results were slightly reduced for low-heel impacts but shots still flew 5 yards further than Simon’s test average.       

Verdict:

We’re big fans of the new silver colour scheme, it’s more subtle and means the M4s head doesn’t look quite as big the M2 did in white. For slicers and heel strikers it’s the solid and powerful numbers that should grab your attention, if you’re considering a new draw driver in 2018.


Best Drivers 2017: We bring you our the best drivers of 2017 - tried and tested as part of our biggest ever golf club equipment guide, Top Gear.

From the TaylorMade M2 Driver to the Ping G and the Callaway Epic driver, there's been a lot of buzz about drivers year - and we're here to help you narrow down the selection.

In our biggest ever equipment test we reviewed hundreds of golf clubs, and when it came to selecting the best drivers of 2017, the only way we thought we could fairly do it was by splitting it in to three different price categories.

From the high priced TaylorMade M1 in the drivers priced over £380 to the lower-budget Yonex Ezone Elite in drivers priced £280 and under, there are plenty of options available when it comes to suiting every type of golfer's needs in 2017.


Best Drivers 2017: £380 +

You'll pay more for the Ferrari's of the golf club world, but you get the performance to match. The verdict from our three testers was that they ALL would take home the TaylorMade M1, but Callaway led the way with the GBB Epic being the club of choice for our test pro, and the Callaway Epic Sub-Zero for our amateurs. So what did we make of them all?  

TaylorMade M1: £479

Lofts: 8.5/ 9.5/ 10.5/ 12
Stock Shaft: Project X HZRDOUS / Fujikura Pro XLR8 / Mistubishi Kuro Kage and 30+ options
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/- 2 degrees

Tech:

This years TaylorMade M1 driver has 43% more carbon fiber, and 64% more front-to-back center of gravity adjustability, which means more choices for the golfer.

The weight savings come from reducing crown thickness, introducing a new finishing process and a new streamlined skeletal titanium body. A pushed in-toe section means that extra volume has been freed up so forgiveness is the same as last years impressive TaylorMade M2

TaylorMade m1 driver

Our verdict

For our test pro Chris Ryan, the M1 was his longest driver of 2017. His consistent repeatable swing delivered an average 171mph of ball speed and a 300 yard average carry distance, which was 5mph quicker and 14 yards longer than his test average.

Yet for the two amateur testers, they saw greater improvements using TaylorMade’s M2 over the M1 thanks to the extra forgiveness and ball speed protection. Quite noticeably the TaylorMade M1 driver's head size wasn't quite as wide, which our test pro felt better suited his eye. Conversely, our amateur testers - like lots of club golfers out there will - felt the M2's extra size breeds both extra confidence and ultimate forgiveness.

Bottom line

The 2017 TaylorMade M1 driver has the same level of forgiveness as last years M2, which was a seriously hot and forgiving driver.

Only you can decide whether your game benefits more from the M1’s sliding weight tech or M2’s extra forgiveness. The tour pros have been having the same conundrum and are flicking between the TaylorMade M1 driver and the TaylorMade M2 driver depending on which courses they play, which has to say both drivers are seriously good.


Callaway Epic: £469

Lofts: 9/ 10.5/ 13.5
Stock Shaft: Aldila Rogue Max, Project X HZRDOUS T800,  Fujikura Pro Green, MRC Diamana M+green
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: -1/ +2 degrees

Tech

Jailbreak technology sees two titanium rods connect the crown to the sole behind the face of the Callaway GBB Epic which they say stiffens the head for faster ball speeds. An exo-cage body structure is paired with the companies lightest ever carbon crown to maximise forgiveness.

A speed step crown improves aerodynamics for quicker club speeds and you get a 17g sliding perimeter weight offering up to 21 yards of shot shape correction.   

Callaway Epic Driver

Our verdict

Our test pro preferred the Callaway Epic Driver over the Sub Zero and carried drives on average 5 yards further with it, which highlights how Sub Zero isn’t always the best solution for hard hitters.

We don’t reckon you’ll find a better sounding driver in 2017, all three testers agreed both Epic’s powerful but muted acoustics scored highly and were much preferred over louder ringing drivers which have been popular before

Bottom line:

There’s no doubt in our minds Callaway have hit on something with their new jailbreak tech, all our testers saw some impressive numbers from it.

If your typical shot shape is anything other than straight the Epic’s sliding perimeter weight can reduce side spin and help keep shots on the fairway.

Mizuno JPX 900: £399

Lofts: 7.5 - 11.5
Stock Shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution 2 (all custom fit shafts available at no extra cost)
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: 8 settings from 7.5 - 11.5 degrees.  

Tech:
 
Mizuno reckon optimising driver launch angles and spin rates can make the difference or 20 or 30 yards so they've created their most adjustable driver ever in the Mizuno JPX 900. It allows you to dial in spin rates and launch angles best suited to your game. Two 8g weights in the sole can be split between either a central track to lower or increase launch angle and spin or positioned in toe or heel slots to create a draw or fade bias. A sliding 'face ngle prop' lets you choose how the driver looks at address without affecting loft. 

Our verdict:

Our test pro reckoned the Mizuno JPX 900 is by some way the best driver Mizuno have ever made. Yes its blue head has so many different settings you’re likely to need a physics degree to set it up correctly (and if you don’t we saw the potential to lose 18 yards of carry distance) but for those wanting to take the time to dial in their perfect driver set up the JPX 900 is seriously good.

We can’t say we saw our quickest ball speeds or longest carries for any tester, but for our test pro found using the JPX’s sole weights in both the draw and fade bias slots he effectively created a toe and heel weighted driver which was very efficient at protecting ball speeds.

Bottom line:

You won’t find many Mizuno drivers played on tour as they don’t pay players to use them, but we like how their engineers have worked really closely with their tour staff on the Mizuno JPX 900. The “face angle prop” lets you set up how your driver sits, it clearly comes from the tour and is really useful if you’re very particular about how your driver looks at address.  


Titleist 917 D2: £459

Lofts: 8.5/ 9.5/ 10.5/ 12
Stock Shaft: Aldila Rogue Max, Fujikuru Speeder Pro/ Mitsubishi Diamana Red, Blue, White
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +1.5/ -0.75 degrees

Tech:

The Titleist 917 D2 is their first adjustable centre of gravity driver, which has a SureFit weight cartridge that can be flipped to allow the CG to be moved from toe to heel and back to forward.

An improved Active Recoil Channel in the sole engages more of the head in the flexing process at impact and a new Radial Speed face delivers greater off centre ball speeds. A SureFit hosel allows independent loft and lie set up for ultimate precision fitting.

Titleist 917 D2 Driver

Our verdict:

£450 is a lot of money for a driver and anyone spending that sort of cash will rightly expect their new purchase at least to keep up with the very best. With some of the longest hitters on tour trusting Titleist to produce their drivers, their R&D engineers have clearly done a decent job at maximising and maintaining ball speeds and carry distance with the D2. 60% of our over £380 drivers incorporated at least some carbon fibre (which frees up inefficient weight), yet the Titleist 917 D2 has none. 

We reckon it’s worth giving some thought too especially if your game could benefit from an added degree of forgiveness too. Our test data showed the D2 performed solidly for all three testers yet didn’t post the quickest ball speed or carry distance numbers for anyone.   

Bottom line:

You can’t fault the Titleist 917 D2 as it is a really solid driver. Some will say it’s a bit dull and lacking excitement, and it’s head shape is pretty wide but so long as you get a proper fitting for yours its more than capable of doing a job for you. The range of premium shaft offerings at no extra charge is fantastic. 


Callaway Epic Sub Zero: £469

Lofts: 8.5/ 9.5/ 10.5/ 12
Stock Shaft: Aldila Rogue Max, Fujikuru Speeder Pro/ Mitsubishi Diamana Red, Blue, White
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +1.5/ -0.75 degrees

Tech: 

Jailbreak technology sees two titanium rods connect the crown to the sole behind the face which Callaway say stiffens up the head for faster ball speeds. An exo-cage body structure is paired with a carbon crown and sole, making it possible to position the CG inline with the neutral axis, to control spin. 12g and 2g sole weights can be interchanged to lower spin or increase launch and MOI, while a speed step crown improves aerodynamics for quicker club speeds.

Callaway Sub Zero Driver

Verdict:

It doesn’t take too much detective work to decipher Callaway’s Epic drivers are very good. When Rory puts one in his bag without any sort of Callaway contract you know it’s because it performs. And if you’ve thought “Sub Zero” CG drivers are just for hard hitters then think again.

As both our amateur testers saw slightly better results with the Sub Zero over the “mainstream” Callaway GBB Epic which has to say so long as you’ve got enough launch you can seriously benefit from the Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero’s extra forgiveness (so long as the Epic’s 12g weight is in the back port). Callaway reckon their new Jailbreak tech increases ball speeds and we’d have to agree, as for two of our three testers it produced their fastest average ball speeds, and because of its such strong performance TG Ed Chris Jones has slipped one in his bag for 2017.

Bottom Line:

Callaway’s Epic drivers weigh in with huge price tags, but then they’ve got tech which no other brand can talk about. They promised increased performance and our data supports their claims. If you’re on a mission to find 2017’s longest driver you simply cannot miss the Epic Sub Zero off your shortlist.


Best Drivers 2017: £280 - £380

These drivers will be some of the most popular golf clubs of 2017, but which deserves a place in your golf bag? For our testers there was an average of 289 yards for this category, which was a drop of just six yards for those over £380 and an increase of two yards from the drivers in the under £280 category.


TaylorMade M2 Driver: £369

Lofts: 9.5/ 10.5/ 12
Stock Shaft: Fujikura Pro XLR8 56
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/-2 degrees

Tech: 

A new speed pocket is three times more flexible than last years TaylorMade M2 which helps maintain ball speeds from a larger area of the face. A sunken sole frees up volume so the head has a larger footprint and 7% bigger face.

Across the board weight savings mean 25g of mass is located low and back in the sole to improve forgiveness over last years TaylorMade M2. Advanced geometric shaping reduces vibrations by stiffening up the body to create great sound and feel.

TaylorMade M2 Driver

Verdict: 

TaylorMade’s engineers have worked seriously hard wringing out extra juice on last years hugely successful M2. The original TaylorMade M2 was a hit because of its ability to deliver a combination of distance and forgiveness, and for club golfers that’s a potent mix.

Against the old TaylorMade M2 our test pro gained 7 yards of carry distance from the same ball speed. Simon added 2 yards of carry distance from 3mph of extra ball speed and Chris Jones increased ball speed by 2mph without adding extra yards - which for us says with some fine tuning of shafts there’s a decent amount to be gained from the new M2.

If you’re stuck between the TaylorMade M2 and M1, we’d recommend getting fitted to get a better understanding of how each head performs for you. Just remember if your game has any inkling of benefitting from forgiveness you’re going to struggle to beat M2 in 2017.

Bottom Line: 

How TaylorMade have increased the M2’s head size by freeing up mass is seriously clever, and our two amateur testers loved the bigger size.

The new TaylorMade M2 is really easy to generate club speed with, it feels very lively and friendly, as if you don’t have to be on top of your game to get the best out of it, which for most amateurs is a nice place to be


Ping G Driver: £349

Lofts: 9/ 10.5
Stock Shaft: Alta 55/ Tour 65/ Tour 65 
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/-1 degree

Tech:

The Ping G has a dragonfly crown design removes inefficient weight from high in the head and repositions it, to lower and deepen the centre of gravity. Turbulators, a Vortec Shredder and an aerodynamic head shape improve speed. A new counter-balanced Alta shaft means you swing at the same speed but the club head travels quicker.

Ping G driver

Verdict:

We’ve got to give it to Ping, their driver line up is very clever. Other brands launch drivers aimed at different golfers, which often ends up confusing consumer’s over which is aimed at them. Ping go at it differently, confidently saying we make one driver that can be played by anyone. If you generate too much spin or suffer with a slice then we also make lower spin and draw-biased models.

As far as performance goes the Ping G Driver was top draw last year and it remains so for 2017. It’s the Ping driver best fitted to our test pro Chris Ryan and he racked up some seriously impressive data with it. Ping shout about the G’s aerodynamic performance, fittingly it delivered the highest average club speed for two of three testers.

A tiny 0.8mph drop off in ball speed between centre and off centre hits shows how forgiving the G is even when hit 1.5cm out of the toe!         

Bottom Line: 

Proper fitting for any G driver is vital as demonstrated by our test pro best fitting the Ping G rather than the lower spinning LS-Tec head. A huge benefit for us is the improved sound which is much more powerful, even though it’s louder than much of the competition.  


Callaway XR 16: £289

Lofts: 9/ 10.5 / 13.5
Stock Shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: -1/+2 degrees

Tech: 

Forgiveness meets fast technology in the Callaway XR 16 Driver. Callaway have worked with experts at Boeing to create a high-speed head design with low drag to help you increase club and ball speeds. Callaway say a next generation R-Moto face and bigger footprint head increase MOI from every impact location. 

Callaway XR 16 Driver

Verdict:

You might think because Callaway are so proud of their new Epic drivers the XR would be discontinued for 2017. But brands like covering all angles, and an extremely attractive sub £300 driver like the XR 16 that won two majors last year realistically appeals to a lots of golfers.

The XR’s head looks longer from front to back than from toe to heel and it’s this streamlined stretched shape that lends itself so well to aerodynamics and forgiveness. The Callaway XR 16 put in a strong performance in Top Gear 2016 and it did exactly the same for 2017, which has to say it’s a decent option for reasonable money.

It doesn’t have jailbreak tech or a carbon crown like Callaway’s Epic series and some will say the simple crown graphics are less distracting (than the Epic), either way they focus attention on the ball superbly at address.    

Bottom Line:

Aerodynamics play an ever increasing role in driver design and our testing’s shown the tech is just as effective at higher swing speeds as it is at slower tempos. For us matching extra speed with forgiveness is the key to the Callaway XR 16’s strong across the board performance, the attractive price just increases its appeal.


Callaway Big Bertha Fusion: £369

Lofts: 9/ 10.5/ 13.5
Stock Shaft: UST Recoil or Mitsubishi Diamana Red Board
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +2/ -1 degrees

Tech:

The Callaway Big Bertha Fusion is their most forgiving driver ever. A triaxial carbon crown is fused with a lightweight titanium Exo-Cage body to free up 34g of weight which is located low and deep to raise forgiveness and stability. The option of a 1” shorter shaft boosts your chances of hitting the centre of the face more often which means higher consistent ball speeds and improved accuracy and control.

Callaway BB Fusion Driver

Verdict:

Make no bones about it the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion is an moment of inertia (MOI) monster. And by MOI we don’t just mean forgiveness to help hit shots straighter. More resilience to twisting means you also lose less ball speed on off centre hits so shots go further when you don’t hit the centre of the face.

The blunted “triangular” head shape divided opinion more than an in/out Brexit referendum, but if you can stomach it you’re in for a real treat. Simon in particular racked up some great numbers posting an average ball speed and carry distance on par with Callaway’s Epic Sub Zero, from the 1” shorter shaft.

We can’t say for sure it was more accurate than a longer driver, but we do reckon if you struggle for consistency with the driver the 1” Under concept is well worth further investigation..

Bottom Line:

You won’t see any Fusion’s in the hands of Callaway’s tour players as we reckon it’s a model that’s been designed almost exclusively for the club player. Its slightly higher spinning head and oodles of forgiveness is well suited to adding carry distance particularly at average to slower swing speeds.   


Ping G SF-TEC: £349

Lofts: 10/ 12
Stock Shaft: Alta 55/ Tour 65 / Tour 80
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/ -1 degrees

Tech:

The Ping G SF Tec Driver has all the same aerodynamic engineering tech as the standard Ping G driver but with extra weight positioned closer to the heel to create a right-to-left shot shape. A lighter swingweight means you should swing the SF-Tec quicker and it gives a fraction more time to square the face at impact, helping iron out the slice that affects 80% of golfers.

SF Tec driver

Verdict:

We’ve said how clever Ping’s driver set up is and its genius shines through with the Ping G SF-Tec. Usually draw biased drivers sit really closed at address which is a look that puts many golfers off the very clubs that could help them.

The Ping G is different as the SF-Tec looks just as good in the play position as the other G drivers. How did it perform? Well all three testers definitely saw an increase in club speed thanks to the slightly lower swingweight. None of our testers were a perfect fit for the SF’s Straight Flight tech but it literally was within a few yards of each testers best shots with their favourite G driver. 

Bottom Line:

The Ping G SF Tec is a very good golf club that could play an important role in many golfers bags who want a bit of extra help to curb a slice.  We love how the head doesn’t come with the stigma of being a predominantly game improvement driver even though it’s got the ability to seriously help your game.


Ping G LS-Tec: £349

Lofts: 9/ 10.5
Stock Shaft: Alta 55 / Tour 65 / Tour 80
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/ -1 degrees

Tech:

The Ping G LS Tec has all the same aerodynamic engineering tech as the standard G driver, with a centre of gravity that’s slightly further forward to lower spin for harder hitters. A slightly heavier swingweight and the Tour 65 shaft will suit golfers swinging at above average swing speeds. 

Ping G LS Tec driver

Our verdict

It’s a complete misconception the lower spinning Ping G LS-Tec driver is only for harder hitters, pros and better players. TG Editor Chris Jones who plays off 11 was told by Ping’s fitter he’s got the same ball speed as Hunter Mahan but the spin of a hacker, so in a bid to lower spin and maximise distance was fitted into the LS-Tec.

Simon typically hits driver too high so the Ping G LS-Tec helped lower his peak height by about 12 feet and thanks to the lower spin meant the LS-Tec was his longest G driver.

Bottom Line:

We are seriously impressed with all three Ping G driver models, there’s something within the range for every golfer. Do yourself a favour and make sure you get properly fitted to ensure your set up maximises your ultimate carry distance potential.


Srixon Z765: £325

Lofts: 9.5 / 10.5
Stock Shaft: Miyazaki Kaula Mizu 6
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: 12 settings +/-1 degrees

Tech:

The Srixon Z 765 has a slightly smaller head (445cc) and is aimed at faster swing speed players. The smaller size is easier to shape shots with while a “power wave sole” allows the entire sole of the driver to flex, enhancing spring back particularly when shots are hit low on the face. A new larger face cup expands the sweet spot across more of the face, 4g of weight has been removed from the crown to enhance MOI.

Srixon Z765

Verdict: 

There weren’t many surprises when it came to our Top Gear testing, but if there was any it has to be the Srixon Z 765. Make no mistake it’s an absolute beast in the right hands. Coming to the end of any test session its natural to expect our test pro to be tiring, but it didn’t stop him recording one of his very longest average carry distances and longest single carry (311 yards) for the day, with the 765.

We reckon the performance is explained by how Chris impacted a lot of shots lower in the face which the Srixon Z 765’s been specifically optimised to respond too. The heads unashamedly fuss free and aimed at the better player, there’s no crown graphics or alignment aid, which will float the boat for a small niche of very decent golfers. 

Bottom Line:

We would never recommend a smaller headed driver to the golfing masses, that would just be irresponsible. But if you’re a fan of slightly smaller headed drivers and have a tendency to hit shots low in the face the Srixon Z 765 is well worth seeking out.  


Wilson Staff FG Tour F5: £299

Lofts: 9/ 10.5 
Stock Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki Z50
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: Six settings +2/ -1 degrees

Tech:

The Wilson Staff FG Tour F5 Driver been designed and extensively play tested by Wilson Staff player Kevin Streelman during its development. They reckon its got a refined 460cc head shape, with adjustable low and forward weighting to lower spin, along with a reactive face to maximise ball speeds across the face.

Wilson Staff FG Tour F5 Driver

Verdict:

Another driver that seriously spilt our testers, which just goes to show how much personal opinion comes into our buying decisions. The FG Tour’s got a seriously deep face but because it looks pretty lofted we felt it could inspire confidence for some golfers.

The sound of the Wilson Staff FG Tour F5 is very muted which was a point of discussion between our testers. Looking at the data for hard facts the Tour put in a shift. It carried just further than the average of all drivers on test, but it also launched and flighted shots amongst the highest which was unexpected because of the low forward weighting.

Bottom Line:

Wilson probably aren’t the first choice driver for many golfers, and the Wilson Staff FG Tour F5 Driver isn’t going to change this. Put aside the preconceptions of which brand makes the best driver and the Tour is a really solid proposition. 


Yonex Ezone XPG: £289

Lofts: 
Stock Shaft: 
Adjustable hosel: 
How much loft change:

Tech:

The Yonex Ezone XPG Driver has a carbon composite crown removes 8g of weight which has been relocated lower and deeper to promote a higher launching and forgiving ball flight. A heavier head weight is teamed with 20g of tungsten powder in the end of the grip to create a counter-balanced driver that’s got the capability to increase club speed while you swing at the same speed.

Yonex XPG Driver

Verdict:

There’s no doubting the Yonex Ezone XPG looks easy to hit, there’s a ton of loft, a wide body design and some clever crown graphics that disguise how big the body actually is. We thought the XPG’s design filled us with confidence at address as we really fancied our chances of hitting the centre of the bat.

It’s amazing how easy it is to hit something you can actually see! Looking at the numbers the XPG launched and peaked shots out above average for all the drivers tested. Throw in how there was just 3.5mph drop off in ball speed between centre and off centre hits and we’ve got to hold our hands up and say it’s a forgiving and playable driver.   

Bottom Line:

Yonex might not be everyone’s first thought when it comes to a new driver but we reckon the Yonex Ezone XPG can offer decent performance especially to those owning a smooth tempo and rhythmic swing.  


TaylorMade M2 D-Type: £369

Lofts: 9.5 / 10.5/ 12 
Stock Shaft: Matrix MFS White Tie 55
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/- 2 degrees

Tech:

The TaylorMade M2 D-Type is not your standard draw driver. Sole weighting moves towards the heel, and there’s plenty of clever tweaks to the design to deliver an average of 12 yards of draw bias (but up to 20’s on offer if you include hosel adaptor adjustment) from a head that doesn’t look like a draw driver at all. 

TaylorMade D-Type Driver

Verdict:

As good as past “draw” drivers have been golfers who’ve used them have confessed to feeling like keeping a dirty little secret from their playing partners. We promise though the TaylorMade M2 D-Type is different, so forget everything you think you know about draw drivers, as it simply isn’t relevant with the TaylorMade M2.

The face angle doesn’t aim left, the design, cosmetics and “draw” name don’t scream rubbish golfer, oh and the TaylorMade M2 D-Type doesn’t just work for slicers either. Simon who’d never entertained “draw” drivers before really warmed to the D-Type as his typical heel driver strike is right inline with the D-Type’s heel biased CG. So not only did it feel fantastically stable it’s also no surprise the D-Type produced some of his fastest ball speeds.

Bottom Line:

The TaylorMade M2 D-Type brings something very new to the TaylorMade driver party. It’s seriously good for more than just slicers. Remember if you get properly fitted you don’t have to have the standard light weight Matrix shaft, even though we felt it was really stable, lightweight and easy to generate speed with.


Best Drivers 2017: £280 - 

If you are looking for a brand new driver but don't want to break the bank on a golf club, then we suggest you look no further. There are some serious offerings in the under £280 range this year, and on average there was less than a 10 yard trade-off between these and the drivers priced over £380. 

The Cobra King F7 Driver came out on top for all three of our testers, with the Lynx Black Cat also featuring on all our tester's top 3, in addition to the Benross HTX Compressor and Wilson Staff D300. 


Cobra F7: £279

Lofts: 9 - 12
Stock Shaft: Fujikura Pro 60 
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: Eight settings from 9 - 12 degrees

Tech:

The Cobra King F7 Driver is the world’s first “connected golf club” say Cobra. A shot tracking sensor in the grip records data for every drive you hit and makes it easy to analyse and share your long game performance across your favourite social media channels. 3 sole weights can be interchanged, allowing you to choose between either a low spin penetrating trajectory, forgiving high flight, or a draw bias. 

Cobra F7 Driver

Verdict:

At a time when driver prices have sky rocketed Cobra’s King F7 looks like remarkable value for money. All three testers agreed the combination of the squashed wide head and lively Fujikura Pro shaft gave the impression of the F7 being really easy to hit, which is a great place to start when picking a new driver.

The Cobra King F7 basically offers 3 drivers from a single head which is really clever, and means it can be set up for a wide audience of golfers. The F7 produced one of the longest single shots of the whole test (in the hands of our test pro - 316 yards carry) which proves it’s not all about forgiveness and no slouch when it comes to power. Throw in how the Cobra Connect grip will record every drive you hit and we reckon it’s a fantastic option for 2017.

Bottom Line: 

A seriously good driver irrespective of price. But throw in how it’s £200 less than a TaylorMade M1 and you see why we’re such big fans of the F7. By tracking each drive you hit you should be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses of your driving which long term will help improve your long game.


Lynx Black Cat: £259

Lofts: 8.5/ 12-5
Stock Shaft: Grafalloy
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/ - 2 degrees

Tech:

The Lynx Black Cat Driver is a fully adjustable driver featuring Lynx's weight bar system. Weight can be moved to the front or back of the clubhead to adjust launch and spin conditions. The Black Cat driver has a sleek head shape with matt finish, available in black, blue or red.

Lynx black cat driver

Verdict:

Simply put, the black finished Lynx Black Cat is the best driver Lynx has made for some time. The deep face won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re looking for a sensibly priced, powerful driver with a reasonable degree of forgiveness then you’ve found your match. 

A change of 1.5 deg in launch angle, 5mph of ball speed, 300rpm of backspin and 12 yards of carry distance for our test pro by switching the weight from back to front shows not only does the tech have an impact on performance but also a low and forward CG can help a particular type of golfer.

Bottom Line: 

A really unassuming driver that you don’t expect too much from, but trust us it really is a cannon. Try the Lynx Black Cat against a couple of premium alternatives this year and we reckon you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.


Wilson Staff D300: £279

Lofts: 9/ 10.5/ 13
Stock Shaft: Matrix Speed Rulz A-Type
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/ -1 degrees

Tech:

The Wilson Staff D300 is the lightest adjustable driver on the market say Wilson, the theory being you swing faster with the same amount of effort. Micro-vortex generators on the crown improve aerodynamics and reduce drag to wring out every last yard of carry distance from whatever club speed you can muster.

Wilson Staff D300 Driver

Verdict:

Wilson’s idea of going super lightweight with every component in the Wilson Staff D300 is an interesting concept. The D family is now in its third generation so the idea must be paying dividends with real world golfers.

In our minds there’s no doubt the concepts sound so long as you’re able to “time” shots on a consistent basis. Our three testers saw a mix of spikes and troughs in performance (long individual shots) with some pretty big drop offs in ball speeds and carry distances on miss hits.

The D300 didn’t quite power through with maximum carry distances for any tester (although a 311 yard carry for our pro testers was impressive), instead it put in a solid just above average performance to the other drivers tested. 

Bottom Line

We often hear golfers talk about how they like to “feel” or “know” where the club heads at during the golf swing. If you’re that type of player you might struggle to get to grips with the Wilson Staff D300, because it’s so light. If though you like that super lightweight sensation, fill your boots you won’t find lighter than the D300


Yonex Ezone Elite: £199

Lofts: 10/ 12
Stock Shaft: Yonex M60
Adjustable hosel: Yes
How much loft change: +/ - 1.5 degrees

Tech:

Yonex’s engineers have come up with an octaforce pattern to remove extra weight from the crown and top of the face, which means more weight to locate to influence forgiveness, spin and launch in the Yonex Ezone Elite. A lightweight carbon crown means a deep CG and improved forgiveness from this shallow and wide profile driver

Yonex Ezone Elite Driver

Verdict:

Whilst the big brands have gone carbon fibre crazy with their latest drivers, Yonex are keen to point out how they’ve been using the tech since the 90’s. The rules might limit driver head size nowadays but every year it seems some seriously smart engineer comes up with new ways to make 460cc heads look bigger than they actually are.

The Yonex Ezone Elite literally is huge from face to back, and because it’s so big it’s not as deep as many of the other drivers we tested. Which for plenty of golfers means extra confidence and much needed launch. Across three testers the Elite produced ball speeds and carry distances spot on the test averages, which should be applauded considering the £199 price point. 

Bottom Line:

Yonex are much bigger into golf in Japan than in the UK, but that’s actually a really good thing. It means you get all the benefits of their Japanese engineering and R&D for a reasonable price, which is not to be sniffed at. All in the Yonex Ezone Elite is a solid, lightweight forgiving driver which in reality suits a whole bunch of club golfers, especially those not quite as young as they used to be.


Benross HTX Compressor: £149

Lofts: 8.5/ 12.5
Stock Shaft: Kuro Kage Black TiNi
Adjustable hosel: No

Tech:

The Benross HTX Compressor has an improved Compressor Response Channel in the sole improves ball speeds across the entire club face to help maximise carry distance. Benross are committed to using quality components so the Kuro Kage shaft and Lamkin grip are similar to what you’ll find in other top of the range 2017 drivers.

Benross HTX Compressor Driver

Verdict:

Benross have been the king of “value” drivers for the best part of 10 years and it’s fair to say the Compressor looks set to continue the trend. Its whole design just wreaks of forgiveness and playability, and by throwing in such an impressive package of components for less than £150 its just what lots of club golfers are after.

The completely unoffensive head design delivered a bit more spin than most, which will help golfers flight shots to maximise carry distance without robbing them of distance. As most reasonable people would expect, the Benross HTX Compressor at £320 less than the longest driver in our test gave up an average of 14 yards of carry distance across all three testers.

Bottom Line: 

At £23 a yard to get as far down the fairway as a premium driver only you can decide which offers the soundest investment. If £150 is your budget for a new driver we reckon everyday golfers will be delighted with the Benross HTX Compressor’s all-round fun and forgiveness package.