What is the best driver of 2020?
What is the best golf driver of 2020? The best driver on the market is one of the biggest questions in golf each year, with every manufacturer making bold claims about their new drivers and the latest technologies they have used to help you hit it further and straighter.
But with many of the best new drivers costing over £400, you want to be sure you're getting the best driver for your money. That's where we come in.
We've reviewed 20 of the best golf drivers available, and tested them head-to-head to show you how they compare. What is the longest driver of 2020? What is the straightest driver of 2020? What is the most forgiving driver of 2020? What is the best driver for a high handicapper? What is the best overall driver of 2020? Those are the questions we wanted to answer.
We even, for the first time, measured the drop-off you get with each driver when you don't strike it as well as you'd like, in order to work out the most forgiving driver in terms of distance across varied strikes. How much distance do you lose with a poor strike? How much does the spin increase or decrease when you mishit it? We've answered all these questions – and more – in our biggest ever golf drivers test.
How we carried out our drivers test:
– We tested drivers in two different specifications, one aimed at TG test pro Neil Wain's higher swing speed, and one aimed at TG Equipment Editor Simon Daddow's more average swing speed.
– We created an indoor lab at The Belfry to ensure a controlled environment, so results weren't skewed by the weather and other variables.
– We used TaylorMadeTP5x golf balls and a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor to gather the most complete and reliable data possible.
Watch the video of our 2020 golf driver test:
The standard drivers
TaylorMade SIM Max / Callaway Mavrik / Ping G410 Plus / Mizuno ST200 / Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo / Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme / Wilson D7 / PXG 0811 XF Gen2 / Callaway Epic Flash / Srixon Z785 / Titleist TS2 / Lynx Parallax
BEST DRIVER 2020
Review: TaylorMade SIM Max driver £449
The "SIM" in TaylorMade SIM stands for "Shape In Motion", a technology designed to maximise swing speed during the part of the swing where it really counts (i.e. the bottom of your swing arc). TaylorMade point to the fact that most drivers aren't optimised for this critical part of the swing, highlighting the fact that Dustin Johnson's swing speed is just 90mph at the 9 o'clock position in his downswing, but 120mph at impact (6 o'clock). With SIM, TaylorMade have focused an awful lot of aerodynamic research and design on ensuring your clubhead is travelling as fast as possible at the moment of truth.
Toning down the contrast between the chalk-colour top edge and chromium carbon crown means TaylorMade have created not only a super looking driver, but also a more forgiving appearance (than last year's TaylorMade M6). The stock Fujikura Ventus shaft wasn’t our test pro’s best fit – switching to the TaylorMade SIM’s Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green added five yards of carry, which highlights just how important a good fitting is.
At 278 yards, the TaylorMade SIM Max was among our test’s longest three drivers of 2020. Like a lot of 2020 drivers, the TaylorMade SIM Max puts huge emphasis on optimising aerodynamics, so it was no surprise to see it among our four fastest drivers on test.
We’re big fans of how TaylorMade have built on the tech success of the TaylorMade M family, so you now get the proven Speed Injected TwistFace tech in a model which is even more aerodynamic.
Review: Callaway Mavrik driver £469
We weren’t overly excited when we first saw the Callaway Mavrik. The head design looks plain, the back is shaped like drivers from yesteryear and the name, considering Top Gun II hits cinemas this summer, was a bit cheesy. We couldn’t have got it more wrong.
After learning about the reasoning behind the plain design (sole features affect sound), and how the Callaway Mavrik’s three-driver family is tailored more than ever to the types of golfer who’ll use them, Mavrik is one of the driver stories of 2020.
Callaway’s R&D chief Alan Hocknell told us about “spin robustness”, which improves accuracy and drop-offs (essentially forgiveness) – and the Callaway Mavrik absolutely delivered.
A ball speed within 0.1mph of the fastest driver of the year (which you wouldn’t expect from a more forgiving model) and within two yards of our longest carrying driver is impressive. But doing it while offering up the narrowest back and sidespin drop-offs (by 32%) as well as the tightest carry drop-offs (by 55%) of our whole test is a seriously impressive performance.
Review: Mizuno ST200 driver £349
Mizuno have taken huge strides in the driver market over the last five years, and we feel 2020 is the year they’ve legitimately earned the right to dine at the top table of total driver performance.
Last year’s model, the Mizuno ST190, was so close to being among our best drivers of the year, but ultimately just didn’t quite offer the same forgiveness as some as it chased low-spin performance (which adds speed and distance) at the expense of forgiveness. But this year Mizuno have delivered the complete package and the Mizuno ST200 is right up there alongside the very best drivers of 2020.
Powerful, great sounding, lovely looking and with enough forgiveness to keep drives on the cut grass, the Mizuno ST200 can't be faulted. Our test has the Mizuno ST200 down as our second longest driver of 2020, and because carry dropped off by just 11 yards from our longest to shortest drives with it (ranking it second best for that metric), it’s certainly earned a place among our best drivers of 2020.
Review: Ping G410 Plus driver £450
The G410 Plus launched last year, and the family is likely to be updated later in 2020. But for now, the Ping G410 Plus is still worthy of a spot among the best drivers of 2020. We still love how the Ping G410 Plus' movable weight system has zero impact on MOI and forgiveness, which isn’t the case with most movable mass drivers.
We’re also fans of the matt crown (titanium rather than carbon fibre) and how it gives a simple, clean appearance at address.
There’s no hiding how the Ping G410 gave up 12 yards against the super-powerful Mizuno ST200, but it did feature among the smallest three drop-offs for ball speed, side/back spin and carry, which tells you everything you need to know about how forgiving it is.
Make sure you dial in maximum distance using Ping’s new driver launch and spin fitting chart, which is based on your attack angle and ball speed.
Best driver 2020 – the data
BEST OF THE REST
Review: Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo driver £309
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, which we applaud.
For players who aren’t overly bothered about being fitted, you’re likely to give up five or six yards of distance by opting for the Cleveland Launcher, but in doing so you will keep an extra £150 in your wallet. 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.
Review: Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme driver £349
The Cobra Speedzone Xtreme is a better driver than Cobra’s standard Speedzone for more golfers than you may think. The wider head nudges up forgiveness and our pro felt it was more solid and stable than the standard Speedzone.
Numbers-wise the Cobra Xtreme didn’t rip up any trees – it gave up 13 yards against the Mizuno ST200, our longest 2020 driver. But the Cobra Speedzone Xtreme offers good forgiveness, it looks fantastic and it’s available for a lot less than some of the very top models.
Review: Wilson D7 driver £269
The Wilson D7 goes at lightweight like a bull in a china shop, shedding weight from every component – and boy does it make a difference. It was was nigh on 1mph faster than any other driver we tested, beating the test average by 2.61mph and our slowest driver by a hefty 3.8mph.
The Wilson D7 was one of our longest drivers last year, but in 2020 our data has D7 six yards behind the very longest, which probably reflects how new tech improves the latest models.
Just remember not to confuse Wilson D7 with most other lightweight drivers. Lightweight drivers like the Cobra F-Max Airspeed, the Wilson Launch Pad and the Honma T/World XP-1 are designed for moderate swing speeds. The Wilson D7, on the other hand, is aimed at boosting speed for all swings, fast and slow.
Review: PXG 0811 XF Gen 2 driver £550
We can’t highlight our favourite drivers of the year and not include the driver with the highest MOI. Callaway have taken a slightly different stance this year over pure MOI (the Callaway Mavrik has lower MOI than the previous Epic Flash, yet still improves accuracy), but maximising MOI performance is still highly relevant to most club golfers.
Remember, big, wide heads (that boost MOI) tend to be slower aero-wise, and produce less ball speed, but that’s why PXG also has the lower-spinning 0811 X.
Review: Callaway Epic Flash driver £499
Granted, most golfers will be seduced by the newer model, but in reality the Callaway Epic Flash is still a fantastic driver and it's still available to buy.
Our data has the Callaway Epic Flash giving up five yards to the Mavrik, which is pretty much what most golfers would expect of the latest model. But the Callaway Epic Flash comes into its own with adjustability when you need to dial in a personal ball flight shape, which you can’t do with the Callaway Mavrik as it has no movable sole weight.
Review: Srixon Z785 driver £349
The Srixon Z785 has ended up in more Tour pros' hands (like Graeme McDowell’s) than any previous Srixon driver, and it's easy to see why. The Srixon Z785 sits beautifully, has a lovely simple look, sounds really crisp and will set you back less than most of the competition.
The Srixon Z785 is really solid driver available for very sensible money. Like the Ping G410 and Titleist TS drivers, the Srixon Z785 is scheduled for an update in 2020.
How forgiving is each driver on mishits?
Review: Callaway Mavrik Max driver £469
Arguably the Callaway Max could sit in the traditional MOI category, as with the 14g sole weight in the back port it’s the Mavrik family’s highest MOI model.
The head is much wider and rounder than the TaylorMade SIM, which aerodynamically slows it down a little against the standard Mavrik. But if you’re prone to spraying shots around the face, the Callaway Max is a seriously good option for preserving ball speed and carry on mishits.
We love how the Callaway Max comes with a full range of shaft options, too, which means you can go from lightweight and fast (the UST Helium) to firm and stout (Aldila Rogue White 130 MSI), which proves perfectly how draw drivers are not just for average swing speeds.
Review: TaylorMade SIM Max D driver £449
If we gave out awards for the best looking driver, the TaylorMade SIM would win hands down – and that doesn’t change when it comes to the draw model. The TaylorMade SIM Max D is a cracker, and we love how it’s been tailored to suit its intended audience with a bigger face than the standard TaylorMade SIM.
TaylorMade has made several draw drivers now, but in our opinion SIM Max D is their best yet. The whole package – carbon crown, Twist Face, Speed Injection (which puts every driver face on the edge of the rules) and now a full-on aero package – along with an excellent stock shaft and grip – make it an absolute top performer for club golfers in 2020.
It’s worth mentioning the new softer rubber Golf Pride Z-Grip; it feels wonderful and offers excellent traction.
Review: Ping G410 SFT driver £450
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 club golfers.
We love the matt crown, 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. The Ping SFT was Simon’s longest driver (by two yards), but it’s also (a lot) louder than the competition. For some golfers loud is good, but for others, with modern carbon crowns getting more muted, it will draw unwanted attention.
Whether you like the acoustics or not, the Ping G410 SFT is a brilliant all-round driver.
BEST OF THE REST
Review: Wilson Launch Pad driver £269
The Wilson Launch Pad is lightweight (13g lighter than Cobra’s equivalent F-Max Airspeed) and there’s a ton of anti-right technology built in.
There’s quite a shallow face, and bulbous head that’s round in shape which gives the Wilson Launch Pad a really friendly appearance at address.The lie angle is upright (which helps encourage a draw) and there’s extra face curvature to neatly hide a closed face angle.
Review: Mizuno ST200X driver £349
In the Far East golfers love lighter, longer, draw-biased drivers, yet the Mizuno ST200X is the first time Mizuno have brought such a model to the west. Heel weighting, an upright lie angle and a 39g shaft (seriously light) all help create a draw flight.
We reckon the Mizuno ST200X will be right up the street of ageing golfers who’ve lost a bit of speed and moderate swing speed golfers who put a premium on speed over forgiveness.
Review: TaylorMade SIM driver £479
The TaylorMade SIM’s new chalk coloured paint and “chromium” carbon fibre crown look absolutely stunning, and give a fresh, clean appearance when most of the competition are clad in shiny black paint. In our opinion at least, the TaylorMade SIM range are the best-looking drivers TaylorMade have made for a while.
If you’re looking for a low-spin driver, or want to dial in a particular shot shape (a 10g sliding sole weight gives 20 yards of draw or fade bias), the TaylorMade SIM absolutely has to be on your shortlist in 2020. It is every bit as powerful as Callaway’s Mavrik Sub Zero (the pair tied on 278 yards carry in our test) and by posting a club speed above our test average, we have to say the new aerodynamic sole design is earning its keep.
TaylorMade’s tour staff are likely to be split 50/50 between the SIM and SIM Max. The Max has an 8% bigger face size and a 10% higher MOI over SIM; that should make you question whether you really need to go low spin or not.
Review: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero driver £469
Callaway know the Mavrik Sub Zero isn’t as fast or aerodynamically optimised as the standard Mavrik, but insist the golfers likely to use it are much less worried about speed. That statement alone says a huge amount about who should really be using this model – above-average swing speed players.
That said, our test pro thought the Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero felt like a rocket when shots impacted the centre of the face, and was more punishing when they didn’t. As far as numbers go, Mavrik Sub Zero is every bit as fast and long as the TaylorMade SIM.
There are though, as you’d expect, bigger drop-offs (difference between our longest and shortest, fastest and slowest shots) in ball speed and backspin, which proves this model is less forgiving than the standard Callaway Mavrik. We love how Callaway have removed the crown stripe, which was divisive on the previous Epic Flash.
BEST OF THE REST
Review: Cobra King Speedzone driver £349
The Cobra Speedzone replaces Cobra’s brilliant 2019 F9 driver, which was amongst our four favourite drivers last year. The Cobra Speedzone is a cracking looking driver; it sits behind the ball beautifully and the new infinity milled face is great.
The Cobra Speedzone isn’t strictly a low-spin driver, but with the 14g sole weight in the front port it becomes a low-spin option. In Speedzone’s favour are the excellent shaft options (weights and launch profile) which mean any swing type or speed can be fitted into a decent stock model.
Review: Ping G410 LST driver £450
If you need further proof low-spin drivers aren’t for everyone, Ping staff pros Tony Finau and Lee Westwood don’t play the lower spin Ping G410 LST model.
Where other brands put in weight tracks at the expense of MOI forgiveness, Ping say the G410’s movable weight tech has zero impact on MOI.
Essentially this is last year’s model, and even though our data has the Ping G410 LST giving up seven yards to the longest low-spin driver in 2020, we reckon thanks to its fitting and forgiveness tech it’s still relevant in any low-spin driver conversation.
Review: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver £499
It’s ironic the Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (on paper) was our longest driver of the year, yet our pro made no bones about not being able to use it successfully on the course. And that comes down to its lower forgiveness levels.
Hopefully, those words alone will set alarm bells ringing for you, especially when you see ball speed and carry gains jump up on a launch monitor when trying one. Many golfers are seduced by the traits of low-spin driver tech, yet less than 10% of golfers actually need one...