What are the most forgiving golf drivers?
The most forgiving drivers in golf have got your back, even when you don't quite strike them out the middle.
When picking the best driver for your game, it's important to focus on more than just the one that goes the furthest when you absolutely cream it.
Nobody strikes their driver perfectly every time - even the pros - so a driver that carries 280 yards with a good strike and 275 yards with a bad one will serve you much better than a driver that carries 285 yards with a good strike but 260 yards with a bad one.
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That's why, when we test and compare drivers, we look at the drop-off in ball speed and carry distance from one strike to the next in order to determine which drivers are the most forgiving.
As always, we'd recommend you do your own testing and get a custom fitting to see what the most forgiving driver is for you, but here are the models that offered the greatest forgiveness in our testing.
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RRP £450 | VIEW OFFER
Ball speed drop-off: 5.4mph | Carry distance drop-off: 7 yards (2.6%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 2,292rpm
It shouldn't come as a big surprise that the Ping G425 Max is top of the pile when it comes to the most forgiving drivers. Ping have been making fantastic drivers for years, delivering clubs that help golfers of all abilities get the most from their game.
Ping drivers may not always be quite the longest in our tests, but they're never far behind, and when it comes to forgiveness and consistency, they're always right in the mix.
The Ping G425 Max is the model aimed at offering maximum forgiveness, and it delivers that in spades. A carry drop-off of just seven yards between pure strikes and mishits is incredible; the second most forgiving driver in our test saw a drop-off almost double that.
If you want a driver that rewards good strikes and doesn't punish poor ones, the Ping G425 Max is the one to beat.
Honma TR20 driver
RRP £599 | VIEW OFFER
Ball speed drop-off: 7.6mph | Carry distance drop-off: 12 yards (4.3%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 1,848rpm
The Honma TR20 delivered some seriously impressive performance in our test. It was the second longest in the hands of our test pro, which makes its level of forgiveness truly astounding.
We got the best performance by setting it up for maximum forgiveness (with the most weight at the back), but we'd recommend testing that out before dialling in your perfect setup.
If there's a catch to the Honma TR20, it's the price. At £599 the performance doesn't come cheap.
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Ball speed drop-off: 2.2mph | Carry distance drop-off: 12 yards (4.4%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 983rpm
Mizuno are on a roll with their drivers. Year on year we’ve seen how the ST180 and ST190 were fast and powerful, and then last year the ST200 combined distance with some really good forgiveness numbers, too.
The ST-Z is a stand-out performer because the speed and distance numbers it posted (271 yards; nine yards shorter than our longest traditional forgiving driver) are from a 45in shaft, which is 0.75in less than the competition.
Look at our drop-off data and it’s easy to see the effect a shorter shaft has on consistency. The ST-Z was third best at protecting carry distance, second best at protecting ball speed and flat-out first when it came to controlling spin difference.
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Ball speed drop-off: 6.1mph | Carry distance drop-off: 14 yards (4.9%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 2,153rpm
The Epic Speed isn't the Callaway driver designed to offer the maximum forgiveness (look to the Callaway Epic Max for that), so how has it performed so well?
Well, if you tend to spray shots all across the driver face, the Epic Max or Callaway Big Bertha B21 will undoubtedly serve you better and be more forgiving. But, if you strike your driver pretty consistently (like our test pro), you'll find that the Callaway Epic Speed's face offers just enough forgiveness to protect ball speeds and carry distances even on off-centre strikes. And, with it being 0.8-1.5mph faster than the Epic Max, that makes it a very tempting proposition for players who are reliable with a driver in their hands.
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Ball speed drop-off: 2.2mph | Carry distance drop-off: 14 yards (5.1%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 1,773rpm
It was a real surprise to see the Ping G425 LST, a purebred low spin model, perform so well for forgiveness.
Not only was it the fourth best driver on test in terms of minimising carry distance drop-off on off-centre strikes, it actually performed better than any other driving at maintaining ball speed, with just a 2.2mph difference between good and bad strikes.
Make no mistake, the Ping G425 LST is still a driver aimed at better players, though. Even our test pro, a very good golfer, said he thought the 445cc head and forward CG would be too demanding for him to use on the course consistently.
But, if you're a talented golfer who generates a lot of spin and wants some help when you occasionally mishit it, the Ping G425 LST could be the driver for you.
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Ball speed drop-off: 6.6mph | Carry distance drop-off: 15 yards (5.3%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 1,763rpm
The fact that another low spin driver (following the Ping G425 LST) appears in our top six most forgiving drivers is further evidence that low spin models are changing. Rather than simply trying to reduce spin at all costs, golf manufacturers are now making their low spin models better all-round packages.
The Callaway Epic Max LS is designed to target a spin rate of 2,600-2,700, which is considerably higher than low spin models of yesteryear. But it also has an MOI (moment of inertia) of 8,400, which is higher than any Sub Zero (Callaway's previous low spin range) driver.
The result is a spin-reducing driver for those who need it, with a good level of forgiveness to boot.
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RRP £299 | VIEW OFFER
Ball speed drop-off: 4.7mph | Carry distance drop-off: 15 yards (5.6%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 1,364rpm
PXG knew what they were doing in releasing their first driver at a more affordable price point (£325 compared to £600+ for previous models).
Not only have they actually undercut their mainstream rivals, in the PXG 0211 they have a driver that sits right in the middle of stability, forgiveness and power.
It may not be the absolute longest or the outright most forgiving, but it competes very well on both counts, making it a really strong driver, especially for the price.
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Ball speed drop-off: 3.4mph | Carry distance drop-off: 17 yards (6.6%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 1,832rpm
We’re talking tiny amounts, but following input from Wilson’s Tour staff, the D9 driver head is slightly bigger than the D7.
The new shape helps drag the centre of gravity lower and further back, which helps nudge up MOI and forgiveness. There's a three-layer composite crown, which neutralises vibration, while the face is also marginally bigger.
More than 120 computers running seven days a week calculated the best pattern for the D9’s PKR (Peak Kinetic Response) face, and the final design is so complex Wilson say there are no flat surfaces or constant thicknesses.
It means centre strikes are now 2.5mph faster than the D7, and an average of 1.6mph faster across nine points on the face. It has already been tested on the PGA Tour by Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele.
The D9 certainly wasn't the longest on our test, but it certainly proved pretty forgiving and at £299 it's well-worthy of consideration.
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Ball speed drop-off: 4.7mph | Carry distance drop-off: 15 yards (5.6%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 2,197rpm
The Callaway Epic Max was the joint-longest driver in our 2021 drivers test, which makes its forgiveness performance all the more impressive.
Of the three Callaway Epic models released in 2021, the Epic Max is the highest launching, the most forgiving, and the most adjustable, with up to 20 yards of shot bias thanks to a 17g backweight.
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Ball speed drop-off: 6.0mph | Carry distance drop-off: 19 yards (6.9%) | Back and sidespin drop-off: 2,874rpm
The TaylorMade SIM2 has a 12% larger face than last year's SIM with a bigger sweet spot. The new construction process has also enabled TaylorMade to boost MOI by 5%.
The result is a driver that TaylorMade fans will love, with plenty of distance on offer and a decent level of forgiveness, too.
How we carried out our 2021 golf drivers test
– We gathered all of the 2021 driver models at our indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre.
– The brands sent the drivers in the spec of TG Test Pro Neil Wain (above), while models aimed at more modest swing speeds were in Equipment Editor Simon Daddow's ideal spec.
– We used Callaway Chrome Soft X golf balls (below) 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.
THE DATA - MOST FORGIVING DRIVERS 2021