Every successful round of golf – i.e. one that culminates in the ball going where you actually want it to go! – starts with a strong tee shot. This can boost your confidence and set the game’s mood, whereas a bad stroke can lead to increasingly poor shots and lousy scores.
While many factors go into a successful swing, the right golf driver can boost your confidence and take strokes off your game by offering greater accuracy.
Here’s what to look for in a great golf driver.
How to Pick the Right Golf Driver – 6 Key Factors
For many golfers, one club is often more fun to use than others – the driver. After all, it’s designed to help whack the ball down the fairway.
If you want better shots, choosing a driver just because it looks good makes no sense. Many beginners play with drivers without sufficient loft, and their measurements are inappropriate for their swings. Also, just because a driver is expensive doesn’t guarantee an instant improvement.
Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing a new driver.
1. Head Shape
Drivers are available in both square and round clubheads. Depending on your skill level, it’s important to choose the driver you feel most comfortable with.
A round driver is a good option for beginners, as it’s lightweight, easy to handle, and less likely to get caught in the ground before the strike. As your swing speed improves, your ball speed will also increase and you’ll be able to cover more distance down the fairway. (Ball speed is the ball’s initial velocity when it leaves the clubface.) Ideally, this speed should be 1 ½-times your swing speed. This covers more distance and results in fewer shots to victory. (Hint: Sometimes it takes a little practice to decide which driver will best suit your needs and skill level.)
Square clubheads are less popular due to their poor aesthetic quality and the dull sound they make at strike. Their only major advantage is that they tend to have bigger clubfaces, which decreases your chances of a bad shot.
The loft is the amount of slope at the back of the clubface. Driver loft, which typically ranges between 8.5° and 15°, should match your swing speed. Your choice of loft depends on your swing speed.
- Less than 60 mph = 14-15 degrees of loft
- 60-70 mph = 12-13 degrees of loft
- 70- 80 mph = 10.5-11.5 degrees of loft
- 80-90 mph = At least 9 to 10.5 degrees of loft
- More than 90 mph = Lowest loft available
The lower the driver’s loft, the slower your ball speed; the higher the loft, the higher the trajectory. Beginners looking for more flight will want to go with a higher loft, while a seasoned golfer may choose a lower loft that offers a steadier performance.
The driver’s shaft is usually made of steel, titanium, or graphite.
Titanium and graphite shafts are light, which help improve distance and clubhead speed. Steel, on the other hand, is quite heavy and often more affordable.
Shafts come in a range of flexes which can affect your shot’s trajectory, accuracy, and distance. The most common flexes include extra stiff, tour, stiff, regular, senior, and ladies.
Players with fast swings are good candidates for stiffer shafts (normally steel), whereas a player with a slow swing will benefit from a more flexible graphite shaft.
Since modern shafts are lighter and longer than previous versions, you’ll need to try out different ones in order to get the right amount of flexibility. Sometimes, even a stiff and light shaft delivers a long drive.
Drivers typically range from 275 to 310 grams, but some of them are as light as 265 grams. Many modern manufacturers focus on designing light golf drivers in order to increase clubhead speeds. Most golfers prefer light drivers to help cover the maximum distance off the tee.
The driver is typically the longest club in your golf bag. Men’s drivers tend to measure between 45 and 48 inches; women’s are typically between 43 and 44 inches. However, the size also depends on a golfer’s skill level and overall control.
Adjustable drivers are quite popular and allow you to customize different features:
Hosel: This allows you to change the driver’s loft to get different launch angles. You can also adjust the lie. The lie can determine a draw, which for right-handed golfers curves the ball right to left; vice versa for left-handed golfers. It can also create a fade, where the ball curves left to right for right-handed golfers and the opposite way for left-handed golfers.
Center of Gravity: Many drivers now feature moveable weights that can be adjusted on the club’s sole to hit a fade, draw, or neutral shot.
Reminder: Adjustable clubs can only be fine-tuned to make minor adjustments rather than major ones. Always choose golf drivers that align with your own unique swing style and comfort level.
The driver is one of the most commonly used and important clubs for golfers at every skill level. Once you know your skill level and all the factors that go into picking the right driver, you’ll be one step closer to a successful day on the links.