Our conclusions from a day testing driversFebruary, 2012 Golf Equipment
Conclusions from eight hours on the range hitting nothing but drivers...
FORGIVING AND CLOSED DRIVERS – THERE IS A DIFFERENCE
Many better players out there believe they cannot use a driver aimed at the average player due to it having a closed face that wants to prevent a slice and nothing else.
Drivers like this do exist, but, equally, there are many big-dogs aimed at the mass market that offer superb forgiveness levels in a neutral head that strong players will love. Closed drivers are designed to counter a slice, while forgiving drives are made to help our off-centre hits travel straighter and further.
All of us – regardless of handicap – need help with the latter so it is definitely worth opening your mind. The fact that several tour pros – including Bubba Watson (Ping G20) and Rickie Fowler (Cobra AMP) – use game improvement drivers might just change your mind.
FACE DEPTH PLAYS A BIG PART
Not many people know it but the depth of the clubface has a big role to play in the flight of the ball.
Shallow faces – like in the Wilson DXi SuperLight – are not only very inviting to look at, but increase spin, which helps get the ball in the air and keep it there.
This is ideal if you have a slow swing speed and want to get the most out of your game. Conversely, deep faces – like in the Mizuno JPX800 – tend to reduce spin and promote a low, penetrating flight that can be ideal if you have a fast swing speed and high launch and so want to keep the ball down.
CROWN COLOUR FORGETTABLE
In our group driver test, we hit five different crown colours – white, black, blue, grey and silver. What we concluded was that, although at first they may seem odd, once you’ve hit a few shots you quickly forget the aesthetics. With that in mind, we suggest you pick a driver based on performance alone and see crown colour as an afterthought.
LOFT IS YOUR FRIEND
If you have a slow swing speed and want to maximise distance, trying a high-loft driver is a great option. The loft helps you launch the ball higher and generates more spin, helping you keep the ball in the air longer, thus maximising carry distance. Try a 12˚ model and see for yourself.
If you have a slow swing speed and want to maximise distance, trying a high-loft driver is a great option.
LONGER AND LIGHTER CAN MEAN INCONSISTENT
Many manufacturers have turned to reducing overall club weight and increasing shaft length in the pursuit of distance.
Lighter clubs are easier to swing quickly, thus improving ball speed, while, in theory, the longer the club, the quicker the head travels.
There is no doubt after testing lightweight and long-shaft models that they can increase clubhead speed, but you might find it comes at the expense of consistency
Swinging faster can mean you do not find the middle as often, and having a longer club makes it harder to square the face at impact.
There is, therefore, a trade-off – in our testing we noticed some distance increases, but they were often accompanied by wider misses.
If you find the majority of fairways and want to squeeze out extra yards, try them out.
If you’re prone to the odd wild one, however, it may be best to steer clear.
HEAD AND SHAFT MUST MATCH
It is impossible to say that one head type or one shaft model will work for you no matter what – our testing proved that you need to match them both if you want best results.
It doesn’t matter what the brand of either is, as long as they suit your launch conditions.
The one way to guarantee you have the right combination is to book a custom fitting.
R11S v ROCKETBALLZ
This was one of the most intriguing – and surprising – aspects of our test.
Hitting TaylorMade’s new line for the first time, we expected the two families to differ in the same way that last year’s did, with the R11 the star attraction.
Last year’s Burner – although impressive – just couldn’t match the R11 for sound, feel and looks. However, for all our testers, the RocketBallz, some £100 cheaper at retail, outshone its more expensive stablemate.
The RocketBallz is a serious driver that offers incredible appeal – it sounds, feels and looks like a driver for a better player, but performs like a game-improver. Excellent stuff.