How do you go about testing all the best drivers on the market?
Well, this year we decided to do things a bit differently.
We wanted to cover a range of abilities so the testing team comprised of myself, an 18 handicapper, and NCG editor Dan Murphy who plays off four.
We also thought it created a fairer test if myself and Dan were custom fit by each company so we could be put into the driver which worked best for us.
If me and Dan ended up in the same driver, that was no problem.
The last thing we wanted was me saying I couldn’t get on with a product because it’s aimed at a better players and Dan testing a product which clearly is not going to suit a 4 handicapper.
The custom-fit process also meant we had shafts, lofts and grips all tailored to our individual requirements.
After our custom-fit marathon, we tested the drivers on the excellent practice facilities at Moor Allerton in Leeds under the guidance of head pro James Whitaker.
We also used a Foresight GC2 launch monitor to help asses the performance of each product.
Here are the results. Click on each product for a detailed video review
JAMES SAVAGE’S GOLD MEDAL WINNER
Titleist 915 D2 – Video review
Dan Murphy’s GOLD MEDAL WINNERS
Ping G30/G30 LS Tec – Video review
Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 – Video review
Nike Vapor Flex – Video review
Titleist 915 D3 – Video review
TaylorMade R15 430 – Video review
James Savage’s SILVER MEDAL WINNER
Ping G30 LS Tec – Video review
James Savage’s BRONZE MEDAL WINNERS
Callaway XR – Video review
Mizuno JPX-850 – Video review
Cobra Fly-Z – Video review
BEST OF THE REST
Nike Vapor Speed – Video review
TaylorMade R15 – Video review
Srixon Z 545 – Video review
Cobra Fly-Z+ – Video review
Benross Hot Speed 10 – Video review
Benross Max Speed 10 – Video review
Yonex EZone Tri-G – Video review
Yonex EZone XP – Video review
Lynx Boom Boom 3 – Video review
Adams XTD – Video review
THE RESULTS EXPLAINED
JS: The Titleist 915 D2 (though not custom-fit for me) was already in the bag so it was going to take something special to replace it. After having my fitting, it just got even better. The good hits were as good as anything, it’s forgiving and is the best-sounding driver out there for me.
I immediately took to the Ping G30 LS Tec. Great looks, feel and distance. And it’s nice when a product does exactly what it says on the tin. If it sounded as sweet as the 915 I’d really struggle to split them because these two are quite similar for me.
It was hard to only pick out three others but the super-fast Callaway XR is a product that everyone will enjoy hitting.
The Cobra Fly-Z was probably the longest on test for me and Mizuno’s JPX 850 looks and feels superb.
DM: I know this looks like a cop-out but hear me out: when you just can’t separate a group of clubs then the only honest thing to do is say so. All of these clubs were expertly dialled in for me and consequently there was very little to choose between them in the results.
That’s a tribute to the custom fitters we worked with. I couldn’t say that any one of these drivers was consistently longer than the rest.
There are key differences though: the G30 is the best on mis-hits; the Alpha 815 was my favourite for looks; the 915 D3 was brilliant at keeping spin off off necks and shots low off the face; the Vapor Flex produced the best sound; the R15 430 was probably the pick when I hit it right out of the middle.
I would happily put any one of these five in my bag for the season right now.