If you are still teeing it up with a driver that doesn’t have the features allowing dial-in of just the right settings to help maximize your tee ball results now is the time to start thinking about an upgrade. Manufactures models this year offer lots of enhancements making a new driver worthwhile so begin your selection process with this quick rundown of the ones we like from the current offerings. As we have recommended many times, get fitted on a launch monitor. It’s the only way to find the driver that’s right for you…or, put another way, the most yards for your money.
The Adams Blue ($299) has their Easy Launch system consisting of a slot in the sole behind the clubface along with a thinner shaft tip for more kick at impact. Add to that a center of gravity placed low and towards the rear of the drawbiased clubhead and the Blue gets the ball airborne easily for better distance and control.
Bridgestone says they don’t bring out a new driver just for the sake of having a new driver so the J715 model ($399) targeted for low-handicaps and pros is something special. There’s a choice of four lofts with face and lie angle adjustments and Bridgestone’s Flex Action Speed Technology crown which is thinnest near the clubface, thickening towards the rear for higher launch by allowing the crown to flex at impact.
Callaway club sales have been on an upward trend and with that in mind we looked at their three new models this season. We especially liked the XR model that features a “Speed Step Crown” to lower aerodynamic drag for more clubhead speed plus they reduced face thickness to save weight and increase energy transmission to the ball. Callaway’s OptiFit system with 8 loft and lie setting is standard. The XR retails for $349.
Dropping the Bio Cell brand name of the last few years, Cobra now has the Fly-Z line that includes a driver with extra-large clubface, hosel adjustability and added forgiveness from moving weight towards the back of clubhead. You can upgrade to the Fly-Z+ which lets the user move a 15-gram sole weight from front to rear to adjust spin and launch angle. The Fly-Z retails for $330 and the Fly-Z+ is $400.
Dean Knuth, as a former senior director of the USGA, knows about golf clubs and has designed the 460cc High Heat driver ($399) especially for amateurs. He took into account that we often contact the ball below the center of the clubface causing a loss of both distance and accuracy. To compensate the High Heat has a center of gravity that’s both deep and low for distance, forgiveness and reduced ball spin.
The new Mizuno JPX-850 ($400) with adjustable hosel has a sole weight adjustment arrangement allowing the two 8-gram weights to be placed in position along the center line of the sole to effect launch angle and in the two positions towards the heel and one near the toe to adjust side spin. Mizuno also helped overall distance with what they call a Shock Wave sole that adds to the flex of the clubhead at impact for more ball speed.
The PING G30 ($350) attracted a lot of interest both for being seen on television swung by Bubba Watson with an attention-attracting pink shaft but also for the “Turbulators” on the crown that redirect airflow for more clubhead speed. That interest translated into making the G30 the best-selling driver so far this year. There is a low-spin version, the LS Tec, for high swing speed players and one to aid in straightening out slices, the SF Tec.
TMaG has brought back the “R” designation with the white headed R15. The adjustment system is similar to the SLDR driver of last year but with a major change. Rather than one sliding weight there are now two allowing for even more compensation for distance-killing side spin. Also significant, the weight channel has been moved much closer to the clubface to act as a sole slot for additional flexing of the face at impact. Both the 460cc and 430cc models are $430. TMaG’s new AeroBurner driver, an update of the Rocket- Ballz, is competitively priced at $300 and all about speed. The matte white finish AeroBurner is lightweight, coming in at under 300 grams, with a new raised center crown aerodynamic head shape, a stock 50-gram shaft and even a small drag-reducing fin on the hosel.
The adjustable Exotics E8 driver ($300) has improved weight placement and Tour Edge’s Power Grid design in the sole. This is an easy to hit, high launch driver producing lower spin. The E8 Beta ($400) has a 440cc low-spin face with a deeper face that gives a boring trajectory preferred by better players. Not to be overlook though is their new Hot Launch driver. It’s adjustable, has a 460cc four-piece forged clubhead with impressive stability and forgiveness. Tour Edge may really have a winner since retail for the Hot Launch is an eye-popping $200 and there’s a non-adjustable draw configured model for just $150.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?