Are you in the market for a new driver, but confused with all the technical jargon? Sole weight positioning varies among drivers; sole weights are placed low forward, center, or in the rear. Weight positioning shapes your shot. So how do you know which weight placement and club would best suit your game? I set out to get clarification from the technical experts from a few major equipment companies to help discriminate and learn which drivers are best suited for particular golfers.
TaylorMade has two new drivers. The R15, their most technologically advanced driver to date. It features a pair of 12.5-gram sliding weights in the sole track, which is closer to the leading edge than last year’s SLDR, creating a lower, more forward CG, promoting higher launch and lower spin. Splitting the weights between the heel and toe provides max stability; both weights centered produces max distance; sliding both toward heel for max draw, toward toe for max fade…shapes your shot. The adjustable hosel allows a 4-degree loft adjustability to dial in your launch conditions. The R15 is lighter than the SLDR, sports a smaller club head shape with white or black crown finish, black face, and a choice of 430cc or 460cc heads. This club is designed for the golfer who likes to tinker with his driver to obtain the most penetrating shot with the lowest spin and would also benefit the golfer who tends to draw/fade his shot and desires a straighter drive ($429).
The nonadjustable AeroBurner, made for speed, has an aerodynamic shape designed with a raised center crown, reduced drop from crown to skirt and hosel fin that reduces swing drag, promoting faster swing speeds. The new red Speed Pocket extends the length of the sole, designed to increase the size of the sweet spot and reduces spin. The AeroBurner has a fixed hosel and the club’s overall weight is under 300 grams, which further enhances swing speed. This club is suited for mid-high handicappers, seniors, women and beginners with slower swing speeds, who want to boost their swing speed ($299).
Cobra has three new drivers. The Fly-Z+ Driver features ‘FlipZone’ weighting technology. A gold-colored 15-gram weight lets you shift the CG location from the middle to the rear of the sole. The forward CG position creates a penetrating, low-spin flight with more roll, while the rear position launches the ball higher with more spin and carry. The thin, forged titanium club face sports a Speed Channel around the edges, designed to boost ball speed on mis-hits. The 460cc head has eight loft adjustments, plus the SmartPad sole, which maintains a square face angle. There are five color options: white, red, orange, blue and black. This club is geared for scratch golfers to 15 handicappers ($399).
The Fly-Z Driver has an updated head shape combined with 14 grams of added back weight (eight-gram external plug and six-grams inside head) to create a more forgiving driver compared with the BioCell. Fourteen grams of fixed back weighting and Speed Channel around the edge of the face combine to increase launch, spin and is more stable on mis-hits than the Fly-Z + in the back-weight position. Built to suit mid-handicappers, it features the same adjustable hosel with eight loft settings, SmartPad sole and color options ($329).
The nonadjustable Fly-Z XL has back CG zone weighting, a Speed Channel face and has an offset design that helps chronic slicers. This lightweight club is suited for higher-handicappers, geared particularly for seniors, ladies and beginners with slower-swing speeds, who can benefit from a higher, draw-biased ball flight and increased club speed that delivers more distance ($279).
Tour Edge has two new drivers. The Exotics E8 Drivers are all about CG location and faster ball speeds. Available in two models—E8 and E8 Beta—both feature an adjustable hosel with eight loft options and an interchangeable X-shaped sole weight to alter swing weight and ball flight. Each comes with a 7-gram sole weight that can be changed to 5, 10 or 12-grams with purchase of an optional weight kit. The E8 Drivers sport a hyper-titanium face milled with variable thickness which creates a larger sweet spot on off-center hits. Both feature the Power Grid—a corrugated channel (similar to TaylorMade’s Speed Pocket) that increases spring-effect at impact creating a more powerful launch. The differences between the E8 models—E8 Beta has a smaller club head, Power Grid is narrower placing the sole weight higher and closer to the face allowing for a lower trajectory, less spin and increased ball velocity. The E8 Beta model ($399) is geared for low handicapped golfers with faster swing speeds. The more forgiving E8 ($299) produces a higher overall trajectory geared to mid-handicapped players.
The Hot Launch Driver features a 460cc titanium four-piece forged club head with variable face thickness technology to improve output on off-center hits. Internal sole weighting in the rear center of the sole creates an easier launch, greater forgiveness and stability. The adjustable hosel allows four loft options, allowing golfers to maximize their distance through improved launch angles. The Hot Launch Driver blasts the competition by offering mid-high handicapped golfers a quality adjustable driver at a tremendous price ($199). Also available is the Hot Launch Draw ($149), a nonadjustable driver with an offset hosel engineered to straighten slices.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?