There is nothing quite like the feeling of a well-hit drive. The sound at impact, the ball taking a high and straight flight, the confidence boost of knocking it well past your playing partners.
That special feeling of the almost perfect tee shot was once one of the game of golf’s hardest to achieve, however, continued advances in face technology, optimal weighting, adjustability and varied models designed for different ball flights have made good driving a far more achievable task ... If you have the right driver for you that is.
The following article features 12 of the best drivers currently available to suit a wide variety of skill levels, ball flights and preferences, and maybe even the perfect one to make you the envy of your golfing mates in 2020.
Callaway golf first introduced the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a super computer in 2019 with its popular Epic Flash. The new MAVRIK models taking the innovative technologies further and expanding the uses beyond the clubface.
Created through thousands of super computer generated iterations, the new ‘Flash Face SS20’ architecture of the MAVRIK driver contains a larger area producing extremely high ball speeds. The face working in concert with Callaway’s proven ‘Jailbreak’ technology connecting the crown and sole with two titanium bars strengthening the relationship between the two and allowing for greater distance.
Individually designed for each of the three MAVRIK models – standard, the low spin and high MOI Sub Zero and slice fighting and most forgiving MAX – the new faces are made of FS2S titanium, an extremely strong material that allowed Callaway’s engineers to keep a thin construction for maximum ball speed without sacrificing structural integrity.
The extremely lightweight ‘T2C triaxial carbon crown’ utilised allows discretionary weight to be optimally placed for centre of gravity (CG) and moment of inertia (MOI), while Callaway utilised AI for the first time to create an internal rib structure to manage the vibrations caused at impact and improve sound and feel.
Cobra KING SPEEDZONE
Cobra took inspiration from the fastest cars in the world during the research and development process of its new KING SPEEDZONE driver. The new model, Cobra’s “fastest and most powerful driver to date”, is optimised in six specific zones for speed and distance.
Offering front-to-back adjustable weights and in a traditional shape, the standard model is already in play on the PGA Tour and will suit a wide variety of players, while the XTREME is built for a forgiving and straight flight.
Broken down into Power, Strength, Light, Low CG, Aero and Stability, the improvements to each “Zone” is through both new and updated technologies.
Expanding on the use of the only CNC milled driver face in golf, the SPEEDZONE face features a greater milled area – allowing for more face and leading edge thickness control – as well as more precise curvature, with each face 100 percent inspected to ensure improved performance.
Among the new technologies, Cobra’s engineers developed the ‘Titanium T-Bar Speed Chassis’ that gives the SPEEDZONE drivers their shape and removes unnecessary titanium to save weight that is redistributed while maintaining the strength required for the high speed collision of impact.
Henry-Griffitts is focused on custom building golf clubs to fit each individual and their requirements, swing type and ball flight. And the Purist driver is no different.
Four different heads allow the company to build a driver with lofts anywhere from 8˚ to 20˚, while the custom build process also enables your Purist driver’s lie and face angle to be adjusted to suit your game.
Offered in both a gold and silver finish the Purist features a face made of 6-4 titanium and is designed to offer equal levels of forgiveness and distance.
Mizuno continues to evolve as more than a company known simply for its irons, the new ST200 series of drivers improving on the previous generation and marking the first time the US and Japanese R&D teams have jointly worked on a metalwood product.
Offered in a standard model, spin adjustable ‘G’ and longer and lightweight ‘X’, the ST200 drivers feature a forged SAT 2041 Beta titanium face with a mutli-thickness design to offer increased ball speeds across the face for a longer period of time than standard 6-4 titanium.
The ST200 shape has been refined by Mizuno’s Yoro craftsman after feedback from the company’s Tour players, with a flatter lie angle and crown part of the new look that will appeal to better players, the standard model specifically designed for low spin and forgiveness.
To produce a sound and feel worthy of a Mizuno product, the ST200 has undergone structural refinements, while an 11.6 gram weight is located optimally in the back of head to achieve the desired ball flight and increased forgiveness.
PING G410 LST
Joining the G410 Plus and SFT models after an extensive development process to ensure it outperformed the previous G400, the G410 LST driver offers low, stable spin, with ball flight adjustability.
Smaller than the Plus model at 450cc, the G410 LST is engineered for stronger drivers of the ball looking for a lower spin ball flight, the model extremely popular with Tour players around the world.
A slightly forward CG position reduces the spin in each of the draw, neutral and fade settings, while the internal ‘Dragonfly Technology’ allows for an ultra-thin crown that meant weight could be optimally placed around the head to increase MOI by three percent compared to the G400 LST.
Sitting slightly open to appeal to better players, the G410 LST’s T9S+ face is created through a unique forging and heating process that produces a thinner and hotter impact area that is also precision machined to deliver greater ball speeds across a larger area.
To add even more speed, the pear-shaped head incorporates refined ‘Turbulator Technology’ that improves aerodynamics.
Srixon Z 785
Srixon calls the Z series drivers its longest ever and the Z 785 has certainly proven itself on the game’s biggest stages, the lower spinning model the choice of major champion Hannah Green and recent European Tour winner Graeme McDowell.
Powered by a ‘Ti51AF Cup Face’, the thinnest, lightest, strongest, and hottest driver face in company history, the Z 785 offers a penetrating flight in a profile designed to appeal to Tour players.
Able to be fine-tuned to a player’s ball-flight needs and preferences through Srixon’s ‘Quick Tune System’, the Z 785 has weight precisely located in the perimeter to raise forgiveness in addition to its other distance driven technologies.
Srixon Z 585
Like the Z 785, the more forgiving Z 585 driver from Srixon has major winning pedigree, the non-adjustable model the choice of Shane Lowry at last year’s Open Championship.
Featuring the same cup face technology for increased ball speed across the face, the Z 585 also benefits from a lightweight carbon crown that allowed Srixon’s engineers to raise the MOI of the head by pushing more weight to the outer edges of the driver head and increase stability.
Launching higher than the 785, the Z 585 promotes forgiveness and a straighter ball flight.
Named for ‘Shape in Motion’, the new TaylorMade SIM driver takes advantage of unconventional geometry to offer increased speed and forgiveness.
Built using a number of shape-inspired innovations, the SIM driver is designed to maximise swing speed in the last metre of the downswing, known as the speed generation zone.
Designed with a raised crown and sole to improve aerodynamics and would typically result in a less than ideal higher CG, the SIM driver, which is complimented by the more forgiving SIM Max and draw-biased SIM Max•D, features an ‘Inertia Generator’ to counteract the typical tradeoff required in modern driver design.
The Inertia Generator includes a heavy steel weight positioned low and back on the head to move the CG lower and raise MOI that is made possible through the refinement of TaylorMade’s carbon material that is used in the sole and crown to save weight.
In addition to the new technologies used in the SIM driver, TaylorMade has once again incorporated the ‘Speed Injected Twist Face’ it unveiled in 2019, with curvature designed to fight the common mis-hits produced by off-centre strikes and variable amounts of resin injected into the face to tune each head for maximum distance within the Rules of Golf.
A two-year mission dubbed “Titleist Speed Project” led to the development of the company’s TS drivers.
The mission was to achieve greater speed from every component of the new models.
Designed specifically to produce faster ball speed with higher launch, lower spin and increased MOI, the TS2 – released alongside the lower-launching and more adjustable TS3 – is built for straight speed.
Featuring an adjustable swingweight as well as loft and face angle, the TS2 is constructed using the ‘Titleist Speed Chassis’, a speed driven design with four key areas of innovation.
Twenty percent thinner than the previous 917, the ultra-thin titanium crown saves weight, a six gram lighter face is thinner and the fastest in company history to produce more ball speed, a more aerodynamic shape reduces drag, while optimised weight distribution results in higher launch angles and significant gains in MOI to add forgiveness to speed.
Utilising a modern shape, the TS2 offers maximum forgiveness across the face and was the driver of choice for Cameron Smith on his way to victory at the Sony Open on the PGA Tour earlier this year.
Expanding the TS series of drivers to four models designed to cater to all varieties of golfers, Titleist’s TS1 is built for moderate swing speed players looking for greater distance powered by the Titleist Speed Chassis.
Featuring a remarkably light overall weight of just 275 grams, the TS1 utilises lightweight shafts and grips and is aimed at golfers with a swing speed around 85mph.
Weight was precisely trimmed from the design of the TS1 to ensure that slower swing speed players received the benefits of the other TS drivers without sacrificing key performance characteristics like MOI and adjustability.
Launching higher and with optimised spin to maximise carry distance thanks to a deep CG placement, the TS1 also contains a slight draw bias for more distance and accuracy for players who struggle to square the clubface consistently.
XXIO has a long-standing reputation for producing lightweight golf equipment to benefit moderate swing speed players. The new Eleven driver continues this tradition of fast, forgiving, and easy-to-swing golf clubs.
Available in men’s and ladies, the Eleven driver incorporates XXIO’s new ‘Weight Plus technology’ that utilises brass and rubber weights in the butt of the shaft to act as a lever and raise the balance point of the club to assist players with the effort required to swing to the top of the backswing and return to impact with maximum power.
To accommodate an extremely thin sole of just 45mm, the XXIO Eleven features a ‘Star Frame’ rib structure inside the driver head that allows for weight to be redistributed for greater forgiveness and higher launch.
Working together to create increased distance, a uniquely shaped weight pad in the sole of the new model creates room for a larger cup face that provides faster ball speeds on both centre strikes and mis-hits.
Built on the same ideals of lightweight and high balance points, the new XXIO X driver aims to bring the benefits of these design principles to more accomplished golfers.
Engineered for golfers who have typically used “player’s” models but have started to loose distance, the X driver features Weight Plus technology like the Eleven driver, as well as the same normalised cup face for increased ball speed across a larger area of the face and ‘Cannon Sole’ weight pad.
The standout technology of the X model that will appeal to better players with preferences for certain sound and feel at impact is the carbon fibre sole that not only allows for more weight to be saved and then be redistributed but also produces a more muted feel.