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What Are The Best Drivers For Beginners In 2017?

As far as golf club manufacturers are concerned, the beginner and high handicapper market are where is the money is. And it is not surprising since scratch golfers account for just 1.6% of male golfers on the USGA Handicap Index. (For women it is even lower at 0.37%). So if you want to make profits selling golf clubs, you simply have to focus on the mid and high handicap player market! And drivers account for a significant part of the sales since they are the most expensive clubs in any set. For beginners, the natural progression is first to learn to drive the ball closer to the green and then learn the trick and finesse shots actually to get there. In the early days, long distance game is what you can use effectively to shave off crucial shots from your final score. So a good driver can make a positive impact here. With that in mind, here is a shortlist of the clubs vying for the title of best golf driver for beginners:

A Guide to the Best Driver for Beginners

Golf drivers have changed a lot in the last few decades. Innovations in technology have added new features that make current drivers larger, lighter, easier to swing and much easier to hit with. Drivers are no longer the unforgiving clubs of the old days. To find the best golf driver for beginners, you need to know the basic game improvement features to look for in such a club. Three main factors can have a drastic impact on how far you can hit a golf ball with your driver. They include:

Clubhead Size

This is pretty straightforward. As a beginner, you need a fully super-sized club for maximum forgiveness. Titanium and carbon fiber/composite heads are pretty much your only choices here. According to the rules of the game, 460cc is the maximum allowed clubhead size. Almost all manufacturers have a lot of drivers in this size bracket aimed at newer and weaker players. Beginners should look only at the 460cc variants since they offer the largest sweet spots and improved forgiveness. But not all 460cc drivers perform alike. Most drivers these days have advanced adjustable features that improve the performance of the club in myriad ways. We will briefly look at those in another section later.

Driver Loft

This is a bit more nuanced topic. The loft of a golf club combined with various factors like swing speed and attack angle of the golfer determines how high or low the ball will fly after impact. Loft angle is responsible for the amount of backspin you create on each shot. The higher the backspin, the higher and longer the ball will carry. Loft angles can vary between 4 – 20 degrees on drivers, but the more commonly seen lofts range between 8 – 14 degrees. As a beginner, you can get a rough idea of the ideal loft angle for you based on your average swing speeds. The lower your swing speed, the higher the loft of the driver needs to be. Swing speeds between 85-105mph would be considered average for male golfers.
  • Anything beyond 105mph mark is deemed to be high swing speed, and here you should be looking at lower lofted drivers closer to the 8-10 degree mark (or lower).
  • For mid swing speeds above the 90mph mark, consider lofts between 10-12 degrees.
  • Speeds below 85Mph are deemed to be slow swing speeds and require higher lofted drivers above 12 degrees.
There is in fact, no such thing as the best driver loft for beginners in general, mainly because there are so many factors closely tied to the loft angle of a driver that determines the overall performance of that club. But it can be said that the best driver loft for beginners with slow swing speeds would be around the 12-degree mark. Driver Shaft Flex: Much like titanium being a staple for the clubheads, graphite is the most popular material used to create shafts for drivers these days. Graphite is light, durable and flexible, making it an ideal replacement for metals on longer fairway woods and drivers. Shaft length is usually kept around the 45-inch mark for optimal results, even though the regulations allow for lengths up to 48 inches. Shaft flex option is the important thing to consider here since length can be altered by a club fitter. Golf club shafts are available in five different flex levels. They are, in increasing order of flexibility:
  • Extra Stiff (XS, XXS or XXXS)
  • Stiff (S)
  • Regular (R)
  • Senior (A)
  • Ladies (L)
Stiffer shafts offer more control and accuracy but require high swing speeds above the 95mph mark to generate any appreciable distance on shots. If you struggle with lower than average swing speeds, look at regular or more flexible senior shafts to gain more speed on your swings. Flexible shafts increase distance by adding to your swing speed. If your swing speeds fall well within the 85-100mph spread, Regular or Stiff shaft flexes might be ideal. All the great manufacturers offer advanced customization features on their drivers. You can alter the dynamics of the club by tweaking these features. Fine tuning them can allow you to get the most out of your driver. But on the downside, get them wrong, and you end up with an underperforming driver. These features include:

Adjustable Weights:

Adjustable Loft: Adjustable Club Face: 
  • Adjustable Weights: Drivers often have movable weights on the clubhead, usually small pieces of tungsten. Moving the weight to the toe of the clubface can help alleviate any trouble with hooks, while slices can be countered by moving the weight to the heel of the clubface. But remember that changing the position of the weights can drastically alter the CoG and MoI of the driver, affecting its overall forgiveness, loft, and distance on shots. Consider keeping the weights in their default position unless you face severe issues with hooks or slices and need some shot correction.
  • Adjustable Loft: Using a simple screw mechanism, you can alter the loft on individual drivers by up to 4 or 5 degrees. This can be useful in certain situations if you want to tweak and figure out the optimal loft for your swing. But do keep in mind that changing the loft almost always changes the face angle of the club. So that is a trade off that you need to consider before making the adjustment.
  • Adjustable Club Face: Adjusting the clubface can be beneficial if you have issues related to slicing or hooking the ball. A closed face is good to reduce slices, while hooks can be treated with a more open face. But just as with adjustable lofts, adjusting the face angle of the club can impact other features like loft angle of the club.
Adjustable features may seem quite beneficial, but they can also downgrade the performance of a driver if you don't know what you are doing. The best thing to do is take your driver to a professional club fitter to get it customized to your unique requirements. A good swing and stance are critical to extracting the best performance out of your driver. Check out this informative YouTube video for some tips on improving your driver swing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX3h6FqjK4Y

1. Wilson Staff Men's D200 Golf Driver

Wilson was a brand better known for their affordable irons and starter club sets until the D series of drivers came along.

The second generation D200 is a lightweight, max game improvement driver aimed at beginners and high handicappers alike. If you want a driver packed with adjustable features, the D200 might not be to your liking.

It gives advanced customization options a miss while providing an easy to implement loft adjustment feature. With a very competitive pricing and decent performance, this driver could be suitable for beginners with slow and smooth swings who do not need advanced customization features on their driver.





What we like

  • With Reactive Face Technology, the D200 offers excellent accuracy and forgiveness.
  • Easy to swing thanks to its lightweight and flexible shaft.
  • Adjustable loft angles can be changed to 9, 10.5 and 13 degrees.
  • Excellent value for money at a very affordable price point.

What we dislike

  • Some golfers might find the lightweight nature of the club bothersome.
  • The matte black and chrome design isn’t too bad but doesn’t look premium.
  • Not a great distance driver.




2. Cobra Men's Fly Z Driver

Cobra is one of the several manufacturers on our shortlist to feature moveable weights on their drivers.

The Fly Z driver sports one 15g weight in a default low back position. With no less than six different color options, Cobra has cast its nets wide to cover as many color-conscious golfers as possible!

The loft settings are also adjustable, but even more impressively, the SmartPad technology ensures that face angle is not messed up with any alterations to the loft angle of the driver. The clubface is also optimized for improved speed and forgiveness.




What we like

  • Best-in-class distance on well-hit shots, even mishits generate decent long distance shots.
  • Huge sweet spot on the large clubface makes this an ideal club for beginners.
  • A striking looking driver that attracts attention, the multiple color choices are an added plus.
  • An easy to hit driver that launches the ball high into the air time and again.
  • The SmartPad technology prevents loft changes from affecting the face angle.

What we dislike

  • The huge clubface can feel a bit excessive for some golfers.
  • Some players have issues with high spin levels and shots that balloon into the air.



3. TaylorMade Men's R1 Driver

The R1 driver has a rather busy crown design that unfortunately polarizes opinion and distracts from what is otherwise a very well made driver in the game improvement category.

The classic black and white combination on the clubface is somewhat of a saving grace in the looks department though.

On the performance front, the R1 offers a single model with 12 different adjustable loft settings and even the ability to change the face angle at the sole plate. This makes shopping for an R1 an easy affair since you only have one club to buy, but tweaking the club to your liking may take some effort!




What we like

  • To counter the increased complexity in adjustable features, TaylorMade has simplified the tweaking process.
  • Best in class accuracy and forgiveness.
  • Above average distance on all shots mishit or otherwise.
  • Good feel and robust feedback on all shots.

What we dislike

  • Due to the almost excessive adjustable features, the R1 almost begs to be taken to a club fitter.
  • The graphics and design can be termed as polarizing at best, highly distracting at worst.
  • The high pitched sound on impact puts off some golfers.



4. Callaway Men's Big Bertha Driver

The Big Bertha series revolutionized driver technology and changed the fortunes of the Callaway brand when it was released nearly two decades ago.

A firm favorite on both the Pro and casual golfers circuit, the standard Big Bertha was reissued by Callaway in recent years as a game improvement club aimed at beginners and mid to high handicappers.

The club comes with adjustable loft settings on the hosel, as well as a sliding weight on the perimeter to give a broad range of draw and face options.




What we like

  • The classic blue and white design give the driver a very premium look.
  • The adjustable features offer an extreme level of customization.
  • Best in class distance with high backspin on all shots.
  • Fantastic feedback with a loud and firm sound on impact.
  • High accuracy and forgiveness make this driver ideal for mid as well as high handicappers.

What we dislike

  • Numerous adjustable features can be a bit hard to get used to.
  • Quite expensive for a beginner club.



5. Cleveland Golf Classic XL Driver

With a shiny black finish and gold accents, this is one of the neatest looking drivers out there.

The impressive looks are backed up by equally impressive technology, with adjustable loft angles and moveable weights. The very deep clubface means that forgiveness is on the higher side, despite the compact looking head.

Cleveland scores high with numerous high-quality shaft options for their driver, something that many other manufacturers fail to provide.




What we like

  • Incredibly classy looking driver decked in black and gold.
  • The deep face gives best in class forgiveness and decent accuracy on shots.
  • The easy playability makes this club perfect for beginners with slower than average swings.
  • The numerous high-quality shaft options are ideal for optimal feedback and feel.
  • Deep customization options with moveable weights and adjustable loft and face angles.

What we dislike

  • Lower spin than the rest of the pack may result in less launch height for some golfers.
  • The distance is not the best when compared to the rest of the competition.
  • The impact sound is a little on the harsher side.



Conclusion

Almost all the drivers on our list offer more than a few adjustable options as part of the overall package.

Though they are all great drivers in their own right, we feel that the Fly Z from Cobra Golf best fits the mantle of the best driver for beginners.

The adjustable hosel with the SmartPad technology is what won us over since beginners could benefit immensely from a driver that maintains the face angle despite any change in loft angle.

The Callaway Big Bertha finishes a close second, but its price is what dampens out enthusiasm for what is otherwise a stunning driver.

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