What are the Best Golf Driver For High Handicappers in 2017?
Do high handicappers really need to have a driver in their club bags? Or can they make do with an easy to hit 3-wood? Opinion is somewhat divided on this issue. Granted, the best fairway woods for high handicappers are much more approachable than drivers, owing to their slightly shorter shafts, but nothing beats a driver when it comes to hitting the longest from the tee. This is especially pertinent if your local course has a lot of longer par-4 and above holes. And these are not the bad old days when all you had was a tiny 180cc wooden club head to hit off the tee. Modern drivers are much more forgiving, and we even have an exclusive category of super-game improvement clubs aimed at the higher handicapper and casual golfers out there. So, if you have the money to spare, there is no reason really to not buy a driver these days as a high handicapper. With that in mind, here is a shortlist of the best golf driver for high handicappers in 2017:
Correct Head size For High HandicappersFor players with handicaps above 20, head sizes below the 460cc mark are simply not an option. You need maximum forgiveness and enjoyment from your driver, and for that, you need to look at the biggest club head volumes legally allowed. And according to a USGA rule change in 2003, 460cc is the upper limit for game-worthy clubs. Most manufacturers stick to this limit, but as they say, "buyer beware" is the wisest policy when you are in a market where drivers are most expensive types of golf clubs. So just make sure that the volume of the club head is at or within the 460cc mark before you buy the club. Lower club sizes are more common on the best golf drivers for mid handicappers and better players. The shape of the club head determines the level of forgiveness on offer. Perimeter weighting designs create shallow and wide club heads, with the weight dispersed to the sides of the club face. Mid handicapper and better player drivers tend to have the club head mass focused immediately behind the club face for improved feel and feedback, at the expense of having smaller sweet spots. Pear or squarish shaped drivers are the most common ones on the market.
Ideal Materials For High Handicapper DriversDo people ever buy golf clubs based on the material used in the club heads anymore? Not that there is much choice anyway in the matter since the driver market has been taken over by the aerospace industry, with all those space-age materials like titanium and carbon fiber composites! These extremely lightweight materials allow manufacturers to keep club head sizes at 460cc, which is impossible with steel and wood clubs. They can create even larger club heads, but that would take a lot of the skill element out of the game, which is why the USGA felt compelled to intervene to restrict the size to the 460cc mark. The best game improvement driver in the modern era has a 460cc volume as standard, thanks to this rule. And as far as shafts are considered, we no longer have wood or metal shafts, with graphite being the dominant choice for driver shafts these days, unlike in the case of other selections such as the best irons for high handicappers. Graphite is very flexible, and when you swing the club, the flexible shaft bends a bit, creating a whiplash-like effect that increases your swing speed on impact. You do have options regarding shaft flex levels, which we will look at in a later section.
Do You Really Need Adjustable Features?The best golf drivers for mid handicappers these days have a lot of features like movable weights and adjustable lofts, allowing the player to tweak the club's dynamics to suit their individual requirements. Many of these functions are not really necessary for the beginner or high handicapper golfer and fooling around with them can actually make the club harder to hit, unless you know what you are doing. But that doesn't mean that you should stay away from a forgiving driver just because it has several advanced functions bundled with it. You can always just leave the setting at the default or standard configuration until you feel confident enough to tweak them. And you can always approach a pro or club fitter for some guidance. Many golfers, even mid handicappers, tend to buy adjustable drivers because they are the "in-thing," and just leave their adjustable setting untouched. Though movable or sliding weights may be a tad unnecessary for high handicappers, adjustable lofts can be very useful indeed and give you more options to experiement once you are lowering your handicap. High handicappers require higher than standard lofts for better distance and launch height, and if your default driver loft is too low, having the best driver for high handicapper equipped with the ability to increase lofts can be very useful. We will look at the optimal loft settings in the next section. Here is an informative YouTube video that talks about some other advanced adjustable features on golf drivers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHuY8nxUYQ4
Ideal Loft Angle For High HandicappersModern drivers have special hosels whose loft setting can be easily changed using a screw mechanism at the heel of the club. Typical loft settings can be modified within a limit of 4-6 degrees on modern drivers with adjustable lofts. For instance, if you have a driver with 11 degrees of default loft, it might have slots for 8, 9 and 13-degree loft angles. As to the ideal loft setting for a high handicapper driver, it can depend on your own swing speed and attack angle. But in general, conventional wisdom holds loft angles above 11 degrees to be more suitable for higher handicappers and seniors/ladies with really low swing speeds. But for the majority of golfers, lofts between 9-11 degrees tend to get the job done. Below 9 degrees is the territory of better players and scratch golfers who triple-digit swing speeds.
Ideal Shaft FlexThis one is pretty straightforward as well. Shaft flex grades are classified as Ladies (L), Senior (A), Regular (R), Stiff (S), Extra Stiff (XS, XXS and even XXXS). The less stiff options Ladies and Seniors are for players with swing speeds below 85mph. Please do note that the Flex rating is not linked to the gender or age of the golfer, and is just a naming convention followed by manufacturers. Many women golfers can perform well with Senior or Regular shafts, while many male golfers below senior citizen age require Senior grade shafts due to slower swing speeds. If your speed is between 85-95mph, a Regular shaft is an ideal choice. Anything faster and you can try out the stiffer flex options.
The folks at Wilson decided to focus more on getting the “Right Weight” rather than trying to get their drivers down to the lightest weight possible.
This is a wise policy, since being lightweight alone does not guarantee good performance in a driver.
You need the weight distribution to be balanced in all the right places to get maximum distance on swings, and Wilson seems to have got it right with their D200 driver. This is one of the best golf drivers for beginners.
They have shaved off extra weight but used that to increase the shaft length and add an adjustable hosel, making the club more versatile in the process. You get loft range between 8-14 degrees with the D200.
Incidentally, if you have extra money to burn and like buying new golf drivers, you can try the latest variant, the D300 which is out on the market now.
What we like
- The lightweight club is easy to swing.
- The Reactive Face technology improves ball speeds and distance on shots.
- High levels of forgiveness on shots, even mishits fly long and high.
- Has a classic old school look that should please most golfers.
What we dislike
- Not the best in class for distance.
- The impact sound, feel and feedback is all below par.
The “Burner” has a long history going back to the first metal drivers created by TaylorMade. They have resurrected the name several times in the past, and the latest version is a far cry from the original metal driver on almost all fronts.
Sporting a striking white cover with red alignment aids, the driver has been designed with a clear intent to stand out on a golf course. And with a deep speed pocket and wide club head shape, it also offers a lot of forgiveness, making it one of the best game improvement driver for the high handicapper player.
Though it gives advanced adjustable features a miss, that might be a good thing for some golfers who have no need for this stuff. The driver is available in lofts ranging from 10.5 to 14 degrees.
What we like
- A high level of accuracy that turns even mishits, slices and hooks into decent shots.
- The feel and feedback on impact are “hot,” making this one of the most fun drivers to hit.
- If you want your shots to stay high and airborne, this may be the best driver for you.
- The white paint job, though striking, is immaculate and well designed.
What we dislike
- Lacks any adjustable features.
- Spin is too high for some golfers.
Callaway has gone back to their roots with this Big Bertha Driver, using the name they made famous with the launch of the original Big Bertha in 1991.
The V Series is the third or fourth driver in the recent iteration of the Big Bertha, and it is bigger and more forgiving that its peers.
The club head is large enough to hold a cartoon of none other than Sir Issac Newton, in an allusion to the fact that this club has a lot of physics going in its favor.
The V in the V Series stands for “velocity”, and they have tried to increase it by reducing the weight. The driver has an OptiFit hosel which can change the loft angles a few degrees either way.
Callaway has used a forged composite head to keep things light while still sporting a 460cc club head on the Big Bertha V.
What we like
- A true “bomber” that can easily out hit the rest of the competition.
- Extra forgiveness boosts your confidence and helps aggressive swings.
- Adjustable hosel is a great addition.
- The shiny black finish adds style and almost makes you forget that this is a max improvement driver.
What we dislike
- The impact sound is muted and dull.
- The cheeky looking Issac Newton cartoon is a turn off for some golfers.
The Cobra Max is a high launching driver designed explicitly for high handicappers who struggle with the long distance shots due to lower than average swing speeds.
The 460cc driver has perimeter weighting technology that improves forgiveness, while the larger address profile inspires the confidence to swing hard from the tee.
The Offset in the name stands for a hosel offset design that helps to improve the chances of clean straight hit while avoiding slices. The club gives adjustable features a miss, but that should not detract much from what is indeed one of the best clubs for beginners and high handicappers looking for extra assistance from the tee.
Incidentally, if you want new golf drivers, maybe the Cobra King F7 series might have you are looking for.
What we like
- Helps slow swingers get higher launch and distance on their shots.
- Best in class forgiveness and accuracy, helps you avoid slices completely.
- Very stable on impact, you get the explosive feel and feedback which is great.
- The famous Cobra logo on the crown provides excellent alignment aid.
What we dislike
- Zero adjustable features, so make sure you pick the correct loft angle the first time.
- The Offset head might be a bit too much for better swingers.
The appropriately name Blue Driver from Adams seems to have been designed specifically to get you more air time on your shots, as the ball sails high into the blue sky.
For starters, the club head is large at 460cc and the CoG has been kept as low as possible to maintain high launch trajectories on impact.
They have added a Velocity Slot on the face for better speeds, while the Aldila SlimTech shaft is also optimized for speed and distance on swings.
The driver gives adjustable settings a miss and comes in three loft angles, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees.
What we like
- One of the best clubs in our golf driver reviews on long distance shots.
- Accurate enough to get the ball to land on the fairway almost every time.
- Lightweight and easy to swing, clean impact sound and good feedback.
- The metallic blue crown look really good, the red alignment aid also does its job well.
What we dislike
- No adjustable features, but that is not really required feature for the best golf drivers for beginners.
- Some golfers find the club too lightweight for their tastes.
All the clubs in our golf driver reviews list rank very high on attributes like forgiveness, accuracy and distance on shots.
But if you want to play it safe and get a club that you can tweak the settings of, the Wilson D200 may be the best option for you. But if you don’t care too much for adjustable lofts and know the exact loft angle your swing needs, the Adams Blue is the best driver for a high handicapper in the set.
If you are looking to buy the best irons for high handicappers, or the best fairway woods for high handicappers, feel free to check out the other club reviews on our site.