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How to Choose a Golf Driver: Buyer’s Guide

three driver options to consider when learning how to choose a golf driver.

A driver is easily one of the most recognizable clubs in your bag. They are big, powerful, and provide you with the distance you need off the tee on par 4s and 5s, and getting a quality one will make it much easier to cut strokes off your game. They are also a great club for having fun at the range and impressing fellow golfers, which can be equally important in the right situation. While the best way to find the perfect driver is to get a professional fitting at a specialty golf shop, this may not be accessible for everybody. 

So, we’ve made a guide that covers the most important aspects of how to choose a golf driver:

Loft The angle of the face relative to the ground directly impacts the flight and trajectory of the golf ball.
Forgiveness The level of consistency on off-center strikes and launch assistance for golfers who struggle to get the ball off the ground.
Distance How far a ball goes is based on clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, and descent angle.
Workability The ability to purposefully shape your shots with slight adjustments to your swing.
Adjustability Features that allow you to adjust the loft and CG of your driver will make it easier to adapt your club to the hole you’re playing and the shot shape that it requires.

All of these will impact how well your driver suits you, and they can all be considered no matter what brand of club you prefer or what type of club you’re shopping for. Things like shaft flex and grip size can also drastically impact your experience with your driver, but these can be adjusted no matter which driver you get. So, we are only covering the things that are harder to change after purchasing a driver.

Loft

Loft is one of the most important features of your driver. Most drivers come in 9, 10.5, and sometimes 12-degree loft (they also often come with loft sleeves that allow you to adjust the loft one degree in both directions). Increasing or decreasing loft greatly impacts the ball flight you’ll get from the driver.

Lower loft makes for a more aggressive ball flight with more distance and potential for roll. This means that golfers that can routinely achieve high enough launch with their driver, and simply want more distance, will usually want a less lofted driver.

More loft increases the height of the ball’s flight, decreasing distance and increasing launch angle. This makes it easier to get higher launch for golfers who struggle to get the ball up in the air consistently. Golfers who need help getting the ball off the ground off the tee will benefit from a 10.5-to-12-degree driver.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness refers to how well the ball maintains height and proper flight path on off-center strikes with a given driver. Forgiveness is important even for experienced golfers to some degree, as a small mistake off the tee can lead to a pretty wide miss on such a long shot.

These are some of the ways that manufacturers can add forgiveness to their irons:

Low/Rear-Biased CG To increase MOI or the amount of playable surface area on the face, manufacturers will move weight lower and deeper in the clubhead increasing forgiveness on off-center strikes.
Larger Head Size Larger head size provides a wider striking surface, and more room in the head to place weight low and to the rear. Head size is limited by USGA regulations, the maximum being 460cc.
Face Construction Using better materials in and behind the face, strategic spacing, and weight placement can also improve forgiveness by allowing the face to flex more and provide consistent ball speeds across more of its surface area.

Drivers with these features will be easier to hit consistently, and newer golfers struggling with sliced or hooked drives consistently will likely want to prioritize these features. Many will want to prioritize forgiveness over top-end distance, as consistent and accurate drives will improve your game far more than inconsistent shots with a nice bomb every now and then. Golfers who hit a bit more consistently but still want clubs with some level of forgiveness can settle for clubs with only a couple of these features.

Distance

Distance is the most commonly sought-after aspect of a driver, and it is important to have one that can get you closer to the green. The following are some ways manufacturers can improve the distance of their drivers:

Forward CG Manufacturers can move the center of gravity closer to the face to reduce ball spin and create a lower, longer ball flight.
Weight Reduction Reducing the weight of a club will typically increase distance by increasing clubhead speed.
Face Construction Using better materials in the face and creating space between the face material and the internal weights can improve the energy transfer at impact and increase ball speed.

As mentioned above, newer golfers should generally prioritize forgiveness over distance in their driver since a clean drive with a forgiving driver will go farther than a slice with a distance-focused model. More experienced golfers will usually do the opposite. Since they are usually more consistent with their tee shots, they lean toward distance and workability over forgiveness to get the most out of every swing.

Workability

Workability is essential in a driver for more experienced golfers who don’t struggle much with consistent contact. The ability to shape their shots and increase or decrease ball spin depending on their distance from the pin and the shape of the hole can make or break their score.

The following are some ways manufacturers can improve the workability of their clubs:

Smaller Clubhead Size Manufacturers will usually shrink their more workable clubheads to make them easier to manipulate.
Weight Reduction Reducing the weight of a club will also make it easier to manipulate the clubhead and reduce the resistance to minor adjustments made to the swing path and angle of attack.
Face Construction Using different materials in the clubhead can reduce the flex in the face, ensuring that the effect of small adjustments isn’t dampened on impact.

Workability is not something that newer golfers need to prioritize. Workability increases the impact of minor adjustments to a golf swing, which will also increase the negative impacts of small mistakes, making it difficult to hit consistently if a golfer hasn’t had years of repetition in their swing.

It becomes more important for those with consistent tee shots. This is because it allows them to work their shot to accommodate different hole shapes, allowing them to use their driver on holes designed to make it more difficult.

Adjustability

Adjustability is the ability of the golfer to adjust the loft or CG of their club manually. This means you’re indirectly changing your shot’s shape by adjusting the driver itself. This can be equally useful for new and experienced golfers– but for different reasons.

The following are some ways manufacturers can improve the workability of their clubs:

Adjustable Loft/Lie Sleeves Adjustable hosel sleeves allow golfers to adjust the loft and lie of their driver to meet their needs.
Sliding/Interchangeable Weights Sliding and interchangeable weights allow golfers to manipulate the CG of their club to fit their shot shape.

Newer golfers can use these features to add some extra loft to improve their launch, adjust their club’s fade/draw bias to accommodate for a slight hook/slice, or just increase the rear weight in their club to improve forgiveness.

More experienced golfers can use them to make on-the-fly adjustments to meet their course-specific needs, like adding fade or draw bias to match the curve of a hole, or reducing loft to improve distance on a hole with a downward slope off the tee.

Learn How to Choose a Golf Driver at Worldwide Golf Shops

Worldwide Golf Shops provides next-level service to customers of all experience levels, with the best-trained staff in the industry. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide guidance to beginners and to share pro tips with even our most experienced clientele, making us one of the best places to learn how to choose a golf driver.

Check out our online store to see our industry-standard variety of drivers and all of the following:

At Worldwide Golf Shops, we take pride in offering brands that we guarantee will provide the highest level of value to our diverse range of golfers. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist you in finding the perfect golf gear. Find a store near you today!

Trevor Cigich

Trevor Cigich | Director of Retail Marketing |  Worldwide Golf Shops

I’ve been at Worldwide Golf Shops for 6 years, and I’ve been playing golf for 23 years. I have played a few mini tour events but now compete occasionally at the amateur level– currently a +2.1 handicap. I am a bit of a tinkerer when it comes to golf and golf clubs. I enjoy testing all aspects of different products, utilizing various fitting systems and learning about all the different club shafts, club lengths, golf balls, and putter styles. Not just for my game, but to help customers of all calibers.

For more content from me and our team, as well as our vast online store, go to www.worldwidegolfshops.com.