How to choose the right driver
So, you’re in the market for a new driver.
As the most expensive club you’ll have in your golf bag – not to mention the most frequently used off the tee on a par-four or par-five – it makes sense to find one that’s right for you.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all with golf drivers. They come in a choice of clubhead sizes, with different centre of gravity positions and adjustable lofts, and are available at various price points.
To help you find your perfect fit, here the experts at Clarkes’ Golf Centre outline the factors you should be considering to make the process of selecting the best driver a little easier.
8 things to consider when choosing your next driver
1. Clubhead size
One of the most important factors to consider is the size of the driver’s head.
Clubheads are typically measured in cubic centimetres (cc), and the maximum size allowed by the sports’ governing bodies is 460cc.
When shopping for drivers, you’ll find that all the latest ones sit between 440cc and 460cc – with the smaller clubheads being suited more towards players who prefer to shape the ball in the air, whilst the larger ones are more forgiving.
Our best advice is to go with the one that is most appealing to you at address. Are you pretty good at hitting the centre of the clubface, or do you need a little extra forgiveness?
Most drivers for sale these days are made of titanium, carbon composites, or a combination of the two. The reason why is because these materials are strong, durable and light.
Manufacturers can design 460cc drivers without increasing the weight. This not only allows golfers to swing their clubs faster, hitting the ball further, but it also enables them to do so accurately, thanks to there being a larger sweet spot.
Something else to consider when choosing a driver is the finish of the crown. For example, some are shiny whilst others are matte. The best option for you comes down to personal preference – but a matte finish will reduce the sun’s glare when playing in the summer.
3. Centre of gravity (CG)
Another term that gets banded about in the golfing world is centre of gravity (or CG for short), and where it’s positioned can influence launch, spin, feel, sound and forgiveness.
With that said, most golfers benefit from a driver with a low centre of gravity (closer to the sole and back of the crown), launching the ball higher with less spin.
When the CG is positioned towards the top of the clubhead, the ball launches lower and spins more.
Drivers with the CG forward (near the clubface) tend to launch lower and spin less, making them slightly less forgiving, whereas those with CG at the back will increase launch and spin, making the driver more sympathetic.
The best way to find out which CG location works best for you is to get custom-fitted. At least then you can try them all out before you commit to purchasing a new driver.
4. Moment of Inertia (MOI)
This is a term you’ll inevitably come across when searching for golf drivers.
MOI refers to a club’s forgiveness. It basically shows how much resistance a clubhead has to twisting at the point of impact – with a higher MOI offering the most resistance and forgiveness.
When you strike the ball outside the centre of the face using a driver with a high MOI, it’s less likely to twist and rotate, reducing the effect of a mishit.
However, PGA Tour players generally prefer clubs with a bit less MOI, purely because the clubface’s lack of ability to twist makes it difficult for them to hit draws and fades.
So, before you add a driver to your basket, bear in mind how much forgiveness you want and whether you’d benefit from one with a high or low MOI.
5. Loft and lie
Though it depends on the brand, each model is usually available between 8 and 13 degrees.
As a general rule of thumb, lower lofted clubs (i.e. 8 degrees) have a lower trajectory, which is great for those who generate plenty of clubhead speed.
Higher lofted clubs (i.e. 13 degrees) are geared more towards those with slower swing speeds or who struggle to get the ball airborne.
For those who have neither fast nor slow swing speeds, it’s worth looking out for a driver with a loft of 10.5 degrees.
You’ll also discover an assortment of adjustable drivers on the market today. This means you can play around with your loft until you find the perfect angle.
You must be careful when adjusting the loft though, as this could also change the lie angle (the angle of the shaft to the ground at address), which will affect your ball flight.
Many modern drivers use weights in the clubhead to change the club’s MOI and CG.
One of the biggest benefits of positioning more weight in the heel is that it helps to create a draw bias. Placing the weight in the toe, on the other hand, will produce a fade bias.
If you’re looking to achieve a higher ball flight, keep an eye out for drivers with weight in the back portion of the clubhead as this will allow you to launch the ball further.
7. Shaft (flex and length)
The legal limit for the length of a driver is 48 inches. Most are 45 or 46 inches, striking the perfect balance of distance and control.
Longer drivers increase speed and help players hit the ball further, but the extra length often sacrifices control and accuracy.
Lighter, less stiff shafts are great for producing a higher right-to-left biased ball flight, whilst heavier, stiff shafts launch the ball lower and tend to shape the ball more to the right.
Take your time to choose a driver with the right shaft length and flex. This will help you to hit the ball further, straighter, and more consistently.
8. Sound and feel at impact
Whilst all of the above are important traits to factor into your decision, you also want to closely consider the sound at impact.
The chances are you’ll splurge several hundreds of pounds on a driver. If it doesn’t sound and feel right at impact, then you’re going to be pretty disappointed at the end of the day.
The good news is, most of the major golf club manufacturers have dramatically improved their acoustics over the years, providing drivers that deliver a bright, powerful sound profile.
The trick is to shop around. Find yourself a driver that works for you off the tee and gives you a satisfying feeling at impact. The sound alone should leave you wanting to keep coming back for more.
Key things to remember when buying a driver:
- Make sure you pick a driver with the right amount of loft.
- Opt for a driver that provides the trajectory that suits your golf game best (i.e. if you hit the ball low off the tee, then find a driver with a high trajectory rating).
- Ideally, your driver should have a forgiveness rating to match up with the quality of your game. So, if you often miss the proverbial ‘sweet spot’ on tee shots, consider a driver that provides maximum forgiveness.
- Choose a driver with the appropriate shaft length that allows you to consistently hit the ball on the centre of the clubhead.
If you require any further assistance in choosing the right driver for your game, you’re welcome to contact the team at Clarkes’ Golf Centre at any time.
Alternatively, come and visit us in-store at our shop in Rainford, St Helens. Here you’ll be able to explore the extensive range of golf clubs, clothing, and accessories on offer, and discuss your requirements with our experts.
Our custom fitting bay is also equipped with the latest technology, meaning we can advise you on the most suitable equipment for your game – regardless of whether you’re a beginner, bogey golfer, or a scratch golfer.