Best Driver for Beginners & High Handicappers – Most Forgiving Drivers


Putt for Dough. Drive for Dough.


The biggest handicap drops I've seen in my group of 40 or so golf buds after they sorted out their short game, have come from introducing one club into the bag - a great driver. 

best driver for beginners and high handciappers

Brian on my channel, was having a torrid time and learned to hit his Cobra F-Max. He went for one lesson and it changed his whole world. I highly recommend getting a lesson or two from a good pro when you consider using a driver if it costs you more strokes than it helps you.

I am a firm believer that you can get into the mid teen handicap with nothing more than a fairway wood and hybrid, but if you do want to get some more distance off the tee, for some more "in with the crowd" feeling, make sure you can hit it well at least 7 out of 10 shots before bringing it to the course. 

But 'Drivers are a waste of time for high handicappers'

Of course you can get around the course and shoot brilliant scores using your irons and hybrids. The short game is equally important with good course management but getting into more advantageous positions off the tee will help you to get into better positions near the green.

Introducing the driver on wide open holes is a great way to break it out on the course with minimal frustration. Once you're confident with a good driver for high handicappers, you can start slashing that score down further.

Drivers have advanced so much in the last 20 years that big and straight bombs off the tee are accessible to everyone. But always remember, if you have trouble and the club costs you more strokes than it helps you, do not be afraid to put it back in the bag and use something else until you can figure out the problem!

They're easier to hit than ever but selecting the best driver for beginners and high handicappers can be confusing. I hope this guide helps you select the best, most forgiving driver possible. 

Ideal specifications for forgiveness and distance
  • 10.5° to 14° loft 
  • Regular flex shaft
  • 460cc head size
  • Adjustable loft preferred

The Best Drivers for Beginners and High Handicappers

I've included some budget options and second hand options so you don't have to spend top dollar on a club that works the same as the newest model. Drivers are limited in what they can do by the rules of golf. Most clubs in the last 4-5 years perform exactly like the newest models in the manufacturers range. 

  1. Cobra King F9 Speedback driver (best all round driver for any golfer)
  2. Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo driver (best for slower swings)
  3. Taylormade M4 Driver (best value for money)
  4. PING G400 driver (best for upgrading drivers)
  5. Wilson D7 Staff (best budget driver for high handicappers)

PING is the go-to name for so many golfers when it's time for a new driver. Their range of clubs never disappoints. You will almost never hear a golfer telling you the latest PING is crap. The simple fact is, PING drivers are brilliant. 

Forgiving High Launch

The Taylormade Aeroburner and the Ping G400 are probably the two most popular drivers I have seen in my golf groups.

PING have made this G400 launch high and with that, you get more carry than other drivers. I've hit it myself a few times to try out. There is no mistaking the ease of use with a PING.

When you center strike the G400, you can feel a deep THWACK - it feels like a cannon. There's no more cake tin "ping" sound. The ball comes off the face hot and while you may look up wondering where it's gone, the answer is, it's probably going straight and at a higher launch angle than you expect.

The head is a little smaller and features a matte finish with some spines on the crown. If your preferred look is shiny and plain on a very LARGE crown, this one isn't for you. You could look at the G400 SFT which is larger and assists in negating a right to left ball flight.

Pros
  • Adjustable loft to aid in forgiveness and launch angle
  • Large sweet spot launching higher for more carry and ball speed
  • Beautiful crown design including alignment aids with matte finish
  • Cannon-like sound
Cons
  • No adjustability for center of gravity like most modern models
  • Not for golfers who want to shape the ball flight

Cobra King F9 Speedback

Rickie Fowler has done a lot as Cobra's marketing tool on the Tour in the last few years to raise brand awareness. But Cobra's been in the game for ages. They've always been known to make drivers like the King F9 that maximize distance for the average Joe.

Straight shooting long bomber for higher handicappers

Once you find the right settings for you, it's difficult to miss fairways and distance is one of the longest in the Game Improvement driver category. Some golfers report that even on toe hits the is out-driving their previous drivers. 

A pleasant pop sound at impact rounds off the show-stopping looks of the driver. JMac from the channel uses one of these and has reduced his handicap from 19 down to about 15 at the moment with this bad boy in his arsenal.

Adjustability made simple

You can easily adjust the loft of the F9 at the hosel between 9 and 12 degrees at increments of 0.5°.

What's more is you can also change the ball flight by switching the heavier weight on the sole to the front and the back. Putting the weight in the back will produce a higher ball flight while putting it in the front will lower it.  

Pros
  • Funky colors that look impressive as you rip this out your bag
  • Weight system and hosel adjustment is simple to use
  • Previous model with the new SZ out, so the price will be good
  • Absolutely brilliant sound and trajectory similar to the PING
Cons
  • No adjustability for center of gravity like most modern models
  • Not for golfers who want to shape the ball flight

Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo

Best for slower swing speeds

Cleveland may seem like a name that is not heard much on tour, which it isn't. Jamie Sadlowski and Shane Lowry play Cleveland and Srixon (the same company) but the truth is that Cleveland make EXCELLENT clubs for the high handicapper. Their drivers are also in the game improvement category to help launch it higher and longer.

I used a Cleveland driver back in the day to get down to a scratch handicap. They've always made very simple-looking driver faces and very forgiving hitting areas. They fit high end shafts and you can pick one based on your swing speed to maximize your abilities. 

Looking down at the club, it looks like a PING with the matte finish and spines running across the crown. It's simple to swing and easy to hit but mainly for slower swingers. If you swing like a brute, there will be minimal benefit for you.

If you are not looking for an offset driver, just a reminder that this one has offset to help eliminate the slice.

The club comes in 9, 10 and 12 degree versions. Usually I would say anyone with a slower swing speed would do well to pick a higher lofted driver to get it launching longer with more carry. 

Pros
  • Easy to swing and look down at - looks similar to PING 
  • Clean design with matte finish and lines on the crown for easy alignment
  • Very friendly on the pocket
Cons
  • Loud 
  • Offset is not for everyone and this is not for HIGH swing speeds

Couple models older, and excellent value

The Taylormade M range has gone all the way up to M5 and M6 but with the release of the SIM, that means the M4 is a couple models old but offers brilliant value to the high handicapper and beginner. Technology is creeping along slowly and with the release schedule of Taylormade so regular, these types of deals should be snapped up.

Taylormade's M4 offers forgiveness and also superb looks. The twist-face technology ay be a laughing point among golfers, but have they ever hit one? That's the difference. Once you hit one of these M4's the laughing stops because the club works. 

The twist-face has been design to reduce action from toe and heel strikes, straightening up the ball flight and keeping the ball speed high for more distance. 

There is a weight in the back o the sole but it's not moveable. This is great for the high handicapper as we don't need to get too involved with adjusting weights if you're looking for a simple driver. With a Hammerhead" slot behind the face, the face can be more flexible yet be reinforced for a springier impact.


Pros
  • Easy alignment with the silver and black crown
  • Simple point and shoot no frilly weight adjustments
  • Twistface makes it one of the most forgiving drivers out there

Sleeper Pick

Wilson are making some top notch clubs lately and while not the premium brand that you'll see plastered everywhere, it's a solid choice for budget and introduction to drivers. 

The face is super simple which is always nice. The graphics they're putting on the faces of drivers nowadays detracts from the look at address. Wilson have also made a lightweight crown on this one that has that carbon look, similar to the Callaway Epic.

What makes a driver easy to hit is a nice tall face, enlarging the hitting area which means more forgiveness up and down the face. The Wilson has a lovely deep face. 

The driver is not adjustable and that's perfect for people who want a simple point-and-shoot driver. Adjustable weights and hosels can confuse people and leave you wondering if the setting you have it on is hurting or helping your game. That's not a thought you want to have while playing a round of golf.

9, 10.5 and 13 degree options are available and for a newer player, I would er on the side of higher loft while a high handicapper with some experience can decide if he needs more or less launch angle and select the loft accordingly.

Wilson's D7 is on the friendlier side price-wise and for the money, it's hard to argue better value in another option. The technology is good and the ball goes straight and long. The only thing to get over is whether you are okay jamming a Wilson and not a Big Name Brand.

Pros
  • Increases swing speed in slow to moderate swings
  • Weighting has been arranged according to lofts so higher loft has weight back and lower loft, adjusted to increae launch angle
  • Lightweight and stress-free swinging for more distance
Cons
  • It's a Wilson and some golf club snobs will look down at it

What makes the best driver for beginners and high handicappers?

FORGIVENESS

What makes a driver forgiving?

Forgiveness refers to how much or little a driver punishes a bad strike. If you miss the sweet spot of the club, there'll be a loss of distance and direction. Forgiving clubs lose much less distance and promote straighter ball flights on mishits than tour spec drivers.

Luckily, modern drivers aimed at the casual golfer are the most forgiving ever made. Mishits are very common for new golfers. Older drivers used to punish mishits with pain in your fingers, shots that went nowhere and lost balls. Mishits now go further and straighter than ever before making it easier to find the best driver for beginners and high handicaps.


Higher loft means more forgiveness

A driver has the lowest loft in the bag. Automatically that makes it harder to hit in the air and keep straight. An easy analogy is the difference between a 3 iron and a 9 iron. The 3 iron (24° loft) is difficult to control while a 9 iron (44° loft) is very easy to hit high and straight due to higher loft.

Pros use lower lofted drivers (7°-10°) and because their swings speeds are incredibly fast (110+mph), they are able to get the ball flying 280+ yards.

Amateurs generally swing at 80-90 mph and require much more loft to make up for the slower swing speed. The additional loft also creates more back-spin which prevents too much movement left or right in the air.

For maximum forgiveness for a beginner, we recommend loft of 10.5° to 14°


Softer shafts for slower swings

The shaft is the most important part of the driver. It will determine how the ball flies through the air and consistency of your shots. Shafts in the driver are all graphite now and steel is used only in irons and putters.

Shaft flexibilities are labelled in the following ways:

  • L for Ladies
  • A or M for Senior FLex
  • R for Regular
  • S for Stiff
  • X for Extra Stiff also called Tour

The faster your swing, the stiffer you need the shaft to be, so you can hit a consistent ball flight. A shaft that is too stiff for your swing produces a ball flight that goes low and to the right. A shaft too flexible for your swing causes an inconsistent shape on your shots

In general, beginners’ swing speeds are between 80 and 90mph so we recommend a Regular ( R ) flex shaft to help promote a straighter, consistent ball flight.


Big club heads for big forgiveness

Nowadays, all drivers’ heads are between 440 and 460 cubic centimeters (cc). This has increased the club face size and with it, the sweet spot. It is always advisable for newer golfers to go with a 460cc driver head because well, it’s the maximum!


Adjustability technology increases options

Adjustable & Fixed Weights

In the latest drivers there are weights attached to the sole of the club head that can be adjusted by sliding them around into different positions to alter the shape of the shot. This technology sounds good, but it can be highly confusing for a new player to grasp all the combinations and effects on center of gravity and MOI and all the other jargon terms used to market the clubs. We don’t recommend these expensive drivers for new golfers.

On the other hand there are weights that can be replaced or moved to fixed locations which are much easier to play.

Adjustable Lofts

For the purpose of this guide, which is to find you a simple-to-hit and forgiving driver, this is the technology that can help you most. Some of the recommendations here have this technology.

The shafts can be unscrewed from the head and rotated to increase or decrease the loft of the driver from 9° to 14°. This is very valuable tech for a new player to adjust the loft to their preferred number.


Difference Between the Pros and Us

Feature

High Handicappers

Pros

Swing speed

75-85 mph

105+ mph

Loft 

10.5° to 14°

7° to 10°

Shaft

Regular

Stiff/X Stiff

Forgiveness

High

Moderate

Club Head Size

460 cc

440-460 cc

It's tempting to think the clubs the pros play on TV are the ones we should be playing. There is a massive difference between pros and amateur golfers so there is no shame in playing different clubs to the guys who do it for a living.  Play what works for you. That could be a used club from the junk store or it could be the latest Titleist 8.5° monstrosity. 

Also remember, the clubs on television are "Tour Issue", that means they have been made available only to the Tour players. The driver you find in a retail shop is NOTHING like the one the pro's are playing. I only state this so you can make a selection based on performance and looks to YOU, not what brooks or Dustin or Tiger is hitting. 

Conclusion

I hope this guide was useful and if you decide to get a driver to take your game to the next level, always have it fit with a shaft by a professional club fitter to fully maximize its potential. It can literally change your life.

Leave a Comment:

2 comments
Piero Canova says

Dear Eric,
wonderful comments and a lot of wisdom in them.
On drivers let me add one variable that was worth for me. I am 59, I begun playing golf at 51 when I had to leave tennis for a very bad achilles tendon. I am playing now 17 and my best was 15 two years ago. My clubhead speed is between 78 and 83 Mph so I think I am perfectly in your window.
Last year I ranked second in a series of matches and I did win a voucher worth 350€ in a local shop so I did decide to trade in my XR16 driver and after long testing I decided to go for the BB Fusion driver set at 12,5°. I had two options for the shaft length: 45,5″ and 44,5″ being both standard for Callaway. To cut the story short, with the longer I had few shots longer but with the shorter I was hitting the ball 80% of the time in the center of the sweetspot. My suggestion is to look for the shorter shaft possible since it will cost some meters but will add a lot more of reliability.
Pls go on with your comments and suggestions; I am really enjoying them.
Regards
Piero

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Dan says

Hey just wanted to say I really enjoyed your article, both subject matter covered and writing style. It’s intimidating to try and get into this game, with all the different models of clubs, variety of options, etc. Last year I ended up going to a local shop that makes their own irons (highly recommended by buddies who golf a lot), and I asked them for whatever model is the “best for beginners” and “easiest to hit straight.”

I asked the same thing about drivers, except I wanted something on the cheaper end, as I hoped I would eventually get good enough and knowledgeable enough to justify buying a nicer driver a couple years down the road (happy to say I’m progressing there – hence reading this article and similar ones to see what to get next). They recommended the Adams Blue 10.5 degree (https://www.amazon.com/Adams-Golf-M2656309-Driver-Graphite/dp/B00UWZHOEI), which was on sale for $99. The club head looked nice and big (basically all I “knew” was that bigger club heads meant easier to hit), and the price was right, so I took it. Haven’t seen it mentioned much in the “best drivers for high handicappers” articles I’ve been reading though – curious to hear your thoughts on it if you have time.

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