If you’ve found this article, I’m assuming you are looking for the complete package. You want that big stick in your bag to fly straight and far, even when you make a bad swing. I hear you, who doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it?
When looking for the best driver for distance and forgiveness, we have to look past the marketing which the brands put in front of us. If you believe them, every club they have ever made drops bombs and reduces misses but as we all know, that’s rarely the case. So are these holy grail drivers out there? I think they are but we have to manage our expectations and look at things a little differently.
Let’s take a look at some clubs on the market and see if we can find the best driver for distance and forgiveness to suit your game.
Understanding the jargon
Before you choose a new driver, it’s a good idea to learn what some of the terms the manufacturers use to describe the potential performance gains their clubs can provide.
Here’s a quick run down of the top driver jargon terms:
Moment of Inertia. The higher the MOI of a club, the more forgiving it is. Due to weighting inside the club head.
Roll and bulge
Roll is the curvature of the face from the crown of the club to the sole. Bulge is the curvature of the club face from the heel to the toe. Both features have a huge influence on ball flight, due to the science behind gear effect.
Shape and other characteristics of the head which affect how it interacts with the air when you swing the club. The less drag, the higher the club head speed and further your ball will fly.
Most modern clubs allow the player/fitter to adjust the loft/lie of the club head and sometimes the club's weighting. Finding the perfect combination of loft, lie and weight configuration can lead to further drives.
The area of the face which creates the optimum launch and spin conditions when the ball is hit.
The angle at which the ball is launched into the air after being struck. This is an important number to get dialled in as there is no “right” launch angle, it depends on your swing.
Thinner faces generate more ball speed and are described as “hot”. The higher the ball speed the further the drive.
Centre of Gravity. Moving the weight of the club back and low in the head will result in a low Centre of Gravity. This is helpful when trying to get the ball in the air. A ball which is in the air longer tends to fly further.
Best Driver For Distance and Forgiveness
- Ping G425 MAX Driver (best overall for distance and forgiveness)
- Cleveland Golf Launcher Turbo Driver (best for the casual player)
- Tour Edge Exotics C721 Driver (best for straight drives)
- Cobra FMax 20 Offset Driver (best for slower swing speed)
- XXIO X Driver (best for high handicappers)
- Ping G410 Plus Driver (best value option)
- TaylorMade M5 Driver (best for better players)
Quality update to the popular PING G line of drivers
I’m a PING driver convert. These clubs are so easy to hit and when combined with the right shaft for your game, they are a SERIOUS weapon to have in your bag.
The PING G425 MAX is the latest version of the G series driver and is a really good update to the G410. The club feels super stable throughout the swing and at impact. Due to the low CG and high MoI technology. Down at address, the G425 MAX has a rounded profile which looks very confidence inspiring. There is a weight in the back which allows you to optimise for a draw or fade depending on your preference.
Most importantly, when you hit this thing it stays seriously HIT. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I don’t feel like I can hit a bad shot with a PING driver. They also now include Arrcos tracking in the grip as standard which is super cool. Definitely worth a try.
Super simple bomb machine for all players
Made famous by golf personality Mark Finchshiels, the Cleveland Launcher Turbo Driver is a low budget bomb producing club which will suit golfers of all levels.
Cleveland are normally recognised for their wedges (which are really good) but not necessarily their woods or drivers. I think that people are missing a trick by writing Cleveland off as they produce really solid clubs which can easily keep up with some of the offerings from the premium OEMs.
There are four key pieces of technology used in the Launcher HB Turbo, creating a driver which Cleveland says launches easily, adds more speed and results in higher and straighter drives. There’s a Turbocharged Cup Face, HiBore Crown, Ultralight hosel and Deep weighting. To translate this into words we all understand, the face is hot, the top of the club is aerodynamic, the hosel is light because it’s not adjustable and the CoG of the club is low because the weights are low. Does that make sense?
Down at the ball this club looks A LOT like a PING driver. This isn’t a bad thing at all and, seeing as though Cleveland is a fraction of the price, will be a winning factor in many choices. The ball flies off the face and the head felt really stable through impact, even on off centre strikes. I think everyone should give one of these a try to see if they can help your driving game.
Extreme forgiveness from a brand made famous by the Champions Tour
Tour Edge has a lineup of players who exclusively play on the Champions Tour. Now, don’t let this lead you to think that their clubs are made for “seniors” because they suit every type of golfer.
The Tour Edge Exotics C721 Driver is designed to be extremely forgiving. When you first see it, with its elongated head profile, it’s screaming “High MOI”. When you hit the club, it doesn’t disappoint. Good hits are rewarded with straight shots with a lower flight. Bad swings which find the club face stay on the planet which is all we are after in reality!
I found it quite easy to control the spin with this club, with the ball having a pretty consistent shape and flight. I was using the 10.5 degree head with a stiff Project X shaft which felt like the right combination of launch and spin.
The club sounds awesome, producing a more classic sounding metal sound rather than the common carbon fibre thud you hear today. Definitely a contender and worth trying out if you haven’t seen any Tour Exotics gear in action.
Super light driver which is ideal for slower swingers
Ok - this club is VERY light. Like, so light you barely realise that you’re holding it in your hands. While this isn’t suited to my swing, it is PERFECT for seniors or players with slower swing speeds.
The lightweight design, combined with the super offset hosel make this Cobra FMax 20 Offset Driver a slice eliminating machine. Cobra are famous for producing draw biased clubs and this club doesn’t look as off putting as other clubs of this type.
If you are really struggling with a drastic left to right shot shape and want a club which looks the part, this is the one for you.
Excellent option for high handicappers or players with moderate speed
The XXIO X Driver is a premium option. But do you get enough of a performance increase to justify the price tag? Here in Asia, XXIO is a more widely recognised brand (it’s part of the Dunlop group who make Srixon and Cleveland) and I know a lot of guys who have XXIO clubs in their bags. These guys will NEVER let their clubs go and think that speaks volumes.
The XXIO X Driver looks awesome, the matte blue sparkle finish turns heads, and the sound off the face melts faces. Something I’ve found with XXIO clubs is that they always feel very forgiving. There’s little, if any jarring on off centre strikes making every shot feel like you’ve hit it out of the middle. This is a great feature for higher handicappers who are looking to build confidence. It might feel a bit “dead” to players who are looking for more feedback.
The club is the longest out there but it’s very good in terms of shot dispersion, producing a consistent and reliable ball flight. If you have a bit of cash to splash, or want to invest in a club which will be in your bag for years, XXIO could be your new favourite brand.
An older model which set the bar for all drivers
PING stepped into the wild world of adjustable drivers with the G410, offering players more options to fine tune their game. The already solid hosel was upgraded and a weight track added to the rear of the club head.
The matte black head and signature Turbulators are still in place, but at 445cc the head was slightly more compact than previous models. The sound off the face is medium in volume, a definite reduction on the usual PING noise associated with the brand.
I found this club to be probably the most forgiving I’ve ever tried. I just couldn’t hit a REALLY bad shot with it. It’s not as long as my G400, but that’s probably because the G410 spins a little more for me which will make it far more forgiving for many players.
If you want to pick up a bargain, check out the G410 MAX now!
Infinitely tuneable club head perfect for gear heads
I gamed the M5 for a season and had a love-hate relationship with it. When we got on, I was rewarded with laser straight drives which pushed my average distance to another level. When we fell out, I struggled to keep the ball on the planet.
Now, I was using the tour version with a shaft that was WAY too stiff. I have since wound my ego in and I’m playing a club which is better suited to me, not my mental projection.
The M5 is a great club. It looks sweet behind the ball and makes a sound like a cannon when you hit it. Twist face and speed resin technology mean you’re getting as much distance and accuracy out of the head as legally possible, and the weights allow you to find your optimum face angle and spin rates.
As it is now an older model, the TaylorMade M5 can be picked up for a very good price so if you’re a better player thinking of an upgrade, hit the link here to get a bargain.