There have been huge technological advances in golf equipment over the past few decades and the evolution of the driver displays this visually. From the steel-shafted, small persimmon-headed 1-woods of the mid 1980s to the huge, titanium-headed, graphite-shafted drivers of the 2010s; the leap forward has been significant. But it’s not just been about aesthetics; there have also been substantial advances in terms of performance, increased distance and improved forgiveness.
Today there are a multitude of manufacturers offering a large number of drivers at differing prices, all claiming to be the very thing to improve your performance from the tee. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the woods for the trees. Below I give my opinion on the three leading premium drivers on the market today, as well as three of the best at a lower price point.
Three of the best premium offerings
Titleist has long been a purveyor of classic looking clubs and the 913D2 is no exception. This is a stylish, pear-shaped, 460cc, black-headed driver with smooth lines and aerodynamic design. The standout feature for me is the SureFitTour hosel. Not only does it allow you to choose from 16 different loft and lie combinations to fine tune the launch angle, trajectory and ball flight, but it also means the shaft is interchangeable. This club produces great distance and forgiveness but there’s also good feel off the face and I think it’s just that bit more workable than some max-sized drivers.
TaylorMade is renowned for introducing new technology on a regular basis and it can be difficult for consumers to keep up with these advances. For me, though, the SLDR is the best driver TaylorMade has produced in recent years. It’s actually a simpler offering than some of the models that have gone before. The adjustability is straightforward and easy to understand and it can be used to dramatic effect. It’s an attractive, black-headed club with weight distributed higher and more towards the front of the clubhead to produce less spin, faster ball speed and so more distance.
The Big Bertha name has been synonymous with huge leaps in driver technology since its first introduction back in 1991. This latest incarnation is the pinnacle of Callaway’s technical development.
The “Gravity Core” in this club allows the player to alter spin rates and optimise ball flight. Further adjustable weights can be changed to enhance a draw or neutral shot shape and the adjustable hosel allows loft to be increased by up to 2° and reduced by 1°. The clubface is larger and more robust than ever, thereby increasing ball speeds. It looks super-stylish and the performance matches the excellent aesthetics.
Three of the best in a lower price bracket
Benross has become renowned as a manufacturer producing no-nonsense, high quality equipment at an affordable price. This excellent 12-degree driver features a Split Dual Crown to help to lower the centre of gravity and produce a forgiving but powerful ball flight. This combined with the large head size should greatly aid the club golfer to find more fairways and achieve a bit more length.
The aim of MD Golf in general is to offer top-end technology without a top-end price tag. I think this driver succeeds in that ambition. The club provides loft adjustability of 1.5° in either direction so the 10.5° model can move to 9° or 12° depending on a player’s requirements, or as the conditions dictate. It comes with a superb Mitsubishi Rayon shaft as standard and it features the excellent Ashura multi-compound grip.
John Letters TR47 titanium
One of the great, traditional Scottish club makers, John Letters has been producing quality kit for almost 100 years. The TR47 marries those classic club-making skills with modern technologies.
The beta titanium face produces superb distance and control and the sleek design of the sole minimises resistance with the turf. I’m also a big fan of the UST Mamiya V2 graphite shaft that comes standard in this club.
Once you’ve got the driver to suit you, it will make sense to properly insure it. Golf Care’s policy options cover golf equipment against theft, loss and damage from £1,250 to £5,000.