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Most golfers would likely point to the so-called “scoring” clubs as the most important ones in the bag. That would be those clubs hit close to and on the green. But your wedges and putter won’t do any good until you get close to the green.
And no club in the bag will help you get closer to the green more quickly than the driver.
Consider the top three ranked professional golfers in the world. Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson are all ranked in the top 10 in driving distance among their peers. None of them are ranked in the top 100 in accuracy.
Driving the ball far is a great way to lower your score. And while that is true for both the top professionals and amateurs, accuracy is likely more important for beginning golfers who might struggle hitting the ball from the rough.
Therefore, buying the correct driver is extremely important for the beginner, rather than buying the most expensive clubs.
Here then are some things to consider when purchasing a driver for the beginning golfer.
Club-head size for drivers is measured in cubic centimeters (cc). The rules of golf allow for a maximum club-head size of 460cc. You can easily find drivers with heads exceeding that size. While you can play with those drivers outside of tournaments, it is not advisable. It is ethically questionable and will leave you in a bind should you ever decide to enter a tournament.
Our reviews below will only include drivers at a maximum of 460cc.
That said, beginning golfers will almost certainly benefit from the largest club-head size possible. The reason for that is two-fold.
The first is technical and is because of something called the “moment of inertia.” You need not learn any physics in order to choose the right driver. Just understand that the larger the club, the more forgiving it will be on shot hit off-center. Since beginners often hit off-center drivers, larger club-head drivers are better.
The second reason is psychological. When a golfer looks down at his driver sitting behind the ball, the large club head in relation to the ball will give him more confidence.
The loft of a golf club is simply the angle of the club face compared to the ground. For the driver, a wide range is available, although between 7 and 14 degrees is common.
How do you determine which loft is best for you? The choice basically comes down to your swing speed. Of course, that begs the question of how you determine your speed swing. Many pro shops and golf equipment stores have equipment that can measure your swing speed.
Barring that, you can go with the less reliable method of estimating your speed based on a certain distance. If you hit a seven iron for a 150-yard shot, you likely have an average swing speed. In that case, you should pick a driver with a loft of about 0.5 degrees.
If you need a longer club to reach that 150-yard mark, a higher lofted driver would be best, perhaps as much as 14 degrees or more. Few beginners will hit a lesser club than a 7-iron for 150 yards. If you do, you might choose a driver with 8 or 9 degrees of loft. Again, that is rare for beginners.
The shaft of a club connects the head to the grip. Shafts will commonly be made with either graphite or steel. Graphite is more common for drivers. The shaft of a club helps you generate the centrifugal force to generate club-head speed.
Every club experiences some bending during the stress of a swing.
Shafts come in six different categories:
- X (extra stiff)
- S (stiff)
- F (firm)
- R (regular)
- A (senior or amateur)
- L (ladies)
Much like the club head, your swing speed will determine which shaft is best for you.
Extra stiff shafts are generally reserved for professional or scratch golfers. Stiff shafts should be the domain of low handicappers.
Few beginners will need anything above an R shaft.
What is the difference? A higher swing speed needs a stiffer shaft to avoid the club head from lagging behind. The less the bend the greater control for the golfer. Beginners need to sacrifice that control because the slower swing speed creates less bending of the shaft. This will help give the beginner greater distance.
The grip of any golf club, including the driver, is made to lessen any chance of your hands slipping while swinging the club. The grip is an often overlooked part of your driver-buying decision. It should not be, as the grip is the only part of the club you come in contact with.
Grips come in a wide variety of choices in material, softness, and thickness. Grips are usually made with rubber but can also contain cords that give you more traction. Cords can also be hard on your hands, which is why many golfers choose not to include them.
The size of the grip should fit your hands. This, along with the material, is a personal decision. Choose the size you feel most comfortable with.
Professionals often prefer firmer grips, as they are better suited to their higher swing speeds. For almost all beginners, softer grips are better.
Price can also be a personal choice. Spending $500 for a driver might seem extravagant for some people. Others might not blink at that price.
Two factors seem worth mentioning. One is value. Try to get the most driver for the lowest price.
The other factor is how serious you are approaching the game. If you are unsure if you will continue to play golf at least semi-regularly, you may not want to make a large investment. However, if you feel like you want to make it to at least the intermediate level of golf, then choose a club that will last you all the way from beginner to average golfer. That may mean a larger price tag.
There are other considerations for choosing the right driver that we have not discussed. The length of the club is the main one to consider.
A longer club will generate greater swing speed. This is a matter of physics. A longer club means the head will have farther to travel to cover the same distance. Similarly, a shorter club will travel slower. Don’t be seduced into thinking a longer club is better because of the added distance you are sure to get. Long clubs are notoriously difficult to control.
The average length of a golf driver has lengthened in recent years, from 43.5 inches to 45 inches.
The color of the clubface can vary quite a bit. This does not change the performance but it might affect your comfort level. A brightly colored driver can be distracting.
With all that to consider, here are a variety of choices for drivers for beginner golfers.
TaylorMade M2 460cc
Among the many great features of this club is the adjustable loft. That means this club could last you quite a long time as you mature as a golfer. It has the large head that beginning golfers seek, with a carbon composite construction yielding ultra-light performance.
This is a quality driver that is great for beginners and average golfers alike.
Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic
Callaway has been making its Big Bertha line of drivers since 1991. Its exuberance in superlatives should not distract from the quality of this club. Versatility is the strong suit of this driver. It can be adjusted both in loft and in its ability to correct for slices.
It also has five different choices in shafts. You can turn this driver into almost any configuration you can think of.
Cobra King F8
If there is a driver that can match Callaway’s Epic line for versatility, this is the one. You can adjust this club for both loft and forgiveness, making it a great choice for a big chunk of your golf experience.
TaylorMade RBZ Black
This driver offers a sleek look to go with high quality construction. Beginners and mid-handicappers alike will appreciate the adjustable loft.
TaylorMade’s speed pocket gives good distance with low spin rates.
Cleveland Launcher HB
This driver has great feel with its lightweight design. It gives you many of the same qualities of more expensive drivers.
The cupped face helps reduce slices and hooks.
This is a ridiculously affordable option that is among the best sellers on Amazon in its class. If you are like many high-handicappers that slice the ball regularly, this could be the club for you.
King Par TEC Plus 460cc Ti Matrix
Like the PGX Offset, this is an ultra-affordable driver for those would-be golfers who are just getting their feet wet in the game. There are no frills here, just a large club head with a strong “spring effect,” the amount of energy imparted from the club to the ball.
As you might expect, Amazon reviews are mixed.
Cobra Fly Z XL
This is another fine entry for the beginning golfer from Cobra. The company has two fancy names for technology that is good for golfers of lesser ability.
The first is what they call Speed Channel Face. That is a trench surrounding the perimeter of the club face. Cobra says this will help increase swing speed.
The second is Zone Weighting Technology. This club has had weight moved from the crown to lower and further back on the head. This design helps give the club a lower center of gravity.
Cleveland Golf Classic XL
Another entry from Cleveland, and one that promises the deepest face of any driver on the market. That deep face is designed to give a large effective hitting area and engender confidence for the player. This is a very forgiving driver, essential to the beginner.
Cleveland has also removed weight from the grip and shaft to help generate greater swing speed.
As you can see, beginning golfers have a wide variety of drivers to choose from. So what is the best combination of price and effectiveness? Either the Callaway Big Bertha Epic or the Cobra King F8 are great choices.
However, it should be noted that this is a personal choice, dictated in part by how dedicated to the game you are. As with everything, you often get what you pay for, so be careful with the ultra-cheap drivers.