- One of the easiest ways to improve your golf game is to upgrade the kind of driver you use, even if you're not used to using one.
- Modern drivers offer plenty of innovation geared toward straightening slices and draws, getting the most out of direct (and indirect) strikes, and allowing you to hone your long game.
- Our top pick, the Ping G400 Max, uses a smart design that keeps off-center ball strikes closer to the target without robbing you of distance, making your golf experience (and learning curve) more fun in the process.
The driver provides the most distance of any golf club in the bag or, perhaps more accurately, potential distance. Between shanked drives that dribble along the ground or careen wildly off the fairway, some golfers choose to use their drivers sparingly, despite its inherent potential.
If you can't control your driver, hitting the ball off the tee is often a major source of frustration. No one wants to hear jeers from their friends when they instead opt for a hybrid club or a long iron, sacrificing distance for accuracy.
Fortunately, golf club manufacturers placed plenty of emphasis on adding new technologies to the driver, attempting to help golfers of all skill levels achieve more success off the tee. The driver is designed to give you the most distance of any club in your bag, as it has the longest shaft and the smallest angle of loft on the clubface.
The evolution of modern drivers
Today's drivers don't look much like the small-sized, wooden head drivers from many decades ago that were commonly called 1-woods. The minimal loft of the driver's clubface and the long length of the club shaft are about the only similarities between older drivers and today's models.
Of late, driver manufacturers worked to minimize the effect of mis-hits. A right-handed golfer who strikes the ball with a slightly open clubface is likely to slice the shot, sending it far to the right of the target, for example. Off-center mis-hits also rob you of distance. With extra attention paid toward reducing the impact of errors, there now exists a wider range of available drivers fit for a variety of play styles (and skill levels).
To help you find the one that's right for your golfing style, we rounded up the best drivers with the latest technology at a variety of price points. The following picks are a who's who in the industry, featuring drivers from brands like Ping, Wilson, and Callaway, each designed to benefit a range of golf styles.
At the end of this guide, we've also included some tips on how to shop for a golf driver, including the features to keep in mind and how certain designs may affect certain golfers.
Here are the best golf drivers:
- Best golf driver overall: Ping G400 Max
- Best golf driver for fixing a slice: Callaway Rogue Draw
- Best adjustable golf driver: Wilson C300
- Best golf driver for swing forgiveness: Cobra King F8
- Best budget golf driver: TaylorMade RBZ Black
Updated on 8/24/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on how to shop for a driver and what to look for, checked the availability of each recommended driver, and updated the prices and links where necessary.
Best driver overall
The Ping G400 Max Driver has a large sweet spot that keeps your off-center strikes more on line, allowing you to hit more fairways.
Pros: Delivers the length you want from the driver with a more forgiving face for mishits, includes all of the latest technological updates, comes from a well-respected driver manufacturer
Cons: Drivers are expensive and this is no exception, not hugely different from last Ping driver model
When you're looking for the latest technology in a golf driver, you're usually looking for a Ping driver. Ping's been at the forefront of recent upgrades to drivers, leading the change from a forward center of gravity to a rear center of gravity.
Ping's new designs have been popular enough that many other driver companies followed its engineering changes. Ping's latest driver, the G400 Max, makes use of the rear center of gravity design with just enough engineering tweaks to make this driver a tremendous performer. The sharp-looking Ping G400 delivers amazing performance for many different levels of golfers.
The company designed the G400 Max to give you more forgiveness in your ball strikes than its previous G400, which is important for players of any experience level. A slightly smaller head and smaller size allow for faster clubhead speed, too.
At the top of the Ping G400 Max's clubface are small raised areas that help to reduce air friction and give you a little more club speed. Even an improvement as small as this can deliver enough of a bump in club speed to give you several more yards on your drive.
The G400 isn't cheap, but if you're unhappy with your current driver — and honestly, who isn't most of the time? — the Ping G400 Max is an amazing piece of golf technology.$399.00 from Dick's Sporting Goods $399.99 from Worldwide Golf Shops $399.99 from Golf Galaxy
Best driver for fixing a slice
The Callaway Rogue Draw driver is very effective at reducing the penalty from a slice.
Pros: Uses extra weight in the heel to encourage a ball strike that's more square, larger sweet spot on the club face to reduce penalty from mis-hits, looks just like a non-draw-biased driver
Cons: Extremely expensive, won't fix severe slice problems as well as changing your swing
If you've never sliced a golf shot, well, you've probably never played golf — few things are as frustrating (and common) in the game for amateurs. Sure, you hate leaving that 4-footer for birdie short, but at least you made two or three great shots to put yourself in that position.
The sliced drive almost always means you're in huge trouble off the tee, and you're in for a long, frustrating hole. Callaway's Rogue Draw driver is good at minimizing the negative effects of a slice.
A slice occurs when the face of the driver doesn't strike the ball squarely. Instead, the heel of the club face is ahead of the toe, leaving the club "open" and causing the ball to leave the driver's face with a side spin. For a right-handed golfer, this spin causes the ball to travel violently from left to right as it goes down the fairway, almost certainly leaving you in the rough, trees, or water hazard.
Callaway increased the moment of inertia (MOI) across a wider section of this driver's face, giving it a more forgiving ball strike area. If you strike the ball off-center with the Rogue Draw, you won't be penalized as severely as you would be with a less forgiving club face.
The Rogue Draw contains a greater amount of weight in the heel of the club versus the toe, which helps slow down the heel, allowing you to square the ball better.
There is also a women's version of the Callaway Rogue Draw driver available for $400.$399.00 from Amazon
Best adjustable driver
For golfers who struggle to repeat their swing from round to round, having an adjustable driver like the Wilson Staff C300 helps dial in the proper club head path based on the way they're playing.
Pros: Highly adjustable driver for changing the club face's loft and weight positioning, red matte finish on the top of the driver reduces glare, slow spin rate delivers forgiveness for off-center ball strikes
Cons: High price point, high handicap players who have slow swing speeds won't generate extra distance
Having an adjustable driver may seem odd to golf purists but clubs that allow you to make slight adjustments while you're on the course are becoming more popular. One of the most interesting adjustable drivers is the Wilson Staff C300 driver.
To start, you can adjust the loft and face angle of the C300 driver by using a twistable cylinder at the hosel of the club (just above the club head). You can change the loft in six different positions between minus-1 and plus-2 degrees with this cylinder.
Additionally, the C300 gives you adjustable weights in the club head. By changing the position of these weights, you can give this driver a draw bias, a fade bias, or a neutral bias for the ball flight. A draw bias causes the ball to spin slightly to the left, a fade bias spins the ball to the right, and the neutral bias reduces side spin.
You won't be able to fix significant swing problems by adjusting the position of the weights in the club head, but you will receive slightly different ball paths with changes in the location of these weights.
Another interesting design feature is what the manufacturer calls Power Holes, which are filled with urethane and provide a greater flex for the club face at impact, thus increasing the size of the sweet spot. Because of the low spin rate this club delivers off the face, golfers will notice a higher level of forgiveness on any off-center ball strikes
The C300 driver has a great looking shape and a rich red color on the top of the club. The C300's matte finish reduces sun glare, too.$325.89 from Amazon
Best driver for swing forgiveness
A new design on the face of the Cobra King F8 driver helps mid and high handicap players keep the ball in the fairway more often and forgive mis-hits better than other models.
Pros: Thinner and lighter clubface helps the golfer generate more club speed, slight curve to the face of the club delivers more forgiveness for mis-hits, emphasizes accuracy over distance improvements
Cons: High price point, pattern on the milled clubface may be distracting for some golfers
A redesigned clubface versus previous versions of Cobra King drivers gives the F8 a more forgiving contact point, which helps mid and high handicap golfers keep their drives in the fairway more often.
Cobra's designers have spent a lot of time designing the clubface on the F8, creating a titanium face that's 10% lighter than in past versions. This gives less experienced golfers the ability to generate more swing speed.
The precise milling and design of the titanium face insert also deliver a slight curvature, which ensures the Cobra driver maintains better exit speed on mis-hits, as well as a better launch trajectory. Mid-to-high handicap golfers benefit from this by gaining more distance on mis-hits.
And the milling pattern on the face of the Cobra King F8 looks great, too, which makes this driver enjoyable to carry in the bag and use.
You can also get a women's version of the Cobra King F8 driver for $200.$239.99 from Amazon
Best budget driver
If you're looking to save a few bucks, it's best to go for a more traditional driver like TaylorMade's RBZ Black.
Pros: Calloway craftsmanship, price
Cons: Slightly heavier than pricier clubs (but still titanium), no fancy bells or whistles (but who needs those anyhow?)
New-fangled clubs have a lot of components. Built cheaply, they're just more things to have fall apart, so if you're on a budget, we recommend you go with something simple by a brand that's been around for a while.
If you're working on transitioning from a three-wood or three-iron but not quite ready to drop serious scratch on a driver, you could do far worse — and spend far more — than TaylorMade's RBZ Black driver.
The RBZ might not have all the finishings of TaylorMade's pricier clubs, but it does have the stock shaft and the same craftsmanship behind it. This club's 460cc clubhead is more than sufficient for tackling even the most doggedly doglegged par five you'll come across.
The TaylorMade RBZ Black is less than half the price of its other drivers, yet still features a simplistic design and ultra-lightweight titanium head.
Available with all the basic orientations, flex levels, and configurations, this is a simple but sleek stick worth having, either for backup or a first driver.$199.99 from Amazon
How to shop for a golf driver
Before you buy, there are a few key features you want to consider when shopping. The most important of which depends on how you play. Here's what to look for in a driver and how your game might influence its impact:
Club head size: Manufacturers measure the size of the driver in the volume of the club head. Golf's rules limit a club head to 460 cubic centimeters (cc). These clubs give golfers a large sweet spot, minimizing the effect of mis-hits and providing maximum distance.
Club head weight: Many modern drivers range between 265 and 310 grams in weight of the club head. Using a lighter driver allows you to generate a higher club head speed, which results in better distance. Stronger players can use a heavier driver without losing club head speed, generating even more distance.
Shaft length: The maximum length of a driver allowed in golf's rules is 48 inches. However, most companies stick with a shaft length between 43 and 46 inches. Shorter shafts are a bit easier to control, but you do have to sacrifice some distance versus a longer shaft.
Club loft: The loft of the driver is the measurement of the angle of the club face when it's sitting on the ground. A driver with a loft of fewer than 10 degrees results in lower shots, while greater than 10 degrees of loft gives you a higher arcing shot. Most drivers range from 8 to 12 degrees in loft. Experienced players are able to better control low loft drivers, while inexperienced players need a higher loft to have more success at the expense of distance.
Center of gravity: The center of gravity in the driver is the point at which the driver's weight is balanced. Drivers with a center of gravity toward the back of the club will generate a little more loft with a higher backspin rate, which merges the best benefits of distance and accuracy for the average player.
Adjustability: Many new drivers allow you to adjust the loft and center of gravity of the club while you're on the course. You'll use a twistable collar near the club head to slightly adjust the loft angle of the club face. Some club heads have removable weight slugs that you can move to different positions in the club, changing the center of gravity.
Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.
You can purchase syndication rights to this story here.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.