How to choose the right golf driver for a beginner
Choosing a golf driver for a beginner is a bit different than choosing a driver for an experienced golfer. Generally, beginners will have slower swing speeds and less consistent technique. So, you’ll need a forgiving club that’s comfortable to use and can grow with you over time. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the specific factors that go into selecting the best driver for you.
The loft of a driver indicates how low or high the golf ball will fly off of your driver. A club with a lot of loft will send the ball in a high arc through the air, while a club with low loft will hit it on a lower trajectory across the fairway.
Loft is determined most by the angle of your driver’s clubface. Most drivers have a clubface angle of between 8 and 12 degrees, although more extreme drivers are available – for example, the Callaway Golf Rogue driver is available with a 13.5-degree loft angle. Most modern drivers, including all of the models we reviewed, are available in multiple clubface angle options.
Generally, beginner golfers will need more loft to get good ball placement down the fairway. That’s because they have slower swings, and need to send the ball higher to help it carry further. Most high handicappers will want to choose a driver with a loft of at least 10 degrees, and 12 or higher may be best when you’re just starting out.
Clubhead size doesn’t vary all that much between drivers. The smallest drivers are around 440 cubic centimeters (cc), while the largest drivers have a volume of around 460cc.
Most beginners will prefer a driver with a clubhead size towards the upper end of that range. That’s because a larger clubhead is more forgiving, as there is more surface area to connect with the golf ball. Smaller clubheads provide more control over your strike, so they are often preferred by more experienced golfers.
Shaft flex and length
The shaft is an extremely important component of your driver. Most drivers are available in any of several different flex ratings: regular, stiff, extra stiff, ladies, senior, and double-extra stiff. Ladies and senior flex ratings are less stiff than regular.
The flex of your shaft has a big impact on how your ball flies. A less stiff shaft will cause the golf ball to move to the left (for a right-handed golfer) as it flies through the air, and it will give the ball a higher trajectory. Stiffer shafts will launch the ball lower and will keep it flying straight or even allow it to curve slightly right.
It’s also important to think about the length of your shaft. This is affected not so much by your height, but rather your ability to control your driver. A shorter shaft, around 43 inches, will give you more control over your swing since the clubhead has less distance to travel.
A longer shaft, up to 46 or even 48 inches, is less easy to control. The advantage of a longer shaft for more experienced golfers is that it increases your swing speed, allowing your ball to travel further.
Material is one of the features that most distinguishes different drivers. Most modern drivers are made of titanium or a composite of different materials, since these are lightweight and extremely durable.
Titanium drivers can have bigger clubheads without taking on extra weight. That means you can swing faster with a broader clubface, so the sweet spot of your driver is bigger. Composite drivers typically use carbon or tungsten in addition to titanium. These drivers may have slightly different feels than an all-titanium driver. Ultimately, what material or combination of materials is best for you comes down to personal preference.
Forgiveness, also known as moment of inertia, refers to a club’s resistance to twisting when it impacts the ball. The more forgiving a club is, the less likely it is to twist when you strike the ball away from the clubface’s center. Essentially, a more forgiving club has a bigger sweet spot, so it’s ideal for beginners.
Many modern drivers are highly adjustable, allowing you to play with your club’s features until it’s dialed in just right. For example, the Callaway Mavrik Max driver comes with a set of interchangeable weights that you can use to modify how the club is weighted and how it strikes the ball. Other clubs allow you to change the angle of the clubface to get more or less loft, or to change how the club sits relative to the ground.
Adjustability can be both a blessing and a curse for beginners. On the one hand, it gives you the option to modify your club over time so it can grow with you as you improve. On the other hand, it’s easy to focus on making adjustments to your club instead of focusing on improving your technique.
Unfortunately, drivers aren’t cheap – even entry-level models for beginners. Expect to spend at least $300 for a value driver like the Wilson D7 or the Calloway Rogue drivers. Higher-end beginner drivers like our Editor’s Choice Callaway Big Bertha B21 can cost up to $500.