2014 Buyer's Guide Drivers
Find the right driver for your game
Adams GolfKey Features: A Cut-Thru Slot behind the face creates spring-like effect off of the face, enlarging the sweet spot for ball speed on center shots and mis-hits.
Wow Factor: It's cool that Adams tests every driver abefore it's sold to ensure maximum spring-like effect. Mission accomplished: We found this to be seriously long.
Specs: Three lofts (9°, 10.5°, 12°), with a Matrix Red Tie Driver graphite shaft.
adamsgolf.com | $399
Callaway GolfKey Features: A large "Hyper Speed" titanium clubface yields hot ball speed for distance. Through the hosel, golfers can adjust loft and directional bias.
Wow Factor: It doesn't have the sizzle of the new Big Berthas, but we found it to be solidly long. Like in a really serious way.
Specs: Three lofts (9°, 10.5°, 13.5°), with an Aldila Tour Blue graphite shaft.
callawaygolf.com | $350
Callaway GolfKey Features: At 440cc, the clubhead is smaller than the X2 Hot's 460cc head, but it still features the large "Hyper Speed" titanium clubface that yields hot ball speed for distance. Via the hosel, golfers can adjust loft and directional bias.
X2 Hot Pro
Wow Factor: We deem this to be a nicely priced, premium model for better golfers who want sheer power, but with a more manageable trajectory. The ball seems to fly forever. It's so long, we're going to test the COR ourselves. (Just kidding, it conforms!)
Specs: One loft (8.5°), with an Aldila Tour Green graphite shaft.
callawaygolf.com | $350
Cobra GolfKey Features: This driver features Cobra's largest clubface ever—at 5,000 square mm, it's almost 20% larger than last year's AMP Cell Offset driver's. More of the face is located above the low CG for optimized spin, consistent launch conditions and more distance. A new high MOI sole and an offset design help correct slices on off-center hits.
Wow Factor: It looks forceful at address, and the large face gives you more of a chance to hit shots clean. And who doesn't want that? Really? If you're a sinner off the tee, the Baffler XL will be quick to forgive you. (We thought of that.)
Specs: Three lofts (9°, 10.5°, 11.5°), with a Cobra Baffler graphite shaft.
cobragolf.com | $249
Power PlayKey Features: It doesn't conform to USGA rules, but who cares? At 515cc and with a COR way above the .830 limit, the Juggernaut isn't even trying to conform. And we love that. Most golfers don't play competitive anyway, so let 'er rip.
Wow Factor: Strangely, even at 515cc, it really doesn't look that big. And we hope to see more nonconforming clubs come into fashion. It's about time the game is easier and more fun for more types of players.
Specs: 10.5° loft.
hirekogolf.com | $114/clubhead
TaylormadeKey Features: A polymer-filled "Speed Pocket" slot behind the clubface and a low-forward CG location promote less spin and more distance—particularly on shots struck low on the face, where many mis-hits occur. Loft is adjustable up or down a half-degree. The shaft is slightly longer than in most drivers. So? Simply put, the JetSpeed is hell-bent on distance and forgiveness above all else. 'Nuff said.
Wow Factor: We added serious distance with this bad boy, and it has the sound you want. Loud. Also, we love the graphic decal treatment.
Specs: Three lofts (9.5°, 10.5°, 13°), with a Matrix Velox T49 ultralight graphite shaft. A TP version is available with a Matrix Velox 60 shaft.
taylormadegolf.com | $299
"Is there an industry-'standard' standard now?" questions Doug Hammer, PGA, in a rhetorical retort.
Today's "standard" is longer, not static, typically nearing 46 inches, with the USGA limit at 48.
A longer shaft means higher swing speed, and higher swing speed equals higher ball speed, and higher ball speed equals bragging rights—all else being equal. And that last bit is the key because, as TaylorMade offers its new JetSpeed driver with a stock 46-inch shaft, as Callaway's latest/greatest Big Bertha Alpha tapes in at 45.5 off the shelf, it's still about hitting it solidly. Owing to advancements in characteristic time and stability, non-pure strikes don't fall off as they once did, but if launch conditions—angle, spin, ball speed—deteriorate because a player is having trouble controlling a longer club, distance and dispersion will suffer.
"Generally speaking, clubs used by Tour players are shorter," says Hammer, Callaway Performance Center head and director of instruction at Scottsdale's Troon North Golf Club. "Better players want that control."
Yet the lesser-skilled should pay heed: "When we're looking at length of shaft [during a club-fitting session], it's strictly on trying to get that person to hit the center of the clubface more often."
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