2014 Buyer’s Guide Drivers

Find the right driver for your game

GET GOLF SHOULDERS
By Zach Allen, PGA

Notice anything unusual about my shoulders? Yep, my right shoulder naturally rests a little below my left! Call it the product of 25 years of competitive golf. I've actually developed some shoulder tilt that helps me hit longer tee shots.

What does that mean? Simple. Long hitters know that the secret to power is to hit high up on the golf ball with added loft and reduced spin. Now, you may not have the kind of shoulders I do (I have a chiropractor appointment this afternoon), but at the very least, you can stretch and loosen your abductors to make it easer to have some spine tilt in your swing. The stretch is simple. Hold the club above and away from you, and tilt to your right side. Do this as far as you can, and hold, release and repeat.

Hitting longer drives leads to shorter approaches, which then leads to better chances at holing shorter birdie putts.

Well, that's our opinion. There are some of you out there who want a driver that allows for some more shotshaping off the tee, too. So, we've arranged our drivers this year based on three categories: Tour-Ready, the drivers that best combine performance and maneuverability; Game-Improvement, the drivers that can help you dial in the best power/control formula for your game; and Power, for all-out distance.

Read on and find the right driver for your game. Remember, don't forget to get fit, especially with regard to the shaft. It will have a huge impact on how well your driver performs.


Tour-Ready
Callaway Golf
Big Bertha Alpha

Key Features: The first-ever driver with adjustable CG height–through a 10.5-gram carbon-fiber tube bearing a heavy tungsten tip at one end. Inserted in the driver's sole, heavy-end down, the CG is low for high clubhead speed; it creates a flat, penetrating trajectory. Inserted the other way, the CG is higher. Loft, lie and CG bias are also independently adjustable.
Wow Factor: We're more excited about this model than any driver on the market. Adjustable CG height could mark a breakthrough for future models. Does it work? Hell, yeah, it does.
Specs: Two lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡), with a Fubuki ZT graphite shaft.
callawaygolf.com | $499

Cleveland Golf
588 Custom

Key Features: No-nonsense, all-around 460cc design that's engineered to hit the ball farther and straighter than your current big stick. The hosel is adjustable up to 12 ways, and a removable weight allows for an optimal swingweight. Arguably the prettiest-looking driver this year.
Wow Factor: The stock Matrix Ozik is a nice touch. That said, listen, folks, Cleveland makes some of the most friendly drivers we get to hit. This one is no exception. It's crazy-forgiving.
Specs: Two adjustable base lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡), with a Matrix Ozik shaft.
clevelandgolf.com | $349

Cobra Golf
BiOCELL+

Key Features: A lightweight Venollum alloy crown on this 440cc clubhead delivers a higher ballflight with lower back spin–more distance–than many titanium drivers, says the company. You can adjust to eight different loft settings, and the clubface has a large sweet spot.
Wow Factor: We can't get past the $500 price tag. You'll either love or detest the funky white-outlined crown graphics, but once you hit it and see its might, you'll forget all about the aesthetics. This dog has serious bite.
Specs: Loft is adjustable from 8_¡ to 11_¡, with a Matrix Red-Tie 6Q graphite shaft.
cobragolf.com | $500

Fourteen Golf
GelongD CT-214

Key Features: The titanium clubhead's precise CG depth and distance yield nice feel, a long 47.75-foot shaft boosts clubhead speed and distance, a new shaft flex helps accelerate the clubhead through impact, and a multilayered cup face maximizes spring-like effect. Yes, all that tech doesn't come cheap.
Wow Factor: The company claims golfers will average a four-yard distance gain with this nicely shaped model. While that's probably true of any new model if you haven't upgraded in a while, this comes through on its promise. It has an awesome sound and feel.
Specs: Two lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡), with an MD-350JD carbon shaft.
fourteengolf.com | $600

Nike
VRS Covert 2.0 Tour Driver

Key Features: This is similar to the non-Tour version, but the redesigned NexCOR face is larger in this version than on the standard model, incorporating variable-face thickness to be fast and hot, and generate more ball speed.
Wow Factor: The technical story on its stiffer rear cavity back makes a lot of sense, in theory, and seems to translate well to the real world in achieving distance. It's Nike's best driver yet.
Specs: 8.5_¡-12.5_¡ of loft, with a Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver TiNi graphite shaft.
nikegolf.com | $399

Ping
i25

Key Features: You can adjust the loft on this driver up or down a half-degree. Racing-style alignment stripes on the crown look sporty, but not gaudy, i.e., they're not distracting and help you better align your drives without thinking about it. Two high-density weights increase MOI and position the CG to reduce spin and promote a flatter ballflight for more roll upon landing. An extreme variable-thickness clubface.
Wow Factor: We're big fans of PING drivers, in general, and it's nice to see the brand emerge with a cool-looking model that we can tune the loft on. We also didn't think they could improve in feel and forgiveness over the i20. Man, we were wrong again. This driver is incredible.
Specs: Three lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡, 11.5_¡), with a PING PWR graphite shaft.
ping.com | $440



GETTING GOLF SHOULDERS


At address, you can see that I have some of my "natural shoulder tilt," as I like to call it. This not only adds width to my swing, but it makes it a lot easier to start the backswing with the club moving inside the targetline.

At impact, notice how my shoulder actually increased even more. This is a good thing, and with practice, you'll see what I mean. The added loft at impact and a wide swing arc will put a high-flying, low-spinning command on the golf ball.

Taylormade
SLDR

Key Features: A 20-gram weight slides along a track located on the sole, just behind the clubface, to shape ballflight. The CG is low and forward, which creates extra distance if you use enough loft. This is an adjustable-lofted club, so "Loft Up!"
Wow Factor: We found distance to be exceptional on center-struck hits–a good 10 yards longer than usual. Feel is rock-solid.
Specs: Five lofts (8_¡, 9.5_¡, 10.5_¡, 12_¡, 14_¡), with a Fujikura Speeder 57 graphite shaft and 460cc clubhead, or three lofts (9.5_¡, 10.5_¡, 12_¡), with a Fujikura Speeder 67 graphite shaft and 430cc clubhead.
taylormadegolf.com | $399

Titleist
913 D2

Key Features: A high-speed, forged face insert and an optimal CG location, maximizing distance potential, combine for serious stability and forgiveness. The D2 is slightly larger than the D3 and more traditionally shaped, with slight draw bias.
Wow Factor: This is the first driver in a long time from Titleist that we feel is truly designed for all types of players. Really, it's easy to hit long, high bombs with it.
We also like how the adjustability for the finely tuned launch works. And, by the way, its sister model, the pear-shaped D3, isn't forgotten, and is likely a strong choice for players who want good forgiveness and great maneuverability.
Specs: Five lofts (7.5_¡, 8.5_¡, 9.5_¡, 10.5_¡, 12_¡), with an Aldila RIP graphite shaft.
titleist.com | $399

Tour Edge
Exotics XCG7 Beta

Key Features: An adjustable-lofted 440cc clubhead with a deep, beta-titanium clubface and penetrating trajectory. To minimize spin, weight pads are located high and close to the clubface. A variable-thickness "Power Grid" directly behind the hitting area boosts spring effect by flexing at impact.
Wow Factor: It looks like a powerful club, and we feel it taps your inner King Kong when standing over it on the tee box.
Specs: One loft that's adjustable from 8.5_¡ to 12_¡ in half-degree increments, with Matrix Ozik White, Red and Black Tie graphite shafts.
touredge.com | $350

Wilson Staff
FG Tour M3

Key Features: The brand's first adjustable driver features six separate loft settings and three sole weight options. Variable clubface thickness increases ball speed. The deep face, smaller footprint and Tour-preferred pear shape make the 460cc head appear more compact at address.
Wow Factor: Big, muscular and dark, this driver looks powerful. We also really like the crisp impact sound it makes. Ball go far!
Specs: One loft (9.5_¡) that's adjustable from 8.5_¡ to 11.5_¡ in half-degree increments, with an Aldila RIP Phenom graphite shaft.
wilsonstaff.com | 350


Game-Improvement
Bobby Jones
Black Series

Key Features: A new clubface combines with a hot cup face that's welded to the cast titanium body for low spin and high ball velocity. Spin rates are consistently around 2,500 rpm or less. Face angle is adjustable.
Wow Factor: The 460cc pear-shaped clubhead looks sleek–particularly with its glossy black finish–and impact sound was tuned down a notch this year to a really satisfying level.
Specs: Three lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡, 12_¡), with a Graphite Design G-Series graphite shaft.
bobbyjones.com | $399

Callaway Golf
Big Bertha

Key Features: Adjustable perimeter weighting is achieved via an 8-gram weight that can slide along a 5-inch track on the perimeter of this high-MOI clubhead. That helps drives travel long and straight despite where the ball makes contact with the Hyper Speed clubface. Through the adjustable hosel, you can independently tune loft and lie angle.
Wow Factor: You can bet that anything bearing the flagship Big Bertha name is full of innovation and is destined to be a raging success. This is no exception. We were awed by its power and simple usability.
Specs: Three lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡, 13.5_¡), with a Fubuki Z graphite shaft.
callawaygolf.com | $399

Cleveland
588 Altitude

Key Features: An ultralight clubhead bearing high-strength, lightweight walls translates to low and deep weighting that promotes high, straight shots with stability through impact–you can swing away and still get accuracy.
Wow Factor: We're very impressed with the feel and impact sound, and even more impressed with the distance. Shots seem to fly effortlessly. It also resembles Cleveland's old Launcher Composite–a great thing! And one more thing: We really appreciate seeing a driver for the masses well below $300 MSRP. That's a win-win.
Specs: Three lofts (9_¡, 10.5_¡, 12_¡), with a Matrix Radix graphite shaft.
clevelandgolf.com | $280

Cobra Golf
BiOCELL

Key Features: Adjust to eight different lofts, and the "SmartPad" provides a square clubface at address regardless of the loft setting. Weight was removed from the clubface and repositioned low and back for more stability. This enlarges the sweet spot, so even mis-hits perform pretty well.
Wow Factor: Not to sound shallow, but you can pick from five clubhead colors, which is kind of a cool option. We also really like the cell honeycomb-style graphics on the crown. Just don't be fooled. These drivers are legit, and the technology behind all that paint is the real deal by folks who know what's up.
Specs: Loft is adjustable from 9_¡ to 12_¡, with a Project X-PXv graphite shaft.
cobragolf.com | $375

Mizuno
JPX EZ

Key Features: Quickly adjustable to eight settings of loft, lie and face angle. Its crown is designed for ball speed, high launch and low spin. Its face boasts a large COR area for distance. Is this really a Mizuno driver for the masses? Yes, more than ever.
Wow Factor: We're dazzled by how nice and solid it sounds at impact–always a confidence-booster on the tee box.
Specs: Two lofts (9.5_¡, 10.5_¡), with a Fujikura Orochi Black Eye graphite shaft.
mizunogolf.com | $300

Nike
VRS Covert 2.0

Key Features: Enhanced High-Speed Cavity Back technology redistributes weight to the heel and toe for more forgiving distance on impact across the clubface. A redesigned cavity yields a stiffer rear, transferring more energy to the clubface at impact for distance. A large, reengineered clubface with varying thickness helps boost ball speed and distance. Trust us, it's really easy to hit.
Wow Factor: We like the cherry red clubhead, as we did last year, associating it with speed, as in a fast Ferrari. In this case, speed translates to even more distance.
Specs: Loft is adjustable from 8.5_¡ to 12.5_¡, with a Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black HBP graphite shaft.
nikegolf.com | $299

Tour Edge
Exotics XCG7 Beta

Key Features: This 460cc, 6A4V titanium clubhead incorporates adjustable loft. Four hexahedron weight pads maximize MOI for stability. The weighting positions the CG low and deep, for mid-spin and high launch angles. Weight is removed from the rear-center of the sole and shifted to the rear heel and toe for forgiveness. A variable-thickness "Power Grid" directly behind the hitting area boosts spring effect by flexing at impact.
Wow Factor: The clutter-free clubhead and general shaping soothed us. And, as with most Tour Edge clubs, this is a nice value for the money. Expect a high launch, folks.
Specs: One loft that's adjustable from 8.5_¡ to 12_¡ in half-degree increments, with Fujikura Exotics Fuel and Fuel Tour graphite shafts.
touredge.com | $300


Power Sticks
Adams Golf
XTD

Key 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 Golf
X2 Hot

Key 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 Golf
X2 Hot Pro

Key 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.
Wow F

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