Image Copyright: 123RF: Olimpic
|Cobra King F7||TaylorMade M2||Mizuno JPX-900||Cleveland |
|Cobra King F6|
|Check it out!||Check it out!||Check it out!||Check it out!||Check it out!|
|Launched||January 2017||January 2017||February 2017||August 2017||January 2016|
|Loft (recommended)||9 - 12 (adjustable)||10 - 14 (adjustable)||7.5 - 11.5 (adjustable)||12 (fixed)||9 - 12 (adjustable)|
|Head Volume (CC)||460||460||440||460||460|
|Shaft Flex (recommended||Regular||Regular||Regular||Regular||Regular|
|Club Length (inches)||45||45.75||45||45.75||45.5|
We break down what to look for in order to find the most forgiving driver. Then look at what is currently on the market in our rundown of the best drivers for beginners.
When I was at the height of my golfing frustration I used to hate my driver! It would pretty much stay in my bag the entire round. Serving more as a display stand for my Garfield golf head cover than as an actual functioning tool of golf. I was much more comfortable with my irons. They were just more reliable, more forgiving and just not as god darn evil as the creator of ridiculous slice that was my driver.
However, I realized after a while there was a reason that no golf pros were walking around the masters with just irons in their bags. I was going to have to figure out how to use this club.
So I tried tweaking my swing; slowing it down, speeding it up, moving my shoulders, moving the ball back in my stance, everything.
Then I thought about it, maybe it wasn’t me that was the problem. I mean, a bad workman never blames his tools right? But when your tools are 20-year-old hand-me-downs I feel like you may have cause for concern.
The club I had been using had a 9-degree loft and the longest least flexible shaft I’ve seen on a club until this day. I really wasn’t helping myself, so I did some research….a lot of research.
From that research, I’ve compiled what I learned below in a (hopefully) simple guide so that you don’t have to. I’ve also included my 5 best golf drivers for beginners on the market now, so you can get started on hitting the fairway again.
How to decide on the best golf drivers for beginners
When starting out it is important to concentrate on hitting it as straight down the middle as possible to avoid frustration. This means maybe sacrificing a bit of distance for accuracy, but in the long run, it’ll be worth it.
Below are a few top tips on what to look for when trying to find the top drivers for beginners.
- Go for a large club head: it may seem obvious, but an oversized clubhead means a larger hitting area and a larger sweet spot, thus decreasing the chances of a nasty shank. 460 cubic centimeters (460cc) is the biggest size allowed by the USGA, so go for that to increase the chances of a clean strike.
- Start with at least 11 degrees of loft: ever wondered why you hit the ball a lot straighter and consistently with a 7 or 8 iron than with a 3 or 4? Well, that is because an increase in loft increases the flight of the ball, which minimises the likelihood of a bad slice or hook. Most professionals use drivers with 9 degrees loft or less which means a lower trajectory and less backspin. The tradeoff though is much less forgiveness, which is why for a high handicapper, more loft will mean a lot less lost balls. Look for at least 11 degrees of loft when browsing golf drivers for beginners.
- A flexible shaft is better: when first starting out and trying to perfect that swing, a soft flexible shaft will help immensely. Most drivers will come with several shaft options ranging from light flex all the way to extra stiff. It is recommended that nothing stiffer than a regular flex should be selected when deciding on the most effective driver for the beginner golfer. Many drivers even offer a senior flex for older golfers whose swing speed is a little lower than it used to be.
Deciphering the jargon
There are several abbreviations and words that are thrown around. And to a golfer just starting out, this can be overwhelming and off-putting. Here is a quick list of some of the things you might come across:
- MOI: MOI stands for ‘moment of inertia’. This is a physics term that basically means the resistance of an object to twisting at the moment of impact. This is important for a driver as the higher the MOI the more resistance to twisting. Less twisting means the more likely the club head will stay straight through the ball, even when it is not hit right in the sweet spot. As a beginner, you are much more likely to miss that sweet spot every now and then and hit the toe or heel. An off-center shot would cause a low MOI club to twist and who knows where that ball would end up?! So a high MOI club means a more forgiving driver for the amateur golfer.
- CG: This stands for center of gravity. Simply put, it is the point in the clubhead that the weight is acting through. A CG further back in the club creates more spin and therefore less distance. Whereas a CG lower and further forward creates lower spin and more distance. Equally, moving it to the left or right creates draw or fade to correct any issues you may have with that. Many of the clubs mentioned below have adjustable functionality where you can move the CG in the driver’s head and adjust the ball striking accordingly. When starting out this ability to tweak the CG can make choosing the top golf driver for starting out much easier as you don’t have to buy a new club every time you get frustrated.
Here is my list of the 5 best golf drivers for beginners currently available:
Cobra King F7
This is a nice looking club, available in a choice of black blue or silver. When addressing the ball it looks absolutely massive! And will definitely fill you with that extra bit of confidence when you step up on the tee.
The 460cc head is the largest you can get on a driver, which is great for increasing the size of the hitting area and improving your ball striking ability. The adjustable loft can be set between 9 and 12 degrees. This allows you to start with maximum loft and decrease it later on as your confidence improves.
A 12g weight can be moved between three positions in the club head to give three different center of gravity settings. If moved to the back position you get a more forgiving shot with higher ball flight and added spin. Then, as you begin to get more confident, you can move this weight to the front to give a lower ball flight. This lower flight will be less forgiving but will give you less spin and more roll and therefore more distance. Finally, there is a third position named the draw setting which can be used to hopefully help correct any slice if required (a common problem for beginner golfers).
By far the coolest thing about this club is the grip. “What!” I hear you say. Ok, well not the actual grip itself, but within the grip Cobra have installed a tracking system powered by Arccos. It connects to an app on your phone (which you have to have in your pocket), this uses the rotation and even the microphone in the phone to track your shots. After you’ve hit the ball, the driver tracks as you walk down the fairway and then saves your drive distance for some stats for you to analyze your drives later on. The app will even let you download the course you are playing. A very cool feature indeed!
This driver hits far! Even when hit badly off the heel it would still comfortably go 200 yards. Which means this is one of the most forgiving drivers for the beginner golfer I’ve ever seen. The accuracy is also great and especially in the higher loft settings, it was straight down the middle pretty much every time!
The lower price of this club compared to some of the other drivers I reviewed makes it very appealing to a beginner golfer who is looking to improve their game. The tweaks you can make to loft and center of gravity means hopefully you can dial it in to suit your needs as your game evolves.
For a more advanced golfer, the F7+ may be more suitable offering lower loft settings. But this really is one of the most forgiving drivers for a beginner and thoroughly recommended.
- A lot of club for the money, really great value when compared to some more premium clubs.
- The in grip tracking system is a very cool feature.
- The adjustable loft and weighting give great flexibility for tweaking as you become more confident and advanced.
- The loft settings don’t go as low as the F7+ but as a beginner that shouldn’t be an issue.
- The grip wasn’t my favorite (really struggling to find cons here!)
The M1 is a club used by many pros and is a great club, but I feel like for a beginner the price is just a little too high. For slightly less money you can instead get the Taylor Made M2 and is still a supreme driver for the golfer who is just starting out.
This is my favorite looking club on the list. It looks beautiful with the white and black contrast, it looks really sleek when placed behind the ball.
As with the Cobra, this driver has the maximum club head volume of 460CC, again giving you that maximum hitting area. 25g of weight has been moved low and back in the sole of the club giving a high MOI.
Also, like with the Cobra, there is a level of adjustability in the loft. The loft can be adjusted up or down by 2 degrees from a starting loft of either 9.5, 10.5 or 12 degrees. So if you plump for the 12-degree version you can get as much as 14 degrees loft if you so wish. Not quite the same adjustability as the F7 but probably enough for a beginner.
Unfortunately, there is no ability to move the weight around as with some of the other clubs in this list. There is a D-type version of the club designed to add approximately 10 degrees of draw to the average shot. But for a beginner, this is not a move I recommend as it may install bad habits. If you’ve been playing a bit longer and just can’t get rid of that slice, maybe it’s something to look at.
One of the features included on the M2 (that really doesn’t bother me) is the ‘geocoustic technology’. This is essentially a made-up word that Taylor Made have introduced meaning that the club is supposed to sound better and louder. I know the ‘sound’ of a club is really important to some people. For most this is probably not as much of a concern when finding the optimal driver for a beginner golfer.
When you hit the sweet spot this club feels amazing, coupled with that ‘geocoustic technology’ the ball is sent booming down the fairway. Warning! This may create looks from people around you who think you’ve just fired a gun on the driving range.
It felt forgiving, but it didn’t feel as forgiving as the Cobra, shots that didn’t come off the sweet spot felt a bit more frustrating
Overall this is still a very good club. There is a reason that a lot of professionals swear by it. But it just doesn’t feel like a massive evolutionary step forward from the 2016 M2. Maybe a few yards extra with a bit less spin being created but there is really not much in it.
So as a beginner if you are concerned about saving a bit of cash and you want to go for a Taylor Made you may be better sticking with last years model.
- Large clubhead still makes this a good driver for beginners
- Offers the cool looks and performance of the famous M1 driver but for less money
- More pricey than some of the other drivers mentioned
- Limited adjustability (no custom weighting options and a smaller loft range)
- No noticeable change (apart from noise) from the 2016 mode
Mizuno Golf Men’s JPX-900 Driver
Mizuno has never been renowned for drivers. You don’t see many of them on the tour (because they don’t pay players to use them) but the latest club from Mizuno is very nice indeed.
It may not be for everyone but I really am a fan of the bright blue matt finish on the JPX 900. The black face is also rather nice.
Not quite as big as the Cobra or TaylorMade. The JPX 900 still comes in at a fairly sizeable 240CC. Which will easily help you out enough as a beginner.
The main feature of this club is the massive adjustability that comes with it. Going way beyond most other drivers I’ve seen. Firstly, you have the ability to adjust the loft from anywhere between 7.5 degrees and 11.5 degrees really allowing you to tweak that flight line as you become more confident. On top of that, the bottom of the club looks like some kind of spaceship control panel. With several different adjustability options for moving weight around the club head.
You have the option to move the 8-gram weights between high and low. Or you can move them left or right in the draw and fade settings. To a beginner, this can either be too overwhelming and just too much for a driver at this stage, but for that same reason, it means you can adjust and fiddle with settings which may be important as you are starting out and finding what works best for you.
Despite the slightly smaller head as compared to the Cobra and TaylorMade. This club still feels big and also very forgiving. The ball flight was nice and high but the distance was still good. Following the trend of the TaylorMade M2 this also made an almighty noise when striking the ball, again I’ll let you decide if that is a good or bad thing!
It depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, some may find a number of different weighting options overwhelming and not what they want in a driver as a new player. Yet for others, this amount of customisation means that with a little help from the pro at the pro shop, you can keep tweaking until you find perfection
- Massive adjustability in loft and weighting
- Very forgiving despite smaller head size
- The amount of adjustability may be offputting for some beginners
Cleveland Golf Men’s Launcher HB Driver
Cleveland takes the award for the newest club on our list with this very affordable driver. It is also a club that keeps things a bit more simple than the other drivers mentioned.
Not the most memorable looking driver. Mainly a glossy black with silver and a hint of blue. However, not everyone is a fan of the bright greens and oranges, so a slightly more understated look may appeal to you. The club face points slightly to the left to try and counteract for that slice, which may be off-putting to some.
I wanted to put a driver in the list of leading golf drivers for beginners that was a bit more basic. The clubs we’ve seen so far all come with shiny adjustable bits and pieces. One even came with a crazy thing in the handle which connects to your phone. To some people, those things may seem cool and the idea of fiddling around with settings and tracking shots sounds great. But to others who just want to ‘get on with it’ and hit the damn ball, then this club may be much more your thing.
The HB in the name stands for ‘high bore’. This is to do with the shaping and essentially takes the center of gravity lower down, giving that higher ball flight which will suit beginners. As mentioned, the club points ever so slightly left (draw bias), so if you (like me) tend to slice the ball a lot this may really help you out in that department. Cleveland has developed this club to provide maximum forgiveness. This means that you can hit the ball of pretty much anywhere on the face (to an extent of course!) and you will still get a good feeling strike, with good distance as well. If you have that level of forgiveness built in then who needs to start adjusting weights and altering loft?
The HB comes in a choice of loft either 9.5, 10.5 or 12.
That extra effort Cleveland have made to make the club hit well off all parts of the club really shows. This has to be one of the most forgiving drivers for beginners I’ve ever seen. The slight left turn helps eliminate that slice and you will find much fewer shots head off down the right-hand side.
So this driver isn’t as showy as the other top drivers tested here. It doesn’t have the adjustability either. So some may say you aren’t getting as much for your money. But it’s a matter of taste and for many, simplicity is still a nice thing. Considering the level of forgiveness here this may be for you still.
- Back to basics simplicity
- Very forgiving, getting good distance even off the toe
- Draw bias to eliminate slice
- Lack of adjustability not for everyone, means you have to pick a loft and stick with it
- Not as loud as other clubs
Cobra King F6
If you aren’t worried about having the very latest model last years Cobra King F6 is still excellent! And cheaper too. Many people argue that there really isn’t a massive difference from year to year in drivers, especially for beginners. So if you want to save a few pennies the Cobra King F6 is still well worth a look.
Very sleek looking in black with hints of bright green giving a very futuristic vibe. A total of 4 different colors are available. As with the F7, the large clubhead fills you with confidence when placed behind the ball.
The club comes again with the maximum 460cc head to give maximum chance of hitting the sweet spot. In terms of adjustability, you have two options. Either to shift the CG forward in the head by moving a 10-gram weight into what Cobra calls ‘penetrating’ mode (an interesting choice of word). Or you can shift the CG back in what they call ‘towering’ mode. Not over-complicated but some degree of adjustability which is nice. Again, as with the F7, there is an F6+ model that gives slightly more adjustability in the fact there is a track to move the weight forward and back rather than just two options. But for a beginner, I think 2 options is just fine.
As with the F7, you also have adjustable loft too to adjust between 9 and 12 degrees.
This club looks and feels really good, the big clubhead means a nice clean strike is easy to achieve. The adjustability makes a massive difference and it almost feels like you have two separate clubs in your bag! It sounds and performs a lot better than its predecessor (the Fly Z) so this really was a step up in 2016.
This club is still a great club even though it is over a year old now. The adjustability isn’t extensive but to have adjustability in this price bracket is pretty cool. So if you are looking for a bargain and don’t care about having the latest toys, this is a great choice and a supreme driver for the amateur golfer.
- Cheaper than the others due to it being an older model
- Some adjustability which is rare in cheaper clubs
- Not as much adjustability as some of the other clubs
- Adjustability is little fiddly
Conclusion on the best golf drivers for beginners 2017
Overall these are all prime drivers for beginners (that’s why I picked them!). It really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for the most features for your money it is hard to see past the Cobra F7. You get some level of customisation in loft and weighting but not too much to give you a headache. If you want to keep it simple maybe the Cleveland may be the one. Comment below if you have any other suggestions for the list. These are my best golf drivers for beginners but I’m open to suggestions of course.