Many prominent golf companies come out with a new driver every year, some even release a newer model closer to every six months. A lot of professionals use older drivers. For example, Justin Rose who led the 2021 Masters after the first round used a 2017 TaylorMade M1 440.
Many golfers ask each other, pros and associates one question. Are new golf drivers really better? This article will go into depth on the pros and cons of new drivers versus older ones.
Old Drivers vs New Drivers: Differences
Forgiveness is a key attribute to look for in drivers. Especially for beginner golfers with high handicaps. Players who are new to the game or don’t play often should look to buy a forgiving driver so they can strike the large sweet spot and make good contact more often than not. This will lead to longer and accurate drives.
Newer drivers do have larger sweet spots than older drivers. Especially if you are comparing a driver from 2005-2010 alongside a driver from 2016-2021. Having a larger sweet spot lets a golfer hit it “off the screws” and when not in the center, still have a decent result off the tee.
If you hit an older driver on the toe, or too low or high, you’re probably going to end up in the trees or out of bounds.
Variable face thickness is another improvement being added to drivers with newer technology. More variable face thickness leads to a better smash factor and a large bounce off the face which helps with distance.
Large golf companies such as Taylormade, Titleist, Callaway, Ping and Cobra use artificial intelligence and thousands of golfers of all levels to test their new equipment designs before they are launched. That way the designers can see where amateurs and all levels of all golfers are tend to miss.
The lower heel and upper toe on the face of the driver are common mishit spots, so these club makers create clubs that will produce good results even if you’re missing in those areas.
Technology And Adjustability
New technology in drivers can include improved head speeds so you can swing the club faster, increased moment of inertia so the club won’t twist and adjusted weights so the club can swing smoothly and naturally on different swing planes.
Jailbreak Technology by Callaway is an example of new technology. It connects the crown of the head with the sole in the back of the face with two rods. During contact with the ball, the sole and crown make the energy move directly behind the face resulting in a springing and popping effect that leads to longer and straighter drives.
Since 2011, many drivers have become adjustable. Many allow you to adjust the hosel so you can adjust the loft, lie and face angle of the club. This enables you to hit the ball with a higher or lower trajectory as well as add more of a draw or fade to your shots.
Older drivers did not have an adjustability feature. The newer the driver, usually the more customizable it is.
Newer drivers have newer technology that helps give golfers more distance but it depends on the year it was made in terms of drastic differences in length. A 20 year-old driver will have less distance than a new driver.
Ball speed and driver faces are two factors that have changed over time. Newer drivers help improve ball speed and have thinner faces which produce longer drives.
Be sure to test out different drivers on a launch monitor before purchasing them to compare distances. Different golfers have their own unique swings so results can vary.
The next section will go into more detail about distance using a test conducted between different brands.
Do New Drivers Really Add Distance?
Golfers wonder if new golf drivers make a difference when it comes to distance.
A study was performed by todaysgolfer.co.uk using various driver brands including Taylormade, Callaway and Ping.
The reviewers tested drivers that ranged from a 10 year difference in models such as the Ping G10 (2008) to the G400 Max (2018). Others included the TaylorMade RBZ stage 2 (2013), M2 (2016) and M4 (2018).
Among the TaylorMade and Callaway drivers, the carry distances between the different drivers were within six yards of each other in most cases, aside from the SLDR being shorter than the RBZ, M2 and M4. Despite the M4 being newest it was four yards shorter in total distance than the M2.
Similarly, the Callaway Razr Fit driver released in 2013 and the Rogue (2018) were within six yards of each other.
Ping had the largest difference with the G30 (2014) being 11 yards shorter in carry distance than the G400 Max. The G10 actually had an average carry distance of 245 compared to the 240 from the G30.
Should Beginners Buy A Brand New Driver?
A beginner golfer could buy a shiny new driver to feel like a professional but it’s unlikely they’ll hit it like one.
It’s important for them to get fitted and practice enough to make solid contact consistently with the ball.
Having a brand new driver won’t provide them with lower scores until they can navigate the course with more experience. A good suggestion would be to buy a used driver a few years old. They could also wait a year or two to find the “brand new” driver cheaper.
How Long Does It Take To Get Used To A New Golf Driver?
There is no definitive answer on how long it will take to get used to a new driver. It depends on the player and the changes made. If your new driver has a different flex or clubhead shape it could take longer. If it is a similar make with the same shaft it could take less time. It all depends how often the golfer practices and plays per week or month.
In the end, is a new driver worth it? It ultimately is up the person and their preferences. If they’re trying to play with new technology and want upgrades then they should. Also, if they’re trying to step up from an extremely old driver it’s probably worth it. If they’re confident in their current driver and hit it straight and long then it’s likely not recommended to swap.
Be sure to comment on your experiences with new drivers.
The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.