The Great Driver Showdown

This time of year is a great time of year for a golf equipment nerd like me. All the new stuff is out and its time for me to hit a few drivers. I will readily admit right here I looked at distance and how far off line they were. I also did not get these custom fit or do any adjustments to them. You will not see ball speed numbers nor will you see spin or launch angles. All clubs were 9.5 or 9 degrees with no adjustments. Stock Stiff Shaft.  Everything was stock length. If you have read this blog you know I hate standard length drivers. I will give my thoughts on the feel of each club,sound,distance, looks, and forgiveness. Each driver got 5 quality shots. Ill quit rambling and provide the goods.

Taylormade M1

Sound: Honestly it sounds like every Taylormade driver. Not tingy but not super solid. You can really tell when you hit it well. Nothing offensive. Almost pleasant

Distance: Was getting pretty good distance with this driver. Anywhere from 235 on a mishit but could get it out to 265 when I hit it well. I think lowering some spin and getting the cross weight set correctly would probably get it out there a little more

Feel: Using the sock shaft here was a mistake. I dont know why but it felt terrible. It felt like a noodle on the end. I couldn’t hit a thing with it. I even tried to cheat and grab an x flex just to see if the shaft felt any better. It didn’t feel any better. A custom fit would be much better. It helps Taylormade is offering free shaft upgrades. If they wern’t it wouldn’t even be an option.

Forgiveness: I know it was the shaft but I had no idea where the ball would be going. I tried cuts and draws. It would be a slice and a snap hook. In terms of distance forgiveness it was just OK. Non center hits did have a noticeable loss of distance.

Looks: This thing looks bad ass. It looks like a Stormtrooper. If it didn’t perform as poorly as it did it would be much higher.

Mizuno JPX EZ

Sound: Solid. Shots in the center sound great. Shots not in the middle still sound really good. Not at the top of my list but pretty good overall.

Distance: This driver went about 230 most of it carry. The problem with this driver was the spin. It spun like a top. I’m talking 3500 rpms. It spun a lot and launched high. Not exactly what you’re looking for when creating maximum distance

Feel: Kind of the same thoughts as sound. These typically go hand in hand. I liked how it felt on good and bad shots

Forgiveness: It was weird because when I had mishits the ball actually went further. It was because I was actually getting lower spin. The forgiveness in terms of shot shape was pretty good. It was difficult to really hit a banana ball. I liked it.

Looks: It ain’t pretty. What you may not be able to see on the picture is the blue swirls on the edges of the crown. I’m not sure if they were trying to make you think it looked smaller but I just couldn’t like it.

Callaway XR16 

Sound: Really good. Had a slight metallic but still solid sound. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good sounds on mishits as well. Not as good but good nevertheless.

Distance: This thing went and went and went. It flew a mile and rolled a mile as well. went about 255 each time. It was consistent. I love that. I don’t need a driver that goes 295 one shot and 235 another.

Feel: Solid. The ball felt like it exploded off the face. It almost felt so fast I would have lost it off the face on a course. It was great on mishits as well.

Forgiveness: It went on good shots and on bad. It would throw in the occasional slice but I think that was more of a user error.

Looks: The flat black looks just OK. I am most disappointed by that. I know they worked with Boeing on aerodynamics but it still wasn’t too bad. Honestly i have spray painted a driver before that looked only a little worse than this

Ping G

Sound: It is terrible. Plain and simple. LOUD. My dad played a Hibore (for some reason) this weekend and even though it is known as one of the loudest drivers ever this was just as bad.

Distance: It was just OK. Was going about 245-250. I think if I had the LS Tec I probably could squeeze out a few more yards.

Feel: Again it goes hand in hand with sound. I would have to say it felt OK but I could not get over the sound.

Forgiveness: I couldn’t hit a hook or slice with the thing which is very good. It felt like the club was longer than the others. I like the fact It went a good ways and stayed straight. Whenever I hit it badly it went straight and flew decent. I did lose yards but it didn’t kill me.

Looks: The turbulators didnt bother me last year. This year with the webbing on the crown they are kind of pushing it. Online I didn’t hate it but in store it is really noticeable. I wish it could have been a little more subtle. One thing i will always give Ping credit for is the fact that they don’t care about looks and only performance.

Cobra King LTD

Sound: Good lord I couldnt imagine a driver feeling any better. It was very solid. I loved it. I could hit it all day. It was incredible feeling no matter where on the face I hit it.

Distance: The club was low spin and high launch. It went 260-270 on every shot. If you want distance this club will provide it.

Feel: Solid. It felt solid. It was incredible. the muted sound combied with the special crown from space and stuff made it feel great.

Forgiveness: This is where it took a little hit. It really felt like a bad swing would put a bad result on the bad but that is pretty standard. On off center hits I would lose some spin and the ball wouldn’t get the carry I needed.

Looks: Can I get it in not Orange? Too UT for me. I love everything about this driver except that Orange. I like Rickie but can he go away to get rid of the Orange.

Nike Vapor Pro

Sound: Metallic but nothing bad. I could take it out on the course and no one would be offended.

Distance: The “Cavity’ in the back really pushes that CG forward and gets you the high launch low spin everyone is looking for. This produced some great distances for me. It reminded me of the Covert Tour. Keep on making drivers like this and you will keep putting out winners Nike.

Feel: Nice and solid ball felt like it really came off the face quickly. I liked it a lot. Nike has been producing some winners lately.

Forgiveness: The ball went far.On mishits its didnt go as far. the hook machine showed up as did the slice. It wasnt great in terms of keeping it on the fairway. Im sure if I put it on the correct setting I could get this rectified.

Looks: As much as I want to hate this its very difficult to hate it. Although its not good looking by any means it wasnt as bad as I thought it would be. I think it is ugly but because I thought it was going to be hideous I like it more than I normally would.

Its time to give the final rankings:

  1. Cobra King LTD
  2. Callaway XR16
  3. Ping G
  4. Nike Vapor Pro
  5. Taylormade M1
  6. Mizuno JPX EZ

The King LTD wins simply for the feel. I saw great results in terms of distance and forgiveness. The shaft felt shorter than the others and I still hit it really well. Going into this I didnt think the XR16 was going to get much love from me but it REALLY surprised me. It was very close to getting the top spot. Maybe with a different shaft I can get the M1 higher but base don all stock everything it just wasn’t there. I really wanted to like it based on its looks but just couldn’t. Let me know what you think! I hope to add a few more to this post at a later time when I get a chance to hit them.