First and foremost, congratulations. If you’re reading this guide, it means that not only have you made it through a few rounds of golf without quitting, it also means you’re starting to get better.
Now that you’re improving, it’s time to upgrade from the clubs that came in your box set, and the driver is a great place to start.
|Callaway Epic Flash||Top Pick|
|Titleist TS3||Runner Up|
|Callaway Rogue||Best Value|
|Tayloe Made Rbz Black||Best Under $200|
Out there is an entire world of drivers with different shafts, lofts and lies that help you hit the ball farther and straighter. Luckily for you, we’ve reviewed some top choices for mid-handicap golfers.
Callaway Epic Flash (Top Pick)
The belle of the ball (striking), the Callaway Epic Flash is our choice for Best Overall.
There’s really not much we can say about this driver that hasn’t been said before, but considering it’s arguably the best driver out there for golfers at any level, we figured throwing in our two cents wouldn’t hurt.
Callaway has fully embraced the age of technology in producing golf equipment, transferring some control of the design process from its engineers to AI. Specifically, their “machines” worked “tirelessly” to sort through thousands of clubface designs before definitively deciding on the one which yielded the best results. Forget the horror movies where artificial intelligence takes control of the world and just embrace what it’s been able to do here.
While most drivers utilize 5-7 prototypes, the Epic Flash was not released until testing of 15,000 virtual prototypes were completed. Based on pure numbers alone, it’s clear the testing process is the best available, meaning Callaway has produced yet another product that is second-to-none.
Getting back to the mid-handicapper aspect of this club, Callaway has added internal “Jailbreak Bars” designed to stabilize the face of the club so that when the ball is struck off the center of the club, it does not rotate as much, reducing errant spin and helping you hit more fairways.
Additionally, the driver has a 16-gram weight that can be moved to encourage, or resist, draws and fades.
Despite its retail price of over $500, the Epic Flash is worth every penny in multiple ways. With such a high-quality product, it will last for years longer than other drivers manufactured with lesser materials. To further its value, this is a club that can grow with your developing swing by adjusting the loft higher or lower.
Titleist TS3 (Runner Up)
Besides reigning supreme as the #1 ball on the PGA Tour, Titleist is no slouch when it comes to their clubs. While the TS line has a few different models, the TS3 it top dog for golfers who are just starting to see their numbers go down.
Basically, the TS3 is for players to want to gain distance, but need a more forgiving club for when they aren’t able to strike the ball using the center of the clubface. Believe it or not, this happens all the time—even for the seasoned veterans of your club. By providing the ability to adjust the center of gravity on your clubface, you are able to prepare for your most common miss off the tee.
Coming with three loft options (8.5, 9.5, 10.5), proper fitting is sure to land you with a loft that works for you. As you develop your game, changing the loft or lie is no problem thanks to interchangeable settings where the shaft and clubhead meet.
At the end of the day, distance is at the top of everyone’s wish list. The TS3 has been designed with an ultra-thin titanium crown which keeps the weight low on the club and helps you to generate more power, and in turn, yards.
If we could vocalize one shortcoming of the TS line, it’s that there are simply too many choices. While we chose to focus on the TS3 model, for a newer golfer, picking between four models within the same line can be a bit overwhelming. Although they are each designed for slightly different swings, for someone who is still developing their swing, their needs today might not be their needs as early as next week.
Callaway Rogue (Best Value For The Money)
Cars and golf clubs are a lot alike in the sense that every year a new model is released and not much has changed, but the price has gone up and the value of last year’s club has gone down. Contrary to popular belief (and what the manufacturers would have you believe), buying last year’s model will still help your game improve.
Because of this, the Callaway Rogue is our choice for the best value.
Everyone likes a good collaboration, but I love a collaboration that helps my golf game. In an unconventional partnership, Boeing and Callaway worked together to design the Rogue, engineering this club through geometry for optimal airflow and faster head speed.
Not to get all science-y on you, but through the use of carbon composite materials, Callaway is able to redistribute weight to the head of the golf club creating more ball speed with a slower swing compared to other similar drivers. Additionally, the unique materials and weight distribution of this club results in increased MOI (moment of inertia) helping to reduce any effects of a mishit in terms of distance and direction.
With loft and lie options on par with the most expensive models on the market, finding your sweet spot is a matter of getting onto the range and seeing what feels best. Don’t let your local club pro or retail employee convince you that you need the most current model, especially when the Golf Digest 2018 Hot List Gold Medal Winner is still out there being sold new, but for a far less appealing price.
Taylor Made RBZ Black (Best Under $200)
So, you’re looking to improve the equipment in your bag, but don’t want to break the bank, or you want to save some money to upgrade other clubs as well—both of which are very reasonable. Thankfully, the TaylorMade RBZ Black is a solid driver that is affordable for almost everyone.
It is far too often that you see golfers that “can’t hit their driver” and instead opt to hit irons or woods off the tee, leaving an abundance of distance in their bag each round. For a mid-handicapper, the RBZ Black is designed to help you get the ball off the ground and into the fairway. This is all thanks to its’ ultralite titanium core and Legendary Speed Pocket, both of which actively contribute to lower spin as well.
If you’re a new arrival to the mid-handicap level, playing with other golfers can sometimes be daunting. In order to perform well, you need to have some confidence, especially on the tee as this is when the most eyes are on you. With a 460cc driver head, as you stand over the ball it is tough to feel anything other way than confident that you will strike your ball squarely on the sweet spot with the large club head.
While more expensive drivers have the ability to change the loft and lie, the RBZ Black only offers the option to adjust loft. While this may seem like a downside to some, for others, having fewer adjustment options clears your head and helps you to instead focus on your game, rather than the many crazy club face combinations, or as I refer to them as, “excuses” why you can’t hit a fairway.
What Mid-Handicappers Should Look for In A Driver?
As someone who is starting to find their game and see lower scores, there are certain things you want to look for when choosing a driver. Here are some features I recommend taking a look at…
Choosing The Right Shaft
Shaft stiffness is important, so get fit by a professional. Not having the correct weight or stiffness level shaft could lead to long-term problems in your golf game.
One of the great things about adjustable clubs is that the shaft can be easily swapped out, so you can feel comfortable ordering your club knowing that you can get fitted with it later on.
When you get professionally fit for a club, the fitter will have tools and simulators that measure every aspect of your swing, with a heavy emphasis placed on swing speed. For every speed, there is a shaft specifically designed for you.
Thanks to advances in technology, everyone is taken care of since it is very rare for a person to be best fit for clubs right off the rack. For some golfers, using a senior flex shaft when they should be using a stiff flex is about as damaging as a righty using a left-handed club.
Hitting The Ball Where You Want It To Go
Distance and control trump all when it comes to getting off the tee. If you don’t have either of these, you don’t have anything. As a mid-handicap golfer, setting yourself up for success is the easiest way to gain strokes on the competition.
While distance is important, getting into the fairway and having clean looks at the green will help you get from the echelon of a mid to a low-handicap. The easiest way for this to happen short of a dramatic increase in skill is through effective weight distribution and lie on your driver’s head.
Find A Club That Can Grow With You
As a quickly improving golfer, it is important to know that the problems you face today will eventually disappear, only to be later replaced by yet another burden that affects your score. Since swing ailments are fluid (and never-ending), it is imperative that you have a driver prepared to grow with you, rather than heading to the pro shop every time your hook turns to a slice and vice versa.
While it is difficult to resist the urge to change the loft or lie every time you have a few bad rounds, we always recommend consulting with other golfers that know your game well before making drastic changes. In reality, most solutions are right there in front of you and do not require changing the club.
Choose a reputable brand. There are plenty of informercial-like drivers out there where the company tells you their product compares to the top models of your Callaway’s, Cobra’s Titleist’s, and TaylorMade’s, but please use some common sense.
If a company tells you the driver is free, and you just need to pay shipping and handling, there is no chance it can hold up against a $500 driver.
Why Driver Is The First Club You Should Upgrade
Here’s the thing, I have absolutely nothing against inexpensive clubs and box sets. I think they’re great options for people new to the game or those picking it up after a long time away and don’t want to shell out a couple of thousand dollars to have a bag filled with the fanciest clubs around.
In fact, I would recommend those clubs 10/10 times to people that want to get into golf, but the truth is these clubs are not manufactured with materials of the same quality as the clubs on our list. As you start to get better at golf and your handicap drops, replacing clubs one at a time is the most cost-effective way to keep your game on an upward trajectory.
In the old days (like 15 years ago), drivers were made of one piece, but today, they are crafted with a blend of different materials forged together. By using weights and adjustments, you can reduce spin generated by balls struck outside of the center. Unlike most tools to the game, having these options with your driver should be non-negotiable as they can only help you.