The Moment of Truth

Before we reveal our Most Wanted Driver of 2014, I want to take a moment to thank all of the companies who participated in this year’s test. Each did so knowing how we test, and fully aware that their driver (or drivers) might not win, or might not even finish in the top 10. While other bowed out, these guys all had the stones to go head to head with the competition.

Seriously guys, a round of applause for everyone.

We work off averages. If you look at our numbers (and we definitely recommend you do), there is very little difference between top and bottom. As they almost always have, on a year to year basis, results chart along a predictable bell curve. The middle is thick, and performance is very similar. The numbers reflect that. There are occasional standouts, and we believe we’ve identified them accordingly.

We also believe there isn’t a bad driver in this bunch. Even at the bottom, below average performance more often not reflects either limited or unique fitting variables. It really is that simple.

We Will Get Better

As I said at the beginning of this thing, our goal is to do the best test we possibly can, learn from it, and continue to get better each and every season. The response to this year’s test and our results has not been universally positive, and we couldn’t be happier about that. Without constructive criticism there is absolutely no reason nor incentive to improve.

It is absolutely humbling to have a reached a place where our tests receive the level of scrutiny that they do. At the same time, we’re immensely proud of the position we’ve carved for ourselves within this industry. We could not have achieved anything without your support.

As a result of this test we have already received a tremendous amount of feedback (some of it more constructive than others) from our readers, and the golf companies who participated in this test. Based on discussions we’ve already have, and discussions I anticipate having down the road, I will reiterate my promise to all of you:

We will continue to get better.

And now, without any further delay, allow me to present MyGolfSpy’s 2014 Most Wanted Driver.

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You’ve already seen the numbers, so let’s keep it really simple here.

The TaylorMade SLDR is MyGolfSpy’s 2014 Most Wanted Driver.

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We rely on the data, and more specifically our total driving averages to determine MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Driver of 2014, and based on the PING G25 finishes a very close 2nd.

For those who place a premium on accuracy, you can make a damn strong case for the PING G25. It finished #2 overall for distance, and #1 overall for accuracy in this year’s test. If you insist on buying off the rack, the G25 is a better place to start than most.

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With strong showings for both distance and accuracy, Nike’s VRS Covert 2.0 the biggest disappointment of 2013 is the most pleasant surprise of 2014. What a difference a year makes, right?

Since this is the last day of data, I’m going to make a tremendously bold prediction. Next year, I’m betting Nike wins this thing. That’s right. I said that.

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We’ve been hearing amazing things about ONOFF drivers for years. Given the suspect performance of other JDM designs we’ve had in for review, we were admittedly skeptical.

We suspect that prior to this test most of you had never heard of on ONOFF and their 1-2 punch of the Type-D and Type-S drivers. Given what we saw in our test, the ONOFF name is probably one you’re going to want to remember.
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Surprise, surprise, surprise (I’m not actually surprised), here’s the PowerBilt Air Force One rounds out our top 5. The numbers were excellent among our lower swing speed players, and we think we probably could have done better at the higher swing speeds too.

You won’t find many companies who offer a better selection of stock shafts, and you won’t find many heads that perform better either. Joke all you want about the Nitrogen, this one is legit.

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The Yonex I-EZONE TX sits in a tie for the #5 spot, Top 5 is pretty damn good. While it proved to be a solid all-round performer, realistically we think it’s better suited for guys who benefit from a little less spin.

Also worth mentioning, while some will love the smaller head and deep face, it probably won’t appeal to everyone.

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Not to get all sappy on you, but the presence of Cleveland Golf near the top of this list is almost heartwarming.

Despite my personal affection for the Classic Driver, their recent wood lines have fallen off the radar a bit. The 588 series should put them back on it. Higher swing speed players will appreciate the versatility (and accuracy) of the custom, while slower swing speed players should benefit from the lightweight, but controllable Altitude model.

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Tour Edge falls into the top 10 based largely on the strength of the Beta head. While gearheads will bemoan the “made for” shafts, the reality is that the Tour Edge variants play similarly enough to their aftermarket counterparts that most won’t notice the difference.

The standard model is good, but for high speed, high spin players we can’t say enough about the XCG7 Beta.  It’s an absolute must-try that probably won’t get the attention it deserves.

 

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In a test with more than a few surprises, the Mizuno JPX-EZ was arguably among the biggest.

Last season’s model was heavily skewed lower swing speed players and guys who don’t need any sort of help controlling spin. This year’s model is much more balanced, and should prove a much better fit for a larger population of golfers.

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Without question the source of 98% of the backlash directed at this test has centered on Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha. While some will point to its #10 finish as some sort of proof that everything we’ve done here is invalid, I would argue that no driver in this test more clearly validates our methodology.

With only 1 loft and 1.5° degrees of adjustability, the Big Bertha Alpha is the single most limited entry in our test, and despite those fitting limitations it still finished 10th overall, while producing some of the longest drives in our test. That’s actually exceeding expectations. Big Bertha Alpha almost unquestionably one of the top drivers of 2014, but c’mon, where would you realistically think it would finish given the limited options?

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We go by the data here, and the data says that Cobra’s BiO Cell+ is a solid, performer. If you look at the numbers, like most of the drivers anywhere in the mix, the BiO Cell+ wasn’t that far off. There’s no good reason not to give this one a try.

I’m personally a big fan of Cobra drivers (I played one most of last season), and properly fit (and that’s almost always the key) BiO Cell+ is a compelling offering for higher spin players..

 

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TaylorMade’s SLDR once again finishes on top, this time for our high swing speed guys.

There’s really not much left to say at this point, but we think it’s worth mentioning that despite cries of low MOI by some of its competitors, shot for shot, the SLDR was among the most consistent clubs our testers hit.

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As we’ve been saying from nearly the onset of this thing, the Tour Edge XCG7 Beta deserves a serious look from guys looking for a low-spinning beast of a driver.

If you fit that description and you’re looking for a serious alternative to the industry noise makers, there’s a good chance we may have found your next driver.

 

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Can anybody really be surprised to see the PING i25 near the top for higher swing speed players?

The i20 was one of the best drivers we’ve ever tested, and quite frankly, we think the i25 is better still. While it won’t offer the best fit for everyone (what will?), and some may prefer the added forgiveness of the G25, the i25 is certainly worth a look for those who want the look of what’s generally regarded as a better player’s driver, but would prefer not to sacrifice much in the way of playability.

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We’ve talked about the forgiveness of the G25, what’s perhaps more impressive is its versatility.

Despite being the highest spinning driver in the PING lineup, the company provides enough variety in loft and shaft options that some higher spin players will be able to take advantage of the forgiveness and won’t lose distance while doing it.

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Rounding out the top 5 is Sinister Golf’s Agent Orange.

The Agent Orange produced some of the longest drives in our test (and not just among higher swing speed players). Reports from our testers suggest it’s probably not among the most forgiving drivers on the market, but for guys who looking for more yards, without too much loss in accuracy, Orange may be your color (I’m not proud of that line).

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We’ve said everything that can possibly be said about the TaylorMade SLDR, so let’s just take a moment to reflect on the results.

Although it didn’t rank among the leaders for accuracy, it’s reasonable to say it finished within the margin of error for the average range. For both Distance and Total Driving (Most Wanted – Best Overall) the SLDR finished at the top overall, and for both higher and lower swing speeds. That’s a clean sweep for everything and anything involving distance.

I’d never suggest anyone buy any driver blindly, but do you need any more reason to find a qualified fitter and find out if SLDR is right for you?

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The ONOFF (Type D specifically) has consistently put itself near the top of our ranking for lower swing speed players.

It’s reasonable to assume that the $800 price tag is going to raise some eyebrows, but we know there’s a few of you willing to pay a little extra for something a bit outside of the every day.
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As we did with the SLDR, let’s just take a moment to reflect on where PING’s G25 finished in this year’s test.

#2 Distance overall. # 2 Distance – Low Swing Speed. #1 Accuracy Overall. #1 Accuracy – High Swing Speed. #2 Most Wanted Driver – Overall. #4 Most Wanted Driver – High Swing Speed. #3 Overall Most Wanted Driver – Low Swing Speed. Impressive, right?

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If you want to step outside golf’s mainstream and don’t want to dig deep in your wallet to do it, we don’t think there are many better options than PowerBilt’s Air Force One.

You may have to endure a few Nitrogen jokes along the way, but when you’re consistently hitting your second shot last, you’ll be the one doing the laughing.

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It won’t get the attention of Callaway’s Big Bertha, or TaylorMade’s SLDR or JetSpeed, but we can’t think of a good reason why slower swing speed players shouldn’t look at the Cleveland 588 Altitude.

While many of the other drivers in this test are designed for a wide audience (and some do an excellent job serving the masses), like Wilson’s D-100 the Altitude series is designed for guys looking for a speed boost for the club – and it works.

Full 2014 Most Wanted Driver Coverage

:: Coming Soon – MyGolfSpy’s 2014 Most Wanted Driver Test
:: 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Driver – It’s Go Time
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Distance Awards
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Accuracy Awards
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Overall Winners
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Tester’s Pick
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Beyond the Data
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – The Data 

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