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2021 Most Wanted Driver
The most comprehensive driver test of 2021 and the most robust dataset for those drivers.
That’s the 2021 Most Wanted Driver test in a nutshell. We spent nearly two months collecting data on more than 18,000 golf shots to help you find the best driver for your game.
It’s what we do.
At MyGolfSpy, our job is to provide independent, unbiased and objective testing so you can make more confident purchasing decisions. Our Most Wanted tests are an indispensable guide for the off-the-rack buyer or for anyone looking for a bit of extra insight before your next fitting.
As always, we don’t recommend you spend a dollar on a new club unless it improves on what’s already in your bag.
If you are in the market for a driver, this test is for you. These are the best drivers for 2021.
2021 Most Wanted Driver: Callaway Epic Max LS
When it comes to overall performance, the Callaway Epic Max LS put on an amazing display. This driver’s outstanding performance across multiple key metrics made it the undisputed winner of the 2021 Most Wanted Driver Test. Here they are:
- 1st in Strokes Gained
- 1st in Total Distance
- 6th in Forgiveness
- 62% Fairways Hit
- 138.57 mph Ball Speed
If you are in the market for a driver, the Callaway Epic Max LS should be at the top of your demo list.
Best Distance - Callaway Epic Max LS
The Most Wanted Driver for 2021 also finished at the top of our distance chart. We can haggle over the significance of 3 feet from one drive to the next, but Callaway Epic Max LS edged out a very strong field. If distance is your goal, Epic Max LS should be at the top of your list.
Other Notable Performances
Callaway Epic Max – Not far behind the Max LS, Callaway’s highest-MOI model finished eighth overall in strokes gained and fourth in forgiveness. The Epic Max also finished fifth in ball speed, one behind the Epic Speed.
Titleist TSi2, TSi3 and TSi4 – The performance of a trio of Titleist TSi drivers suggests its days of being slow and spinny are history. The Titleist TSi2 finished second in Strokes Gained, second in forgiveness and eighth in total distance. It also led the field in fairways hit. The Titleist TSi4 and Titleist TSi3 were strong performers as well, finishing second and third respectively in ball speed. They also both cracked the top five for total distance.
COBRA RADSPEED and RADSPED XB – COBRA continues its run of strong performances. Two RADSPEED models finished in the top five overall while finishing second (RADSPEED XB) and third (RADSPEED) in Distance. Both were among the leaders in accuracy as well. Worth a mention, COBRA’s draw-biased RADSPEED XD just missed finishing in the top 10 as well.
TaylorMade SIM2 – TaylorMade’s latest flagship driver led the pack in ball speed. Had testers hit a higher percentage of fairways, it would have been among the leaders.
PING G425 SFT – PING’s slice killer again distanced itself from the pack in the draw-bias category. Testers averaged 15.64 yards off center.
Tour Edge EXS Pro and PXG 0211 – Two value models that proved that good drivers don’t have to cost as much as patio furniture. Despite their bargain pricing, both finished inside the top 10 for strokes gained and inside the top five for forgiveness.
BEST FOR SLICE - PING G425 SFT
Too many golfers are familiar with a slice. It is a distance killer. However, PING continues to defy the odds. PING G425 SFT was once again, the most left sided bias club in our test. If you are looking for a product to potentially limit your slice, the SFT is the way to go.
Best Forgiveness - Honma TR20 460
For years, it has been preached that consistency is the name of the game. And for years (two in a row, anyway) the Honma TR20 460 has claimed the top spot for forgiveness. A strong performer overall, with the TR460 bad shots simply weren't as bad.
Driver Buying Considerations
Performance should be your primary concern when looking for the best drivers of 2021 but there are some additional considerations you may want to think about before you buy.
The 2021 Most Wanted Driver Test features drivers ranging from $229.99 to upwards of $700, excluding any exotic shaft upgrades. The 2021 Most Wanted Driver, Callaway Epic Max LS, will set you back $529.99. If that’s more than you’re willing to spend, the PXG 0211 ($249) and Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro offer tremendous value. Splitting the difference, COBRA’s RADSPEED and RADSPEED XB are stellar performers. Their price point of $449 makes them all the more intriguing.
EXPERT TIP - How To Improve Accuracy
Shaft selection matters. Not only can it be used to optimize launch and spin conditions, but it can also have a significant influence on accuracy. Key factors, such as, weight, stiffness, and torque can dictate how the clubhead bends and twists as it is delivered to the ball, which ultimately impacts your ability to deliver the club consistently and hit straighter shots.
Several manufacturers continue to provide low-cost, made for shafts as stock options in their drivers. The performance is often adequate (though not likely what you’d get from a properly fitted aftermarket shaft) but, make no mistake, made for shafts are usually selected to boost margins, not performance.
While we recommend working with a competent fitter, we understand that many of you will buy off the rack. With most manufacturers offering two or three stock shafts to choose from, it’s still important to find the best fit within a stock lineup.
Finally, while we always recommend taking a performance-first approach, when comparing prices, golfers should understand there’s more value to be found from brands who don’t water down their shaft offerings. Titleist continues to offer a robust selection of featured shafts. Mizuno and COBRA also deserve mention for featuring “real-deal” Fujikura Motore X F1 and F3 shafts among their stock offerings.
Distance Versus Dispersion
Distance is king. We understand the temptation to prioritize an extra yard or two but, given the similarities in distance between drivers, we believe golfers should prioritize tighter dispersion and greater consistency over a couple of yards of additional yardage.
For most golfers, it may be worth forgoing those couple of yards in favor of smaller numbers (tighter standard deviations) and smaller circles (better dispersion).
Shot Shape Correction
If you struggle with a slice, it’s important to know you have options. Dedicated draw-bias drivers (no movable weights) are typically the most effective at reducing right-side misses. However, if you’re looking for something that will work for you as you try to improve your swing, a movable weight driver may be the better option.
During each test, we look for trends that provide insight about market direction as well as what noteworthy changes manufacturers have made to improve year-over-year performance. We also solicit feedback from our testers. We want to understand what they liked, what they didn’t like and why. While we do collect and share this subjective feedback, it is not a factor in determining the best drivers for 2021.
- While low-spin drivers continue to be prevalent in the marketplace, spin rates ticked up a bit this year. Most notable, given the results of this test, is Callaway’s decision to swap out its Sub-Zero model with the more forgiving and slightly higher-spinning Epic Max LS.
- With an aging population of golfers, it’s no wonder the ultralight segment continues to grow. Titleist is in its second generation of lightweight drivers with the TSi1. Honma also stepped into the fold with their T//World GS. XXIO carries on in the space as well. Even most manufacturers who don’t make ultralight drivers offer lightweight stock shafts for golfers looking to save weight and gain speed.
- While slightly undersized drivers (450-455cc) remain common, truly compact heads have all but disappeared from the market. The Titleist TSi4 (430cc) and Honma TR20 440 were the only undersized heads in this year’s test. While they inarguably serve a niche portion of the market, smaller heads are often the best bet for golfers who need significant spin reduction.
- Loft for (stamped) Loft, the PING G425 family (G425 SFT) were among the lowest-launching drivers in the test. It’s an excellent example of engineers reducing static loft to offset the increased dynamic loft that often comes with back center-of-gravity designs.
2020 Most Wanted vs 2021 - PING G410 LST
This year, we put our previous year's winner in the field. The PING G410 LST did not disappoint. It finished 7th in Strokes Gained, 7th in Forgiveness, and 6th in Total Distance. We continually see examples of "newer isn't alway better" and the PING G410 LST is another testament to this observation.
Upright and Flat Settings
As it does with irons, the lie angle of your driver matters. Lie angle has a strong influence on where the ball starts. If you find yourself missing right, something as simple as an upright lie angle can help. Conversely, a flatter lie angle can help mitigate a left miss.
Notes from the Testing Pool
- Without question, a large majority of the testing pool was extremely pleased with the Callaway Epic Max LS. The 2021 Most Wanted Driver not only performed well, it received plenty of praise for its feel and consistency.
- PXG made a splash with their new GEN4 driver lineup. The 0811 X, 0811 XT and 0811 XF all featured a grey Aluminum Vapor crown feature. The color scheme provided some shock and awe for testers. It’s fair to say it’s polarizing.
- Testers enjoyed the looks and feel of the entire TaylorMade line-up – SIM2, SIM2 Max and SIM2 Max D.
- Mizuno ST-Z and ST-X were praised for their acoustics. However, testers were underwhelmed by their overall performance.
2021 Most Wanted Driver (DATA)
This year we’re providing a tabbed view of our data. The first of the three tabs contains the rankings for our three primary metrics. The Data tab contains the familiar launch monitor data (along with fairway percentage).
To make things a bit easier, we’ve colored our data using a diverging green-to-red gradient. The darkest green values will be highest (and highest/best ranked) values. The darkest red values are the lowest.
While we’ve done our best to improve the mobile experience, the data is best viewed on a desktop computer.
- Distance Versus Accuracy – Don’t sacrifice accuracy for a few more yards. Manufacturers know you want distance and often cheat distance through longer shafts. A 46-inch shaft will almost always get you more yards but it typically leads to a loss of accuracy and increased dispersion.
- Adjustable Loft – Adjusting loft changes the face angle. Adding loft ↑ closes the face while decreasing loft ↓ opens the face. By understanding the relationship between loft and face angle and the influence face angle has on where your ball starts, you can leverage loft adjustability to improve accuracy.
- Looks Versus Performance – Don’t overvalue looks. Golfers tell us all the time that they can’t hit a club well if they don’t like how it looks but we’ve found very little evidence to suggest this is true. Very often, golfers produce outstanding results with clubs they claim to despise. Keep an open mind about a club that you may not find visually appealing.
- Adjustable Weights – Not all adjustable weighting systems are created equal. You can leverage movable weight to its fullest potential by looking for systems that allow you to move significant mass over a wider area of the clubhead while keeping the weight close to the perimeter of the golf club. Lighter weights moved over small distances or moved between central locations will have a minimal impact on ball flight.
2021 Most Wanted Driver Product Specs
2021 Most Wanted Driver Product Specs
|Product||Stated Loft||Measured Loft||Measured Length||Measured Swing Weight|
|Ben Hogan GS53 Max|
|Callaway Epic Max|
|Callaway Epic Max LS|
|Callaway Epic Speed|
|Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo|
|Cobra RADSPEED XB|
|Cobra RADSPEED XD|
|Honma T//World GS|
|Honma TR20 440|
|Honma TR20 460|
|PING G425 SFT|
|PXG 0811 X Gen4|
|PXG 0811 XF Gen4|
|PXG 0811 XT Gen4|
|TaylorMade SIM2 Max|
|TaylorMade SIM2 Max D|
|Tour Edge Exotics C721|
|Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro|
|Tour Edge Hot Launch C521|
|Wilson Staff D9|
|Wilson Staff Launch Pad|
EXPERT TIP - Movable Weights
Moving weight forward can decrease ↓ launch angle and reduce spin by up to 250-500 RPM. Moving weight back will increase ↑ launch and spin, while boosting MOI (forgiveness). Heel positions are less forgiving than back positions, but help golfers fight a slice.
Moving weight forward often introduces a bit of fade bias, while back weight positions tend be more draw-biased (though not as much as heel positions)
Buying a New Driver
Q: How often should I buy a new driver?
A: Typically, it takes three to five years for manufacturers to make any significant performance gains. With the USGA tightening restrictions on manufacturers, it’s possible, even likely, that it will take longer moving forward. Our recommendation is to buy a new driver only when it appreciably outperforms what is already in your bag.
Q: With all the talk of new face technology, is there one driver that produces significantly more ball speed?
A: No. There’s definitely not one driver that produces more ball speed for everyone. We do find standouts every year (TaylorMade SIM2 led the field in ball speed) but average ball speeds among our top performers tend to be very close. However, as you move down the ball speed rankings, you will find drivers that can reasonably be described as slow.
Q: Does the shaft matter?
A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch and spin differences are rarely massive, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion and greater overall consistency.
Q: What should I look for when testing drivers?
A: Don’t focus exclusively on distance. While we all want a few more yards, don’t overlook dispersion and consistency numbers (most launch monitors display standard deviations in small print under the averages). Smaller standard deviations correlate to greater consistency which is often overlooked by golfers.
Most Wanted – Determining the Best Drivers for 2021
Q: What is your fitting process?
A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock. Drivers are fitted to each tester using available stock no up-charge options from each manufacturer. We test with stamped lofts between nine and 10.5 degrees and fully utilize the fitting capability within each manufacturer’s lineup. This includes leveraging, loft, lie, face angle adjustability (hosel), movable weights and available shafts.
Q: How is the “Most Wanted Driver” determined?
A: After eliminating outliers, we calculate the average strokes gained values for each combination of tester and golf club. The club that produces the highest strokes gained values relative to the field average is our Most Wanted.
Q: How is the “Longest Driver” determined?
A: Our total distance metric determines the Longest Driver.
Q: How is the “Most Forgiving Driver” determined?
A: To determine our Most Forgiving driver, we compare strokes gained values for the best shots each tester hits with each driver to the worst. The club that produces the narrowest gap in strokes gained values is our Most Forgiving.
Q: How much does subjective feedback such as looks, sound and feel factor into your rankings?
A: ZERO. Our rankings are based on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.
Q: Will you publish a breakdown of the results by swing speed as you have in the past?
A: Yes. Those results will be published in the coming weeks.
Editor’s Note: The PING G425 MAX and G425 LST drivers were originally included in this test. Subsequently, we learned that the clubs tested did not match the off-the-rack, retail specification. As a result, we have removed them from the test.