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OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME
The most comprehensive driver test of 2022.
If your swing speed is above 105 mph, this article is for you. Read on to discover what our extensive testing has revealed before you even consider buying a new driver.
How We Test
For this test, 35 golfers tried 38 different driver models over more than 400 individual sessions.. Data was collected using Foresight GCQuad launch monitors. To minimize variables, all testers hit Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. Outliers were removed and data was aggregated before scores were calculated.
MOST WANTED SCORING
For 2022 (and beyond), Most Wanted testing will use a new 100-point scoring system.
The new system will make it easier than ever for you to identify clubs that can help you shoot lower scores.
Most Wanted Driver scoring includes four categories: distance, accuracy, forgiveness and Strokes Gained.
Our distance category is broken down into three metrics. The first two should be self-explanatory.
Carry Yards –Average carry yards
Total Yards –Average total yards
Peak Distance – A metric we’ve used at times in the past, peak distance looks at a narrow set of the longest drives hit by each tester with each club. To an extent, peak distance is a measure of the distance potential of a driver.
The purpose of our accuracy metric is to identify clubs that fly straight, helping you avoid penalty strokes.
Straight Shot Percentage. Long-time MyGolfSpy readers may remember our TruAccuracy metric. Straight shot percentage is the evolution of TruAccuracy. This new metric leverages Lou Stagner’s Adjusted Accuracy formula. It’s similar to fairway percentage but it doesn’t punish shots for missing the fairway just because they were a few yards longer. A good visual is a shot put grid. The straight-shot target area gets wider as shots travel farther.
Playable Shot Percentage. As the name suggests, the playable shot percentage is a measure of the percentage of shots that will likely be good enough for average golfers. We define that as in or within 10 yards of the edge of a 35-yard-wide fairway.
Our forgiveness score is derived from three metrics.
Carry Delta. The distance (yards) between the longest and shortest shots hit by each tester with each club.
Ball Speed Delta. The speed difference between the fastest and slowest shots hit by each tester with each club.
Shot Area. Our traditional dispersion metric, shot area (or stat area) represents the area of a 90th-percentile confidence ellipse. Think of it as the size of the ellipse that launch monitor software draws around a grouping of shots.
Our only single metric category, we use a graduated Strokes Gained model where the penalty increases as shots that miss the fairway move farther offline.
Individual metrics are weighted within categories. Categories are then weighted (slightly favoring distance) and aggregated to form the overall rankings.
We’ve provided our overall scores for each club as well as the individual category scores. This will allow you to develop your own rankings based on what’s most important to you. For example: more consistent drivers may wish to focus more heavily on distance while golfers who struggle with consistency may want to focus more on forgiveness.
2022 BEST DRIVER FOR HIGH SWING SPEEDS: PING G425 MAX
BEST DRIVERS OVERALL
The Top of the Board
- PING G425 Max, the 2022 Most Wanted Driver, continues its impressive performance by being the best driver overall for high swing speeds.
- Mizuno ST-Z 220 claims the runner-up position.
- TaylorMade Stealth HD is third.
- Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS and COBRA KING LTDx Max round out the top five.
BEST DRIVERS FOR DISTANCE
Distance scores are derived from three key metrics: carry distance, total distance and peak total distance.
- COBRA KING LTDx LS is the best for distance for high swing speeds.
- TaylorMade Stealth+ lives up to the hype by placing runner-up for distance.
- Titleist TSi3, a sleeper in the eyes of some, comes in at third.
- COBRA KING LTDx Max and Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS claim fourth and fifth respectively.
BEST DRIVERS FOR ACCURACY
Accuracy scores are derived from straight shot percentage and playable shot percentage.
- PING G425 Max boasts the best scores for accuracy.
- Following G425 Max is Tour Edge Exotics Pro 721.
- Mizuno ST-Z 220 rounds out the top three for accuracy.
- Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS and COBRA KING LTDx Max continue their impressive showings.
BEST DRIVERS FOR FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness scores are determined by three metrics: carry delta, ball speed delta and shot area.
- The best for forgiveness, PING G425 Max adds to its impressive performance.
- Adding to its performance, Mizuno ST-Z 220 captures second for forgiveness.
- COBRA Air-X surprises with a third-place finish.
- Titleist TSi2 and Tour Edge Exotics C722 close out the top five.
BEST DRIVERS FOR STROKES GAINED
- Srixon ZX7 takes the crown for best Strokes Gained.
- PING G425 LST finishes runner-up.
- Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS offers consistent performance.
- COBRA KING LTDx and Callaway Rogue ST Max LS squeak into the top five just in front of the Stealth+.
Performance should be your primary concern when looking for the best drivers of 2022 but there are some additional considerations you may want to think about before you buy.
Like everything else we buy, golf clubs—and that includes drivers—are getting more expensive. This year’s pricing makes a strong case for buying last year’s model. Inarguably among the longest drivers on the market, the flagship. TaylorMade Stealth+ leads the mainstream category at $599.99. Another $100 can put you into a XXIO X or XXIO 12. For those looking to break the bank, Proto Concept C01D is $1,100.
All this being said, Sub 70, Tommy Armour, COBRA, Wilson, Tour Edge and Cleveland all have drivers for less than $400.
The best value in the driver category may well be the previously tested PXG 0211 (not tested in 2022). It’s a solid all-around performer that sells for $199.
While the “made for” shaft game has changed, it’s not much less shady than in the past. Stock shaft performance is typically adequate (though not likely what you’d get from a properly fitted aftermarket shaft) but understand that stock shaft options are invariably about boosting manufacturer margins, not golfer performance.
Given the rising cost of drivers, we can’t recommend strongly enough that you work with a competent fitter to get the most out of your money. That said, we understand that not everyone has that option and many of you will buy off the rack. With that in mind, it’s important to note that most manufacturers offer two or three stock shafts so you do have some options, even within a stock lineup. Most manufacturers offer a selection of no-charge alternatives and, while some of those may fit you better, it’s important to understand what you’re getting.
It’s not uncommon for shaft manufacturers to sell lower-grade stock-quality shafts in the aftermarket at premium shaft prices. It’s a practice that helps club manufacturers create an illusion that what you’re getting from them is better than what their competitors offer and better than it actually is. That’s not to say that a stock shaft might not fit you well but the bottom line is you’re never going to get a $350 (or even $250) shaft in a $500 or $600 driver.
Distance Versus Everything Else
Distance is king and bragging rights matter so we understand the temptation to prioritize an extra yard or two. What we typically see in testing is that the handful of longest clubs for any individual golfer are often within a yard or two of each other. Given those similarities in distance, we believe golfers should narrow their choices and then prioritize tighter dispersion and greater consistency over one more steps down the fairway.
While you should never trade away distance entirely (don’t buy the shortest club just because it goes straight), for many golfers the extra yard (or less) won’t match the performance benefits you’ll see by choosing smaller numbers (narrower deltas) 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) like the PING G425 SFT 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 with draw capabilities like the COBRA LTDx MAX may be a better option.
Clubs with upright lie angles can also help keep the ball from going right.
For golfers who struggle with a hook, toe bias (fade) weighting and flatter lie angles can help.
2022 BEST DRIVER FOR HIGH SWING SPEEDS – SCORES
2022 Best Driver For High Swing Speeds Scores
|PRODUCT||OVERALL SCORE||DISTANCE SCORE||ACCURACY SCORE||FORGIVENESS SCORE||STROKES GAINED SCORE|
|PING G425 Max|
|Mizuno ST-Z 220|
|TaylorMade Stealth HD|
|Callaway Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS|
|COBRA KING LTDx Max|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max LS|
|Tour Edge Exotics C722|
|PING G425 LST|
|COBRA KING LTDx|
|Tour Edge Exotics Pro 721|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max Draw|
|Mizuno ST-G 220|
|Cleveland Launcher XL|
|Proto Concept C01D|
|Wilson Staff D9|
|Sub 70 849D|
|COBRA KING LTDx LS|
|Tour Edge Exotics E722|
|Tommy Armour 845 Max|
|Sub 70 849 Pro|
|Mizuno ST-X 220|
|Cleveland Launcher XL Lite Draw|
|Wilson Staff Launch Pad 2|
|Cleveland Launcher XL Lite|
|Tour Edge Hot Launch C522|
|PING G425 SFT|
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 2022.
- Adjustable drivers are the standard (and that’s not likely to change). In this year’s test, 31 drivers offer some measure of adjustability. Some offer loft/face angle and lie adjustability while others enhance their fitting capabilities with movable weights. One specific highlight: the loft sleeve on the Cleveland Launcher XL offers 12 unique settings.
- Boundaries are meant to be pushed or at least explored. The TaylorMade Stealth family (most notably the Stealth+) provided fast ball speeds and long distances.
- Zero CG is the story of the COBRA LTDx. It struggled a bit with accuracy but was otherwise a strong performer while the LTDx LS showed it can hang with anything in the speed category.
Notes from the Testing Pool
- Without question, TaylorMade’s Stealth lineup has been the talk of the golf industry since its debut. Stealth, TaylorMade Stealth HD and Stealth+ all feature a red carbon face (as most of you know). Overall, the Stealth family was well received. Both feel and sound were positive talking points. The carbon face got mixed reviews but testers liked the personalization options available through the MyStealh+ program. A few testers noted that feedback off the face is lacking and it was difficult to distinguish between solid and poor strikes.
- Head shape and profile were critical features for most of the testing pool. Testers loved what they saw with the Mizuno ST-Z 220 and ST-G 220, Callaway Rogue ST MAX LS and Triple Diamond LS, TaylorMade Stealth+, Titleist TSi3 and TSi4, Proto Concept C01D, COBRA KING LTDx and KING LTDx LS.
- The most highly rated for drivers for feel include the Stealth+, Stealth, Stealth HD, Mizuno ST-Z 220, Mizuno ST-X 220, COBRA KING LTDx, COBRA KING LTDx LS, Titleist TSi3, Callaway Rogue ST MAX LS and Rogue ST Triple Diamond LS, PING G425 LST, PING G425 MAX and Tour Edge Exotics C722.
Hitting Bay Basics
Here are some quick insights to help you better navigate your next hitting bay experience.
- Shaft Length – Manufacturers know you want distance and will cheat a bit to get it. A 46-inch shaft will almost always get you more yards but typically leads to less accuracy and increased dispersion. A shorter shaft typically won’t cost you many (if any) yards because you’ll hit the sweet spot more often. On a related note, the equipment industry still can’t agree on the definition of an inch so one manufacturer’s 45.75 is often another’s 46. Pay attention to the actual shaft length of the clubs at your next hitting bay experience.
- Adjustable Loft – When you adjust loft, you change 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 the loft adjustability to improve accuracy.
- 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.
- Speed Versus Forgiveness – Despite promises of breakthrough technologies, run-of-the-mill physics, namely center-of-gravity location, remains the greatest predictor of ball speed. Clubs with more forward centers of gravity like the Titleist TSi4, COBRA KING LTDx LS and other low-spin designs will typically produce the fastest ball speeds but with that comes lower MOI and often diminished forgiveness.
- Good Looks Don’t Equal Good Performance – Don’t overvalue looks. Golfers tell us all the time 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.
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. Though we all want something new from time to time, 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. As has been the case in every year of testing, there was not one driver that produced more ball speed for everyone. We do find a handful of standouts every year but average ball speeds among our top performers tend to be very close. That doesn’t mean they’re all the same. As you move down the 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, accuracy and forgiveness matter. Most launch monitors display standard deviations in small print under the averages. Smaller standard deviations correlate to greater consistency. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
Most Wanted – Determining the Best Drivers for High Swing Speeds
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 scores for our distanced, accuracy, forgiveness and Strokes Gained metrics. Those values are weighted and then aggregated to determine the Most Wanted Driver.
Q: How is the “Longest Driver” determined?
A: The three metrics that determine the longest driver are total distance, carry distance and peak distance (see Most Wanted Scoring section above for more detail).
Q: How is the “Most Accurate Driver” determined?
A: The two metrics that determine the most accurate driver are straight shot percentage and playable shot percentage (see Most Wanted Scoring section above for more detail).
Q: How is the “Most Forgiving Driver” determined?
A: The three metrics that determine the most forgiving driver are carry delta, ball speed delta and shot area (see Most Wanted Scoring section above for more detail).
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: Mid and low swing speed articles will be published in the coming weeks.
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