2019 MOST WANTED – THE BEST DRIVERS FOR MID SWING SPEEDS
Drivers

2019 MOST WANTED – THE BEST DRIVERS FOR MID SWING SPEEDS

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2019 MOST WANTED – THE BEST DRIVERS FOR MID SWING SPEEDS
TaylorMade M6
TaylorMade M6
PING G410 SFT
Tommy Armour Atomic
Your Results
Best Overall
TaylorMade M6
  • Best Overall Driver for Mid Swing Speeds in 2019
  • First in Average Total Distance
  • Among the best for Ball Speed Consistency
  • Highest ranked for Strokes Gained among mid-swing speed testers
  • Not among the top performers of offline consistency

136.92 mph

244.65 yards

2,140 yds²

Best Distance
TaylorMade M6
  • Longest Driver for Mid Swing Speeds in 2019
  • First in Average Total Distance
  • Among the Best for Ball Speed Consistency
  • Highest ranked for Strokes Gained among mid-swing speed testers
  • Not among top performing drivers for accuracy

136.92 mph

244.65 yards

2,140 yds²

Best Forgiveness
PING G410 SFT
  • Most Forgiving driver for mid-swing speed testers in 2019
  • Top 10 in Shot Area
  • Among the top performers for ball speed and Carry Consistency
  • Not among top performers for distance

134.35 mph

229.71 yards

1,818 yds²

Best Value
Tommy Armour Atomic
  • Best Value Driver for Mid Swing Speed testers in 2019
  • Among top performers for Average Ball Speed
  • Top 10 in Shot Area
  • Poorly rated for Looks and Feel

135.48 mph

238.19 yards

2,1242 yds²

True Golf Fit
Your Results
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One size fits all. It works for hats, but not for golf clubs. If that were the case, there would only be one driver that fit everyone. It would make buying a driver significantly easier, but unfortunately, that’s not the reality. What is true, however, is that Swing speed is very often a key factor in determining the best performing clubs for each individual golfer.

As we’ve done in the past, for 2019, we’re again segmenting our data to provide more meaningful information to the individual golfer. We’ve broken down our driver test results into three different swing speed categories. If you’re a mid swing speed player (95-105 mph), this data is for you.  

While overall results for the Most Wanted Driver test yield small differences – the mid swing speed group showed a whopping 17 yards of difference between the longest and shortest drivers.

Most Wanted For Mid Swing Speeds: TaylorMade M6

Driver Buying Considerations

Performance should be your primary concern when buying a new driver, but there are some additional considerations you may want to think about before you make your purchasing decision.

ADJUSTABILITY

By leveraging the adjustability provided by club manufacturers, you can often turn a good driver into a great driver. Most everything on the market has an adjustable hosel which allows the golfer to tweak loft and face angle. Many golfers benefit from the draw and fade options available on drivers like the Callaway Epic Flash, Titleist TS3, and PING G410 Plus. Others benefit from the launch, spin, and MOI changes offered by front to back weight systems like those found on the Cobra F9 SpeedBack, Wilson Cortex, and Sub70 839D. For those looking for the best of both worlds, movable weight systems like those found in the TaylorMade M5 and PXG 0811 X GEN2 series, offer front to back as well as draw and fade positions.

SHAFT SELECTION

The shaft absolutely matters. For those who buy off the rack or take a DIY approach to club fitting, having a selection of stock offerings that span a variety of weight classes and include – at a minimum – low, mid, and high launch shaft options, can make the difference between a driver that doesn’t perform and one that goes into your bag.

Distance vs. Forgiveness vs. Shot Shape Correction

While most every manufacturer has its version of the fast AND forgiving story, most are trying to strike a right balance that fits within their brand’s identity. The reality is that pushing ball speed limits often comes at the expense of MOI while maximizing forgiveness often means giving up a bit of speed and adding a bit of spin. It’s up to you to weigh how much speed you want against how much forgiveness you need.

It should also be noted that to create a draw bias (anti-slice correction), weight must be moved to the heel. That means pulling weight from the back of the club, which often results in draw biased models being less forgiving (lower MOI) than standard models from the same family.

Cost

The drivers in this test range in price from $190 to $650, excluding any exotic shaft upgrades. The top performers tend to fall towards the higher end of that price range, though at $450 the F9 Speedback can be considered a relative bargain. While $500 is rapidly becoming the new entry-level, those leveraging a cost per yard formula will have a hard time justifying paying that much.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT - PING G410 PLUS

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT - PING G410 PLUS

One of the strongest performing drivers in the Mid Swing Speed category, the PING G410 Plus appeared in nine out of the ten metrics we use to measure performance.  Most notably, G410 Plus produced the best ball speed consistency in its respective category.

The G410 Plus features a movable weight along the perimeter of the driver which allows the golfer to move between draw, neutral, and fade settings. The movable weight paired with a new 8-position hosel sleeve gives the G410 Plus has a variety of fitting options to better optimize launch conditions for any golfer.

2019 Most Wanted DRIVER DATA

To filter and compare by club, use the drop-down list and checkboxes to select the only the drivers you wish to compare.

Expert Tip - Aligning Weights with Impact

Draw and fade settings aren't just for shot shape correction.

While club manufacturers typically talk about draw and fade positions in terms of shot shape correction, they can be leveraged to increase ball speed. If you're a relatively straight driver of the ball who favors the toe, moving weight to the fade position will better align the center of gravity with your point of impact, producing higher ball speed. The same is true for heel strikers and the draw position.

MORE BUYING TIPS

  • Always be aware of shaft length. Clubs that are physically longer may produce a bit more distance on your best shots, but they’re also generally less accurate and less consistent. There is no industry standard for how to measure, so it’s not unusual for a company’s 45.5″ to measure closer to 46″. When demoing, be sure to consider the actual length of the clubs you’re testing. One may generate more distance, simply because the shaft is longer. In the absence of a ruler, a side by side examination can help you understand if a club is really longer (distance) or the shaft is just longer.
  • When you use your wrench to add or remove loft, you’re also changing the face angle. Adding loft closes the face while reducing loft opens it. While we do leverage hosel adjustments to make small changes to launch and spin, very often, we use those same adjustments to alter starting direction and improve accuracy. The same approach can work for you.
  • Much like age, the loft stamped on your driver is just a number – an often meaningless one at that. Every driver has 3 lofts: what’s stamped on the club, the actual loft a given manufacturer is trying to hit, and the actual measured loft. When all is said and done, there isn’t as much overlap between the three as we’d hope – and that’s before we talk about center of gravity placement and dynamic loft. It’s not usual for one brands 9.5 to have the same loft as another’s 10.5, so if you’re a 9.5 guy in one manufacturer’s lineup, don’t assume you’re a 9.5 in everyone else’s.
  • Not all adjustable weighting systems are created equal. If you plan to leverage adjustability to its fullest potential, look 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.

How We Test

Our Mission is to help you find the best driver for your game.

We are 100% independent and unbiased, and we always put the #ConsumerFirst.

About Our Testers

Our pool of testers consists of 35 golfers with handicaps ranging from plus to the mid-teens. As a group, they span a broad range of swing characteristics (head speed, attack angle, etc.).

Over the course of several sessions, each golfer is required to hit 10-12 "good" shots with each club. Club order is randomized on a per tester basis.

Limiting Variables and Gathering Data Reliably

To minimize variables, all testers hit Bridgestone B330 RX Golf balls.

Both club and head data are captured using Foresight GCQuad launch monitors.

Crunching the Numbers

Before determining our rankings, we identify and remove outliers using a proprietary detection methodology.

To arrive at our final results, we calculate the averages of key metrics (ball speed, distance, dispersion, etc.), while also considering the standard deviation and the statistical reliability of those values.

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

Most Wanted Driver Spec Sheet

ClubStamped LoftMeasured LoftLie*Length*SwingWeight*
Bridgestone Tour B JGR

Check Price
9.5°10°63°45.5"D2
Callaway EPIC Flash

Check Price
8.8°59.8°45.625"D2.3
Callaway EPIC Flash Sub Zero

Check Price
57.5°45.5"D3.5
Cleveland Launcher HB

Check Price
9.5°9.6°60.1°45.5"D3
Cobra F9 Speedback

Check Price
58.2°45.25"D1
Exotics EXS

Check Price
9.5°9.4°59.6°45.75"D3.7
Mizuno ST190

Check Price
9.5°9.2°60.8°45.125"D2.9
Mizuno ST190G

Check Price
8.7°61.9°45.125"D3.2
PING G410 Plus

Check Price
60.8°45.375"D3
PING G410 SFT

Check Price
10.5°11.1°61.4°45.375"C9
PXG 0811X

Check Price
8.3°60.8°45"D4
PXG 0811XF

Check Price
60.8°45"D3.1
Srixon Z585

Check Price
9.5°9.2°64.8°45.375"D4
Srixon Z785

Check Price
9.5°9.4°62.8°45.375"D4
Sub70 839D

Check Price
9.5°9.8°61.4°45.5"D5.7
TaylorMade M5

Check Price
9.1°57°45.75"D5.4
TaylorMade M6

Check Price
8.7°58.1°45.75"D4.2
Titleist TS2

Check Price
9.5°9.1°58.1°45.5"D5.7
Titleist TS3

Check Price
9.5°8.9°59.2°45.5"D5.1
Tommy Armour Atomic

Check Price
9.2°61.9°45.375"D4.9
Tour Edge HL3

Check Price
9.5°9.4°57.4°45"D2
Wilson Cortex

Check Price
59°44.75"D6.4
Wilson D7

Check Price
9.4°64.2°45.5" 0
XXIO X

Check Price
9.5°10.5°60.4°46"D6

* denotes measured value vs. manufacturer’s stated spec.

FAQ

Buying a New Driver

Q: How often should I buy a new driver?

A: While on rare occasions there are quantifiable year over year breakthroughs, typically it takes 3-5 years for manufacturers to make any significant performance gains. With the USGA further tightening restrictions on manufacturers, it’s possible, even likely, that it will take longer still moving forward. Our recommendation is to buy a new driver only when it appreciably outperforms what is already in your bag. Of course, if you want a new driver because you want a new driver, that’s fine too.

Q: With all the talk of new face technology, is there one driver that produces significantly more ball speed?

A: Across our test pool as a whole, we found no significant ball speed advantage that can be attributed to face technology. It’s true that some drivers worked significantly better for individual golfers than others, but thus far, we’ve found no evidence to suggest that any one brand has a significant ball speed advantage over its competitors.

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: While golfers have been conditioned to consider distance to the exclusion of nearly everything else, we recommended looking at the little numbers and looking for small circles. When comparing metrics like distance and ball speed, be sure to look at your standard deviations (the small numbers usually found under the big ones on the data screen). Smaller numbers mean better consistency which will usually mean more than an extra yard or two on the golf course. Similarly, look for tighter dispersion ellipses (small circles). We can’t understate the importance of consistency with the driver.

Q: Is there any downside to adjustability?

A: Yes, but… With many designs, adjustable hosels weigh significantly more than their glued alternatives, so manufacturers have to find workarounds to offset the additional weight in an area where additional weight is undesirable. Furthermore, movable weight systems require complex physical structures that eat up otherwise discretionary mass and often have sound and feel consequences. That said, in most cases, the fitting versatility more than offsets those negatives. This is especially true for golfers who choose not to work directly with a fitter.

How Adjusting Loft Impacts Launch and Spin

Did you know that adjusting the loft of your driver by 1° changes launch angle by approximately .8° and alters spin by +/-300RPM?

Most Wanted

Q: How are the drivers in test fit to each golfer?

A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock.  Drivers are fit to each tester using the stock, no up-charge options from each manufacturer. We test with stamped lofts between 9° and 10.5° and fully utilize the fitting capability within each manufacturer’s lineup. This includes leveraging, loft, lie, and face angle adjustability (hosel), movable weights, and available shafts.

Q: How is the Most Wanted Driver Determined

A: To determine the Most Wanted Driver, we look at a variety of performance metrics based on data collected with Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitors. These metrics including ball speed, distance (carry and total), strokes gained, accuracy, and dispersion (shot area). As part of our analysis, we consider the standard deviations of key metrics (consistency), as well as the statistical reliability of the data on a per tester and club basis.

Q: How do you break down the test by Swing Speed?

A: In order to determine the best performing drivers at a given swing speed, we broke the data down into even groups based on testers’ average swing speed.  For the mid swing speeds, 12 testers in our Most Wanted Driver Test produced driver swing speeds between 95mph and 105mph.

Q: How is the “Longest” driver determined?

A: To determine the Longest Driver, we consider the average total yards across the test pool along with the statistical reliability of that data. We also look at a narrower subset of the data that includes only the longest few shots hit by each tester with each club.

Q: How is the “Most Forgiving” driver determined?

A: To determine the Most Forgiving Driver, we focus on a narrower set of metrics that includes: Shot Area (dispersion), Accuracy, and the average standard deviation for ball speed and carry yards.

Q: How much does subjective feedback like looks, sound, and feel factor into your rankings?

A: ZERO. Our rankings are based purely on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.

 

 

 

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      scott

      4 years ago

      I love looking at the stats, the problem with stats they are based on center of the club hits. I believe the biggest difference in drivers are the high of center, toe or low hits maybe draw then fade that make one brand better then the other for 99% of all golfers.

      Reply

      Bill

      5 years ago

      Great test, and wanted to respond to John J’s query about where getting fitted should be considered in the final decision making process. Funkaholic’s response was accurate. If you went to a non-biased fitter (I’ve had both, one a true professional and the other grabbed the most expensive bits and insisted that’s what I had to have despite the fact the numbers were inconclusive and I didn’t like the feel). Getting fitted by someone that has worked with my swing was far more enlightening and if you have an instructor that is also a fitter I’d consider that route.
      That said, the article spoke to me and was a great starting point in guiding me to my eventual choice. Another recommendation, get your swing to where you want it before you start. Get your swing coach to make the necessary adjustments so when you go for your fitting, you’re working off your optimum swing.
      I’ve played many years and my swing is very different than when I was younger. My swing speed is much lower than previous due to age and back issues but I still top out at medium to medium high. That also played a huge factor. I’ve tried to play with my older drivers and my speed change makes them obsolete for me.
      Also, know your objective. I still can hit it far enough where my emphasis is on hitting fairways, not the longest possible drive. My first fitter was all about topping out distance (even though I stated that tight dispersion was my goal).
      My second fitter got me into my new gamer (PXG 0811XF) by an extensive search through six heads and as many shafts. I came out of the fitting confident that I will hit many more fairways with the way he set up the club head along with the right shaft for my swing while staying within 3 yards of the longest club. Like anything, the more footwork you do on your end, the higher the chance of getting the right club for you. Communicating your goals accurately to your fitter is equally important.

      Reply

      John J

      5 years ago

      Can you help me understand how these rankings should be viewed in the context of a club fitting? Ie, if I go to get fitted and get their recommendation on what driver to buy, does that override these tests?

      Do I simply take their recommendations on setup (angle, shaft, etc…) and customize the top driver in your list, or if they recommend a different club should I stick with their reccomendation? A little elaboration would be helpful.

      Reply

      Funkaholic

      5 years ago

      If you are going to pay for a proper fitting I would suggest sticking to what the fitter tells you. Go to a brand agnostic fitter with a large selection. You can choose the heads that most appeal to you and prioritize your own criteria. If you want distance they can do that, if you prefer dispersion or the best mix of both make that clear to the fitter. Anyone can be fitted to any head, it is just a matter of how well it fits compared to others.

      Reply

      Chris Umdenstock

      5 years ago

      I just bought the m6 driver. I was fitted with the tensei stock stiff shaft. Inside the numbers were good but on the course the distance numbers are down. Can you recommend another shaft to try. I’m 92-95 mph with 2600 spin 10.5 loft launching at about 18*. I hit up trying to max carry.

      Reply

      Mahsy

      5 years ago

      Based on the data between the Ping 410 and 410SFT, just wondering if Taylormade M6 D-Type would be considered shorter I distance than the standard M6.

      Reply

      Jim Thomson

      5 years ago

      “The shaft absolutely matters.” Most, if not all of these drivers have different shaft options. It would be nice to know which shaft was used in each of the drivers tested.

      Reply

      Humza

      5 years ago

      I wonder, for drivers with front to back weight adjustability such as the TM M5 and Cobra F9 Speedback, what setting is the data for? Is it for rearmost, frontmost, or and average of the two? I’m sure the setting would have a noticeable effect on spin, launch angle, distance, etc.

      Reply

      don

      5 years ago

      OK I have watched the videos and read everything you have written but I am still confused. How can the ping be more accurate than the m6 when both the yards from center and shot area are higher for the ping?

      Reply

      alfriday

      5 years ago

      None of the shot areas in the graphic match those in the graph.

      According to the graph, the Srixon Z585 is the driver with the 1,818 shot area.

      Reply

      JJ

      5 years ago

      Also extremely confused by this. The data is provided but the data doesn’t match the awards on accuracy.

      Would love to know what the actual average dispersion looks like. I care way more about right to left dispersion than front to back.

      Emery

      5 years ago

      The Ping Distance is not listed correctly in the AWARD graph….if it is suppose to be the same as the TOTAL distance in the DRIVER DATA chart as was the M6 etc.

      Reply

      TR1PTIK

      5 years ago

      It’s listed correctly. There are two Ping G410 drivers in the test – SFT and Plus.

      Reply

      GregB135

      5 years ago

      And much like the most wanted putter testing, the Ben Hogan release date on their new driver is just a smidgen too late to make the Most Wanted lineup. Maybe they will pony up for the fairway wood testing.

      Reply

      gunmetal

      5 years ago

      Great test! Thanks.
      Curious if you guys have any thoughts on why the drivers performed like they did. I’m a little surprised that the Ping G410 was nearly 10 yards shorter carry than the top performers. Plenty of guys using Ping tech/design on tour and I guess I’d be surprised if they were consistently 10 yards (probably even more exacerbated with tour swing speeds) behind another driver brand.
      Thoughts?

      Reply

      mngolfer

      5 years ago

      The Ping 410 Plus was right there with the top performers. The SFT was shorter for some reason.

      Reply

      Dan Z

      5 years ago

      More spin on the SFT. It keeps the ball straighter but costs distance.

      gunmetal

      5 years ago

      @DAN Z – The SFT doesn’t add spin, it simply has more weight positioned in the heal of the club rather than distributed equally. Spin is a function of dynamic loft, swing speed, and COG. The least contributing factor of those 3 is COG. There’s no obvious reason the SFT would fly shorter (all things being equal) than the standard G410 which is why I wanted to see what MGS guys thought. I guess it’s possible that “all things aren’t equal” in these tests.

      TR1PTIK

      5 years ago

      @GUNMETAL the data listed shows the G410 SFT spinning roughly 400RPM higher than the G410 Plus w/ less ball speed and higher launch. It’s possible with human testers that strike location was not optimal, but I’d argue that there’s just more to it than that. The G410 Plus and G410 SFT are in fact different drivers and are designed with different performance criteria in mind, so “all things being equal” doesn’t really apply here. Results are different because they are different drivers. Those are just my thoughts on it though.

      gunmetal

      5 years ago

      @TR1PTIK

      Totally agree. I think the biggest variable is that these are human testers and while the reality is there’s very very little in 400 RPM on course, strike location is probably the biggest factor here – and that’s not measured in these tests. If MGS had a way to measure strike and somehow (???) factor it in to their results I think that would answer a lot of questions.

      Reply

      JonM

      5 years ago

      Whew I just bought the TM M6 a month ago and wasn’t 100% positive I could have hit a different driver better. This gives me reassurance that it is a fantastic club for my swing speed. Though the TS3 or Flash SZ would have been great as well.

      Reply

      Rob

      5 years ago

      Thanks MGS! Was really excited to see this breakdown and it’s finally here! On my birthday too! :)

      Reply

      Jerry Noble

      5 years ago

      The shaft is still the engine of the club. With club heads being different weights, a particular shaft would perform differently in different club heads. But if the person was able to be fit for each driver before taking the test, then I would have faith in the results. A particular driver may have fit each test taker better. It still comes down to personal preference. I have never been able to find a TaylorMade club and shaft combination I could hit as well as a Ping or Callaway. I also believe the Ping LST would outperform any of these clubs if you generally hit the center of the face and have the right shaft for you.

      Reply

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