Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Here’s Your Sign …
Drivers

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Here’s Your Sign …

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Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Here’s Your Sign …

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone and summer has unofficially commenced, it’s time to ask a rather serious question.

Are you, dear reader, ready to upgrade your driver?

I’m not talking to those who rushed out to get fitted before the snow melted. I’m not talking to you lucky so-and-sos who live where you don’t get snow and think winter only as the time of year when you can’t wear shorts on the golf course.

Is it time to upgrade your driver?

I’m talking to you hard-core, cynical readers who scoff at each year’s new driver offerings with clever observations such as, “Nothing new here, move along.”

Or “Same marketing BS.”

Or “A new driver won’t fix your crappy swing.”

And my personal favorite: “GET LESSONS!”

I know you’re not the type to take advice from a mere golf blog. But since you’ve read this far, we humbly invite you to invest the next five or six minutes and read the rest. At the very least you’ll be amused.

Is it time to upgrade your driver?

You might find a nugget or two that you could use.

Or you could tell us to take an aerial intercourse at a motivated piece of pastry.

Either way, you win.

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Sign #1

If your driver was a child, could you sign it up for kindergarten?

With apologies to Bill Engvall, “Here’s your sign.”

finding the proper location for movable weights is a critical element of driver fitting.

OEMs will tell you straight: year-to-year driver upgrades are fairly minimal with virtually no difference in performance on a dead-center strike. But even the game’s best will miss the center more often than they’d like and that’s where OEMs are making performance strides.

This year is a little different. The PING, TaylorMade and PXG 10K revolution and Callaway’s new AI-designed face have flipped the script slightly. But half a decade’s worth of small improvements can add up to something you’ll notice on the course. It could be tighter dispersion, it could be straighter drives or it could be mishits that aren’t quite as punishing.

Maybe new will be better for you. Maybe it won’t. But you won’t know until you go through the process, preferably under the watchful eye of a skilled fitter. But in terms of driver technology, five years is enough time to see some tangible differences.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke drivers

Therefore, with apologies to that other Blue-Collar comedian …

If your last driver purchase predates the global stay-at-home party we fondly refer to as the COVID-19 lockdown, you might just be a new driver shopper.

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Sign #2

Quiz time!

Since you bought your current driver, have you:

A: Grown older?
B: Grown older but gained speed through workouts?
C: Grown older but improved your swing through coaching?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, here’s your sign. If you answered “no” to any of these, we’ll send you back to Engvall and he’ll give you that other sign.

Tiger famously told us that Father Time is undefeated. We all grow older and, while some of us age like fine wine, others age like Memorial Day potato salad left in the hot sun. While tools such as Super Speed Golf or The Stack System (pick a side and grab your popcorn) can keep Father Time’s inevitable speed loss at bay, we’ll all need to adjust.

Aging golfer

If you’ve gained speed since your last driver fitting, congratulations! You’ve earned yourself a new driver. Take pride in going from a stiff shaft to an X-stiff shaft. Go get fitted and bomb the hell out of it. If you’ve improved your technique through coaching and tamed that hook or slice, you, too, deserve a new driver.

If, however, you’ve lost some swing speed, don’t fret. OEMs know we sexagenarians, while aging gracefully, are a huge market segment. They’re following XXIO’s lead and making lighter-weight, easier-to-swing drivers that, for lack of a better term, are the finders of lost yards.

Therefore, if you’ve survived the last half decade or so and can still swing a club, you might just be a new driver shopper.

XXIO 13 metalwoods

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Sign #3

When you look at your driver stats, do you find that you hit fairways at the same rate as Storm Troopers hit Skywalkers? If so, here’s your sign.

OK, you’re slicing the ball like Hannibal Lecter. Your launch monitor numbers confirm an out-to-in swing path with an open club face is giving you spin numbers in the 4,000 rpm range. Your swing is a problem but can the right driver help?

A new driver won’t “fix your crappy swing” (seriously, check any social media post on any new driver. It comes up every time) but the right new driver can take a bad shot and make it better.

Driver fitting

“Drivers are getting even more forgiving,” says Steve Thomson, a fitter and instructor at Golftec in Danvers, Mass. “MOI is higher, CG is further back. Higher lofts now produce more spin so reducing static loft helps a lot. I see a lot more people fitting into a nine- or a 9.5-degree driver head than I did five or six years ago.”

While we always recommend coaching, the right driver can help mitigate that slice to the point where you can have fun on the course.

“Those are the most gratifying ones,” says Thomson. “Give a big slicer a draw-type head that can reduce that slice by 10 or 15 yards? That can change someone’s golf game.”

Cleveland Launcher XL 2 driver.

If your slice is the envy of any hibachi steakhouse chef, you might just be a new driver shopper.

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Sign #4

This one might rile up the masses, but what the hell …

It doesn’t matter what your handicap is, if you love golf, play regularly and have never been fitted for a driver, here’s your sign.

A common misconception is that club fitting in general and driver fitting in particular is only for the accomplished golfer.

“Without a consistent swing, driver fitting is a waste of money,” say golf’s online illuminati. But any instructor worth his certified PGA status will tell you a mid- to high-handicapper will benefit more from a driver fitting than a low-handicapper. 

The low handicapper is a stick with the skill to adapt to almost anything and, while he won’t play his best with an ill-fitted driver, he’ll manage. The mid-to-high-handicapper may not have a consistently good swing but he/she likely has enough tendencies for a good fitter to find a pattern and offer a helpful solution.

Maybe it’s a draw-biased head. Maybe it’s a shorter shaft or maybe it’s a higher MOI. The bottom line is no matter your handicap, if you’ve never been fitted for a driver, you might just be a driver shopper.

Is It Time To Upgrade Your Driver? Sign #5

If you’re still not riled up, keep reading.

We did cite five years as a driver benchmark. But the bottom line is this: If you simply want a new driver, here’s your sign.

Is it time to upgrade your driver?

Yes, we said it. As a consumer, you earn your own money and can spend it any way you want. If buying a new driver makes you happy, what anyone else thinks is just noise.  

Will it magically transform your game? Possibly, but only if you replace an off-the-rack, ill-fitting driver with something fitted to your swing. Will it make you a better golfer? No, but it could help you play better golf.

And, yes, there is a difference.

PING G430 Max 10K Driver

If you’re gaming a 2022 Callaway Rogue or an original TaylorMade Stealth and you want to go full PING G430 MAX 10K, go for it.

While you shouldn’t fall prey to any OEM’s mass marketing machine, also avoid the growing anti-OEM mass marketing machine. It’s easy to dismiss each year’s offerings with a cynical crack or two and cry “Get Lessons!” Single lessons are nice but tend to be Band-Aids at best. Coaching is long-term and that’s where real improvement is made. Why you play golf and what you’re looking for will ultimately help you decide how to spend your money.

For most of us, golf is a game. And games are supposed to be fun.

Is it time to upgrade your driver?

Think it through logically. If you really want a new driver, that’s good enough for us. You might just be a new driver shopper.

Git ‘er done.

For You

For You

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John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John Barba





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      ROB PERSON

      1 month ago

      The writing style grabs me! Curt yet frank, sarcasm and reality! Thanks for this!
      Everyone WANTS a new driver, but not everyone can afford one. The one consistent thing is that if iyour driver has an adjustable tip, try a different shaft! Of course that can be a whole other article series in itself!

      Reply

      KJC

      2 months ago

      I still play a Ping 400 Max. I hit 80% of fairways. Played last week with my swing coach and he suggested he could get me 10 more yards from this head. Maybe a new shaft. Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed still play the 400 Max. I understand Ossti is buying all he can get on ebay.

      Reply

      Drifter

      2 months ago

      I just got fit for a TSr 1 with a +2 weight in the head from a Cally. XR and love it hits straighter and longer with a project X CB 50 5.5 shaft . I’m 67 and loving it I know Titleist will be coming out with there new stuff soon here but for me this is working just fine. Plus will get fit for a fairway wood with a Titleist fitter when the new models come out after my knee replacement.

      Reply

      Gregg Ehrgood

      2 months ago

      Thanks ,when I find my driver swing again I will up grade from my g400. One other reason to get a new driver is what ever you can get off with your Christmas and Birthday gift cards. ⛳️

      Reply

      Duane Martin

      2 months ago

      I was thinking about plopping down 600 bucks because I had no idea what my current driver might do and I had to work hard at keeping it in play.
      I took out the new Ping and Calloway against my current driver.
      After some changes in the shaft during head to head comparisons, it turned out that I had outgrown my 75g Hazardous Smoke.
      Installed a 60g into the G420 and all became right with world without spending 600 bucks for minimal gain.
      The G420 with a lighter shaft was back on step with the new stuff.
      Turns out I don’t swing 112-114 like I did 5 years ago.
      Who would have thought….

      Reply

      Foster Atteberry

      2 months ago

      Thanks for the multitude of reasons to go driver shopping. My current gamer is a Gen 4 PxG with a Gen 5 in the closet just waiting for the Gen 4 to fail. BTW, I got 14/14 FIR this week according to Shotscope so the Gen 4 stays in the bag.

      Reply

      Tom Aguirre

      2 months ago

      My ex-driver was a 2014 Taylormade 460S that I picked up in 2018 for $45 from a demo barrel at Dicks. Truthfully,it was the best driver I ever owned until…

      February 2024. PXG had a promotion which offered a free fitting and the opportunity to demo their latest Gen6 driver and two earlier generations ( Gen4 & Gen5). It was OK to bring your current driver as well. There was no way I was going to buy the latest Gen6 model at $599.99. But I was interested in the Gen5 priced at $289.99 (reg $599.99) or the Gen4 priced at $199.99 (reg

      Reply

      Tom Aguirre

      2 months ago

      Only part of my reply was published. Is there a word limit?

      Reply

      Tom Aguirre

      2 months ago

      My ex-driver was a 2014 Taylormade 460S that I picked up in 2018 for $45 from a demo barrel at Dicks. Truthfully,it was the best driver I ever owned until…
      February 2024. PXG had a promotion which offered a free fitting and the opportunity to demo their latest Gen6 driver and two earlier generations ( Gen4 & Gen5). It was OK to bring your current driver as well. There was no way I was going to buy the latest Gen6 model at $599.99. But I was interested in the Gen5 priced at $289.99 (reg $599.99) or the Gen4 priced at $199.99 (reg $549). Based on the data, I purchased the Gen 5 model. At 77 yo, I’ve gained 15 yds. I will never buy another club without being fitted. Finally, I rated the PXG fitting experience in Bellevue, WA 5 stars. Excellent customer service.

      Will

      2 months ago

      How about “when your Stealth 2 Plus’s head keeps shattering and TaylorMade gets a little slower about honoring their warranty each time”? I’ve been without a driver for two weeks now. Seriously considering blowing a bunch of cash on a new one from a different manufacturer just so I can stop worrying about having to go through this again with every single swing.

      Reply

      Jimmy

      2 months ago

      They sent me a qi10 LS after a recent Stealth2+ face separation. Hopefully you’ll get the same this time so you don’t have to keep exchanging every few months.

      Reply

      Will

      2 months ago

      Nah, just got it, they sent me another Stealth 2 Plus. One of the testers on this very site reported the same problem with the Qi10 anyway.

      Ted

      2 months ago

      Well every year I try out a number of drivers at our local golf shop (with various shafts) and usually decline the new offerings as they truly are marketing hype (used to be a TM fan but ever since they started flooding the market with new drivers 3+ times a year I stayed away). On average I buy a very good used driver every 4 years (I wasn’t fitted but did try it out with the shaft that worked for me). So far Its worked out well for me. I’m 70 and play to a 14 handicap now but hope to get back to single digits once I fully recover from my rotator cuff partial tear!!

      Reply

      Randy N

      2 months ago

      Very enjoyable read. I’ll find something to replace my SIM2 eventually, I just know it!

      Reply

      Dave

      2 months ago

      I went through a similar thought process over the winter as I was thinking ahead to golf. My driver was 7 or 8 years old, I’m getting older and I said what the hell, spend the money and enjoy my retirement.

      Reply

      Jb

      2 months ago

      Always enjoy John Barba over the years. Written or Podcast. Regardless of the topic.
      I also miss the OG bird on a wire…. a tweeting Dan Jenkins.
      Lots of noise in golf, not too many standouts. Thanks always John!

      Reply

      Vegan_Golfer_PNW

      2 months ago

      Excellent read John. Thank you for giving us all a reason. Before reading this I was actually going through a similar checklist in my head and because I’ve never been formally fit, I feel the time is now. Everything else is forcing my bag, why not the club that will have the largest dispersion.

      Reply

      Ben

      2 months ago

      Lmao this post is about to cost me $600!! Damn you!!!! 😂

      Reply

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