Types of Drivers

By Patrick Cameron
The driver is one of the most important clubs in your bag.
The driver is one of the most important clubs in your bag.

There are two distinctly different emotions that run through the mind of a golfer on the tee box. If you hit long, straight drives, chances are you get a little excited when it comes to teeing off. If, on the other hand, your driving game lacks power and seems to get you in trouble, you may have some fear. Modern driver technology has advanced to the point where hitting the ball straight and hard can become routine. It's a matter of which type of driver fits your game.

Heads

Today's drivers offer a variety of choices when it comes to the club head. While most drivers offer larger heads for bigger sweet spots, a choice must be made on what materials you want the head to be made of. Steel-headed drivers are the smaller choices and tend to remain consistent over time. They are harder to hit and less forgiving, but offer a lower price point. Titanium has allowed driver heads to become bigger, providing larger sweet spots for booming drives and more forgiveness. They also tend to be priced higher. Composite drivers offer a mixture of titanium and other composite materials. They tend to fall in to the mid-range for pricing and provide many of the same distance and forgiveness benefits that are found in titanium.

Shafts

Several variables of driver shafts play roles in club head position at impact. Steel shafts are traditional, with less flex and more weight. They provide more control but can slow swing speed and generate less power at impact. Graphite shafts are the industry standard and provide light weight with a variety of flex options. The amount of flex you want in the shaft depends on how hard you swing the club, or what is known as club head speed. Low handicap golfers may opt for the control of a steel shaft, allowing a natural swing to make up for any loss in distance. Graphite shafts will help increase club head speed, allowing for longer hits. Shafts also come in a breadth of lengths, allowing golfers to choose one that best fits their swings and heights. With longer shafts, there's a tradeoff that needs to be considered. You can generate more club head speed, but you may lose some of the control.

Loft

The driver’s loft controls how high the ball will travel. The most common lofts tend to run from 11 to 18 degrees. The trick with loft is to find a driver that optimizes the length of your drives. The equation is based not solely on how far the ball flies, but what loft maximizes the flight and ground roll of the drive. Low-handicap golfers may tend to go even lower than an 11-degree loft, as the greater the loft, the less side spin, which can result in hooks and slices. Because experienced golfers tend to have better swings, they typically are better equipped to handle the less forgiving club-face angles.

Weighted Drivers

A new breed of drivers, called weighted drivers, are storming the market and might make sense for your game if you're looking to control the ball’s flight. Removable weights on the driver allow golfers to change the feel of a hit. Depending on how many of the weights are in the club and how they are positioned, golfers have the ability to decide what the flight path of the ball will be, provided the impact from the swing is consistent.

About the Author

Patrick Cameron is a freelance writer with 10 years of diverse experience in consumer goods branding, promotions and retail communications. He works out of his home in Denver, Colo. He received his Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

Photo Credits

  • Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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