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How to Buy a New Driver
How to Buy a New Driver
Buying a golf club driver can make you feel like a lost teen.
However, don’t be intimidated looking for a new golf club, like the all-important driver. We know it can be daunting. And we’re here to walk you through it (Lucky you.).
There might be a few different reasons why you’re reading this. One of them might be because you’re just curious. Another might be because you’re actually looking to buy a new driver because you might be new to the sport. The last might be because you want a new driver after losing, selling or trading in your old one, which could be as traumatic as bereaving a dearly departed.
Whatever the reason might be, we want to help you with the questions you need to ask yourself when approaching the situation of buying a new driver for your bag.
What am I looking to get out of my driver?
I like to think that there are three different categories you have to think about when you ask this question: Distance, control and forgiveness.
Not every driver will give you all three, but many will at least score you two of ’em. You must decide which one you want the most when you’re standing above the tee.
Many amateur golfers will look at this like it’s a trick question. “Well, of course I want more distance!”
Distance might be the sexiest thing you can get out of a driver. But remember that not all swings are alike, which means not all distances will ever be the same. There are many manufacturers out there today that market “greater distance” on their driver because that’s what sells to the typical golfer.
However, in order to truly believe the claim, you have to see for yourself. Especially, if they are asking $500-plus for a new golf stick (Don’t get sticker shock and stop reading now. There are lots of excellent and much less-expensive options out there and at 2nd Swing.)
Go to your local golf shop — like 2nd Swing Golf — and get custom fitted to what might give you the most distance. There are factors involved with distance that you’ll never comprehend without reading the data these professional fitters have at their fingertips by analyzing your swing and hits with the latest technology. Nowadays they can measure everything from back spin, side spin, peak height, carry distance, club droop, shaft differential and bunch of other stuff that would be completely foreign otherwise but these fitters translate for us pedestrian (even pro) golfers to understand.
If your answer to this question is control or forgiveness, these are all things that can be maximized with the proper data. You can monitor your ball dispersion swing after swing to dial in control and you can also find the outliers of mishits off the toe and the heel and see which ones actually turned out alright because of the forgiveness of the club. The data that comes from a fitting is going to help you fine-tune your wishes out of a new driver and help you further along in the decision-making.
What do I want it to look like?
From an aesthetics standpoint, a driver might be the most important club in your bag. Other than your putter, it’s the one club you’re going to look at the most times in an average round, and like your putter, the only club you’re probably going to show off to your friends.
There’s more to a driver’s look than just the coloring and branding marks that go into it. You also have to consider the shape of the head, the size and any alignment marks on the crown.
While your browsing your potential new drivers, always compare them side-by-side. Even grab a third and throw it down on the ground at an address position (The “address position” is pictured above.). Then imagine putting that club down next to a ball.
- Does it feel comfortable?
- Does the shape of the head, whether it be rounded, pear-shape, extended or even square, fit your eye right?
- And does the club have an alignment marker that actually aids your alignment to the ball or hinders it because it’s too distracting or even in the wrong place?
These are all questions within the question of looks that make a bigger impact on the decision more so than the colors, logos and marks. And they’re all questions you can determine while actually testing the driver out.
Does branding really mean anything to me?
Every year, big companies release their latest line — and the frenzy begins (Hey, we play our part. We are proud golf geeks.).
TaylorMade has been the number one seller of drivers in the past few years, upping its share to 47 percent of every dollar spent on drivers and woods on the market, according to Golf Datatech. Meanwhile, Callaway has always had a strong hold on the driver market as well with its initial Big Bertha line as has PING with its popular G-series since the G2 release in 2003.
Odds are you’re going to fall into one of the larger markets like the ones above or another, such as Nike, Cleveland/Srixon or COBRA, which is owned by PUMA. But if matching the maker of your driver to the maker of your irons isn’t that important, be sure to test every nook and cranny of the entire available market that appeals to you.
Companies such as Adams, Mizuno and Tour Edge all make quality (often extremely high-quality) products that fit a proportional size of the golfer market.
It’s just all about finding which one maximizes your current swing and desires. Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never seen or heard of before. Just because it isn’t created by one of the leader’s in the industry, doesn’t mean it’s not the right one for you. Go in to this process with an open mind, and you’ll never know what you might discover for yourself.
What kind of ‘dough’ am I willing to fork over?
This question bleeds over from the last one a tiny bit. Naturally, most manufacturers that mass produce clubs and spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing are going to price their clubs higher. That’s nothing new. But drivers in particular are beginning to increase drastically in price as new models come out every year.
In 2013, TaylorMade introduced its revolutionary SLDR Driver with a hefty price tag of $399.99 new.
In 2014, Callaway followed suit with the groundbreaking, technologically-advanced Big Berth Alpha and slapped a tag of $499.99 on it. And that’s before any customization is added on top of that.
For the average golfer, these might seem like pretty big numbers. But to the tech nerds and fine-tuners, it’s just a part of the game. My advice on this would be to test multiple drivers that land on different stages of the price range spectrum. Give something a try at $199 new, $299 new and $399 new. I
f you yourself don’t feel a difference or even prefer the cheaper club, don’t be discouraged by that. Let the data from your fitting tell the story and dictate whether the price is right. Another aspect to price is whether you want to buy new or used. Obviously, everyone loves shiny new things, but the used clubs’ market is a very strong one with plenty of life and breadth within it.
One man’s trade-in is another man’s baby-in-the-bag.
This is another area where having an open mind will allow you to find the best possible fit and the best possible value you can find. It’s a win-win situation.
Do I really have to get fitted?
If you haven’t noticed the connecting theme in all four questions above, you may not be reading between the lines close enough.
Getting fitted for any type of club – especially a driver – is going to help you maximize your desires and get you as close as possible to your ultimate goal.
There really isn’t an end-all answer to this question. In life you don’t have to do anything. But if getting fitted will help you discover the game you never thought you had, why wouldn’t you do it?
If you do decide that a fitting is the right way to kick off the process, then be ready to learn so much more about your swing and how you produce a golf shot time and time again (Remember, though, that a fitting is not a golf lesson.).
You’ll also learn much more about what goes into a driver and how it gets the distance, control or forgiveness it claims. You’re going to see firsthand what a driver feels and looks like in your hands. And you’re going to get the chance to test drivers from different manufactures that land all over the scale in terms of pricing, whether they’re new or used.
The benefits of getting fitted and establishing an open mind throughout the entire buying process for your new driver are endless. So ultimately there shouldn’t be any other answer to this question except “Hell yes!”
And don’t forget to have fun.