DRIVERS

Best golf drivers for 2021/2022

Best golf drivers for 2021/2022

It is time (it is actually overdue) that we get our golf drivers reviews up to date with our new format. We will kick off the driver series with our masters ranking list, the best golf drivers for 2021/2022. We intend to operate here in the same way as all of our latest gear areas. This list will track all of the drivers that are reviewed independent if they fall from one of the top 3 spots in the other individual core ranking’s lists.

After some internal discussions and alignment we have decided to maintain 7 core rankings lists. It is through these lists that we will track all of our golf driver reviews for the 2021/2022 period. Here is a quick preview of our other 6 driver rankings lists:

Best golf drivers for high handicappers 2021/2022*

We include our best options suited for high handicappers and beginners too golf. There is no budget restriction or bias included here but one can also expect that there is less motivation for novice players to over invest.

Best golf drivers for mid handicappers 2021/2022

A mid handicapper can typically be described as someone whose handicap ranges between 11-20. We might expect drivers to be starting to sacrifice some level of forgiveness for gains in performance to be found here.

Best golf drivers for low handicappers 2021/2022

Here you can expect drivers most suitable for those golfers with 10 or better handicaps. Performance rules here. There is some expectation that with a better handicap comes better swing control allowing for manufacturers to let performance dominate over forgiveness. With increases in technology and club design these tradeoffs are more subtle than in years past.

Best driver for slice 2021/2022

Well, we will make a little bit of a white lie here. We will use this rankings list to not only track drivers for slice correction but also for hooks. Maybe we should have called it best swing correction drivers but we didn’t.

Best golf driver for seniors 2021/2022

We are not actually considering an age demographic but rather generalizations about swing types, specifically swing speeds. Since most of our other categories are much less speed focused/limited we thought to add a ranking for drivers set up to maximize performance without pace.

Best golf driver on a budget 2021/2022

A new top end driver comes with a hefty price tag that the casual golfer usually can’t justify spending. Here are our best options capped at USD 350 which is better than 50% less than the typical premium lines are starting at.

The last thing to mention is that our rankings lists are dynamic. We don’t wait to have every driver for 2021/2022 before we start our reviews and rankings. Instead, we plan to run our new rankings lists in the fall of the year for 12 months forward. When new products come to market and we have the opportunity to give them a try, we do. If we fell the gear is deserving of a top 3 position in its suitable rankings list then it takes its position. 

Any gear that would slide from a top 3 spot remains only on the master rankings list. Since we only publish reviews for gear, we feel deserving of a recommendation we still wanted to give readers the opportunity to find them. In the end not everyone has exactly the same opinion or preferences. So, here are our best drivers for 2021/2022.

* We will activate the ranking list as soon as we review a product that we feel deserves inclusion.


TaylorMade Stealth Plus Driver

TaylorMade Stealth Plus+ Driver 10.5 Righthanded

We were fortunate enough a few weeks ago to have a friend of a friend hook us up with a demo and trial of the new TaylorMade Stealth lineup. Since we are not so high in the order of merit, we wait patiently hoping to get our turn.  This time we actually beat the February official product launch so we can’t complain too much:)

There is a lot of marketing and hype for the Stealth driver series that at times comes across almost as over the top. The end of the Titanium era…..etc etc is almost mission to Mars kind of stuff. Kudo’s for TaylorMade for their innovation and making a great piece of gear. But will carbon replace titanium as the new standard? We will have to wait and see. 

We avoided getting to bogged down in the detail and stayed focused on our own experiences with the clubs performed. In the end the question we are looking to answer is would you buy the driver and under what conditions would you do so? Much like last year’s SIM2 line, TaylorMade has tweaked the setup of the various drivers in the Stealth line to better align different the demands of different types of golfers. So, the first up on the list, TaylorMade’s Stealth Plus driver.

Why is the Stealth Plus the right TaylorMade option for you?

Normally I would say this driver is best suited for a low handicapper. It may also be the right choice if you are mid-level player whose performance off the tee is not where you are losing your strokes during the round. Its mid-flight ball launch also is better suited for players with higher swing speeds and it generates the lowest spin numbers across the Stealth line. So, it really is geared up as a performance first driver. The other big difference is the sliding weight track that allows you to adjust the driver setup for preferential ball flights. Again, this is something more in the focus of a low handicap player than concerns a lesser skilled golfer.

Since this is the third year in a row TaylorMade has put a new driver on the market claiming performance improvements, I think it is important to distinguish what we are comparing the Stealth Plus against. Its predecessor, the SIM2? or the rest of the market.

Aesthetically, let’s just say it is pleasing. There is a simple yet elegant meanness. It jus tells you that it is going to hit a ball a long way. Maybe that sounds a little like whisky tasting but it is a great looking driver. It does take a step forward from last years models and fulls away from the top echelons of the driver market. But since this is not a fashion show the real deal needs to be on its performance.

If we talk about ball speeds and distances achieved, the Stealth does excel, but to be honest this is not something that was an issue with last years driver. Neither myself nor my colleague would have been able to swear that we achieved better distance results than we are getting from our current SIM2 drivers. Even TaylorMade’s controlled testing in my opinion shows only nominal improvements in this area that are far less than my own deviations off the tee. Now if you compare the results against the other offerings in the market you are still getting one of the top if not the longest driver out there.

Where I saw the biggest difference and improvement from this year’s offering was its forgiveness. Now maybe this is easily explained by the increase in face size allowing you bring your mishits still closer to center. Or maybe it is the 60X carbon face or a combination of both. The fact is the Stealth plus is more forgiving, which is really for us the true selling point. And delivering a club that did not lose swing speeds while increasing face size the true achievement. But is it enough?

IF…..

I was looking for a new driver then I would not hesitate to make the Stealth Plus my driver of choice. The fact is that there is not really anything that I came away feeling that it underperformed the SIM2. Being partial too TaylorMade’s latest offerings I have little doubt that this would be the club that I would put in my bag. 

BUT…..

Having now purchased 2 new TM drivers in the last 2 years can I justify doing it 3 years in a row? Probably not. The Stealth is a premium driver and while it is not priced outside of what could be expected it still is a significant enough for my pocket book to take notice. If TaylorMade are committed to carbon as the way forward material of choice then I am sure there is a Stealth 2 in the not-so-distant future. 

THEN….

There is the last scenario, you are looking for a driver and thinking to now grab a SIM2 and save a few dollars. Of course, as soon at the Stealth line there was a significant drop in the SIM2 pricing and there are deals to be made in retail as well as used options. I can only say that when I look for replacement gear that I try to take the best option available that I can afford. So, in this case if I could find the extra USD 100-150 dollars I would be sticking with the Stealth.

TaylorMade Stealth Plus Driver
  • The 60X Carbon Twist Face is encased by a polyurethane cover, featuring a revolutionary new nanotexture technology. The nanotexture cover is used to fine tune launch and spin to optimize total distance regardless of playing conditions.
  • The weight savings of the 60x Carbon Twist Face has allowed more weight to be positioned low and deep in the head, this will add 15% more MOI compared to Stealth Plus+.
  • The Inertia Generator remains the foundational source of refined aerodynamic properties. The result is a slippery-fast head shape that aids in swing speed generation on the downswing for golfers at every level.
  • Our most flexible Speed Pocket design engineered to maximize ball speeds and produce additional forgiveness on low face strikes.


PXG 2011 0211 Driver

PXG 2021 0211 Driver Available in 9, 10.5 or 12 Degrees of Loft with Graphite Shafts for Left or Right Handed Golfers (Left, Graphite, X-Stiff, 9)

Some months ago, I had the opportunity to take part in an PXG fitting day.  I was primarily focused on getting hooked up for a new set of GEN4 irons which I could not be happier about. But when opportunity knocks you should take advantage so I spent the remainder of the day going up and down PXG’s current product offerings, including the PXG 2021 0211 Driver.

The question I had been asking myself was, how does a company who has lived almost entirely at the peak of pricing all of the sudden offer a driver that’s price tag makes you think it is a mistake, and what are the consequences. I can tell you I still have not figured out the how but as far as the consequences go, NOT MUCH!

The look at address would definitely never make you think you were playing anything other than a premium priced driver. Actually, you are not, you just aren’t paying for it. PXG will tell you that you that the 2021 0211 Driver is be benefactor of some of the leading technology advances in the premium priced series.  The Ti412titanium alloy face actually makes its debut in 2021 0211 series, so it is not only inheriting tech but taking it forward. 

If you turn the club over you will notice that there is not the adjustable sole weighting that comes with the top line of drivers. While some may try to make this a point of concern my opinion is, so what?? I have played a TaylorMade driver with adjustable weighting for the last 4+ seasons and I can tell you that I don’t use it. I understand that many golfers may but I prefer to have my driver set up from day 1 in a way that best suits my game and go with it. I really don’t need to give myself even more to think about when standing over a ball at the tee.

As far as the weighting goes, a backweight is applied to the sole of the club. The weight back design creates a deep center of gravity position, producing higher launch conditions and an exceptionally high MOI. While it cannot be moved there is eight different weights to adapt the forgiveness and weight profile to your game. But I am not here to give you a list of tech specs and marketing…. PXG can do that, I will just concentrate on feel and performance.

In a good half hour of ball striking, I was really impressed with the results. It handled off center contacts extremely well so I can’t argue with this 0211 being promoted as a forgiving driver. I am not one that cares so much about how a driver sounds, I will leave that discussion for when I talk about my guitars. If I stick to golf, where the ball lands are what really matters. Birdies still count when they sound off key, and so do double bogies even if perfectly in tune 🙂

The distances achieved were better than satisfactory. I did not get the same results as I did with my SIM2 but the setup was not the exact same profile. Even so this is not a “short distance” driver. Dropping off 10 yards but keeping your ball in play will give you more gains on the score card than dropped strokes. But the real story here is the cost….

Look, the fact is on overall performance you are getting a driver that can compete with all of those at the top of their class. Will it win longest drive, most likely not. Is it the absolute most forgiving, it is hard to say but it is in the conversation. But there is no other driver anywhere close to performing at this level at a price like this. As far as price-quality ratio’s it wins by knockout. 

So, if you are high to mid handicapper this is a great option. If you are a more casual golfer who does not put a ton of rounds in a year, this is an exceptional option. There are a lot of different category golfers who will find things to love about the PXG 2021 0211 Driver. The hardest thing for us is to limit the rankings lists it belongs.

PXG 2021 0211 Driver
  • CUSTOM BUILT - Built by hand to your unique selections, the PXG 2021 0211 Driver promotes confidence off the tee. With an ideal balance of distance, forgiveness, and ball speed, these drivers are so good, they’ll knock your hat in a creek!
  • MADE FOR ANY GOLFER - With a strikingly versatile head design, this driver delivers more bang for the buck for golfers of every skill level.
  • RAILED SOLE GEOMETRY - The web-like rail extends from heel to toe and front to back for enhanced sound and feel.
  • PRECISION WEIGHTING TECHNOLOGY - Weight back design utilizing a single weight port supports maximum forgiveness, a high trajectory, and exceptional forgiveness even on mishits.
  • GRAPHITE SHAFT OPTIONS - HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 60g (Extra Stiff flex), EvenFlow Riptide CB 50g (Stiff and Regular flex), Riptide 40g (Senior flex), EvenFlow Riptide CB 40g (Ladies flex). Available in 9 degree, 10.5 degree, and 12 degree lofts.


TaylorMade Stealth HD Driver

TaylorMade Stealth Draw Driver 10.5 Righthanded

The Stealth HD driver is one of the three Stealth drivers released this year by TaylorMade. We were lucky enough to get a chance to test all 3 during our testing day. Much of what we said in our previous review for the Stealth plus holds true so to avoid duplication you can find those words here.

2 seasons ago I did play the SIM Max driver so I do have some hands-on experience when I was comparing TaylorMade’s draw bias drivers. I was actually surprised as the difference (favorable) in the biased drivers was more recognizable than the “unbiased” options. This in part may be due to it Stealth now being two driver releases from the initial Max driver series.

My natural tendency to slightly fade my drives was more often than not ironed out. I was finding fairway center strike after strike. Even with the correction face the driving distances were optimal. For those players with a more pronounced fade to slice ball flight there is no question the advantage here far outweighs any questions on driving distances.

I was testing a nine-degree stiff shaft set up (normally playing xstiff) and still was getting great launch height and carry. My swing speed is right around 120mph so I would say for those with slower swing speed you might want to consider lofting up one notch. 

Aesthetically it is a really great looking driver, a definite eye catcher. Maybe for some this might draw to much attention to you on the tee for your comfort level 🙂 It is however a premium priced club so if you are not a mid-handicapper or better your focus might be served investing in lessons than trying to correct your issues with technology.

If however you are a better than average golfer who looks for a tool to slightly adjust/correct their ball flight then the TaylorMade Stealth HD Driver is one of this year’s best options out there.

TaylorMade Stealth HD Driver
  • The 60X Carbon Twist Face is encased by a polyurethane cover, featuring a revolutionary new nanotexture technology. The nanotexture cover is used to fine tune launch and spin to optimize total distance regardless of playing conditions.
  • The weight savings of the 60x Carbon Twist Face has allowed more weight to be positioned low and deep in the head, this will add 15% more MOI compared to Stealth Plus+.
  • The Inertia Generator remains the foundational source of refined aerodynamic properties. The result is a slippery-fast head shape that aids in swing speed generation on the downswing for golfers at every level.
  • Our most flexible Speed Pocket design engineered to maximize ball speeds and produce additional forgiveness on low face strikes.


Cobra LTDX Max Driver

Cobra Golf 2022 LTDX Max Driver Matte Black-Gold Fusion (Men's, Right Hand, Project X Hzrdrus Smoke RDX Blue, Stiff Flex, 9)

The Cobra LTDX Max Driver is another great option for those golfers looking for a driver to help correct fade/slice ball flight. What we loved about the LTDX Max was how adjustable the weighting combined heel and back weighting system is. Given that we all suffer from varying degrees banana-itus it makes sense to have the option to control the level of correction. 

The adjustable weighting facilitates the following degrees of correction:

  • 10g in back delivers 5 yards of draw
  • 10g in heel delivers 11 yards of draw
  • 10g in heel + “DRAW” loft setting delivers 18 yards of draw

At is most forgiving setting the LTDX Max does compete with higher performing bias drivers we have got our hands on this year. To be honest if you are looking for more that 18 yards of correction you might want to invest in working on your swing as much as driver. And for the few yards you might have given up in bias you have gained in getting one of the most forgiving driver faces out there. It really makes this a driver that is accessible for a huge range of golfers. 

The last thing we would like to say before we give way and close out the review with COBRA’s tech and marketing stuff is a few words on pricing. While the Cobra LTDX Max Driver is still a premium driver it does generally come in from 10%+++ less expensive than most of the other big boys. This means you can easily find yourself an extra hundred bucks in your pocket and still have your hands on one of the best options available. 

Tech Specs

PWR-COR TECHNOLOGY

PWR-COR Technology is a multi-material weighting system that positions as much weight as possible low and forward. 10 grams total (a 6g machined steel internal weight and a 4g exterior aluminum weight) is positioned right behind the hitting zone to transfer maximum speed to the golf ball at impact with reduced spin.

MULTI-MATERIAL CONSTRUCTION

A multi-material construction uses a lightweight carbon crown and sole plate, and a lighter and stronger titanium chassis. The new chassis design is 8.3g lighter and allows for up to 30% more carbon fiber to be used. A lighter chassis is critical to freeing up more discretionary weight that could be positioned low and forward in the PWR-COR to increase ball speed.

CNC MILLED INFINITY FACE

An updated CNC Infinity Face design wraps around the leading edge to increase the zone of maximum ball speed while providing a traditional topline for improved visual alignment.

H.O.T FACE TECHNOLOGY

Using machine learning and CNC machining, we’ve created a new variable thickness design that is precision tuned for speed. H.O.T stands for “Highly Optimized Topology.” Using data from thousands of impact simulations, we’ve optimized thicknesses in 15 different zones to maximize ball speed across a larger area of the face. These zones create visual peaks and valleys that resemble a topology map, which is how the design got its name.

ADJUSTABLE WEIGHTING

Two adjustable weights (a heavy 10g and a lightweight 3g) can be positioned in the back and heel position. Position the 10g heavy weight in the back for a neutral to draw biased ball flight, or in the heel for max draw bias (11 yards).

Sale
Cobra LTDX Max Driver
  • Pwr-Cor Technology-Multi material weighting system consisting of steel, titanium and aluminum positions mass low and forward to combine low spin with faster ball speed for maximized distance
  • HOT Face-Highly Optimized Technology uses Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning to create our hottest face; The design uses 15 HOT zones with strategic thickness to increase smash factor and ball speed across a wider area of the face
  • CNC Milled Infinity Face-An updated CNC Infinity Face design wraps around the leading edge to crease the zone of maximum ball speed while providing a traditional topline for improved visual alignment
  • Multi-Material Chassis-Lightweight Carbon crown, sole plates and a reinforced Titanium Speed Frame to create optimal weight distribution for maximum stability
  • Adjustable Weighting-A heavy and lightweight (10G and 3G) can be positioned in the back or heel to promote a neutral biased or draw biased flight


Callaway Epic MAX Star Driver

Callaway Epic Max Star Driver 12* (UST Mamiya ATTAS, Regular)

If you’re an Epic MAX fan but you woke up one day and realized you got old then Callaway’s Epic MAX Star Driver is for you. We mean no disrespect and to club or golfer since I am getting older every day too 🙂 This is a beautifully designed, nifty driver that really will work for its target market.

Its target market being those who are challenged to generate better than slow swing speeds in the 70’s to mid 80’s mph range. So maybe we can also add lazy swingers to the target market too 🙂 Once again no disrespect to the lazy people out there since I have spent the odd day on the couch in the past too!

For the most part shares the same technology as its brothers and sisters in the current Callaway driver lineup.Jailbreak and Speed Frame are both packed into the Epic MAX Star Driver as well as 9g adjustable sliding rear weight for better ball control adaptability. If you want to dive into the nitty gritty technical marketing stuff then Callaway’s webpage is just around the corner…. But in this case, it is really not what matters and it is not what makes this one of the best options on the market for our lazy old golfers.

Here what matters is this driver is LIGHT! 

The design has focused on a total construct geared to promote absolute lightness while not sacrificing the quality and performance. There is a diminishing return on the speed gain percentages for those with faster swing speeds hence lower end club speeds gaining the most advantages by making this their driver of choice. Given the careful selection of components going into the Epic MAX Star Driver to achieve the ultra-lightweight status there is more restrictive setup options and rightfully so. 

So how light is it? The standard stock weight is 253 grams! Of course, it is impossible to give an absolute comparison to all the clubs on the market but you are generally looking at approximately a 20% weight reduction to a standard setup premium golf club. For those with slower swing speeds this is actually a huge difference and potential that can be leveraged. In Callaway’s testing this translated into potential 20-yard gains from the tee. Just to make it clear, the average expected driving distances with these type of swing speeds normally is around 200 yards. So, you just gained 20%!

Now with those gains’ performance gains and one of those nicest looking drivers I have seen in a while comes a premium price tag. In the ballpark of a USD 700 RRSP. Now without sounding fatalistic (this really has been one of the most fun reviews to write in ages) there may be a better way to calculate its economic worth. The fact is that if this driver is right for you, you just might retire with it. It may be the last driver you will ever need unless the water hazard at your local golf course is actually the fountain of youth :)

In all seriousness Callaway has put together a great club, well designed to meet the needs of a golfing demographic in a day in age when many manufacturers try to make clubs work for the masses. In our opinion it is not such a bad thing.

Sale
Callaway Epic MAX Star Driver
  • Callaway Epic Max Star
  • Exceptionally high forgiveness, starting with a lighter, stronger Triaxial Carbon material that saves significant weight vs. titanium. Our engineers redistributed that saved weight to promote high launch and more forgiveness. An additional Triaxial Carbon toe patch adds draw bias while saving weight for a powerful shot shape.
  • With a 9g adjustable sliding rear weight, golfers have the ability to promote the ball flight that they want to play.
  • The ultra-premium ATTAS Speed Series Shaft is just 36 grams, combined with a Winn Dri-Tac Lite Grip that�s just 25 grams, and a D1 swingweight.


Cobra Air X Straight Neck Driver

Cobra Golf 2022 Air X Driver (Men's, Right Hand, Cobra Ultralite 50, Stiff Flex, 9.5), Grey-Red

If you are a fan of Cobra’s drivers but you have noticed that your swing speeds are on the decline then maybe the Air X Straight Neck Driver is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Many golfers with moderate to low swing speeds have a tendency to resist being fitted with a more suitable driver for their swings. Most fall into the trap that it is sexier to be playing the same driver as the guy on TV does. 

If you can get over it and come to grips with your limitations the Air X Straight Neck Driver is a well put together driver that also comes at a very favorable price. Since my swing speeds are still not in alignment with the Air X ‘s target golfer we brought one of our group, Eddie, along for the testing day. Eddie has never been a big swinger as long as I have known him but may be the most consistent of our group from the boxes and plays a respectable 9 handicap. This is why we chose the straight neck version given his ability to square the face at contact.

To get a better idea of the advantage of the Air X we had Eddie swing comfortably using a heavier driver. Of course, all drivers can be set up differently but as a point of reference our control driver was a SIM2 weighing 315 gr. We had him hit 25 balls calculate his average swing speed which turned out to be 82 mph. We then repeated the same exercise with Cobra Air’s X Straight Neck Driver and there was a very clear difference as his swing speed average had increased to 85.5 mph. The decrease of 38 grams had given him an additional 3.5 mph. 

For most golfers an increase of 3.5 mph will get them an extra 10-15 yards on the drive. What is often overlooked is the club’s ability to keep the golfer in his comfort zone. The lighter weight of the Air X made keeping (in this case exceeding) desired swing tempo effortless. This results in better dispersion numbers, not because the club is more forgiving, but because the club allows you to play within your comfort zone. 

For Eddie, because of his existing strong play from the tee the dispersion numbers with the Air X were favorable but not conclusive. For a moderate swinging mid-handicapper there is a lot a gain to be realized. If you fall into this demographic and/or are looking for a premium manufactured product at a reasonable price then we can highly recommend you give the Air X Straight Neck Driver a try.

Cobra Air X Straight Neck Driver
  • Lightweight Design-Using a lighter head, shaft (48g) and grip (37g) makes the club feel significantly lighter and easier to swing compared to a traditional driver
  • Carbon Crown-Using a lighter carbon crown material, we were able to remove an additional 2 grams of weight from the head
  • Back-Heel Weighting-Weight is localized in the back and heel to create stability on off center hits with draw bias for those that need it
  • Straight Neck-For those who prefer a traditional look at address with no offset