New Drivers
    © Callaway Golf

    Decades ago, at the Open Championship, an old Scotsman came up to Greg Norman and pronounced – I think you’ve found the key to golf, eliminating the second shot.

    He was referring to Norman’s drive that found its way onto the green on a short Par 4. With an increase in short Par 4’s in course design, driving the ball long and straight is at more of a premium than it has ever been. Let’s face it, the tee shot is a critically important part of the game. Keeping the ball in the fairway with solid distance off the tee takes pressure off your iron play and your short game – more greens hit in regulation and easier up and downs lead to lower scores for professionals and weekend golfers alike. The revolution in driver technology over the past three decades has made the game easier and more enjoyable for average golfers. Let’s review the latest drivers on the market and how they might fit your budget and your game.
    Let’s begin by looking at new offerings from the two heavy weights in the driver division.

    Callaway has unveiled the 2016 version of their Big Bertha driver line. This launch includes three new models:

  • Great Big Bertha
  • Great Big Bertha Alpha 815
  • Great Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond
  • Callaway’s proprietary research concluded that average golfers were losing distance for a number of reasons including poor launch angles, low ball speed and poor direction. Callaway reports that this new line of drivers represents the largest number of distance-enhancing changes they’ve ever introduced in a single year. One of the features is an enhanced Optifit Hosel which gives players eight different configurations to dial in customized face angle, loft and lie. These clubs should retail in the $450-$500 range.
    TaylorMade is trying to reinforce its top status in the driver market with the launch of the M1. Addressing complaints that carbon-fiber crowned drivers produce a “dead” sound on impact, TaylorMade has added ribs on the underside of the crown. Testers comment that the new design produces a crisper feel and pleasing sound at impact.
    TaylorMade, the originator of sliding weights, has two different adjustable weights on the M1. It has the traditional heel to toe weight that helps players find their preferred shot shape. For the M1, they have added a second weight to encourage higher or lower tee-shots. In the past, these types of aggressive changes, and aggressive marketing, have allowed TaylorMade to capture one-half of the driver market. These clubs retail for $499.

    Nike’s famed golf research and design facility in Ft. Worth Texas is known as “the Oven.” For 2016, the Oven developers worked on building a line of clubs with higher launch angles. Years of analysis and field testing led to the debut of the Vapor Fly series. The Oven drew in some of the best players in their stable, including Rory McIlroy, in their quest to combine unparalleled distance and forgiveness.
    Nike’s Vapor Flex 440 Driver will be available in March 2016. The club utilizes RZN (a carbon fiber) which allowed Nike to reposition more weight forward and down on the clubface. Nike’s professional version of the driver will be available in January 2016. The third version of the driver, the Vapor Fly Driver, will be available at select retailers at the end of January.
    Last fall, Cobra Golf brought back the “King” name when they introduced the King LTD Driver available in both standard and pro models. The Space Station’s observation platform inspired Cobra’s new design. The result is Cobra’s “SpacePort” design. The new club will be available in 5 different lofts with 3 different draw settings. These clubs retail for $449.