How Much Better are the Newest Drivers?

Caught this video from Peter Finch on YouTube:

In short, the drivers introduced by Taylormade, Callaway, and Titleist 4-5 years ago performed just as well as the brand new models introduced this year.
I think this makes sense. Really, the materials and weighting changes from that year haven’t (and within the rules probably can’t) progress much further. The newest models look and sound better aesthetically, but hit the ball pretty much the same. Beyond just one dude, I think this is backed up by data like MGS testing where the overall numbers really haven’t gone up much if you look through the Best Of lists from the past few years.
Probably some things to be said here about golfing on a budget and getting fit, so figured I’d just open it up for discussion. What do you all think?

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I think they are all the same in a vacuum… I think there are improvements for certain people.

The sldr went something like 20 yards farther for me when it came out… it was the first low spin driver I had ever hit.

I think checking your setup every few years and making sure you are in the right head, shaft and overall setup is worth your time… I don’t think buying a new driver head is the way to better driving, but I do think most people can better optimize their driver.

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Just to expound on this thought a little bit, as I find the equipment part of the game interesting (full disclosure, I don’t often actually buy new clubs… I’m playing 2012 Adams CMBs and was playing a Cobra Pro LTD driver until Jon sent me a new Mavrik [Thanks Jon!])

I don’t think there are a ton of gains left for modern technology… I think we’ve hit peak equipment in terms of ball speeds and performance… Companies can make trade offs, and find some small wins in the world of drivers, but they are incremental and pretty small. PING allegedly only releases new clubs when they are better than the old clubs, so I’m curious to see whats in the replacement for the 425…

I also don’t think many people have optimized their driver setup for their own swing, or their own potential. I think this is the remaining “blue space” for companies to get into, and I also think it’s why we’ve seen a recent transition into “real deal” shafts vs made for shafts.

One of my goals on the simulator this season is to see where my numbers are, and what my potential is… my club head speed was 115 before a back injury, and I was trying to get it to 120… I need 300+ yards of carry (I’m less concerned with total distance) to basically change a par 5 I hate on my home course into a long par 5 that I hate… it’s going to come down to improving my overall swing speed, but also optimizing my launch parameters.

I don’t think it requires the newest driver to achieve this goal… but whenever I’m back to swinging full speed, I’ll put my old drivers to the test vs the newest driver…

I think the equipment gains the average golfer will see in new equipment lies in getting fit and having a proper club built for their swing. Finding that right fit is the challenge (and the fun!). I also think there are trade offs in any setup… forgiveness vs total distance, maximizing carry over potential distance, minimizing big misses…

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Last year (2020) I bought a Callway Mavrick driver to replace my old Callaway Big Bertha from the early 90s. I feel like my “bad hits” are better on the Maverick, but my really good drives are not significantly different. Maybe I got 5 yards or so.

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The biggest thing with the newer drivers is the ability to control the spin. If you’re a high spin player like me you need all the help you can get keeping the spin under control. The right shaft certainly helps a ton, but different heads can help just as much. The older model drivers didn’t have nearly as much focus on spin as the newer ones do.

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This is the biggest help I’ve gotten. I’m a high spin player. The Rogue Subzero head is the first one I’ve ever found that lets me loft up (10 degs) and still keep my spin low. The added loft gives me more control. But it’s no longer than anything I’ve owned in the last 15 years. Come to think of it, the longest driver I’ve every owned was the Titleist 975D or the original Cleveland Launcher 460.

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I think that’s what they really started to figure out around 2018 or so. M1 especially.

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Going strictly by the numbers, the longest driver I ever owned was a Cobra SS Hyper Steel 290 with an x-flex steel shaft that I cracked the face on when I was 20. That had less to do with the driver and more with how fast I could swing it in those days (especially being at altitude in Colorado)

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My current gamer is a Cobra Speedzone with HZRDUS Smoke Green Hulk shaft in it and it’s 25 yards longer than any other driver I’ve ever played. And I’ve always been a pretty long hitter.

I did mess around with the Titleist TSi3 at Club Champion a couple weeks ago and that thing is loooooong.

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I know I probably won’t pick up distance (I just try to maintain it in my old age), but I look to see if there is more forgiveness and better feel in the new models. I have had a Rogue in the bag for awhile now. I tried some drivers the last few years, but nothing stood out enough to buy. My buddy has an M6 that I do seem to hit better, but I went to the fitter we both use and whatever I liked about his club could not be duplicated. I’ll try some drivers again this year (maybe this week) and see if anything stands out. I actually don’t care for the feel/sound of the Rogue, but it does work.

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I do the same every year. I go hit the latest stuff to see if any of it offers more consistency than my current driver. I don’t really expect to pick up more than a few yards, if anything. But if I can find something that is better on mis-hits and finds more fairways, that’s a winner for me.

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I think the biggest gains are found in getting the correct head and shaft together… but it’s a weird game of mixing and matching to properly optimize numbers… once you get to 80% best fit, it starts to get hard to improve on… My Cobra LTD Pro and Aldila Silver was a GREAT setup for me… It’s going to be the metric I test everything else against.

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I agree. I was fitted for the Rogue and the previous driver so that’s part of why nothing has kicked it out. I MAY get something new if it works as well and just feels/sounds better, but it will be hard to justify the price tag. The only clubs I really need to replace are the wedges as they actually are a bit worn after 5 seasons.

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5 seasons?!!! I’m at about 200 rounds on my wedges and freaking out about whether or not I should replace them.

You’ve now convinced me I can wait longer. :wink:

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Counterpoint:

$220 with midsize grips and they threw in a visor!

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Please note my “seasons” may be different than most. I live in New England so most of the time I can’t play golf up to 5 months/year and I have a full time job, long commute and a family. A “season” for me might have a quarter of the rounds of golf as a many others.

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Oh yeah, I have Sub70’s original wedges. I’ll be ordering new ones when these wear out. So far they still perform great, even with 200 rounds on them. But I don’t practice a lot so that prolongs their life I’m sure.

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Gotcha. I live in Iowa but I do play a lot the 8 months a year that I get to play golf. I suspect my wedges will need replacing this year at some point. Currently they still perform really well, so I haven’t moved on. I did just get a new gap wedge from Sub70 that I’m really excited to use.

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I hope to relocate someplace warmer (and maybe less expensive) when my youngest gets out of school so I can play golf closer to year round. I actually don’t mind taking 2-3 months off, but when it’s more like 5 months that’s just a long break. The madness starts to set in lol.

The Sub70 wedges look great! I went with Cally again as my fitter can get the heads and re-use my Accra shafts. I really want to demo some of the Sub70 irons this year.

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I have nothing but good things to say about Sub70… more than anything, their customer service is awesome… Jason doe a phenomenal job, as does his staff.

We ended up in Louisville, KY for no real reason… November-February are iffy for golf, but you get some nice days. I’ve got a long way before the kids are out of the house, so I haven’t contemplated my “retirement” location… probably wherever my wife wants to go (South Carolina on the beach).

In terms of actual equipment upgrades, I think the only real easy space left is getting properly fit, and that is becoming more common… I still think it’s a challenge to find a good fitter, but people are learning how to differentiate… As you said, you have found the shafts you like, and keep re-using them… I don’t even really try new driver heads anymore, but I do go and hit the newer shafts. I really like the Ventus Blue (legally, I have to mention WITH VELOCORE), but would need to do a proper apples to apples test against my Aldila Silver before spending the $350 on a new shaft.

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