Best Game-Improvement Drivers of 2015 (Reviews)
The following is a review of several top rated golf game-improvement drivers from reputable brands such as TaylorMade, Callaway, PING, Nike, Cobra and others, released for the 2015 golf season or any year prior.
Below the comparison chart (which compares the prices, features, pros and cons), I will list the drivers according to my personal rating from highest to lowest and talk about their features, benefits and overall reception.
Any reviews of game-improvement drivers listed here that exist on Golfstead will be linked to in the appropriate sections.
Note that the drivers that follow are game-improvement drivers, which typically have larger heads and faces (usually 460cc). They normally excel in the distance and forgiveness departments, making them ideal for high handicappers, but lack when it comes to feel and shot workability.
If you prefer a more compact head with more workability and better sound/feel, you should look at some available better-player driver options. Reviews and discussions of these other types of drivers will eventually be posted to Golfstead if they haven’t been already.
Please note that exact prices depend on shaft material, shaft flex, standard loft and other factors and are subject to change. Specifications for the driver, stock shafts and stock grips can be found in the provided individual reviews or on the manufacturer’s official website.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this page to see my #1 game-improvement driver recommendation for 2015!
|DRIVER||PRICE IN USD (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)||STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES||AVERAGE CUSTOMER RATING||MY RATING|
|1. Callaway XR|
|Around $200 on eBay||Strengths:|
• great distance on center strikes
• adjustable hosel is great for dialing in optimal launch
• directional and distance forgiveness are exceptional
• nice look and impact feel
• many appreciate the light weight and general performance of the stock shaft
• can take some time to get used to the feel depending on your previous driver
• not as adjustable as other drivers in Callaway's stable
• feedback is not very distinct
• some will find the stock shaft to be too long and a bit difficult to control
|2. Titleist 915D2||Around $280 on eBay (with free shipping options)||Strengths:|
• distance results are superb especially when optimal launch is dialed in
• nice straight ball flight
• forgiveness (distance and directional) among the best on the market and will keep you in the fairway
• amazing sound and feel
• good workability benefits better players
• does everything very well
• dirt can get stuck in sole ARC and require cleaning
• the wrong shaft/loft/lie combination will likely cause poor results
|3. PING G30||Around $250 on eBay||Strengths:|
• amazing forgiveness will keep you in the fairway or first cut of rough (with little loss in ball speed) for all but the worst of mishits
• very satisfying "pop" feel at impact
• easy to swing
• attractive matte aesthetic
• distinct feedback
• clubhead is too thick for some people's tastes
• adjustability is limited
|4. Cobra Fly-Z||Around $150 on eBay||Strengths:|
• great value for price
• extremely forgiving (large sweet spot)
• solid repeatable distance and trajectory
• great feel at impact
• adjustable loft combined with SmartPad allows any golfer to dial in a nice ball flight
• skilled golfers may find the ball flight may be too high and "spinny"
• not very workable/maneuverable
• some find impact sound and feedback to be a little questionable
|5. TaylorMade Aeroburner|
|Around $190 + free shipping on Amazon||Strengths:|
• draw bias is good for counteracting slices
• good strikes fly long and fairly straight
• excellent forgiveness
• cool, sharp look
• hot, satisfying feel at impact
• no adjustability
• light weight not preferred by all
• spin rate could be lower
• some find white crown to be unappealing
• may not be ideal for natural drawers or hookers due to draw bias
|6. Nike Vapor Speed||Around $160 on eBay||Strengths:|
• directional and distance forgiveness are both terrific
• length beats out many other game-improvement drivers
• powerful and satisfying feel at impact
• light weight is loved by many
• look is modern and sleek
• penetrating ball flight is somewhat workable and does well in the wind
• some experience a lower-than-preferred trajectory
• other drivers are more forgiving
|7. Mizuno JPX-850|
|Around $250 on eBay||Strengths:|
• tons of adjustability that allows golfers of all different swing speeds to maximize their performance off the tee
• very good forgiveness given the 440cc head
• distinct feedback
• very reliable and precise when struck solidly
• some find hit feedback to be a bit too frank
• some would prefer a more explosive feel at impact
• look isn't liked by everyone
• some may be overwhelmed or confused by the adjustable aspects of the driver
1. Callaway XR Driver (2015)
Overview/Features: See the “What are the features?” section of the full XR driver review (link above) for details.
Reception: The XR driver has average customer ratings of 4.4/5 on Amazon (click here to see the customer reviews), 5/5 on Global Golf, 4.7/5 (93% recommended) on Golfsmith, 4.6/5 on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website and 4.8/5 (92% recommended) on Callaway’s official website. Reviewers have praised the driver for its power (many report increasing their distance off the tee by at least 10-20 yards), ease of use, adjustability, forgiveness (great for managing slices and hooks), impact feel and sound. Indeed, the XR driver doesn’t really have any distinct weaknesses, although workability could be better and some people don’t quite get the distance results they hope for.
My rating: 4.9/5
2. Titleist 915D2 Driver
Price and where to buy online new: Around $280 on eBay (see chart for link), $449.99 for a custom-built 915D2 on Golfsmith (the free online fitting is here).
Overview/Features: Titleist labels the 915D2 driver “distance without compromise for every drive and every player”; it is designed for maximum distance and forgiveness. Technologies include:
- an Active Recoil Channel — a wide sole channel near the face that flexes at impact, producing higher ball speeds with lower spin
- a Radial Speed Face — a high-speed face insert with a thickness that decreases radially from the center. This helps increase ball speeds on off-center hits.
- a high moment of inertia (MOI) design in which the weight is moved back and the center of gravity (CG) is moved low and deep (back) to further improve mis-hit ball speeds.
The 915D2 driver has a 460cc pear profile with a rich appearance. The high-quality “acoustic engineering” of the driver contributes to a very solid sound and feel. The driver also features a SureFit Tour hosel that enables sixteen (16) unique loft and lie combinations for ball flight optimization.
Six stock shafts, each with different launch tendencies (low, mid or high), torques and weights, are available with the driver. The standard lofts available are 7.5°, 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 12°. More information on the features and specifications of the driver/stock shafts/stock grips can be found on the official Titleist website.
Reception: The 915D2 driver has received tremendously high ratings from both critics and customers. It has a perfect average rating of 5/5 on Global Golf, 5/5 on the Golf Town website, 4.8/5 (92% recommended) on Golfsmith and very positive critic ratings. Many people believe that Titleist makes the best drivers for the average player, and the 915D2 certainly doesn’t damage that opinion. Players love the fact that the 915D2 manages to do everything well — it’s very long, straight, very forgiving, workable and has a premium sound and feel.
My rating: 4.9/5
3. PING G30 Driver
Price and where to buy online new: Around $250 on eBay (see chart for link), $349.99 for a custom-built PING G30 on Golfsmith (link above)
Overview/Features: The 460cc G30 driver has what PING calls “turbulators” in the crown that help reduce aerodynamic drag, increasing clubhead speed and ball speed for greater distance. The
face is made of a strong, lightweight, thin T9S material that optimizes face deflection for even greater ball speeds and distance. The Trajectory Tuner on the hosel allows golfers to find-tune their launch conditions by selecting from five settings and adding or subtracting 1° of loft.
A full description of the features and technologies of the PING G30 driver, along with its specs, can be found on PING’s official website; the same goes for the available shafts and grips.
Reception: The G30 driver currently has unbelievably high average customer scores — for example, a 4.8/5 (95% recommended) on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website, 4.9/5 on Global Golf and 5/5 (100% recommended) on Golfsmith.
What people like: Incredible directional and ball speed forgiveness; satisfying feel at impact and throughout the swing; good distance; easy to use
What some people don’t like: Look; could be longer and more workable
My rating: 4.9/5
4. Cobra Fly-Z Driver
Price and where to buy online new: Around $150 on eBay (see chart for link)
Overview/Features: Cobra labels the Fly-Z driver “dialed in weighting that dials up distance”; it is designed to be very long and forgiving. The driver makeup consists of three key “weight zones” optimized for distance:
- a Forged E9 Face Zone with a shape that helps preserve ball speed across the face. This zone features Cobra’s “Speed Channel” innovation, which is a trench that surrounds the face. This trench reduces face thickness and contributes to faster ball speeds.
- a Crown Zone — weight is removed from the crown and repositioned low and deep in the head. This moves the center of gravity (CG) low and back, greatly improving MOI (and hence mishit forgiveness) and delivering low spin, mid-high launch and increased ball speeds for increased distance.
- a Back CG Zone — consists of a “uniquely engineered” sole weight responsible for the low CG position.
Other features and technologies of the 460cc titanium Fly-Z driver are:
- MyFly8 technology — this allows golfers to choose from eight different loft/trajectory settings (9°-12°) using a torque wrench.
- a SmartPad on the sole that keeps the clubface square at address regardless of what loft setting is active.
Four stock shafts are available with the driver. For more information on the features and specs of the driver/stock shafts/stock grips, see the official Cobra website.
Reception: At the time of writing, the Fly-Z driver has average customer ratings of 4.6/5 on Amazon, 5/5 on Global Golf, 4.8/5 (100% recommended) on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website and 5/5 (100% recommended) on Golfsmith.
What people like: Easy to hit and get the ball up in the air; very beginner/amateur friendly; affordable; consistent ball flight; superb forgiveness; adjustability
What some people don’t like: Impact sound; a spin rate that is too high; limited workability
My rating: 4.8/5
5. TaylorMade Aeroburner Driver
Price and where to buy online new: Around $190 on Amazon (see chart for link)
Overview/Features: See the “What are the features?” section of the full Aeroburner driver review (link above) for details.
Reception: At the time of writing, the Aeroburner driver has average buyer ratings of 4.4/5 on Amazon (with over 30 reviews), 4.6/5 (93% recommended with over 60 reviews) on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website, 4.9/5 on Global Golf and 4.7/5 (100% recommended) on Golfsmith.
What people like: Solid distance; light weight; mostly straight with slight draw bias; very generous forgiveness; sharp look; easy to get the ball up in the air
What some people don’t like: No adjustability; little workability; light weight
My rating: 4.8/5
6. Nike Vapor Speed Driver
Price and where to buy online new: Around $160 on eBay (see chart for link)
Overview/Features: The 460cc traditional-shaped Vapor Speed driver features a high-speed cavity-back design and blends three key technologies:
- FlexLoft 2 technology (adjustable hosel) which provides 15 different launch options (5 lofts and 3 face angles)
- a FlyBeam structure (helps stabilize the chassis for increased ball speed) with a Covert Cavity Back design which redistributes weight towards the heel and toe for improved stability, MOI and hence forgiveness
- a re-engineered Compression Channel which runs the entire length of the sole and contributes to faster ball speeds at more spots on the face
The FlyBeam structure, Compression Channel and NexCOR face all work together to stabilize the chassis and maximize ball speed. The center of gravity (CG) is low and this promotes higher launch for longer carry. The stock shaft offered and stock grip offered are the Mitsubishi Fubuki Z 50 and Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G, respectively.
Reception: The Vapor Speed driver currently has average customer ratings of 4.9/5 on Amazon, 4.7/5 (100% recommended) on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website, 4.9/5 on Global Golf and 5/5 (100% recommended) on Golfsmith.
What people like: Longer than many other game-improvement drivers; explosive feel with muted sound; relatively light weight; nice length
What some people don’t like: Can take some time to adjust to the feel
My rating: 4.7/5
7. Mizuno JPX-850 Driver
Price and where to buy online new: Around $250 on eBay (see chart for link), $399.99 for a custom-built JPX-850 on Golfsmith (link above)
Overview/Features: See the “What are the features?” section of the full JPX-850 driver review (link above) for details.
Reception: The JPX-850 driver has a 4.7/5 average rating (93% recommended) on the official Mizuno website, a 5/5 average rating at Rock Bottom Golf as well as generally positive verdicts from nearly all of the professional reviewers.
The driver has been praised for its extensive adjustability that allows golfers of all swing speeds to find an optimal trajectory and maximize their distance. People also like the feel, accuracy and solid forgiveness it provides. Many people have reported hitting it farther with the JPX-850 than many modern well-known drivers from other manufacturers such as Callaway and TaylorMade. In terms of negatives, many people don’t like the design and blue/black colour scheme of the crown and sole. Some feel that the mishit feedback is too harsh at times, and others would like more workability.
My rating: 4.6/5
If you’re a beginner or intermediate golfer and are on a tight budget, something like the Callaway XR driver or Cobra Fly-Z driver would be an excellent choice. If you’re willing to pay extra for something a little more high-end, I would highly recommend looking into drivers like the Titleist 915D2 or PING G30. Like most things, which driver is best for you depends on your specific priorities, preferences and budget.
==> My #1 driver recommendation for 2015 that I believe stands the best chance of working out for the average game-improvement player? It’s THIS one! See the relevant section above for information on why. <==
Best of luck shopping for your game-improvement driver!