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Your ability to hit the ball solidly off the tee, send it a long way, and (hopefully) find the fairway is essential to your success as a golfer. It’s important to use a quality driver that suits your swing and your style of play.
Narrowing down a driver that would suit all high handicappers isn’t so easy since every player is unique. However, there are a few attributes that tend to be very desirable for most players in this category.
Generally speaking, most high handicappers have slower swing speeds and could use some help with distance and launching the ball in the air. High handicappers also typically have trouble hitting the ball solid and would benefit from larger, more forgiving heads.
Still, there are countless options on the market, which can make the process of choosing the best driver for you feel difficult and overwhelming. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best golf drivers for high handicappers across a range of different brands. These drivers may have been released for the most current golf season or any year prior.
Note: Golfstead has tested and/or conducted in-depth research into all of the products featured in this guide. Our editorial process for these rankings takes into account a mix of many factors which may include performance, reliability, usability, value for money, cost, and the general consensus from other users of the product. The list that follows may be reassessed or updated over time. We do not guarantee that other users will have the same or similar experience with the products as described on this page.
Our Top Picks For Drivers For High Handicappers
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, here are our top selections:
- PING G430 MAX Driver
- Callaway Paradym X Driver
- TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD Driver
- Cobra LTDx MAX Driver
- Srixon ZX5 Mk II Driver
- Titleist TSR2 Driver
- Cleveland Launcher XL Lite Driver
- PXG 0311 XF GEN6 Driver
If I had to recommend one driver for high handicappers, it would be the G430 MAX by PING.
This thing has incredible forgiveness, an easy launch, and an adjustable sole weight, but not only that: compared to the previous-generation G425, it’s also longer and has the best impact sound we’ve seen in a PING driver to date.
The G430 MAX driver is packed with cutting-edge technologies:
- T9S+ Forged Face: this proprietary precision-machined, high-strength, variable-thickness face is 0.1″ shallower and 6% thinner than the face of the G425 MAX. This leads to even more face flexion at impact, thereby increasing ball speeds.
- Tungsten Movable Weight: this 25-gram backweight shifts the CG low and deep and pushes the total MOI to over 10,000. It can be moved into a fade, neutral or draw position.
- Spinsistency: this technology modifies the roll profile and optimizes face curvature, particularly low on the face. The loft low on the face is effectively reduced, which reduces spin and leads to longer drives.
- Internal Ribbing: a new and improved internal rib structure, along with a refined sole, skirt and crown, results in a considerably better impact sound than the G425.
- Crown Turbulators: these features are part of a special aerodynamic design that reduces drag for increased swing speed.
- Trajectory Tuning 2.0 Hosel: this lightweight, aerodynamic, adjustable hosel offers eight loft and lie combinations to fine-tune your trajectory.
There are many stock shaft options offered at no upcharge including the PING Tour 2.0 Chrome 65, PING Alta CB Black 55, Mitsubishi Kai’Li White 60, and Project X HZRDUS Smoke Red RDX 50.
Also available is the G430 MAX High Launch (HL) driver. This custom option combines a lighter head weight (11g) with a lighter stock shaft and grip; it’s designed so that golfers with slower swing speeds can boost their clubhead speed and distance.
|9°, 10.5°, 12°
- longer than the G425 MAX
- better sound than the G425 MAX
- unparalleled forgiveness
- lower spin than the G425 MAX
- super stable through the ball
- head shape is very long
- busy crown can be a bit of a distraction
For high handicappers looking for a very forgiving driver that has a movable sole weight, the PING G430 MAX should be a top consideration. It might just blow your current gamer out of the water.
With PING clubs in particular, we do highly recommend a fitting if possible so that you know what configuration will work best for you. You also might be able to score a really good deal on eBay.
The Paradym X is a new game-improvement driver from Callaway that features a 360° carbon chassis, new A.I. Jailbreak system, and A.I. face.
Built for maximum MOI and with an oversized profile that appeals to many high handicappers, it’s designed to provide high forgiveness, high launch, and a slight draw bias.
The Paradym X has an excellent customer score of 4.9/5 (100% recommended) on the Callaway store and won a gold medal on the 2023 Golf Digest Hot List. Its key technologies are:
- 360° Carbon Chassis: consists of a Triaxial Carbon Crown and forged carbon sole, saving 43% more weight than a titanium chassis. The saved weight is redistributed to increase MOI (and thus forgiveness) and maximize distance.
- A.I. Jailbreak Speed Frame: 33% lighter than previous designs, it vertically and horizontally connects the crown and sole to produce more ball speed and torsional stability towards the heel and toe.
- A.I.-Designed Face: optimizes launch, spin and ball speeds, and also improves downrange dispersion for more accuracy.
- Face Cup: featured in a driver for the first time, it further boosts ball speeds at every impact point across the face.
- Forged Titanium Face: works with the Face Cup to increase COR and energy transfer to the ball beyond what you would get with a standard driver face insert.
The Paradym X driver comes stock with the ALDILA ASCENT PL Blue 40 and Project X HZRDUS Gen 4 Silver 50 & 60 shafts. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360. Custom options are available.
|9°, 10.5°, 12°
- unbeatable forgiveness
- fast and long
- super easy to launch
- really confidence-inspiring at address
- slight draw bias takes the edge off misses to the right
- limited workability
- feedback low on the face is harsher than we’d like
The Paradym X driver is suitable for higher handicaps seeking modern game-improvement performance. Its tremendous speed, forgiveness, premium looks, and sweet Callaway feel won’t leave you disappointed.
The slight draw bias is a nice touch that will help golfers who struggle with a slice reduce or eliminate their right miss and stay in the fairway as much as possible.
TaylorMade is a top golf equipment brand that has developed high-performing drivers for decades.
Their Stealth 2 HD driver features the same improved Carbon Twist Face and carbon-focused construction of the standard Stealth 2, but the Inertia Generator and center of gravity are shifted towards the heel, producing a draw bias that will help fight a slice.
The driver is the highest-launching and most forgiving model in the Stealth 2 line, and it has nearly double the amount of carbon in its construction compared to the original Stealth HD.
Key technologies are:
- New 60X Carbon Twist Face: ball speed and forgiveness on off-center strikes is improved with an enhanced version of Inverted Cone Technology (ICT), and the face is slightly lighter
- Carbon Reinforced Composite Ring: this runs around the head of the driver, allowing for weight savings that are used to shift the CG back for higher MOI
- Internal Stiffening Ribs: used to finely tune acoustics for a lively and powerful sound
- Inertia Generator: seen in previous models including the M6, SIM and SIM2, this unique sole shape increases aerodynamic club head speed and shifts the CG back for increased stability
The stock shaft is the Fujikura Speeder NX Red, and the stock grip is the Golf Pride ZGRIP Plus2. An FCT adjustable loft sleeve is included.
|9°, 10.5°, 12°
- robust draw bias
- uber forgiving
- excellent clubhead speed
- easy to launch
- feel is more muted and sophisticated than the Stealth HD
- adjustment tool not included
- expected a little more ball speed
The TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD is one of the best draw drivers on the market.
It’s long, super forgiving, has fantastic feel, and provides a robust amount of draw bias that can get slicers hitting the fairway consistently. It also matches or outclasses the original Stealth HD in virtually every category.
Cobra Golf is another golf equipment manufacturer that has some big names behind it, including Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler.
With the LTDx, Cobra applies their “zero CGna” concept that pushes the CG low and forward onto the neutral axis line. The MAX is the more forgiving model with a draw bias and adjustable sole weights, which many high handicappers will greatly appreciate.
The features of the LTDx MAX are:
- PWR-COR: positions 10g of weight low and forward, right behind the hitting zone, to maximize ball speed and reduce spin.
- H.O.T Face: optimizes face thickness in multiple locations using machine-learning and CNC machining, resulting in increased ball speeds across the face.
- Infinity Face: wraps around the leading edge in an effort to increase ball speeds on the bottom part of the face, and creates a traditional top line meant to improve visual alignment.
- Multi-Material Construction: consists of a light and strong titanium chassis, sole plate, and lightweight carbon crown, all of which enable weight savings that are shifted low and forward in the PWR-COR for increased speed.
- Adjustable Weighting: two adjustable sole weights (10g and 3g) are positioned in the back and the heel, allowing golfers to choose between maximum forgiveness and maximum draw bias.
- MyFly Hosel: offers eight loft settings: -1.5°, -1°, -1° Draw, STD, STD Draw, +1°, +1° Draw, and +1.5°.
The LTDx MAX driver comes stock with the Project X HZRDUS Smoke iM10 (60g), Project X HZRDUS Smoke RDX Blue (60g), and UST Mamiya Helium Nanocore (40g, 50g) graphite shafts. The stock grip is the Lamkin Crossline 58R.
|9°, 10.5°, 12°
|57.5°, 58.5°, 59.5°
|D1, D2, D4
- some of the best forgiveness available
- plenty of adjustability for dialing in your ball flight
- solid, explosive feel when struck solidly
- draw bias mitigates slices
- doesn’t really excel in any one area
- mis-hit feel is a bit harsh for a GI driver
The forgiveness of the LTDx MAX is in the same ballpark as the Callaway Rogue ST MAX and PING G425 MAX drivers featured above.
But it also has some of the strongest adjustability on the market, which is terrific because it allows golfers who might not initially have great performance to tinker and really dial in something that works.
If you have a preference for Cobra clubs or have had success with Cobra clubs in the past, this is a driver to seriously consider. High handicappers who are looking for something less forgiving might want to check out the standard LTDx.
Many people are familiar with Srixon as one of the top manufacturers of golf balls. It turns out that they make excellent drivers too.
Their ZX5 Mk II driver, which won a gold medal on the 2023 Golf Digest Hot List, is engineered for straight drives and high forgiveness, speed and launch in a confidence-inspiring profile.
Bucking the trend that has developed over the past couple of years, it moves away from the carbon construction of the original ZX5 back towards titanium, which many will appreciate.
The key technologies of the ZX5 Mk II driver are:
- Rebound Frame: adds a second layer of flexibility for even more recoil at impact. The “spring within a spring” dual-flex design delivers unprecedented ball speeds, particularly in the middle of the face.
- Variable Thickness Face: behind the Ti51AF titanium alloy face is a complex thickness pattern that is designed to expand regions of high COR across the face. The end result is improved ball speeds on off-center strikes.
- Star Frame Crown: an internal structure of latticework and ridges allows for an extremely thin titanium crown. This frees up discretionary weight which is redistributed for higher launch and optimal spin.
- Sole Weight: a port on the rear of the sole contains an 8g weight that shifts the CG low and deep for enhanced stability and launch. This port can be swapped in with different weights depending on individual preferences.
- Adjustable Hosel: offers 12 combinations of loft, lie and face angle.
The ZX5 Mk II driver comes stock with the Project X HZRDUS Smoke Red RDX 60/50 graphite shaft. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360. Custom options are available.
- easy launch even for slower swingers
- very forgiving with a slight draw bias
- slightly faster off the face than the previous ZX5
- lots of adjustability
- solid feel & good sound
- only one stock shaft option
- sole backweights must be purchased separately
The Srixon ZX5 Mk II driver does a fantastic job of providing solid game improvement performance with an easy launch for slower swing speeds.
It doesn’t give you too much of anything, it’s cheaper than other drivers in its class, and it improves on the weaknesses of the original ZX5 driver to deliver better speed across the face.
If you don’t mind going with a brand that is very reputable but nevertheless not as popular as other brands when it comes to golf clubs, the ZX5 Mk II should be at the top of your consideration list.
You may think of Titleist as mainly catering to the professional crowd, but this isn’t really true; they also offer plenty of options suitable for high handicappers that live up to the Titleist standard of quality.
Their TSR2 is the game-improvement “distance bomber” of the TSR line of drivers. As the successor to the TSi2 model, the high-launching TSR2 has been engineered with a faster aerodynamic design and a new face technology for better distance and forgiveness than ever.
The features of the TSR2 driver are:
- Multi-Plateau VFT Face: a special variable-thickness face builds the face inward layer-by-layer so that CT (a measure of energy transfer to the ball) across the face is nearly constant, thus significantly improving forgiveness.
- Low & Forward CG: the center of gravity (CG) in the TSR2 has been shifted lower and more forward, increasing launch and reducing spin for maximum distance.
- Aerodynamic Improvements: the back of the head has a flatter “boat tail” shape in order to promote faster movement through the air. In addition, the toe has a less angular, more natural appearance, producing an address look that is more appealing to better players.
- Adjustable Hosel: the integrated SureFit hosel, which enables sixteen (16) unique loft and lie combinations, can be used to fine-tune your ball flight to best suit your swing.
Titleist offers many featured and premium shaft options for the TSR2 including the Project X HZRDUS Red CB, Mitsubishi TENSEI AV Blue W/ Xlink Tech, and Tour AD DI. The stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.
|8°, 9°, 10°, 11°
- speed and distance are simply amazing
- incredible ball speed consistency across the face
- “grip-and-rip” ready with some workability
- very easy to get the ball airborne
- looks and feel fail to disappoint
- large number of featured shaft options can be overwhelming
- might not be enough of a performance improvement to justify the high price tag
The Titleist TSR2 driver will appeal to any high handicapper looking for top-of-the-line distance, forgiveness, and consistency in a modern look.
With the TSR2, Titleist has managed to improve on what made the TSi2 great, while also addressing its weaknesses. It’s a strong performer in practically every category.
The TSR2 is so easy for any golfer to just pick up and start swinging. However, as with any other Titleist club, we do recommend a professional fitting if possible so that you know which configuration will work best for you.
Are you a high handicapper with a moderate swing speed who wants to amp up their speed with a lightweight driver design? The Cleveland Launcher XL Lite should fit the bill.
Cleveland Golf is known to manufacture excellent golf clubs and offer them at relatively affordable prices.
Their Launcher XL Lite consists of a large, high-MOI head with a low & deep CG, distance-enhancing technologies, and internal grip weight. A bonded hosel and lightweight shaft make the Launcher XL Lite 12g lighter and 0.25″ longer than the standard Launcher XL, and there’s also a shorter length option.
The technologies of the Launcher XL Lite are:
- XL Head: the large head design has a low/deep CG with an MOI of 5100 g/cm². The result is forgiving stability, high launch, and superb distance.
- Rebound Frame: more energy is transferred to the ball at impact from alternating zones of flexibility and rigidity.
- Action Mass CB: an internal 8g weight at the end of the grip is designed to improve balance and control.
The stock graphite shaft is the Project X CYPHER 40, and the stock grip is the Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360.
|46″, 45″ (AB)
|D1, C8 (AB)
- draw option is very effective
- light weight helps add club head speed
- highly accurate and forgiving
- tasteful aesthetic
- more affordable than comparable drivers
- solid feel
- only 10.5° has LH availability
- not the longest driver out there
If you tend to do well with lightweight drivers, you can’t go wrong with the Cleveland Launcher XL Lite. Even if you’re not a fan of the standard 46″ length, you can go with the 45″ Accuracy Build to add control.
The Launcher XL Lite delivers the modern forgiving performance that high handicappers seek. And the best part is that the price tag comes in at just $350, as opposed to $500+ for the popular brands.
PXG is a golf equipment manufacturer that was founded in 2014 and has quickly gained a foothold in the industry. It has been backed by a slew of pro golfers including Zach Johnson and Jason Kokrak.
The 0311 XF GEN6 is built for two things that practically every high handicapper wants: extreme power and forgiveness. It produces some of the best ball speeds in the industry, and the high-MOI head has a large profile which helps build confidence at address.
The technologies of the 0311 XF GEN6 driver include:
- Ti412 Titanium Face: a high-strength titanium alloy face generates super fast ball speeds resulting from a high degree of face deflection at impact.
- Carbon Fiber Crown: the crown is made entirely of a high-strength, high-grade carbon fiber. This allows for weight savings which are redistributed low and to the perimeter of the clubhead, thereby optimizing launch and enhancing forgiveness.
- Precision Weighting: a special structure consists of weights strategically placed in the perimeter of the clubhead and anchored to the outer wall. This adds stability and stiffness which generates high-frequency vibrations for a quality sound and feel.
- Aerodynamic Design: a symmetrical head shape and a larger profile make it easier to square the face at impact.
PXG offers a selection of shafts for the 0311 XF GEN6 at no additional charge. The stock grip is the PXG Lamkin Z5 High Performance.
|9°, 10.5°, 12°
- longer than the GEN5 model
- more forgiving than the GEN5 model
- large head inspires confidence at address
- great balance of launch and spin
- premium crown aesthetic
- highly customizable through weight ports
- a fitting is recommended to get the most out of the driver
The PXG 0311 XF GEN6 driver is a true gem that, frankly, not enough people know about.
It goes farther and the dispersions are tighter compared to the previous GEN5 model, and in fact, it’s the best game-improvement driver that PXG has made thus far. It also has very wide appeal thanks to how customizable it is.
It does everything well, and it can certainly go toe-to-toe with the big dogs from more recognized brands.
There are many drivers on the market, and knowing which one to choose as a high handicapper (18 or above) isn’t necessarily easy, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. This guide will provide you with the education you need in that regard.
In general, you should choose a driver that provides a healthy amount of distance and forgiveness off the tee. If you want to find the right driver, here are the most important factors to consider:
Forgiveness is certainly one of the most important factors to consider, especially for a high handicapper who often fails to make contact with the center of the face.
Having a degree of forgiveness in your driver is highly beneficial because at these high swing speeds, minor mis-hits can be amplified into very poor results. It’s important to avoid the rough as often as possible.
Forgiveness can be divided into two subtypes: ball speed forgiveness and directional forgiveness.
Ball speed forgiveness refers to the amount of ball speed that is preserved in mis-hit regions (towards the toe or heel) relative to the center of the face. Most modern game improvement drivers strive to maximize speed across the entire face so that even moderate mis-hits might result in only a few yards of lost distance.
Directional forgiveness refers to how far a shot deviates from the target line when struck in mis-hit regions. This is closely related to a quantity called moment of inertia, or MOI.
The higher the MOI, the more the club is resistant to twisting at impact when the ball doesn’t make contact at the center of mass. The more the club (and hence the face) resists twisting at impact, the closer to the target line the ball will start.
Many modern drivers have high MOI as a selling point. This will certainly add stability to your shots and help you find more fairways, but you tend to get slightly reduced distance and higher backspin as a tradeoff.
Of course, every golfer wants more distance off the tee, and high handicappers are no exception. A longer drive will enable you to hit shorter, more precise shots into the green.
Even if you miss the fairway, it turns out that distance contributes more to strokes gained driving (about 60%-65%) than accuracy does. So, however you slice it, distance is hugely important, especially in a world of lengthening golf courses.
Most modern drivers have distance as their primary focus. The two main quantities that lead to more distance are ball speed and club head speed.
Ball speed is the speed of the ball immediately after impact with the club face. Obviously, higher ball speed results in more distance. One of the primary factors that affect ball speed is a number called the coefficient of restitution, or COR.
COR is a measure of how much energy is transferred from the club to the ball at impact. The higher the COR, the higher the ball speed. The value can technically be between 0 and 1, but current USGA rules prohibit it from being any higher than 0.83 in golf clubs.
Club head speed is the speed of the club at the moment of impact. Manufacturers typically increase this through certain club aerodynamics which allow the club to move faster and more efficiently through the air.
In short, driver manufacturers strive to maximize COR across the club face and optimize aerodynamics to maximize speed. For the longest drivers, they also try to minimize spin which further increases distance.
One factor worth considering is how the driver looks. Aesthetic is one thing, but if you play a driver that doesn’t suit your eye, you’ll probably be less likely to make a good swing.
Many high handicappers prefer a large 460 CC head with an elongated crown and large face. This tends to inspire confidence when set up behind the ball. On the other hand, a few high handicappers may prefer a more compact head that allows for easier shot-shaping.
Related to this are adjustability features, the main ones being movable sole weights and adjustable hosels. These allow you to alter the loft & lie, introduce draw bias, or add stability depending on the position of the weights.
Adjustability is very beneficial in drivers because it gives you the opportunity to dial in a setting that works best for you, even if you might not have been seeing great performance initially. However, it does tend to come at the cost of less forgiveness because of the added weight.
Another factor that can affect how likely you are to make a good swing is feel: specifically, how the driver feels through the swing and how it feels at impact. For some golfers who play by feel, this is imperative.
The weight of the club should feel balanced, but more than that, it should not be too heavy or too light, as both situations will negatively impact your performance.
When it comes to drivers, you ideally want impact to feel solid and like the ball is exploding off the face. This will tend to give you more confidence and increase your speed through the shot. A hollow or “tinny” sound can work against this.
You also need to consider how much the feel degrades as the impact moves away from the sweet spot towards the mis-hit regions. Most high handicappers will prefer the feel to be as consistent as possible across the face, and in fact, most game-improvement drivers are designed for this.
However, the downside of consistent feel is reduced mis-hit feedback, which means it becomes more difficult for you to tell where the face makes contact with the ball. Achieving a balance that you’re satisfied with will go a long way.
The shaft can make or break your success with a driver because of how much it influences swing weight, feel, trajectory and spin.
Graphite shafts have pretty much become the standard for today’s drivers (as opposed to steel shafts) because their increased torque, increased flex, and lighter weight help promote launch and speed.
Having said that, choosing the right shaft is a highly individual matter. These days, manufacturers pair modern drivers with one or more stock shaft options that tend to appeal to a wide range of golfers, but custom shafts are usually available as well.
The two main things to keep in mind when choosing a shaft are the weight and the flex.
If a shaft is too heavy for you, it will likely result in less control, less club head speed, and an excessively low launch. If a shaft is too light for you, it can result in excessively high launch and spin as well as a lack of precise contact with possible deceleration in the downswing.
The shaft flex that suits you is generally dependent on your swing speed, with lower swing speeds calling for more flex and higher swing speeds calling for less flex. Here’s a guideline:
|Driver Swing Speed
|Suggested Shaft Flex
|Greater than 105 mph
|Less than 84 mph
|Senior or Ladies
Playing a flex that doesn’t match your swing speed can result in sub-optimal ball flights. But if you’re in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of more flexibility.
Drivers are pretty expensive these days, and not everyone can afford ones that cost $500 or more. Fortunately, there are options that cost well below this amount.
As a general rule, the older the driver model, the better the deals you can find on it. And it’s not at all uncommon to find that you perform better with a $300 driver than a $500 driver.
You certainly don’t have to get a current-season driver. But the problem is that as time passes, availability of a particular model gets more limited, and eventually, you lose the ability to order it custom. At that point, you may only be able to get it used. In general, we don’t recommend drivers that are more than three seasons old.
In this guide, we have included driver models that span a range of different prices and brands. But the great thing is that there are ways to reduce both the final cost and risk of the purchase.
For example, one of our top recommended online golf equipment stores, Global Golf, offers club trade-ins as well as a program called Utry that lets you try a driver before you buy it. There has never been this much allowance for finding your ideal clubs, and you should take advantage.
A reliable, quality driver can be a huge boon to a golfer’s toolkit. Finding a model that does the job you want it to do as a high handicapper is certainly possible with some research.
The bottom line is that while high handicap golfers can play any driver successfully, they generally tend to gravitate towards game improvement drivers with large, confidence-inspiring heads, high ball speed, and oodles of forgiveness.
While no driver will tick your every box, many will come pretty close.
Each of the driver models reviewed above deliver exceptional performance. We’ve given you the information you need to make a decision; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.
It is highly recommended to read consumer and professional reviews to acquire some useful insights as to how driver models actually perform. This will help you a lot in the decision-making process.
Thanks for reading this guide. Which drivers are you interested in as a high handicapper? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.