Driver Performance

Thank you Frank for the ongoing information you provide. It has helped me very much in debunking some myths about golf and especially golf equipment.

I am sure my question is one many golfers here in Australia would like to have an answer to, as well as many golfers around the world.

Are drivers made by major manufacturers any different in the way they perform?

I love my two-year old driver but don’t know if I should be looking around?


Melbourne, Australia


Thank you for your comments and we are pleased you are enjoying the site.

Unfortunately, I must tell you that the difference in performance between drivers from the major manufacturers’– and in fact even the full sets – is very small.

If you are properly fitted for your driver and get close to the optimum launch conditions for your head speed, then you will hit the ball the same distance no matter what driver you buy.

In fact, the driver you have is probably as good as you can get especially if you have made good friends with it, and it is performing well, and you probably won’t need another one for a couple of years.

As soon as we start to falter in our performance – distance, direction or both — we do not accept the fact that this is probably a malfunction in us rather than our driver. So we turn to what we believe is a “quick fix” –i.e. buy a new driver for $400 +  — when we should probably be considering a quick lesson. In many cases, you will perform a little better by choking down on the driver and swinging a little easier.

Matt, if one driver was superior to the rest then all the touring pros would be using it no matter how much they were offered to use a specific brand.

Having said this, I cannot over emphasize the need to make sure you like the looks of, and have confidence in your driver –new or old. Make good friends with your driver and it will perform well.

To all our Frankly Friends, let us know what you think about your driver and how it performs by leaving a reply below. We look forward to hearing what works best for you and sharing it with other site visitors!



19 thoughts on “Driver Performance

  1. Too many male golfers forget that the game of golf is about low scores. To them it’s a manhood competition with driving distance as their measuring stick. And there will always be someone to sell them more length.

  2. frank i believe as you do that all golfers who play at the length the manufacturers make are losing out on control and distance. my new callaway at 46′ was tough to control , cut down to 44.5 and it is great. luke donald and segio garcia both play at 43″ long and they do quite well. i have noticed other pros in the whats in the bag section of the major magizines play at 45″ or less . they listen to you frank.

  3. The whole driver controversy is a hoot to read about and listen to. A local clubfitter says that the basic male bogey golfer (that’s 80% of us) can drive the ball 190 yards, no more. Any claim of longer is suspect. We’ve had a dry August in Oregon, and I can hit my 4 iron (Acer Cabriolet, Acer Velocity Regular Shaft) 190 yards. The round-headed clubs are taking the summer off.

    It’s a little silly to play an inherently inaccurate club. As they say, the woods are full of long drives. I’ll just plod along and score pars and bogies and the occasional birdie with my 6 or 7 iron bag.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with Frank. The golf companies have to keep coming out with the “new” stuff…that part is economics. However, remember this phrase “15 more yards.” We hear it almost every new season. That means in 4 years I should be hitting it 60 yards longer than today! Wow! The part I really relate to was encouraging the player to “choke down – and swing easier.” It does work! Try it…and you and your old driver just might re-new a nice relationship.

  5. Afternoon Frank & Valerie,
    I have 2 favorite drivers. The one I used in the late 70’s, a Toney Penna permission that I still have and hit once in a great while when feeling nostalgic! The other is my current Ping G10 (4 years old). Nice club, feels good, but I sure wish I had read Just Hit It prior to buying as I would have purchased a 44″ length as opposed to the stock length of 45-1/2″. Keep up the great videos & info…look forward to them every week!
    Nat Piper

  6. Take Frank’s advice! I bought and read Just Hit It (thank you for the autograph!) and then bought a Cobra Speed LD M diver with 12 degrees of loft and an Aldila 50 gram regular flex shaft at a local golf show for about $180. When I put to use what my golf pro taught me, I can hit it 250-260 yards, which I consider to be pretty good for a guy almost 57. A tension-free golf swing is the key. Tension kills a golf swing, regardless of what club you use.

  7. I am currently using a Wishon 919 driver. While most people have not heard of Tom Wishon, I know you have Frank. I also have three of his hybrds. More importantly than simply using a Wishon driver head is that I was properly fitted by a certified club fitter. He had me hitting balls with eight different shafts until we were satisfied with my launch angle, spin rate of the ball, etc. my club fitter’s policy is that if at any time I am not fully satisfied with the driver, I can bring it back and he will make whatever adjustments are necessary to correct the problem at no additional charge. While we all want as much distance as we can get with our driver, to me it’s more important to land the drive in the fairway than the Bermuda rough we have here in Florida. The distance you lose getting your ball out of the rough can play havoc with your score. My Wishon 919 helps me hit it straight. It shows that you don’t always need a name brand club.

    • I also use a Tom Wishon 919 Driver head. It is 11 degrees with a built-in draw bias and 44″ length. I occasionally hit some new longer length or latest new head demo drivers, but have not found a compelling reason to change. I have been experimenting with assembling and fitting my own clubs for about 20 years or so. As I have aged, I have tended to go with lighter club weights while maintaining consistent weight ranges and distance gaps thoughout my entire club set. I too love Tom’s hybrid irons, especially the “775” series. They are long range shot savers.
      Frank is also simply right on with his overall golf knowledge and advice.

  8. I have a driver that was made by a friend for me about 10 years ago. It has a Titanium Head and a graphite shaft – both parts came from Golfsmith. I have constantly hit it 220 – 230 yards off the tee for a number of years. It is regripped every year.

    I have tried a number of drivers over the years however none feel as good as this one. I plan to keep it until the pieces fall apart.

  9. I’ve been playing golf for 56 years. Every year the manufacturers claim their new model driver will add 10 yards. I used to drive the ball about 140 yards when I started. Now do the math: 56 X 10 = 560 + 140 = 700. So now I hit it 700 yards (that includes roll). What are your numbers based on manufacturers claims?

  10. All the talk about adding distance has almost everything to do with correct launch angle combined with solid contact. A properly fitted driver is essential. Proper driver length (no longer than 44.5 inches) and correct grip size is also most important in the proper fitting sequence. I’ve been fitting golfers for over 20 years and have been using launch monitors for almost 10. The world has changed in these 20 years. Frank is right about investing in a good golf instructor. It’s important to shop around for a good one. Dave Johnson

  11. Hi Frank, always a pleasure to read your thoughts and gather the information you put out. My six year old r7 CGB Taylormade is indeed an old friend, but earlier this year I decided I might be outdated and took on the new r11. Within three months and lots of hearburn, I carried it into my pro shop, dropped it on the pro’s counter and asked him to trade a pair of golf shoes for it. He did, and now I enjoy my old friend every day and happy to do it. I have your books, I read you work, but it never seems to be enough. Do more old pal. Sherwood Schoch

  12. Hi Frank,
    I think I got hooked on trying to buy a better game when Callaway brought out the Big Bertha and TaylorMade brought out the bubble drivers. The improvements in length and accuracy that I got with those clubs were huge. I was hooked and over the next decade I have tried drivers at various demo days and bought more than one in an attempt to continue to “buy” a better game. This past year, it seemed like I hit my 3 wood better than my various drivers. So, I “un-friended” my drivers and in a rare case of common sense went to see a local pro. He asked what I liked (classic shape – not white). He measured my swings with Trackman. Indeed, I did hit my three wood better and farther than my drivers. He then started bringing drivers with heads that I liked and combined them with different shafts. It was amazing to see the different results obtained with the same head but with different shafts. I ended up with a Nike driver and an aHini stiff shaft. My swing speed went from 93 to 95 but duck hooking to around 100 and much straighter. This past weekend using the marking feature in SkyCaddie my drives were 250+ (carry and roll at sea level). Despite my nice new driver, my drives over the past decade have continued to get shorter. As I get older (I will be 64 in December) I suspect my swing speed will continue to get slower and soon a stiff shaft will not be optimal for me. So, once a year I will go see the pro and find out how I am doing and maybe stay ahead of the curve. I still like demo days!

  13. Hi, Frank & Valerie. Greetings from Jackson Hole. My old TaylorMade R 5 is just great. I’ve “tested” some newer drivers this year, but perceived no advantage to the newer clubs. Thanks for all you do. David

  14. Couldn’t agree more Frank. I use a 5 year old Cobra driver (bought it as a demo so it was a great price) and have tried almost all new drivers, and do not see $100 let alone $400 worth of improvement in distance or direction to justify the cost. My driver is not adjustable, but it is perfect for me and I will use it until it breaks or until it no longer likes me and misbehaves by attempting to hit my golf balls out of bounds. Only then will I need a new driver!

    • Frank, to me the most important part of finding the right is being fit by a competent fitter. My driver is approaching the end of its second season in my bag. I was fitted to this driver by the tech van and do to the proper shaft and head I am able to hit the ball 20 to 30 yds farther, this by gps measurements. The proper fitting does make a difference.

      • It’s too tempting but I won’t – I’m sure everything this guy says is dead on true. Proper fitting is huge! I haven’t experienced this sort of distance gain but I’ve had a huge uptic in consistency – I’m more often at the top end of my distance and I’m hitting significantly more fairways with my custom fit driver than I did before. I very normally hit 12 fairways in regulation now.

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