Discover when it’s the right time to replace your driver with help from MyGolfSpy.
SHOULD I REPLACE MY DRIVER WITH A NEW 2023 DRIVER THIS YEAR?
The answer is, “it depends.”
How long has it been since your last upgrade? Has your swing changed in any meaningful way?
Golfers replace their drivers roughly every four to five years. For avid golfers, it’s a little more often and, of course, we all have played with that guy who has a 10-year-old driver in the bag.
Performance gains are typically incremental (and often minimal) from one year to the next. This is a case where the “average” guy probably has it right.
If your swing has changed, you might want to consider a new driver but, before you drop $600, it may be worth working with a fitter on a retro-fit of your existing club.
CARBON. WE’VE SEEN IT ONCE; WILL WE SEE IT AGAIN?
TaylorMade is 100-percent committed to carbon technology so you’ll definitely see more carbon-faced drivers from them in 2023. Stealth drivers weren’t the company’s first go-round with carbon but it was kind of Gen 1 for the mass-market.
For Gen 1 tech, it was excellent but the weight savings weren’t what they could be. Ample opportunities for improvement remain.
As far as TaylorMade’s competitors go … We’ve heard the requisite stories about the limitations and deficiencies of carbon as a face material. I expect the chatter will continue but I’d be surprised if we don’t eventually see a carbon fiber-faced competitor with a good story explaining why the new tech is different (and better—it’s always better) than TaylorMade’s.
That won’t happen this year, however. For everyone else, it’s titanium-faced drivers for the next little while.
SHOULD I FOCUS MORE ON ACCURACY, FORGIVENESS OR DISTANCE?
When we had Titleist’s JJ Van Wezenbeeck on No Putts Given last week, he emphasized the importance of fitting for center-face contact when he works with Tour pros. In a world where every data point spit out by the launch monitor can be over-scrutinized, I think that’s a super-simple, infinitely important and grossly overlooked element of the fitting equation.
I do think that performance of most (not all) drivers is similar enough that average golfers would be better served by trading away a couple yards of distance to bring the ball closer to the centerline.
Having said that, if your fitter can dial in consistently center-ish impact, then distance, accuracy and forgiveness will follow.
WHAT’S THE NEXT BIG CHANGE FOR METALWOODS? CARBON WOODS? BOTH.
I’m not sure what it is but you can bet there will be something. Speed sells so there’s always going to be a speed story.
For TaylorMade, we know it’s going to be the evolution of carbon face. I’d wager Callaway is ready to move on from, or at least build on, the Jailbreak story in a way that’s different than what we’ve heard for the past few years.
Beyond speed, most everyone is looking to fit the widest swath of the market possible so I expect we’ll continue to see three to four models in every lineup with an enhanced ability to move weight around.
DRIVERS ARE EXPENSIVE. WHAT AM I REALLY PAYING FOR?
In a word, you’re paying for hope.
As for what goes into that, the actual cost to roll a driver off an assembly line is a couple of hundred bucks but drivers don’t make themselves.
Everyone is chasing better and while the manifestation of that is often just a yard or two, finding it is expensive.
Cynical golfers like to chalk everything up to the cost of marketing but the reality is that research costs money. In addition to traditional golf design roles, the larger companies employ aerodynamicists, material scientists and teams whose job it is to look for stuff that might work five to 10 years from now.
So, yeah, you’re paying for materials, a ton of human capital, retail margins and, yes, marketing.
If you want to know what it really costs to make a driver, I’d wager that when PXG does one of its price drops, you’re seeing something pretty close to a break-even proposition.
IF YOU COULD PLAY ONE DRIVER FOR THE REST OF YOUR CAREER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
There’s a nostalgia element to questions like these so the temptation is always to go with a driver that I really loved five years ago, even if I haven’t played in three or more seasons.
Nah, I’m not falling into it.
The last driver I was fitted into was the Titleist TSR. It’s the best I have right now so if we’re drawing the line on the calendar at today, then that’s what has to be the answer.
WILL EVERY LARGE GOLF COMPANY BE RELEASING A NEW DRIVER THIS SEASON?
YES! (and that’s awesome)
This is one of the “perfect storm” years where all of the big guys (and most of the challenger brands) will have new product.
Titleist just launched TSR. You can bank on new drivers from TaylorMade, Callaway and COBRA annually and the PING G430 is on its way as well. For what it’s worth, new Srixon stuff just hit the USGA list and I’d wager Tour Edge isn’t going to sit out 2023.
If you’re in the market for a new driver, you’ll be able to choose from the latest (and presumably the best) that everyone has to offer.
Will you have the patience to wait until everything is available at retail so you can demo them all? Or better yet, have them all available during your fitting?
WHAT’S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO ANYONE LOOKING TO INVEST IN A NEW DRIVER?
$600 is the new normal (see below). A good number of you already think that’s a ridiculous amount to spend on a driver. Even if I don’t agree with you, it’s definitely a ridiculous amount to spend on something that isn’t custom fit for you.
DID YOU JUST SAY THAT $600 IS THE NEW NORMAL?
We all know everything costs more. I mean, a pound of good roast beef runs about $15. It doesn’t feel like all that long ago that it was only $6.
Anyway, TaylorMade set a new standard with Stealth last year. Titleist has already matched with TSR and I can’t imagine Callaway is willing to stay under $600 and risk the perception that those other guys are somehow more premium.
PING may come in at $550. It may not.
It’s certainly possible, maybe even likely, that some smaller and mid-sized brands will position themselves as offering performance AND value (all things are relative) in the $500 to $550 range. Much below that and I’d wager the company is sacrificing either quality or profits—and very few companies are willing to sacrifice profits.