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 »  Home  »  Equipment  »  Play Testing  »  Drivers  »  Our Readers Test the Hottest Drivers for 2012
Our Readers Test the Hottest Drivers for 2012
By Tom Landers | Published  06/11/2012 | Drivers | Unrated
Our Readers Test the Hottest Drivers in Golf for 2012

Drivers
Tee it high and let it fly!

Whether it's the pride of striping one right down the middle or the total frustration of watching the ball turn uncontrollably into the woods, the driver is the club that stirs emotions more than any other. Each spring we feel that the "silver bullet" to tour like distance is just a new driver away. While "Tour like" distance may not be a reality longer, more accurate drives may well be in the cards.
  For the past several years, manufacturers have worked tirelessly to build drivers that butt right up to the allowable limits of COR and MOI. In layman's terms, pretty much all of the major players in the driver market offer drivers that touch on these limits. Today the club companies are looking in other areas to make their divers the players' choice. Launch angle research has now moved to descent angle efficiency. Spin rates, color, non-glare finishes, shot shape technologies, shaft matching, weighting, are all on the table for design engineers. In fact, along with the putter, the driver is arguably the most important club in the bag and certainly the most personal. Even Tour players with lucrative club contracts reserve the right to use the driver and putter that they feel works best for them, even if it happens to be an offering from a competitive company. To buy a driver with the specs of your favorite Tour pro or even your weekend partner, just because they have success with it, is a recipe for certain frustration.
With the incredible advances in customization and adjustability, finding your perfect driver is no longer a pipe dream. Whether it is to correct a slice, tame a hook or maximize distance, all of this high-tech individual customization lets players find the conditions that work best for you. While this all may be lost on the average Joe who only plays golf once a week in his nine-hole league the better player, and those seeking to become better players, can benefit significantly from having the ability to alter a driver's playing characteristics to suit their individual swings and abilities, and have that "silver bullet."

       

Drivers

Adams SPEEDLINE Fast 12ls
www.AdamsGolf.com • $399

Unique Features: The Adams Speedline Fast 12 LS provides adjustability and aerodynamics to optimize ball flight, spin and distance. Adjustable for loft/face attitude, lie angle and exclusive shaft length adjustments, this club's added 0.5" of length increases ball speed (1 mph), increases launch angle (0.5°) and adds carry distance (5 yards). The lower spin and more traditional shaping is aided by the Fubuki Alpha Shaft with MD Technology.

 

Tester Comments: No other driver has been able to get my spin around 2500rpms. If you need to bring your spin down try the Fast12LS … It flies straight and long and is very forgiving … Good feel., easy distance, excellent stock shafts.
 
 


Boccieri Golf Heavy Driver
www.boccierigolf.com • $399

Unique Features: Heavy Driver, available in black or white finish, features a 460cc titanium head and "Dimple Face Technology," to maximize the COR without decreasing durability. This allows better weight distribution throughout the head, which has slightly more mass than traditional offerings. The claimed benefit of additional mass in the head is greater force at impact, resulting in superior distance. The driver is available in 9, 10 and HL or "High Launch" (12.5) lofts with a variety of flexes in a premium Aldila NVS shaft.

Tester Comments: If you have a quick swing speed, this will slow you down and give you more consistency … Steady yet unspectacular performer provided respectable distance … Driver forgives most mediocre swings



COBRA AMP
www.CobraGolf.com • $299

Unique Features:
The Cobra AMP features E9 Face Technology and AMP Speed Tuning to deliver customized distance and accuracy through an elliptical face that features a new canted bulge with Dual Roll design. This design provides more distance to shots hit above and below the centerline as each loft optimizes the amount of Dual Roll, head weight, shaft weight, grip weight and length differently to deliver the best performance for a given club head speed. This driver has three simple face-angle settings (Open, Neutral and Closed) to optimize ball flight for increased distance and improved accuracy while the Aldila RIP speed tuned shafts offer customize performance for various swing speeds.

Tester Comments: Has a nice sweet spot where even when i didn't hit the center of the club … High quality, Durable, nice forgiveness, looks nice, will help with slices


COBRA zl Encore Black
www.CobraGolf.com • $399

Unique Features: The Cobra ZL Encore Black features E9 face technology with Dual Roll designed to give the player longer and more forgiving drives. It has an elliptical face sporting the new canted bulge that provides more distance to shots hit above and below the center line of the face. The ZL's 460cc head incorporates a carbon fiber crown and sole with a 5% larger titanium body and face, along with a swing weight screw, that provides optimal center of gravity and improved moment of inertia and three simple face angle settings (open, neutral, and closed) to optimize ball flight for increased distance and improved accuracy.

Tester Comments: This club no matter where I hit it on the face, gave me very good distance … Long distance and very forgiving … The black face gave me immediate feedback on where I hit the ball on the face.


Excel Zero Friction Advantage
www.ZeroFriction.com • $199

Unique Features: The Zero Friction features a 460cc, alpha titanium, form forged, 6A4V Titanium body, a 15-3-3-3 Beta Titanium face and a tungsten-copper back/sole-weight. The Excel Zero Friction is available in both black and white PVD base finishes. The driver features a 100% high modulus, low resin graphite shaft, available in R or S flex. The grip is Zero Friction's proprietary all weather compound.

Tester Comments: Distance comparable to others I tried … Middle-of-the-road performer with above-average forgiveness capabilities … Nice deep face was very forgiving.


Mizuno MP-650
www.MizunoUSA.com
• $399

Unique Features: The Mizuno MP-650  is a Tour level driver with the head shape, specifications and technologies designed specifically to perform for the better player. A slightly open, deeper face with 450cc volume head design delivers a mid-launch, low spin and a penetrating yet workable trajectory. Two strategically placed internal weights in a player-preferred, pear-shaped head produce a neutral to slight fade trajectory. These technologies and design elements, combined with a 5-layer multi-thickness CORTECH face are incorporated to optimize distance and control.

Tester Comments: Not adding adjustability was a bold and critical move for a premium priced driver, however, before you count the Mizuno 650 out, I suggest you simply hit it. The feel on this club is beyond compare … One of the most solid striking drivers I have ever hit. It simply performs in a nice and quiet manner.


Nike VRS
www.NikeGolf.com • $299

Unique Features: The Tour-inspired Nike VR S Driver features a bigger club head, a deeper face and Nike's exclusive NexCOR technology, which all combine to produce more speed at impact for greater distance. The larger clubhead means more accuracy on mis-hits the deeper face provides more power. 

Tester Comments: Great driver. Easy adjustments. Helps eliminate my slice. Don't have to swing fast to get distance. It explodes off face … Lacks cosmetic appeal but who cares if you can hit it straight and long … Longer and straighter for me than any driver I tried.


Ping i20
www.Ping.com • $349

Unique Features: The Ping i20 has an aerodynamic 460cc head that is designed for golfers who rely on a low-spin, penetrating trajectory to maximize distance, accuracy, and workability. Two dense tungsten sole weights in the Ti 8-1-1 head elevate the moment of intertia for forgiveness across the clubface and they position the center of gravity for optimal launch conditions. Golfers with moderate swing speeds can also improve their launch conditions for greater distance and accuracy and the lower moment of inertia about the shaft axis aids the golfer in shaping shots. The i20 has a matte-black finish that absorbs light to eliminate glare and reflections.

Tester Comments: This is the first PING club I have ever tried and couldn't be more happy. You have to it give one a swing to see for yourself the matte black finish looks awesome … The simplicity of the club is the strongest feature, reminds you that all you need to do is hit it right not worry about grabbing wrenches and weights.


Ping G20
www.Ping.com • $299

Unique Features:
The Ping G20 is designed for all ability levels. The external weighting of the G20 driver helps launch the ball high with low spin for maximum distance and accuracy. Distance is generated with a new version of Ping's proprietary high-balance-point shaft technology, which allows the golfer to swing a heavier clubhead at the same speed with a high moment of inertia. The clubface on the 460cc head is larger than previous models, creating more forgiveness across the hitting area and the G20's head rotation is neutral, allowing the golfer to deliver the clubface straight at impact.

Tester Comments: I kept coming back to the G-20 for feel, sound, launch angle, and distance over everything else I tried … Absolutely unbelievable accuracy and distance … I played a couple of rounds with it and it's a real bomber (250 -260 for me) that always seems to keep me around the fairway


Powerbilt Airforce One DF Tour
  www.PowerBilt.com • $279

Unique Features :Powerbilt's patented "Nitrogen Charged" technology, comes in their newly designed DF (Deep Face) driver. Nitrogen Charging is a newly patented method to reinforce the face of the club without adding any weight. Compressed nitrogen provides tremendous support to the club face so every golfer can benefit from maximum C.O.R., maximum C.T., maximum Trampoline Effect, and Maximum Smash Factor for incredible distance.

Tester Comments: Definitely saw added distance to my drives, have tired others but this gave this average swing speed golfer extra yards … Nice solid sound, good feel at contact, extra distance, excellent club … As good as any of the more popular brands at a better price.


                 

TaylorMade RBZ
              www.TaylormadeGolf.com • $299
             
             
Unique Features: The TaylorMade RocketBallz Drivers use Flight Control Technology (FCT), which easily allows you to adjust the loft ±1.5º and face angle ±3° on your shots. A thick-thin crown design creates a lower center of gravity, which promotes higher launch for more distance. A lightweight shaft and grip promotes faster swing speed for more distance and the speed-enhancing head aerodynamics promotes faster head speed for more distance. Inverted Cone Clubface Technology promotes more speed and distance on off-center hits and the white crown and black face makes alignment easy and eliminates glare on top.

 

Tester Comments: Outstanding Driver for Mid-Handicap Player … This club hit the ball farther than the others and I hit it with a slight draw with a standard setting. The club is light, easy to set-up and feels great even with off center hits … With the Rocketballz, I drove the ball 260 average, up from my normal 240 yards.


                 

TaylorMade RBZ Tour
    www.TaylormadeGolf.com • $299
             

                Unique Features:
The RBZ Tour version offers the same Flight Control Technology as the other TaylorMade driver offerings, but this is not your father's driver! The Tour comes standard with a stouter Matrix Ozik X-con 6 shaft. The Tour's head, while still 460cc's appears smaller and more aggressive at address. Its deeper face is designed to reduce spin for the high speed swinger. Priced the same as its sibling, this driver is really targeted at the player that needs to keep spin rate to a minimum while still maintaining high ball speeds.

 

Tester Comments: Hitting it longer and a tighter shot dispersion too. I cannot wait to buy one of these … I highly recommend this for someone looking to get some extra distance …  Once I got this adjusted to me (one notch upright and one notch higher ball flight) by ball flight and distance were awesome.


                 

Taylormade R11 S
    www.TaylorMadeGolf.com • $399
   

            Unique Features:
The TaylorMade R11 S is faster, longer and more tunable than last years R11. This is acheived by adjusting the loft ±1.5° with Flight Control Technology (FCT) and adjusting the face to one of five angles with Adjustable Sole Plate (ASP) Technology. Movable Weight Technology allows the center of gravity to be moved toward the heel or toe and a maximum-sized 460cc titanium head with Thick-Thin Crown design lowers that center of gravity. Inverted Cone Technology (ICT) promotes more ball speed on off-center hits and the white crown and black face makes alignment easy and eliminates glare on top.

 

Tester Comments: Worth the hype … Great feel and sound … It is much better than the R11 … The adjustabilities do work well. You will hit straighter and higher or lower to whichever you want … The best feature of this club that nobody mentions is its black face. The ball leaves an impact imprint after every shot. You can see if you nailed it on center or not.


                 

Titleist 910 d2
              www.Titleist.com • $399
             
         
Unique Features: The Titleist 910 D2 delivers longer distance through a technologically advanced head design with a responsive, fast face insert that creates a ball-speed area that is claimed to be 15% larger than other drivers. The patented SureFit Tour dual-angle hosel provides precise and independent loft and lie adjustments to fine tune ball flight for more accuracy and control. High performance weighting and a sloped, ultra-thin crown design increases stability and creates a low and deep center of gravity for medium/high launch with medium/low spin. This driver has a higher launch and spin that the Titleist D3. An interchangeable shaft connection and rear weight screw provide enhanced fitting options and the full pear-shaped profile has a black PVD and paint finish.

 

Tester Comments: Truly impressed by the feel and performance of this club … After I tuned it to my liking, (C-2) it is by far the most consistent driver I tested … Great distance, great for shaping shots.


                 

Tour Edge XCG5
              www.TourEdge.com • $329
             
             
Unique Features: The  XCG5 is a two-piece brazed; "no-weld" driver offered in three shaft options: a super-ultra-light Graphite Design Tour AD 271- gram version, a Fujikura BLUR 306-gram version, and an Aldila RIP 312-gram version. The special beta titanium crown material is ultra-thin and lighter than the previous carbon crown and dramatically improves the sound while a six-point perimeter weighting system lowers the center of gravity and moves it lower and deeper in the sole. The XCG5 face design offers multiple levels of variable face thickness that maximize the spring like effect and feel from more points on the face while the 12% larger face provides greater forgiveness on off-center hits. Power is enhanced by the aerodynamic shape and visibly sloped crown and sole that reduce drag and improve airflow for enhanced swing speed and faster ball speed.

 

Tester Comments: I liked the looks and the feel and I am a big fan of the accuracy of the XCG5 … Very dependable while delivering a nice smooth feel … I like the look of this driver, and the shaft offerings are superb!
 



                 

Tour Edge Bazooka
              www.TourEdge.com • $149
             

                Unique Features:
This SUPER light driver has a sloped crown and aerodynamic shape reduce drag and improve airflow. Powering this is a 46" remarkably light 50-gram Aldila shaft designed from their incredibly popular NV platform. The 460cc titanium head has a deep face and huge sweet spot. Two internal weight cavities in the rear sole move weight back in the heel and toe for maximum stability.  The combination of a large effective hitting area and advanced weighting technology delivers power and accuracy even on off center hits.

 

Tester Comments: Nice consistent driver at a great price … Off-center hits get out there a good ways … Solid feel on well-struck shots and mis-hits … A good steady performing driver.


                 
.

Wilson DXI SUPERLIGHT
              www.WilsonStaff.com • $299
             
Unique Features: The lightest driver that Wilson Golf has ever engineered, the DXi Superlight boasts at an extremely light 269 grams, nearly 50 grams in weight reduction as compared to most traditional drivers. The light weight means a lower swing effort, resulting in greater head speed, for more power through impact.

 

Tester Comments: Above-average forgiveness, however length was average … Very accurate driver with a large sweet spot … Simple, clean club head with a shallow face and large hitting area..


                       

Wilson DXI
        www.WilsonStaff.com • $299
         
Unique Features: The Wilson DXI uses trajectory control to reduce spin and deliver more distance for both low and higher handicap players. The key is two high density tungsten rubber inserts that move the center of gravity location further back as loft increases. Better players will prefer low loft options for the lower-spinning penetrating ball flight. Higher handicappers will opt for higher lofts for higher ball flights. Both options deliver one result: maximum distance. The 460cc  DXI comes standard with and Aldila VooDoo SVS8 shaft.

     

Tester Comments: Nice light driver that is easy to swing … I have a slower tempo swing and this gained me about 10 yards in distance … This driver is as long as anything else out there.


                       

YONEX  EZONE
        www.Yonex.com • $299
         
Unique Features: The eZone SD driver features Yonex's proprietary Core Center of Gravity (CCG) technology for an enlarged "sweet-zone", increased forgiveness and higher ball speeds to maximize distance.The Carbon Composite Head Construction features a 6-4 Titanium face and body fused to a high intensity composite graphite crown. This design allows for additional weight to be distributed lower and deeper within the clubhead for higher launch and increased forgiveness. The Inner Weight System located internally at the back portion of the sole plate, optimizes the driver's Center of Gravity (CG) further enhancing launch conditions.

     

Tester Comments: Overall solid performer in distance and accuracy ... Tall, deep face provides tons of room for error; misses don't stray too far off-line … Great look with above average forgiveness.


                                     

Player’s Choice Awards

Low Handicap
        Ping i20
        TaylorMade
Rocketballz Tour
TaylorMade R11S
Titleist 910 D2

          Mid Handicap
          Cobra ZL Encore
          Ping G20
          Nike VR S
          Tour Edge XCG5
      Yonex eZone SD     

High Handicap / Beginner
TaylorMade Rocketballz
Tour Edge Bazooka
HT Max-D

       

Senior
          Ping G20
          Powerbilt Airforce One DF Tour
          TaylorMade Rocketballz
      Wilson DXI Superlight