When I first started playing golf, my driver was easily my favorite club to hit. After playing for many years, absolutely nothing has changed. There is just something about a club that is built for speed and distance that makes it fun. I do remember, however, a few times during my first couple of years of playing golf where my driver was my most inconsistent club and sometimes the source of a lot of frustration. I remember days when I could not find the fairway on any of the holes I drove and losing more golf balls and being more frustrated than I can describe.
This is where a forgiving driver comes into play. No matter if you are just starting out or have been playing for years, forgiveness is one of the most important aspects of any driver. You want to be able to step up to the tee and “grip it and rip it.” The problem is that the driver has the lowest loft and the most potential to send your ball flying into the woods, lake, or any other hazard that may be in front of you. Forgiveness is the aspect of a driver that reduces the likelihood of sidespin, mishits, and terrible shots giving you a much better chance of sending your ball straight down the fairway. As you read you will find a description of the things that add to forgiveness, the benefits of a forgiving driver, and some of our choices for the most forgiving drivers out there. We will also describe things like moment of inertia (MOI), draw-bias, sweet spot, size, etc. Finding the right driver is vital for any golfer, and forgiveness is one of the keys to doing just that.
What is Moment of Inertia (MOI)?
Moment of Inertia (MOI) is a physics term that describes the rotational inertia of a “body” and the opposition that that “body” exhibits to having its speed of rotation altered on its axis by the application of torque or turning force. It is a quantity, a number, that determines the torque needed for a specified angular acceleration along an axis. The MOI measures the resistance a “body” has to changes in its motion. The “body” in this description is your driver’s clubhead, and if you can raise the MOI of your driver then the chances that your driver will turn or rotate at impact will be much lower.
While the definition of MOI above seems quite complicated, in golf it is much easier to determine. In fact, on a practical level, MOI in golf has nothing to do with calculations or numbers and everything to do with results. In golf, MOI is simply the resistance a clubhead has to twisting during your swing and especially at impact. You want high MOI in your golf clubs because even the slightest twist at impact or at any point during your swing can send your golf ball flying in the wrong direction and with unwanted side spin. You can raise the MOI of your golf club by moving the weight of the clubhead as far away from the face of your club as possible. Most driver manufacturers try to move the weight of their clubs toward the bottom and rear of the club head. Moving the weight like this adds to MOI, gives the club a higher launch, and even increases the size of the sweet spot of your driver. In general, the higher the MOI of your driver, the more forgiving and easier to hit it becomes.
What exactly are the benefits of a forgiving driver?
There are many benefits of a good driver, and the best way to highlight those benefits is with a list. The following is a non-exhaustive list of benefits that a forgiving driver brings to every golfer:
Nobody, pro or amateur, hits their driver the same way and in the same spot every time. The difference in our bad and good swings, however, are very pronounced compared to PGA Pros. A forgiving driver helps to keep your drives more consistent even when you are off a little.
Less sidespin, fewer mishits, and a bigger sweet spot leads to more accuracy and more fairways hit. If you can keep the ball on or near the fairway, your game and your day is going to be better.
A forgiving driver does not add distance to your drive simply because it is forgiving. However, the knowledge that you can take a harder swing because of the forgiveness provided almost always adds distance to your drive.
Confidence is key to anything you do, and the confidence that a forgiving driver adds to your game is key. You just know walking up to the ball that there is a good chance you are going to hit the ball far and straight and that is a huge confidence builder.
Many of the things that make a driver forgiving also make it easier to launch. You want your drives to go straight and long and they cannot do that if you cannot get the ball off the ground.
Callaway Big Bertha B21
If you have been playing golf for any amount of time then you have heard the name “Big Bertha.” The Callaway Big Bertha has been around for a while and it is known as a long and easy-to-hit club. The B21 continues that tradition and it is one of the straightest drivers we have ever seen. You get an oversized head, huge sweet spot, and a combination of speed and low spin that is difficult to find. The Flash Face technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that Callaway is known for and makes the face as forgiving and “hot” as possible. The “jailbreak” bars have been one of Callway’s most successful features ever keeping your drive straight and long, and the lightweight carbon crown has given more flexibility to move the weight of the club around. The bottom line is that when a driver is forgiving, it goes consistently straight and consistently long even when you mishit the ball a little, and that is exactly what the Big Bertha B21 does.
- One of the straightest drivers on the market.
- A draw bias to help correct the most common driving error in golf.
- Flash Face design gives added distance no matter your swing speed.
- An adjustable hosel.
- 3 different lofts available including a 9-degree, 10.5-degree, and 12-degree.
- AI technology makes it one of the more precise and technologically advanced drivers out there.
- Promotes explosive ball speed for any swing speed.
- Very easy to hit with a steep launch angle.
- A high MOI with most of the weight in the back and bottom of the club.
- Good stock shaft options.
- Jailbreak bars give you extra forgiveness and accuracy.
- Very low spin.
- One of the more expensive drivers.
- Produces so little spin that it is difficult to work around the course for better players.
- The launch can cause players with high swing speeds to balloon their shots.
- The draw bias can cause the ball to go more left than you may want it.
Ping G425 Max
The Ping G425 is one of the most solid and stable drivers out there with a really high MOI. You get good distance, but Ping focused on forgiveness and accuracy when creating the G425 drivers. The G425 has been out for more than a year now, but it is still Ping’s 2022 driver and it is still one of the most forgiving drivers you will find. You will get very few mishits, and even when you do, those mishits will still travel a little farther and a little straighter than most. The Ping G425 is also one of the best drivers out there to fix a slice. It features a 26-gram movable tungsten weight that can really change the shape of your shot with the simple movement of a weight. In terms of how far the ball moves left, no other driver on this list compares to the Ping G425, and it is common knowledge that most beginners and high handicappers struggle with a slice. This year’s Ping driver features their highest ever MOI, but it also performs well in the distance category. You also get a really high launch with this club which is great for beginners and those with difficulty getting their drive up in the air.
- The highest MOI driver Ping has created.
- It outperforms almost every other driver in draw bias.
- You get a really high launch.
- A very consistent golf club.
- The adjustable tungsten weight is 26 grams which allows for a lot of flexibility and change in your shot shaping.
- It sounds and feels great at impact.
- One of the most consistent and stable drivers on the market.
- A very low spin rate.
- Great sound and feel at impact.
- One of the best if you are prone to mishits and off center strikes.
- Does not really add any extra distance to the G410 drivers.
- Not a good option if you have a natural draw.
- Better for higher handicap players and does not offer as many advantages for good ball strikers.
Cobra F Max
The Cobra F Max driver is one of the best drivers out there to fight against the dreaded slice with a slight offset and a draw-biased weighting. Cobra continues to be known for making some really good drivers and a lot of good players are switching over to Cobra because of their simplicity and focus on speed. The F-Max takes that focus on speed and adds some forgiveness options to it as well. It is a very lightweight driver too so if you struggle with your swing speed it is a good option. The F-Max tests as one of the more accurate drivers as well. You get the draw bias, lighter weight, and accuracy without any noticeable loss in distance from previous Cobra drivers, and Cobra is known for ball speed.
- If you are fighting a slice, this is the club for you.
- Not as expensive as some of the other clubs on this list.
- Can really add some distance to people with slow to moderate swing speeds.
- If you are struggling with accuracy and consistency, this is a really good driver.
- A really good driver for seniors and beginners.
- Offset hosel helps fight against slices and can even help you draw the ball.
- Really good distance for a club that so easy to hit.
- If you hit the ball naturally straight or to the left, you will probably want to look for another driver.
- Not a great option if you have a higher swing speed.
- Does not launch as high as some of the other options.
Callaway Rogue ST Max
The Callaway Rogue ST Max is a really good driver if you are looking for a little extra distance on your drive. You get a low spin and straight shot, but it does not launch as high as some of the other clubs on this list. The Rogue line of drivers was made to replace the Mavrik and early returns have the Callaway Rogue ST Max as one of the highest performers. There is a slight draw bias built into the club, but it is not overpowering. The titanium face is strong and thin and gives you a really high energy transfer. In length alone this is one of the better drivers. It also has the highest MOI of any driver that Callaway offers and one of the highest on the market.
- A great club for extra distance.
- The tungsten speed cartridge moves weight down and back in the club head for extra forgiveness.
- Jailbreak speed frame adds to ball speed and stability.
- Uses the Callaway AI technology to produce a high quality, fast, and forgiving titanium face.
- 3 different lofts to choose from and an adjustable hosel.
- There are 3 stock shaft options and they are all high quality.
- A much better look and feel than the Mavrik.
- It produces a great sound at contact.
- A longer front-to-back profile than most drivers that inspires confidence at address.
- Does not launch as high as other drivers on the list.
- Better for mid to low handicappers.
- One of the more expensive drivers.
The TaylorMade Stealth driver is one of the most technologically advanced drivers out there and can really add some distance to your drive. The SIM line of drivers was huge for TaylorMade and many golfers loved that line when they came out. The Stealth driver takes everything good about the SIM drivers and gives you a little extra distance with a more reactive and “hotter” face. The Stealth driver has a carbon fibre face and is one of the first drivers to do so. TaylorMade even highlights the new carbon fibre face technology by making the face red which also makes the driver look even better. You still get TaylorMade’s inertia generator, aerodynamic shape, twist face technology, speed injection resin, and good stock shaft options but the new carbon face adds quite a bit of bounce and distance to an already really good driver.
- All of the pros of the SIM 2 drivers with added reactiveness in the face makes this driver really forgiving and really long at the same time.
- Twist Face technology changes the face angle so that you get straighter ball flights on mishits.
- The speed injection technology takes you right to the level of edge of being illegal in terms of speed without going over.
- An improved inertia generator.
- Probably the longest driver on this list.
- The center of gravity is placed low and to the rear of the club giving it a great launch.
- You get decent backspin for extra carry.
- An adjustable hosel and good stock shaft options.
- If this were a “most distance gained” list it would probably be no. 1.
- On the expensive side.
- Built for players with higher swing speeds to enjoy all of the features.
- Not as consistent or accurate as some of the other drivers
Wilson Staff D9
The Wilson D9 is a very stable and easy to hit golf club that has added quite a bit of weight compared to the D7 model. The D9 uses computer modeling software somewhat comparable to the Callaway AI to simulate thousands of different features and designs in a matter of minutes to come up with the highest performing driver face. The face includes a series of “fractal zones” that are each tuned for explosive distance. This driver looks great at address and has good feel and sound all at one of the better prices on this list. Wilson is known as a “budget friendly” brand and the D9 does not disappoint. It includes many of the features, including forgiveness and distance, at a smaller price than the higher end offerings.
- Computer modeling software gives you the most forgiving face possible without losing distance.
- One of the least expensive options on the list.
- A great combination of distance and forgiveness.
- Off center strikes still go pretty straight and pretty long.
- The 3-layer composite crown is made of lightweight kevlar and carbon fibre are ultra lightweight and help to neutralize vibration.
- A peak kinetic response face gives you great forgiveness without losing any ball speed.
- Not as lightweight as the previous model.
- Not as long or forgiving as the higher end models.
- Shaft and grip options are not as extensive or as high quality as some of the other drivers.
Cleveland Launcher XL Turbo
The Cleveland Launcher XL Turbo has one of the best combinations of top-tier technology, a low price point, and explosive distance. Cleveland has been one of the more underrated golf club manufacturers of the past few years, and this driver continues their run of making high quality clubs for lower prices. You get variable face thickness and deep, low center of gravity for a high launch and a lot of forgiveness. The highbore carbon crown is very lightweight and it leaves room to lower the center of gravity for the club. The head looks huge and inspires confidence at setup while the rebound frame features alternating zones of flexibility that produce a lot of ball speed. While it is not as technologically advanced as the TaylorMade Stealth or as inexpensive as the Wilson D9, it is a great combination of features and price.
- Very long and forgiving.
- Compares favorably to higher priced drivers.
- Even mishits give you good distance and a straight drive.
- Can help add distance even if you have a slower swing speed.
- The “Action Mass” weight is placed inside the end of the grip for a very balanced and stable driver.
- 3 different loft angles to choose from with an adjustable hosel that brings the loft up or down.
- The low and deep center of gravity gives you a high launch while maintaining distance.
- Variable face thickness gives you more distance and more forgiveness.
- Not as long as some of the other options.
- Better for slower swings and higher handicappers.
- The extra large head can take some getting used to.
Choosing the Most Forgiving Driver: What do I need to consider?
A general rule is that the larger the clubhead on the driver, the more forgiving it is. Driver heads are limited to a size of 460cc to stay within PGA rules, so the majority of drivers on the market are 460cc. Since the size is kind of set, the way manufacturers differentiate their driver is manipulating the shape, moving the weight, and using materials to maximize forgiveness.
One golf statistic stated that 91% of golfers struggle with a slice at some point in their golfing life. We do not know whether or not that statistic is true, but we do know that the slice is still the enemy of a huge number of golfers. Many of the most forgiving drivers will include a draw bias to help keep the ball straight.
If you have ever crushed a drive right in the middle of the sweet spot on your driver, then you know how important the sweet spot is. All of the features in your driver come together at the sweet spot, and a pure ball strike in the center of the club is what all golfers want. The true sweet spot on any driver is the size of a pinpoint and is usually located pretty close to the center of the club face. The actual sweet spot cannot be made any bigger. There are clubs, however, that have spread “sweet spot” characteristics across much of the face of the driver so that even mishits and off center strikes go long and straight. Many of today’s drivers have spring effects across the face of the club.
There are two things to consider involving weight with a driver. The first is the overall weight of the driver. The overall weight of the club is important because the lighter the club, the higher the swing speed, at least to an extent. If your swing speed is on the slower side, the total weight of the driver is more important than if you have a faster swing. Slower swing speeds need as much help as possible, and lighter overall weight can give you a few extra mph.
The other important factor involving weight is where the weight is placed within the club. Many drivers feature carbon fibre throughout much of the club head, and the TaylorMade Stealth even has it across the face of the driver. Using an extremely light and durable material like this allows the manufacturer to move the weight of the club wherever they want to. Because of this, many drivers feature a very low center of gravity focused in the back of the clubhead for a higher launch and more forgiveness.
A higher launch angle will help you get the ball up in the air easily as well as give you a higher ball flight. This is less important as you grow as a golfer, but for many golfers getting the ball off the ground is one of the more difficult things to do. In general, you want the ball to be in the air for as long as possible so it increases your chances of getting the ball down the fairway. If you increase your launch angle, however, you should combine it with a positive attack angle to reduce excessive spin.
Whether it be an adjustable hosel or a movable weight on the bottom of your driver, adjustability can help in a variety of ways. It gives you the ability to change up your ball flight without changing your swing so that you can simply adjust your club to the course or hole that you are playing. You can also adjust your club with your improving game with some clubs even being able to change its loft by 1 or 2 degrees.
A more flexible shaft can give you some extra torque and more distance, but that also makes the club a little more difficult to hit and less forgiving. The key is to match the flex of your shaft with your swing speed. If you are anything other than a touring pro, however, we would suggest a graphite shaft.
To an extent, you get what you paid for, but there are some really good drivers out there at a less expensive price point. There is a reason that the Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, and Ping drivers are more expensive than others. They are made with superior features and material and you can generally get a little more distance out of them. If you are just starting out, however, a lower priced driver may be the way to go until you really learn your swing.
Golf Drivers FAQs
What is the easiest golf driver to hit straight?
The easiest driver to hit straight for us was the Callaway Big Bertha B21. The spin rate is as low as any driver you will find, the sweet spot is huge, and the Jailbreak bars make it as stable as any driver on the market. The Big Bertha B21 is also the highest MOI club that Callaway has ever made and the center of gravity is low and in the back of the driver so it launches high. The good thing about the Big Bertha B21 is that it is our pick for producing the straightest ball flight but it is also one of the longest drivers on the list.
What makes the best driver for beginners and high handicappers?
Our favorite driver for beginners and high handicappers is the Cobra F-Max. It is our favorite driver to fight against a slice and it is one of the easiest clubs to hit. Cobra is known for their extra distance, and the F-Max specifically works well for higher handicappers. It is also not as expensive as some of the other drivers on the list and that is important for beginners as they are figuring out their swing and how much they like the game of golf. The F-Max is long, easy to hit, and big not to mention one of the most forgiving drivers out there.
Do better golf drivers make a difference?
While a good driver does not automatically make a person a good driver of the golf ball, it definitely helps. There are features available on drivers now that can help you with any weakness you may have, you just have to find the one that matches your swing. A good driver can lessen your slice, give you a few yards of extra distance, and even make you feel more confident in your swing when you are standing over the ball. You still have to work on your swing and practice a lot, but a good driver can make a noticeable difference in your golf game.
Is it worth buying a new golf driver?
If you are struggling with your driver to the point that you cannot ever seem to find the fairway, a new golf driver is probably worth it. You can find a nice driver like the Cleveland Launcher or Wilson D9, and if cost is not a deterrent then the Big Bertha B21 will really help you hit the ball longer and straighter. Driver technology has increased a lot over the past 10 years so there is a good chance that the driver that you would purchase today is considerably more advanced and easier to hit than what you already have.
Do expensive golf drivers make a difference?
The short answer to this question is “yes” expensive golf drivers make a difference. They are more expensive for a reason. They may be made with better materials, have more advanced features, or have had a lot of R&D poured into them. You can find decent drivers at different price points, but the high end drivers really do make a difference. Part of it has to do with where your game is and how serious you are about golf. The further you progress in the game, the more benefits you will see in terms of distance and accuracy from paying premium prices for a driver. Our suggestion is to go to a golf retail store or pro shop and take some practice swings with different drivers to see how they fill and how much you think paying more would improve your game.
A driver can be both the most fun club in your bag to hit and the most frustrating. If you slightly mishit an iron, you may miss the green and end up with a chip from the rough. If you continually mishit a driver, you could easily be playing out of the woods and dropping out of hazards all day and that takes the fun out of golf very quickly. If you find a low-spin, high launching driver with a lot of forgiveness, chances are you will have a lot more fun and find a lot more greens in regulation. Our favorite driver in terms of forgiveness is the Callaway Big Bertha B21. It is extremely low spin and it is very straight and long. It has a draw bias but it is not too extreme. The Cleveland Launcher XL is our favorite lower-priced option, but there are some great choices up and down the list.