8 Best Drivers for Beginners in 2023
The golf equipment industry is currently operating in some pretty murky water. Let me explain what I mean by that.
While the golfing population has doubled worldwide since 2019, there have never been more beginners and high handicappers playing the game. Most of the equipment we see marketed towards consumers is geared towards the game’s most seasoned and best players, not players new to the sport itself. Why would the world’s most challenging game not cater more towards its budding new batch of fresh consumers?
It seems like ever since COVID began, every few weeks, I get a text or DM from an old friend asking for “beginner golfer tips.” The number one tip I can give anyone is to be sure you find the right driver for your game/swing, not anybody else’s. What I mean by that is beginner golf drivers aren’t necessarily what you’re going to see on TV. The best golfers in the world aren’t going to be carrying what high handicap golfers need, and the number of people I see waste the better part of $1,000 on a piece of equipment that doesn’t actually benefit them is astonishing.
My job in this article is to sort through the complicated jungle that is “Golf Equipment Marketing Jargon” to show beginners and high handicappers the best drivers for their early stages of the game.
Our favorite pick for drivers for beginners is the Callaway MAVRIK. Never mind being a slow swing speed or high swing speed player, as both will gain speed and distance just by putting the MAVRIK in their bag.
We understand that finding the best driver for your bag and making sure it’s a proper driver that’s going to last is a big purchase for many people. That’s why we scour the internet, regardless of year, price, or manufacturing brand, to bring you the best of the best in every “Buyer’s Guide” we post.
8 Best Drivers for Beginners in 2023
- Callaway MAVRIK (Enhanced Face Forgiveness, +1-2 mph Driver-Head Speed)
- Cobra Air X “Straight Neck” / “Offset Hosel” (Extremely Lightweight Design, Draw Bias, +3-4 mph)
- Cleveland Launcher XL Lite (Catered Towards True Beginner Golfer)
- Ping G425 MAX (Highly Adjustable Driver for Beginners)
- TaylorMade SIM2 MAX (Distance Heavy)
- Cobra LTDx (Forgiving and Long)
- Mizuno ST-X 220 (Draw Shot-Shape / Anti-Slice)
- Titleist TSi1 (Highly Adjustable, Great for Mid-Low Swing Speed)
1. Callaway Maverick (Enhanced Face Forgiveness, +1-2 mph ClubHead Speed)
Described by Callaway at its initial launch as “The driver ideal for most golfers…,” the Callaway MAVRIK features head and face technology to provide optimal strike conditions to beginner golfers. It makes getting off the tee box a more straightforward process for many users.
The Callaway MAVRIK is offered in standard lofts of 9.0°, 10.5°, and 12.0°, with all models being adjustable +2° and -1°. A “Project X EvenFlow Riptide” and “ALDILA Rogue White” are the stock shafts optioned at purchase, and Callaway is continuing their tradition of using “Align” grips with their drivers.
Callaway does a fantastic job at allowing players to fine-tune their driving experience with their “OptiFit Tuning” adjustable hosel technology. I believe it is of utmost importance to beginners and high handicappers to find an adjustable driver. Having the ability to tinker and manipulate what the ball can do off the face without adjusting your swing is technology many (including myself) would’ve killed for as a kid.
What others have described as “the engine of a Callaway driver” is the “Flash Face” technology. Callaway’s team of engineers analyzed thousands of shots to find where to add forgiving thickness to parts of the face where golfers miss-hit the golf ball most in their MAVRIK line of drivers. Accompanying the enhanced “Flash Face” technology is a newly upgraded “FS2S Titanium” used in construction. Using FS2S Titanium has allowed Callaway to save 6 full grams of weight in their initial construction process, allowing that weight to be repositioned to the rear of the driver’s head to increase MOI and stability for users on off-center hits.
Callaway chose to implement an unseen head shape with their MAVRIK line, calling it a “Cyclone Aero Design.” The company states this design has “15% less drag” compared to previous Callaway models, resulting in an increase of clubhead speed of 1 to 2 mph for players.
Lastly, where we feel Callaway truly sets itself apart in the “best drivers for beginners 2023” category is their patented “JailBreak” technology. Through the use of two 3-gram Titanium Bars running behind the face and through the head, Callaway says their drivers are able to channel more energy to the golf ball (where other drivers want to expand at impact, JailBreak technology hinders this process), resulting in more distance and increased ball speed.
It’s pretty clear Callaway has spared no expense and left no stone unturned in their quest to create a fast and forgiving driver in the MAVRIK series. Beginners and high handicappers are more likely to experience increased ball speeds, club head speed, and maximum distance with the Callaway MAVRIK.
2. Cobra Air X "Straight Neck" / "Offset Hosel"
Cobra has decided to be a smart equipment company and market towards the beginner drivers of the ball by introducing their new Cobra Air X lightweight driver to the market in 2022.
The Air X from Cobra is offered in standard lofts of 9.5°, 10.5°, and 11.5°, and if players are looking for a bit of slice-correction or added draw bias, an Air X “Offset Hosel” head option is built to cater towards those needs. In alignment with the “lightweight theme,” is Cobra’s choice to use a 40g “Cobra UltraLite” shaft as the stock shaft and a ‘Lamkin REL Microlite’ 37-gram grip to go with it.
Regardless of the head shape you choose within the Cobra Air X lineup, at address, you’ll be met with a slightly closed-looking club face to trick the eye into wanting to draw the ball naturally.
From testing myself, the club feels almost strangely light upon the first pickup. It IS almost 50 grams lighter than my usual driver. “What have I got myself into?” I briefly thought. Those feelings are quickly quelled once making contact and hearing the reverberation created from a clean strike. So good.
To help make the head lighter, Cobra uses a Carbon crown material that removes 2 grams of weight from the initial construction process. This weight loss allows Cobra engineers to take that mass and place it in the back and heel of the driver to create more stability on off-center hits with a slight draw bias.
From the lightweight head to the overall mass-saving design of the club, players have reported an average of 3-4 mph clubhead speed increases resulting in more distance.
If a lightweight golf driver for beginners built specifically to add some clubhead speed and distance, all neatly wrapped in an anti-slice design, sounds like it could benefit your game, please check out the Cobra Air X driver.
3. Cleveland Launcher XL Lite Driver (Lightweight Club Head and Overall Design, Catered Towards True Beginner)
Cleveland is generally a company that leans more towards creating the best golf drivers for beginners. While I often rag on their not-so-catchy theme songs, their Cleveland Launcher XL Lite is designed with slow swing speed beginner drivers in mind.
The Launcher XL Lite is offered in lofts of 10.5°, 10.5° Draw, and 12.0°. All of the Cleveland Launcher XL Lite models are offered in a “Standard Build” catered more towards the distance and an “Accuracy Build” catered more towards control. The “Accuracy Build” is an inch shorter than the standard and does not include a counter-balancing weight in the grip end of the club.
Not only is the Launcher XL Lite (and “Draw-Bias” head variation) non-adjustable in the hosel to save weight, but it’s 12 grams lighter and a 1/4 inch longer than the standard “Launcher” from Cleveland. This gives more swing speed, ball speed, and, most importantly, distance.
Cleveland uses some technology we’ve seen in other drivers for beginners we’ve tested, such as a “Rebound Frame” head design. It’s 2 unique “flex zones,” one in the face and one in the body of the club, that work in unison to direct more of the player’s impact energy into the golf ball, increasing ball speed and distance.
In their last effort to help high handicappers and the beginner driver of the golf ball, Cleveland uses what they call “Action Mass CB” technology. This is effectively an 8-gram weight positioned in the butt-end of the grip to help a new driver square up the face more often.
If higher ball speed and more distance sound like it could help your game, please consider a top driver for beginners, the Cleveland Launcher XL Lite.
4. Ping G425 Max Driver (Highly Adjustable Driver for Beginners)
Described as “A unicorn of a driver..” in both distance and forgiveness by competing equipment manufacturers, the Ping G425 MAX is a beautiful combination of those exact two things beginners and high handicappers need the most. While I may feel a little biased as the G425 MAX has been my daily driver for the last year, I can assure you this is the most forgiving driver I’ve ever used. “Ping” as golf manufacturers are not concerned with having the fastest or longest new driver on the market. The G425 line is entirely built around providing forgiving drivers.
The G425 MAX is offered in standard lofts of 9.0°, 10.5°, and 12° but is adjustable +/- by 1.5°. Ping provides proprietary graphite shafts stock with purchase. Players are optioned with the “Alta CB 55 Slate” or the “Alta Distanza 40.” In addition, Ping offers four top-of-the-line “no-upcharge” shaft options from top manufacturers like Mitsubishi, Aldila, and MSI.
“Arccos Caddie Smart Grips” is optioned with every purchase of the Ping G425 MAX. Included with purchase is a year of the shot and data-tracking Arccos Caddie service. (particularly helpful to high handicap golfers and beginner golfers)
The G425 MAX has a higher MOI than any driver Ping has previously released, boasting a 14% MOI increase across the three weight positions in the rear compared to the G410 Plus.
At address, the G425 MAX is definitely a head-turner. Matte black with aerodynamic flutes lining the perimeter of the driver’s head makes it look like the older TaylorMade drivers with an upgraded color scheme and feel. This “DragonFly Crown” design makes certain key-structural areas of the crown thick and other areas thin to save weight for more Tungsten additions and maximum forgiveness. As has often accompanied Ping woods, the G425 MAX’s sound is quite deep/hollow and will most definitely get some remarks from playing partners.
As briefly mentioned earlier, the G425 MAX has an adjustable 26g Tungsten weight in the rear to accommodate a fade or draw Bias. This head weight technology, in addition to the adjustable hosel, makes the G425 MAX one of the most adjustable driver models suited for beginners we’ve ever seen.
The sliding 26g Tungsten weight does much more than just aid the shot shape a player wants to see off the tee. The weights’ strategic low and deep positioning in the driver’s head stabilizes the club, giving players a straighter ball flight naturally and optimizing the launch angle and spin rate to provide maximum distance.
Ping has often led the field in drivers designed to be adjustable. That idea is continued in the G425 MAX, with 5 unique loft settings and lie settings up to 3° flat.
The best drivers for beginner golfers are going to be something that inspires confidence and provides as much forgiveness as possible. The Ping G425 MAX seems like it could fit the bill as one of the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers out right now, as long as you’re not too concerned with acoustics from a strike. I’d recommend it to any swing speed player. (with a proper shaft-fitting, of course).
5. TaylorMade SIM2 MAX Driver (Distance Heavy)
If I had to describe TaylorMade drivers and woods performance in one word, it would be very simple. Long. If I had to describe their design team’s vision for their drivers and woods in one word, it would also be incredibly simple. Busy!
Regardless of my slight hang-up with some of TaylorMade’s recent design choices, the TaylorMade SIM2 Max is an excellent and more budget-friendly (now that it’s a few generations older than current) forgiving driver for newer or higher handicap players in the game.
The TaylorMade SIM2 Max driver is offered in standard lofts of 9.0°, 10.5°, and 12.0°, with some wonderful shaft options to accompany it. The Mitsubishi KuroKage Silver 60g and the Fujikura Ventus Blue 5 for a lighter shaft option or heavier shaft option for users, depending on the flex chosen.
The aesthetics side is interesting. Some users like the vibrant blue accents, but I’m just more of a “quieter the better” at address kind of guy. A Carbon Fiber crown design saves weight for the engineers to more precisely place it later, but you have 6 different colors to look at when placed behind the ball (7 or more if you include your ball), and it’s just flat-out a lot to look at. I still think I’m being nit-picky, so to hype up the Carbon crown design, I can report users have nearly all seen an increase in clubhead speed at first use, so the design clearly serves its purpose.
The most eye-catching of the TaylorMade SIM Max drivers features has to be the “Forged Ring Construction.” The bright-blue band that wraps around the perimeter of the head is made of high-strength Aluminum to save a bit of weight in the design process. All of this weight-saving approach was so TaylorMade engineers could add even more weight to the massive back-weight on the driver’s head. This weight is positioned low and deep in the club head to provide more forgiveness on off-center strikes and more distance on solid strikes.
Lastly, the white you see at the address behind the club face is part of TaylorMade’s “Speed Initiative.” A Titanium section holds and forms the patented “Twist Face Technology” in place and allows engineers to precisely thin the face in specific areas to increase ball speed across the whole face. The TaylorMade SIM Max line isn’t the first to see “Twist Face” tech from TaylorMade, but the golf equipment maker does claim this iteration of the Twist Face’s curvature “helps miss-hit shots find more fairways” than previous models.
If more distance, and low spin, all at a consistent and playable launch angle, sounds like it could benefit your bag, consider the TaylorMade SIM2 Max.
6. Cobra LTDx Driver (Forgiving and Long)
Cobra says their LTDx drivers are the most forgiving and fastest drivers they’ve ever created.
The Cobra LTDx comes in three loft options standard, 9.0°, 10.5°, and 12.0°, with each loft having eight different adjustability settings to further fine-tune the club for your swing. Cobra also includes some beautiful stock shaft options; the lightweight “UST Helium Nanocore” (high launch, high spin), the “HZRDUS Smoke iM10” (mid launch and mid spin), the “HRZDUS Smoke RDX Blue” (low/mid launch, lower spin) and the “Mitsubishi Tensei AVI RAW White” (low launch, lowest spin). Clearly, if you know what your driver’s swing characteristics and swing speed are, you could fit this driver into your bag easily.
With all the Carbon that goes into the LTDx’s construction, the sound and feel are a bit muted as compared to previous all-metal construction drivers. That being said, the increase in clubhead speed, swing speed, and ball speed users report (even up to 3-4 mph increases) makes a slightly muted sound like an afterthought.
To touch on a few of the key features Cobra says makes their LTDx line so forgiving and long:
A “PWR-COR” multi-material weighting system works beneath the face and through the clubs’ heads to position mass low and forward to create low spin and faster ball speeds for users.
A new “HOT Face Technology” that is AI designed created 16 different “hot zones” across the surface area of the driver’s face, essentially enlarging the sweet spot.
Fifteen grams of back weight is added to the rear of the club to enhance MOI and promote a much higher launch so players can use less loft than a standard driver for beginners and high handicappers.
A multi-material head construction is used (both Carbon and Titanium) to create a great bond between speed and stability/strength.
Lastly, with the added weight and positioning of the mass in the club head, users generally see a drawing shot shape (sorry, “Power-Faders”)
Cobras drivers and woods features are often a very long list. We still believe the key technology they’ve added to the LTDx line makes them one of the best beginner golf drivers on the market today. If you could benefit from boosted ball speed, more distance, and greater forgiveness across the face, please consider the Cobra LTDx driver.
7. Mizuno ST-X 220 Driver (Draw Shot-Shape / Anti-Slice)
As Mizuno has branched further away from their “forged iron company” roots, they’ve still somehow managed to keep their essence of simplistic expert craftsmanship on their new and modern drivers.
The ST-X 220 is offered in standard lofts of 10.5° and 12.0°; however, both selections are adjustable +/- 2°, and the club can be put in a more upright position to accentuate the draw bias.
Like we’ve noticed amongst many of the best drivers released recently, Mizuno uses the ‘Lamkin ST Hybrid 360’ grip and the “Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue” as the standard stock shaft.
The club is by far the sleekest looking on our list. Highest bag appeal bar-none. An extremely high-gloss black engulfs the head. Slight accents of the white lettering of ‘ST’ and, of course, the Mizuno logo mark the underside of the head and create the alignment tool on the addressing side.
There is something interesting to note about the Mizuno ST-X 220 when placed at the address. It feels so square. I believe that’s a testament to how stable the club feels to first-time users, but just testing the club, I felt an increased sense of confidence after a few swings. (Sorry, Ping)
Many of the best drivers for beginners exhibit a draw bias to alleviate the slice tendencies of slow swing speeds and poor form driver swings. This is most definitely the case with the Mizuno ST-X 220. If you’re a slicer of the ball, you should seriously consider adding this club to the testing lineup.
Mizuno really wanted to lean on creating a forgiving driver in the ST-X 220. By expanding the Carbon sole by 40% and thinning out the Titanium portion of the club, Mizuno engineers were able to nearly double the weight added to the back-plate, adding to the aforementioned stability and forgiveness on off-center hits.
Mizuno engineers take any discretionary weight and put it deep in the heel of the club to help the beginner golfer find a draw shot shape.
Mizuno combines a forged “SAT2041 Beta Ti Face” and an upgraded version of their “WAVE Sole” designed to increase ball speed, particularly lower on the face.
Lastly, Mizuno couldn’t forget the smooth feeling of a flushed shot has provided customers for quite a while now. Through patented “Harmonic Impact Research” that can identify and transmit only good vibrations and feedback to users.
The Mizuno ST-X 220 line of drivers is perfect in many ways for the beginner driver and is definitely one of the most forgiving drivers we’ve tested. If any of the technology mentioned about the ST-X 220 sounds like it could help you hit more fairways, please consider giving it a try in your 2023 season.
8. Titleist TSi1 Driver (Highly Adjustable, Great for Mid Swing Speed)
Titleist has attempted to lay claim to the title of “most-adjustable beginner driver” with the TSi1. Available in standard lofts of 9.0°, 10.0°, and 12.0°, each option with the use of “SureFit” hosel technology has 16 independent loft and lie settings, plus head-weight adjustability.
Titleist is using a new “ALDILA ASCENT” shaft as the standard stock graphite shaft (Mitsubishi alternatives available) and a “Tour Velvet Flat Cap White” as their standard stock grip.
The TSi1 is designed to give players as much distance as possible with moderate to slow swing speed. Besides ultra-lightweight components in the design process, a deep, face-centered center of gravity was chosen by Titleist engineers to maximize hang-time and distance for users.
For those lightweight driver components we mentioned earlier, Titleist uses a very light “ATI 425 Aerospace Titanium” face that provides a premium sound and feel, and their stock shafts feature “Focused Mass Technology,” or a Tungsten-Infused section of their shafts to promote straighter ball flights.
If you have a medium to slow swing speed and are looking to get the most distance with as much forgiveness and adjustability as you’d ever need, please consider the Titleist TSi1.
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