Before You Buy Golf Equipment, Take a Test Drive


If there was one thing I want you to take away from this article, it would be, “don’t take my word for it”.

Jun 3, 2011; Dublin, OH, USA; Rickie Fowler can be seen in his reflection off his driver during the second round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village GC. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Just like making a purchase on any other large ticket item, nowadays you want to make sure it works for you, right? A nice suit has to have the perfect fit.  Your new TV has to have all of the right features.  Behind the wheel of a new car, you’ll just know it’s yours once you get behind the wheel.  With that in mind, when you get ready to open up your wallet for a new driver, make sure it’s the driver that fits your game.

First off, let’s make the distinction between going to a big sports store and a golf pro shop.  Some of those sports stores will let you try out club in a designated area, but to me there is no substitution for getting out in the open air and letting it rip.  You can’t beat hearing your ball tear the through the sky and seeing the actual flight pattern of your ball coming off of the face.

Additionally, if you can get to a large pro shop that has demo clubs, you won’t have to have the face “taped-off” and you can hear what the club actually sounds like at impact. Another bonus to this is you can typically see where on the face you are making contact, so you get a real read on forgiveness.

I am fortunate enough to live a short drive away from Sacramento’s Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop.  15,000+ square feet of golf merchandise and touted as one of America’s most awarded golf shops; if there’s a club on the market today, then chances are you can take it for a spin here.  The one thing I love about this place is that you can take more than one club out a time, and really get a comparison from one club to the next.  I highly recommend finding a shop that will let you do this.

I wanted to start with the first club you’ll typically pull out of the bag: The Driver.  PGA Professional Marcus Judge was there to point me in the right direction right off the bat.  His take was that every quality driver is going to address forgiveness and distance.  “The drivers available to [the consumer] are the same clubs used by professionals” and it’s just a matter of what the golfer is capable of.  With that in mind, I took out five different drivers today, and here are my impressions:

Titleist 913D2 – For me this club was the most forgiving of the bunch.  Of all the balls I hit with this driver, the majority took a nice straight flight pattern down the fairway (even for me who has a typical fade).  At address you have a very traditional feel, with a glossy finish to the crown.  For me, feeling comfortable at address is all part of adding confidence to your game, and confidence is the bottom line to improvement.  I also like a nice “pop” at impact, yet this club was moderately quiet as far as drivers go.  Other than that, if you’ve got the funds  I would not vote against this club.

San Martin, CA, USA; Tiger Woods follows through on his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the Open at CordeValle Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Ping G25 – The total package.  At address, the matte finish is not distracting and the large head gives that warm-fuzzy feeling that even a miss-hit is going to go a long way.  This was backed up when I gave this driver a couple of moderate “good-tempo” swings, then feeling confident, I decided to “grip-it and rip-it” still being able to keep my ball within the fairway lines.  Every shot was backed up with a solid sound at impact.  Again, a pricey driver, but very impressive!

Taylormade RBZ Stage 2 – Since going to the white crown, I have not felt comfortable at address with Taylormade drivers.  I hit the Burner Superfast, and the R11, and I was just “not feeling” the white.  Also, the light-weight feeling of the head made me uneasy that I was not going to stay down through the ball.  This definitely changed with the Rocketballz driver.  Great distance, great forgiveness, good sound.  Though I am still unimpressed with the crown color, this is a solid driver that I would easily recommend.

Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme – As with the Taylormade, personal preference came into play with the Callaway.  The very glossy crown can make for distractions on very sunny days, and the head shape seems (at least at address) smallish, working to diminish confidence before I even swing.  However, that lack of confidence vanishes when you get this baby around.  Aside from my visual preferences, this club impressed at every level.  From the boom at impact to the way the ball jumps off the face like a laser beam, I’d be willing to take this club home.

Nike VR_S Covert – hats off to Nike for trying something innovative and new. Let me preface by saying I am “Nike Guy”.  I have a Nike bag, shoes, CCI irons in my bag, the whole nine yards.  They have the edge for being the sexy more appealing choice visually in most of the sports world.  It is evident that they are trying to do the same with the Covert driver.  With a metallic-red crown, and big Swoosh staring back at you at address, they want you to know at all times that you are hitting Nike.  For me, though, I won’t be hitting the VR_S Covert.  It has a heavy feel at the end, which had me popping the ball up, and the sound at impact was dense and heavy.  This is not to say this club is not for you, but even for a “Nike Guy” it was not for me.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to try clubs out until you find the one that is right for you.  These are only a handful of options that you have out there.  As my friend Marcus was quick to point out, there is no right or wrong driver, just what is right for you.  I plan to head back out to Haggin Oaks for a second round of drivers, adding Cleveland, Cobra, Adams and others to the list, so be on the look out for more reviews.   Then it will be on to irons/wedges, putters and more.  But remember, “don’t take my word for it”, get out there and try them yourselves!