There’s extra-stiff, stiff, regular, and light…or senior flex. We know these as the different shaft flexes offered in golf clubs. Most notably everyone wants to talk shaft flex when it comes to their driver, and everyone wants to talk their swing speed when it comes to selecting a flex. Sure that is an important variable, but that’s not all there is. Shafts come in different weights with different torques, kick points, and bend profiles. I can hand a player 4 stiff flex shafts and they may all be different. Ernie Els and Rickie Fowler both have a swing speed of 118 mph but they’re swings couldn’t be more different. Rickie looks like he’s coming out of his shoes and Els looks like he may have fallen asleep.
The point of this write-up isn’t necessarily about what shaft is for who, but more so about what model driver performs best for a certain speed player. I broke it down into 3 categories of swing speed: the players that usually swing x-stiff (106 mph+), the ones that usually swing stiff (95 mph – 105), and the players that usually fit into regular flex (94 mph and below). Manufacturers are now putting out different models to fit certain player types to make sure they get the ideal launch, spin, and trajectory they desire. Here are the best drivers for each of the 3 speed categories for 2021.
High Speed (106 mph +) – Taylormade SIM2 This driver is a spin killer. The faster you swing, the more you spin it. The forward CG really brings down the spin but still allows the ball to get airborne with a beautiful trajectory. The SIM2 kills the spin but not to the point that it hits line drives and also hurts your carry distance in the process. The new aluminum ring really does add stability and forgiveness that is hard to find in a “players” driver. A bonus is the powerful sound and feel at impact.
Runner-up – Callaway Epic Max LS
Medium Speed (95 mph – 105) – Callaway Epic Max The Epic Speed has a higher MOI than the previous MAVRIK models which means toe and heel hits stay in the air way longer than they should. The new A.I. SpeedFrame enhances the face for incredible ball speed, in fact it averaged the highest ball speeds of any driver in this report. The Cyclone Aerodynamic shape had players seeing an increase of 2 to 3 mph in swing speed.
Runner-up – Ping G425 Max
Average Speed (94mph & under) – Cobra Radspeed XB Cobra continues to impress with increasing the speed of the average player or restoring the speed of players who don’t quite swing as fast as they once did. The XB model has 20 grams of weight placed in the back, 6 of which is adjustable. Slower speed players tend to hit it lower with not much spin. Some spin is needed to keep the ball airborne and the Radspeed accomplishes this nicely. The CNC Milled Infinity face is extremely consistent and we only saw a fluctuation of 5 mph in ball speed between center and off-center strikes.
Runner-up – Mizuno ST-X
Keep your pants on We’ve all seen it on occasion. A touring pro hits a wayward shot and the ball finds it’s way into some mud around the perimeter of a hazard or somewhat sumerges itself in a couple inches of water but is still visible. Instead of taking the drop and penalty stroke, the player decides they can get a club on it and daringly plays the shot. But not before they take their clothes off. What?! As to not get mud and pond water splashed on their white $150 J. Lindberg pants, that were no doubt free, they strip down to their skivvies to play the shot. We usually see the highlights of this once or twice a year, but it happened a few times just last weekend. I have no problem with the decision to play the shot as it could be the difference in making the cut or in a tour player’s case…hundreds of thousands of dollars. But which looks dumber; finishing the round with mud on your pants or playing a shot in your underwear? It probably doesn’t help my case much that the players that always seem to go this route are in incredible shape, nor is it coincidence, and nobody wants to see me play a shot in my underwear. But I can only imagine the outrage if Nelly Korda took off her skort and polo and hit a shot out of the creek in her sports bra and underwear. Taking off the shoes, socks, and hiking up the pants to stand in the lake…fine. Totally understandable. These guys can’t wear shorts during a competitive round but they can get naked to play a shot. I would feel weird at just the notion of dropping trou in the middle of the fairway to begin with.
Fantasy Picks It’s golf’s version of March Madness as we head to Austin CC for the Dell Technologies Match Play! I’m a big fan of this event and the course. The holes along the river with the bridge as a backdrop are exciting and bring lots of drama. Winner Sergio Garcia He finished 9th at The Players and is the all-time leader in Ryder Cup points. Plus, it’s a home game as his resided in Austin. Will contend Jordan Spieth The Texas native needs to keep doing what he’s doing and roll the putter like he does best. Sleeper Corey Conners Has been one of the best ball strikers on tour as of late, sitting 4th at Strokes Gained Ball Striking, but he’s also 7th in Strokes Gained Putting. Plus he goes up against Matthew Wolff early who has been anything but in good form. When there’s a WGC event there’s always an opposite field tourney elsewhere for those card-carrying members who did not qualify. Winner Charley Hoffman Charley is a better player than what appears and he finished T14 here last September, the tourney’s former date. Will contend Thomas Pieters Just missed qualifying for the Dell Match Play, so make some noise and let them here you. Sleeper Tyler McCumber Son of former Players Championship winner Mark, he has been trending in the right direction of late and I love his attitude in interviews.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional