Beginner Golfers have a lot to think about when they first start playing and choosing their first Driver is often one of the biggest decisions they will need to make.
So in an attempt to help new golfer’s make a good decision, I’m looking at the reasons that made other Golfers choose their first Driver
After polling Golfers from around the world, the popular recommendation for a new golfer buying their first driver, was to buy a Ping. It was further recommended to buy secondhand rather than new, most felt Golf Lessons should be a priority before buying and more thought a custom fit was necessary.
Below you’ll see the results from the poll as well as my own recommendation for a golfer buying their first driver.
I’ll also show you what I use in my own game and I’ll take you through the pros and cons of my recommendation.
With the hope to help you avoid the pain of buying the wrong Driver, becoming frustrated if it’s not working out for you, and also to help make sure you are not wasting your money.
Choosing A Driver For A High Handicapper
The Driver is the longest club in the bag and can often be the hardest to hit.
When you’re first starting out, or a high handicapper, I recommend looking for a Driver that gives you maximum forgiveness rather than the one which is claimed to give you the most distance.
It’s a much more fun game when you can hit the ball and find the fairway. It can be ultra frustrating if you keep miss-hitting the club, so forgiveness can help with this.
The ideal set up for your Driver would include
- Regular flex
- 10.5 to 12 Degrees of loft – some drivers will be adjustable and allow you to change the loft.
- 460cc Driver head – Most of the new models are 460cc but it’s still worth checking.
What Factors Made Other PLayers Choose Their First Driver
I used Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp to conduct a poll, to all of the Golf communities that I take part in, to find out some of the buying decisions golfers went through when buying their first Driver.
We’ll take a look at the following:
- The Manufacturer of their first Driver
- The main reason for deciding to buy it
- Whether it was bought new or secondhand
- The amount of money players paid for their first driver
- Whether they had a golf lesson before buying
- Were they Custom Fit for the Driver
- Which make of Driver would they recommend for your first Driver
Which Manufacturer Did Players Buy
As players become familiar with the game and they try out different clubs to try to improve their games, many players will become attached to certain brands and types of clubs they use.
But when you first start out, unless you have a friend with experience to point you in the right direction, you don’t really know what to choose and who to trust.
The first question I was interested in asking everyone was the make of their first Driver.
Also there were a few players that couldn’t remember. Perhaps it’s not an event as memorable as your first kiss or your first beer.
As you can see the clear winner was outside of the big five Driver manufacturers. I was keen to find out why they bought the Driver, so followed up with several other questions.
Why seemed a good place to start
The Main Reason Behind Their Choice
There are lots of reason players choose to buy the clubs that they do. Some buy on price, others on how the club feels or even how it looks.
Some buy based on what they see their favourite player using
Again most people selected other (with price a close second) responses again were varied, as below
- Dad cut it down
- Tiger woods had it
- Bought as a set of woods & irons at discounted price.
- Friend had one and worked well when I tried it
- Not sure
- Bought for me
- It was called a ‘Big Bertha’
Others players choose to buy the club that is simply the best for them, no matter who made it. My favourite response was:
- Fitted for best distance and dispersion
Some players listen to the manufacturers marketing campaigns that often claim to have the longest driver or the most forgiving, or both.
It’s good practice to try and test the clubs for yourself, on the course where possible, and not get caught up in some of the marketing BS and hype.
Do you think the Tour Pro’s we see on TV would play the clubs they do without the big money sponsorship?money talks
Should You Buy New Or Second Hand
Money will always be a consideration in golf. If you have loads of money you can get whatever you want.
However if you’re on a budget you will have to shop around a bit to find something that suits your pocket. There’s always tons of second-hand clubs to choose from so you will never be without a decent choice.
Places like Golf Bidder have made a thriving business for themselves from selling second hand golf clubs.
Let’s see how many players bought new or second hand
That’s 65% of players buying new for their first Driver
I don’t know of a single player who was at their best when they first started playing the game. Improvements come quickly to most players, especially that the start.
If you spend a lot of money to begin with and then change the characteristics of your swing you’ll soon find that you may need to change your equipment.
Let’s also see how many of the players think a new player should buy new or second hand
That’s a bit of a reversal in opinion.
68% of the same players recommend a new golfer to start off by buying second-hand for their first Driver
Let’s find out how much money was spent on their first Drivers.
How Much Should You Pay For A Driver
There are some occasions when spending loads of money on a golf club is not recommended and buying your first driver is one of those times.
These days a new Driver can cost you anything between $300-$500 and over the past few years manufacturers have been pushing the boundaries of the amount of money they are trying to charge for equipment.
The corona-virus pandemic has sadly left lots of people with less money, but with people being advised to stay home, golf suddenly had a bit of a resurgence with many more numbers of people clamouring to get a game.
This is great for the game of golf itself, I think more people playing golf is a good thing.
However this resurgence has also seen prices in golf soaring again, simply due to supply and demand.
Anyway, let’s see how much money players paid for their first Driver
The most popular price range was $101 – $200, which is probably second-hand and most likely what you should expect to pay for a good first Driver today.
A word of warning about buying new golf clubs.
Unless they are specialist or sought after or limited edition, they will not hold their price and resale values are usually quite low, compared to the retail price.
As manufacturers typically release a new model each year, you usually don’t have to wait too long for a bargain (or possibly buy it at the price it should have been in the first place)
Should You Have a Lesson Before You Buy
If you are a beginner golfer, and are still building and finding your golf swing, I’d recommend having a few lessons to help your game before you invest a lot of money in a driver that potentially won’t be right for you once you have improved.
Let’s see how many players had a lesson before they bought their Driver
That’s 63% of players not having lessons.
It’s also interesting to see what they think now that they have played golf for a while.
Do they think a beginner should have a lesson before buying the driver?
That’s another big change, with 83% of players recommending a new player should have lessons prior to buying their first Driver.
If you have played for a while it may still be worth having a GASP lesson to tune-up just in case you have let a few bad habits creep in to your swing.
A GASP lesson looks at Grip, Alignment, Stance & Posture and can sometimes offer a quick fix to minor swing faults.
Should You Be Custom Fit For The Driver
When you get a Custom Fitting you will be assessed on many things, to try and get you into equipment that gives you a consistent ball strike and includes:
- Your Height
- Arm Length
- Type of Swing You Have
- Speed Of Swing
- The dynamic face angle of the clubface at impact
- Plus many other things
Let’s find out how many of our golfers had a custom fit for their first driver
83% of players were not custom fit.
A word of caution about custom fitting
If you were to visit several different fitters, you may find you have several different recommendations for what you need.
This could be down to the experience of the fitter, the equipment they have at their disposal, their understanding of club fitting, and many other things
The most likely reason for the differences is you.
Remember you are being fitted for the golf swing that you have on the day.
Which, as I said before, if you are a beginner golfer, and are still building and finding your golf swing, the characteristics of your swing are going to change, probably in a short space of time.
So would our golfers recommend new golfers get a Custom Fit?
That’s an interesting outcome, with 60% of players recommending a custom fit.
I have a different feeling about this which I go into a bit later
What Driver Would They Recommend
Having gone through all the data, I wanted to find out what the other golfers would be happy to recommend to someone just starting out and remember this is them buying their first driver
The results of their recommendations are very different from the choices that they made for themselves.
Here’s a reminder of what they bought
and this is what they would recommend today
Ping is the most popular recommendation from this group of golfers.
Again it’s a bit of a difference in what they recommend compared to what they actually did themselves.
This is because in the beginning you Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know.
Most players get the wrong kit but I hope this goes some way to pointing you in the right direction.
It’s also worth noting that some of these players have played for many years and technology has improved greatly during this time.
That’s the end of the results of the poll, I hope you found it useful. The next part is a bit more about my own game and taking all this data into account which club I would recommend to new players
Let’s get to it
My Current Top Pick Is the PING G400
There’s a saying in the golf community: ‘If you ain’t got a swing – hit a Ping‘.
Ping make quality golf equipment and they have been an industry leader for decades.
They have a good range of clubs and because they are so popular many more Pro Shops and retail outlets will have demo Drivers for you to try out and be custom fit for.
Why I picked the Ping G400
The G400 has been available for a couple of years and has been replaced by the G410 and G425. The tech in the new models is not significantly different, especially for a beginner to notice, but the price tag will definitely be noticed.
This club was around $400 when it was new, but you should now be able to get it for a much lower price, probably closer to what I paid for the Ping G Series that I bought off eBay (find out below).
The G400 has been made to have a higher launch, which means the ball will travel through the air further, we call this Carry Distance.
It has a 460cc clubface and the club is set up for forgiveness.
It’s easy to use and is suitable for both new beginners and golfers with a higher skill level
This is what Ping says about the G400
- The G400 drivers’ streamlined shape offers a big advancement in aerodynamics and stability.
- The multi-material design combines reduced drag and a thinner, stronger, faster T9S+ forged face to increase speed and distance.
- With a combined MOI over 9,000 and a deep CG, improved accuracy leads to tighter dispersion.
What I am Currently Using
Over the years I have tried lots of different Drivers and to be honest I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship with my driver.
Sometimes I will hit Bombs that go straight and long. Other times I can barely get off the tee and I spend a few rounds not even hitting it.
I’m lucky that I am a good iron player and I can hit my 3 or 4 iron 200+ yards and I don’t miss the fairway anywhere near as much with my irons as I do with Driver.
But in the back of my mind I always know that I’m giving up another 50-60 yards by not hitting driver. And as I have a good short game I’m making the game harder for myself. Perhaps you can relate.
I am currently using a Ping G Series Driver. This is the model that was released in 2016 and came before the G400, G410 & G425.
I made the mistake of browsing eBay after a few beers and it was obviously a good idea at the time, as I paid around $100 for it.
When it arrived I was surprised to discover that it had a cut-down shaft in it, which was suited to someone around 5′ 6″. This would have been fine other than the fact I am 6′ 3″ and when I addressed the ball club was about 4″ away from the top of the ball.
I obviously hadn’t read the description fully, which on later inspection I found hidden in the poorly written bulk text of the listing description was a small note to say it was 41″ long. I tried to return it but the eBay computer said no so I had to buy a new shaft.
What prompted me to buy the Ping G Series Driver?
The first reason was I had just played in a pairs competition at Bowood PGA Golf Course in Wiltshire and had spent the round hitting my 3-iron off the tee. Trying to go low playing 180+ yard approach shots is always going to be a challenge.
Anyway after the round we were lucky enough to have a Driving Clinic, from the then Head Pro Ben Emerson, you may have seen him on YouTube playing golf with Robbie Williams.
Ben showed how to hit the driver and he was hitting the G410. After the demo he asked the audience if we had any questions, I asked how to fix a two-way miss.
Some people didn’t know what that meant so some bright spark in the audience said why don’t I show them.
So I handed my beer to David, my playing partner, and in front of around 40 spectators, proceeded to hit the best two drives that I had hit for about 10 years.
Both long and straight 290-300 yards. No two way miss in sight…I was smitten.
Oh by the way, a two-way miss is when you think you have hit the same swing but one goes miles left and the other goes miles right. But you don’t know when either one is going to happen, especially when you think you are hitting it straight. That’s usually time for a lesson.
The second reason, remember that phrase ‘If you ain’t got a swing – hit a Ping‘. So I took it to heart.
It sounds like a saucepan when I hit it but I have been pleased by the results so far and after lockdown ends I promised myself a new Driver that is custom fit for me.
Here’s a video of me hitting it while I played at Manor House Golf Club, Wiltshire
My Thoughts about Custom Fitting
As I bought the Ping G Series Driver off of eBay I clearly hadn’t been fitted for it.
But I bought it second hand and only 25% of the retail price, so I knew I was taking a gamble but I also knew I could sell it on for similar money if it didn’t work out.
I hadn’t planned on paying another $70 for a second shaft though.
If like me, when you have played for a long time, over 20 years, and you have a good idea of your swing characteristics and what ball flight you prefer then you can generally work out what flex and loft you need.
If I was going to drop $450 on a new driver I would definitely have a custom fit by an independent club fitter or Golf Pro.
With that kind of money I would want to make sure I am gaining the maximum out of the driver and matching it closely with my golf ability.
There’s no point having the wrong shaft or the wrong spin numbers.
Let the experts guide you, but be mindful of a couple of things.
Golf Pro’s in some retail outlets have a reputation for selling clubs, and not always for selling the right clubs. Think sales targets and making money!
The other reason is a bit harder to assess.
Not all manufacturers will custom build the club to the exact custom fit specs you have produced, so you don’t always get what you pay for.
Do some research on the build part of the process. Get them to double check the specs when you pick up the club.
I hope you find this guide to be helpful and I wish you well with your game and putting your first driver in your bag.
Do You Want To Become More Consistent With Your driver
We can help with our Video Course Drive For Show, which shows the Five Key Stages Of A Great Golf Swing in Video Format
and while it shows you how to hit your driver better, the core focus on the coaching is to help you build a classic and repeatable golf swing, which is suitable for both right-handed golfers and left-handed golfers.