What are the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers to keep your ball on the straight and narrow in 2023?
Selecting the best golf driver to make sure you consistently get the ball airborne and sailing down the middle of the fairway seems like a pretty important decision for a golfer of any standard. However, with many new players struggling to control a slice or maximize their launch angle, finding a forgiving “big stick” with hard-hitting credentials is critical.
No doubt driver is the high-risk-high-reward club in your bag. With the longest shaft and highest swing speeds, the driver has the potential to make or break your round. That is why manufacturers are constantly innovating to help mitigate the common technical flaws that we all experience on our golf journeys meaning there is no reason to be fearful of the King of Clubs himself.
Best drivers for beginners and high-handicappers: Our top picks
While we will always advocate lessons and practice as the fundamentals behind improving your swing, making an informed decision when it comes to buying the most forgiving driver to suit your game is pretty crucial too. That is why Today’s Golfer has reviewed and tested 10 of the best drivers aimed at helping beginner and higher handicap golfers to keep the ball in bounds and bounding down the fairways.
If you happen to have a tried and tested brand that you are keen to remain loyal to, why not check out some of our specific best-by-brand pages such as the best Ping, TaylorMade, or Callaway drivers?
Here is our selection of the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers in 2023…
A brilliant option for slicers with excellent performance
Best for adjustable draw bias
Internal testing from Ping has shown golfers with slower swing speeds (less than 90 mph) experience gains in ball speed of 1.5 mph with higher launch angles of 1.5° when using the SFT model. Aside from strong performance credentials, the SFT is a fantastic-looking driver, free from exaggerated closed-face angles while still providing you with the confidence-inspiring feeling you require on the tee. One of our best draw drivers.
Read our full Ping G430 SFT driver review.
- Moveable draw-biased weights
- Increased ball speeds for slower swings
- Does not appear overly closed at the address
- Severe slicers may prefer a more closed look
|Stock shafts||Alta CB Black, Ping Tour 2.0 Chrome, Ping Tour 2.0 Black, Alta Quick|
|Adjustable hosel||+/- 1.5°|
|Stock grips||Golf Pride Tour Velvet|
A high-launching driver with extreme forgiveness
Best for high-launch forgiveness
The X model differs slightly from the standard Paradym driver in that it has a stretched-out head profile, providing added forgiveness and draw bias. The strike sounded crisp and powerful and was responsible for producing the fastest ball speeds within the drivers tested in our draw category. The rich blue color scheme pops in the sunlight and contrasts perfectly with the black face and Callaway alignment chevron.
Read our full Callaway Paradym X driver review.
- High launching to help carry distance
- Extremely forgiving
- Good choice of stock shaft options
- At the top end of the driver price scale
|Lofts||9°, 10.5°, 12°|
|Stock shafts||MCA Aldila Ascent PL Blue (40g – Women’s, Light, Regular); <br>Project X Hzrdus Silver (50g – Regular, Stiff, 60g – Stiff)|
|Stock grips||Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 (50g); Lamkin ST Soft Undersized (44g)|
The brand's most forgiving model with a high flight draw bias
Best for distance with forgiveness
This second-generation model launches 1° higher and reduces spin by 200-300 RPM, meaning you can expect a fraction more distance along with additional forgiveness. Thanks to a shorter neck, the shaft length of the HD comes up ¼ inch shorter than the other models in the Stealth family. This shorter lever has been crafted to inspire confidence and encourage more sweet-spot contacts.
Read our full TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD driver review.
- Increased sweet spot size
- Excellent distance and forgiveness performance
- Great looking, confidence-inspiring
- Very slow swing speeds might prefer a longer shaft
|Lofts||9°, 10.5°, 12°|
|Stock shafts||Fujikura Speeder NX Red|
|Adjustable hosel||+/- 2°|
|Stock grips||Golf Pride Z-Grip Plus2 Black/Red|
A lightweight speed-generating driver for slower swing speeds
Best for lightweight forgiveness
The XL Lite is therefore designed to help you to overcome that initial inertia and generate increased clubhead speed, aided further by a longer shaft length of 0.25 inches. While not ranking as one of the fastest and longest drivers within our data set, the Launcher XL Lite still produced solid carry distances from an easy, relaxed swing. The larger-than-average driver head did wonders for confidence at address, without having a noticeably closed face angle.
Read our full Cleveland Launcher XL Lite driver review.
- Lightweight and easy to generate swing speed
- Large head size to inspire confidence
- A great option for swing speeds under 90mph
- Some will prefer more weight to increase acceleration
|Stock shafts||Men’s Project X Cypher 40 (48g A, 48g R, 50g S); <br>Women’s Project X Cypher 40 (L)|
|Stock grips||Men's Golf Pride Tour Velvet (360 52g, 58 round); <br>Women's Winn Dri Tac Ladies (35g, 59 round)|
The Ping G430 SFT, Callaway Paradym X, TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD, and Cleveland Launcher XL Lite were all recipients of one of the coveted Today’s Golfer Editor’s Choice Awards. However, that’s not to say that your ideal driver has to come from one of these four models. If the perfect ‘big-stick’ for you has not jumped off the page just yet, then read on for some other equally impressive drivers for beginners and high-handicappers.
A great value and versatile driver to suit slower ball speeds
Best for slower ball speeds
At average club golfer swing speeds, when drivers are difficult to separate on data alone, the Aerojet Max jumps out for several reasons. Firstly, the price point is particularly competitive for a premium driver, but also because it is adaptable, with its two sole weight set up meaning the Max can turn from being ultra-forgiving into one of the best draw drivers, limiting the damage if you are prone to slicing.
Read our full Cobra Aerojet Max driver review.
- Aerodynamic head shape to maximize club speed
- Adjustable weight allowing you to prioritize forgiveness or draw
- An excellent price point for a premium driver
- Front weighting to chase ball speed will sacrifice forgiveness
|Lofts||9° / 10.5° / 12°|
|Stock shafts||UST Helium Nanocore, Mitsubishi Kai’li Blue, Mitsubishi Kai’li White, Project X HZRDUS Black 4G|
|Stock grips||Lamkin Crossline|
A friendly to hit draw biased driver for slower swing speeds
Best for off-centre contacts
Wilson’s research demonstrated that 68% of the shots hit by average golfers occurred out of the toe-half of the face. With this knowledge in mind, Wilson has created a face that’s 5% bigger, with a deeper toe section, ideal for both confidence and forgiveness. A cleverly designed face bulge (from toe to heel) helps disguise the Launch Pad’s closed face at address which contributed to shots finishing an average of 13.5 yards further left during our testing.
Read our full Wilson Launch Pad driver review.
- Easy to launch
- Face geometry specifically targeted at high handicappers
- Improved aesthetics
- More suitable options for non-slicers
|Lofts||9°, 10.5°, 13°|
|Stock shafts||Project X|
|Stock grips||Wilson Staff Midsize (men's), Wilson Staff Performance (women's)|
A high-performing game improvement driver with mild draw-bias
Best for all-round performance
To address the forgiveness required by higher handicap golfers, Mizuno’s stock shaft length is 0.75 inches shorter than most of the competition, providing an enhanced element of control to the swing, and in turn accuracy. The touch of draw bias is a further selling point to this high-performing model, which can be dialed down to 9° for more workability and ball speed as you move towards single figures.
Read our full Mizuno ST-X 230 driver review.
- Shorter stock shaft to aid with accuracy
- Built-in draw bias to suit many high-handicappers
- Performance data matching other premium models
- Will not correct a heavy slice as well as some
|Lofts||9.5º, 10.5º, 12.5º|
|Stock shafts||Aldlia Ascent Red 50|
|Stock grips||Lamkin ST Hybrid 360|
An ultra-light forgiving driver to boost swing speed
Best for generating swing speed
Often with lightweight drivers, there is little excess material that can be assigned to help forgive off-center strikes. However, as the Air-X weighs around 35g less than some of its competitors, Cobra has added some heel-biased weighting to help straighten up slices and make it easier to find the fairway.
Read our full Cobra Air-X driver review.
- Ultra-light driver to help slower swing speeds
- The weight rests lower to provide forgiveness
- An attractive price point for beginners to the game
- Fast improvers may require more weight
|Lofts||9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5°|
|Stock shafts||ULTRALITE 40 shaft (S, R, Lite); ULTRALITE 40 shaft in ladies flex|
|Stock grips||vLamkin REL Standard (58R) – Black (41g)|
A customizable driver designed to meet your swing needs
Best for customizable weighting
We think the crowning glory for this driver however is the new three-port weight set-up, allowing you to customize the weight distribution across the heel, back, and toe to create the optimal shape, spin, and forgiveness to suit your game. Beginners and high-handicappers will likely opt to push the center of gravity toward the heel, creating a draw bias, or towards the back of the head, creating a more forgiving driver with steeper shot trajectories.
Read our full PXG 0311 Gen5 driver review.
- PXG's highest MOI, draw-biased driver
- Customizable weight ports
- Sensible price point
- Weight ports may intimidate beginners
|Lofts||7.5°, 9°, 10.5°|
|Stock shafts||Project X Evenflow Riptide CB 50g / 60g, Aldila NV Orange NXT 55g / 65g, Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 60g (R)<br>Aldila NV Green NXT 65G / 75G, Project X Evenflow Riptide 50g / 60g, HZRDUS Smoke Yellow 60g / 70g, Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 60g / 70g (S)|
|Adjustable hosel||+/- 1.5°|
|Stock grips||Golf Pride Tour Velvet Standard|
A light, high-launching driver to add zip to your swing
Best for lightweight distance
Titleist describes the TS1 driver as an “absolute powerhouse” that will maximize the swing speeds of any golfer including seniors, women, and juniors. It has achieved this by reducing clubhead weight by 8g compared to its predecessor, in addition to lighter stock shafts and grips. The TS1 has also been engineered with extra draw bias to help out those with a tendency to slice and is able to reduce drag throughout the swing with its streamlined, aerodynamic shape.
Read our guide to the best Titleist drivers 2023.
- Easy to swing faster not harder
- Deep center of gravity to generate launch
- Added yards for slower-swinging players
- The high spin rate is not ideal for moderate to faster swing speeds
|Lofts||9.5°, 10.5°, 12.5°|
|Stock shafts||Fujikura Air Speeder 40/35R3|
|Adjustable hosel||Yes – Titleist SureFit hosel|
|Stock grips||Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 Lite|
Best Drivers for Beginners and High Handicappers: Buying Guide
Choosing your new driver should be a decision you take some time over, to research thoroughly and make sure that you are investing in the club that will take your game to the next level. That’s critical at any level, particularly as second to your putter, your driver should be the club you reach for the most.
However, as a beginner or higher handicap golfer, we understand that sometimes pulling out driver on the tee is not always your most confidence-inspiring option. That is why this ‘best guide’ has only selected the specific models of driver, designed and engineered specifically with the attributes demanded from this target group of golfers.
Here are the key things you might want to prioritize when it comes to selecting your perfect fairway finder.
This is a word sprayed around in the golf world more than your tee shots. But what does it mean and why is forgiveness important? Scientifically speaking, forgiveness is quantified using MOI (moment of inertia), measured in grams per centimeter squared, and defines how resistant the club face is to twisting on impact. Higher MOIs will provide greater forgiveness by keeping the clubface square with your alignment at the point of impact.
To put the numbers in context, drivers with MOIs of over 9,000g-cm2 are typically at the highest end of the MOI spectrum and worth looking out for in the manufacturer’s specifications. In other words, a forgiving driver will help you find more fairways more often and will reduce the severity of those offline shots.
Research is driving the optimal positioning of weight across the club head to achieve specific outcomes. When it comes to forgiving drivers, the weight will usually be distributed toward the back of the head as this will promote a launch angle that will help you get the ball airborne and knock off those yards.
The swing path of many new and high-handicap golfers typically slices across the face of the ball causing a left-to-right trajectory (for a right-handed player). This is why, as well as easy launching, drivers for this caliber of player usually will have built-in draw-bias, or even adjustable weighting so you can customize based on the severity of your slice.
Often overlooked, but dialing in your optimal driver set-up through a custom fitting session will likely be of more benefit than the slight performance edge you hope to achieve by selecting one driver over another. This point is demonstrated by our Equipment Editor Simon Daddow, who actually lost 3.1 mph of ball speed overall compared to last year’s test, but still gained six yards of distance on average. That’s because he was hitting drives higher and with 700rpm less spin. So of course, ball speed is important, but finding your optimal set-up really is key.
Beginners and high-handicap players are likely to sit slightly below the average club golfer swing speed of approximately 93mph. If this rings true for your game then it is worth considering some of the lighter-weight options on this list. Manufacturers in this space have trimmed any unnecessary mass from the club head, shaft, and grip in order to make it easier for players to swing faster without swinging harder. Furthermore, some of this shaved-off weight is typically redistributed to other parts of the club head to help promote those enviable high-launching draws.
As with most things in the golf world, prices for drivers can vary considerably. Value for money really is subjective and therefore you should spend however much you feel comfortable, be it a premium model, or one with a more competitive price point. Powerhouse driver brands such as Ping, TaylorMade, and Callaway will typically be positioned at the top end of the market, however, there is excellent value (with performance) to be found with other brands such as PXG, Wilson, and Cobra.
Best Drivers for Beginners and High Handicappers: FAQs
What should I look for in a beginner driver?
With many beginner golfers, the most important factor to look for in a new driver is forgiveness. This is because less skilled golfers lack the accuracy of more proficient players and are more prone to off-center strikes and cutting across the ball which leads to inconsistent ball trajectories. Therefore, beginners should look for a driver that is easy to launch and helps to straighten out offline shots.
How do I choose a new driver?
When choosing a new driver, it is crucial to consider your specific game before filtering down the options most suited to you. Things to keep in mind are your swing speed, typical ball flight, level of forgiveness required, and obviously your budget. Most of the major manufacturers have multiple driver models designed with particular types of players in mind.
What loft driver should a high handicap use?
A high-handicap golfer should typically look to use a driver with a loft of approximately 10.5°. This club face angle will help to get the ball airborne consistently which might be something less skilled golfers struggle with. Those who find this particularly challenging may want to experiment with lofts of 11° and above. Very skilled and professional golfers aim to reduce spin rate when taking driver and will opt for lofts around 9°.
What is a high-handicap golfer?
Players with a handicap of 20 and above are considered high-handicap golfers and will usually shoot scores in the mid to late 90s each round. A mid-handicap golfer between 10 and 20 will typically shoot a score in the low 80s to mid-90s, and single-figure handicappers will post rounds of 80 and below.
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About the author
Golf Equipment Writer
Ross Tugwood is a golf equipment writer for todays-golfer.com, specializing in data, analytics, science, and innovation. He’s also an expert in golf apparel and has a keen interest in sustainability.
Ross is passionate about optimizing sports performance and has a decade of experience working with professional athletes and coaches for British Athletics, the UK Sports Institute, and Team GB.
He has post-graduate degrees in Performance Analysis and Sports Journalism, enabling him to critically analyze and review the latest golf equipment and technology to help you make better-informed buying decisions.
Ross lives in Snowdonia National Park with his wife and 40 kg Bernese Mountain dog! He is a member of Porthmadog Golf Club with a handicap index of 14.
Away from golf, Ross enjoys hiking, trail running, and supporting the mighty Bristol Bears.
Ross uses a Cobra King SZ Speedzone driver, Titleist TSi2 3-Wood, TaylorMade Sim2 Rescue, Callaway Apex Pro irons (4-PW), Cleveland 588 RTX wedges (52°, 58°), Odyssey White Hot Pro-1 putter, and a TaylorMade Tour Response golf ball.