What are the most forgiving golf drivers in 2023? Our in-depth test reveals all.
It’s easy to be seduced solely by distance when choosing the best golf driver for your game, but it’s important to remember that nobody strikes their driver perfectly every time – not even the pros – so you may find that one of the most forgiving drivers performs more consistently for you out on the golf course.
A driver that doesn’t punish you as much on imperfect strikes may help keep distance up and keep your ball in play more often.
If you really struggle to hit drivers well, you may want to consider our list of the best drivers for beginners and high handicappers. If you are struggling to control a slice, we’ve also picked out the best draw drivers.
But here are the models our test proved to be the most forgiving drivers.
Great all-round driver that will suit a wide selection of golfers.
Best overall driver
Our data has it down as being a single yard back from the very longest. It’s an excellent result (which could be reversed on another day), especially when you factor in that Ping drivers are so forgiving that they are usually a fraction back from being the very fastest or longest available.
The MAX didn’t quite give our very tightest dispersion numbers (experience says results are influenced more by tester than club), but it did give our pro his smallest drop-off in ball speed, so expect good on-course consistency. All other dispersion metrics were well below our test averages.
All in all, the G430 MAX is a brilliant driver option for a wide audience of golfers. A new, lower-launch Tour 2.0 Black shaft is good for higher-speed players, while a lighter High Launch set-up will optimise ball flight for sub 85mph swing speed players.
Read our full Ping G430 MAX driver review.
- Huge amounts of forgiveness.
- The 25g backweight gives a good degree of shot shape adjustability.
- A new lighter High Launch setup is brilliant for slower-speed players.
- Not huge amounts of premium after-market shaft options.
|Lofts||9 ° / 10.5 °/ 12 °|
|Stock shafts||Alta CB Black, Ping Tour 2.0 Chrome, Ping Tour 2.0, Alta Quick|
Fantastic looks and performance, but at a hefty price.
Best for looks and feel with excellent performance
The more stretched Paradym X (which offers 15 yards of shot shape correction over the standard Paradym), sounds powerful and muted at impact, and it also produced Simon’s fastest ball speed within the draw category, which should be music to the ears of average speed players.
Expect a different, more confidence-boosting head shape and look to the standard Paradym, so make sure you choose carefully which model to dial in for your own game.
Our stats showed it was a couple of yards down on our very longest model, but that could easily be reversed on another day’s testing.
Even though it’s among the most expensive drivers available in 2023, Paradym has to be on the radar of golfers who don’t mind paying for ultimate performance. It really is a cracking choice in 2023.
Read our full Callaway Paradym X driver review.
- An MOI over 9,000 g cm2 means this is a very forgiving driver.
- Very good choice of stock shaft options.
- Very accurate.
- At the very top of the driver price scale in 2023.
|Lofts||9 °/ 10.5 ° / 12 °|
|Stock shafts||Aldila Ascent, HZRDUS Silver, HZRDUS Black, Mitsubishi Kai'li White|
Great ball speed and now with more forgiveness than the previous model.
Best for distance with forgiveness
At our 10.5° test loft, the cracking-looking Stealth 2 was our joint longest forgiving driver of 2023 (with the Mizuno ST-X 230 and Yonex Ezone GS i-Tech) at 276 yards, making the model a worthy recipient of TG’s ‘Best of 2023’ award.
Throw in a third-best left-to-right dispersion (33.8 yards), plus a slightly skewed heel sweetspot, and a picture emerges of this being a better performing driver for club golfers than its predecessor, which our data highlighted as a little timid compared to its more powerful Plus sibling.
Dialling the loft down to 9°, which is where TaylorMade fitted our tester for loft (even though he never uses a 9° driver on the course), upped ball speed by 1.1mph and added an additional seven yards of carry.
All in, this complex driver construction stacks up in terms of look, sound and feel. And because the data spells out excellent distance and forgiveness performance, it warrants a place on your shortlist.
Read our full TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver review.
- A modular construction is right at the cutting edge of driver design.
- Expect higher MOI than the original Stealth driver.
- A great-looking and confidence-inspiring driver in the address position.
- The stock Ventus shaft doesn’t have Fujikura’s premium VeloCore stability structure inside.
|Lofts||9 ° / 10.5 ° / 12 °|
|Stock shafts||Fujikura Ventus Red TR|
Excellent all-round performance but make sure you test both models and get properly custom fitted.
Judging by our results here, the ST-X 230 will build on that reputation. At 276 yards, the ST-X was our joint longest forgiving driver for carry (tied with the TaylorMade Stealth 2 and Yonex Ezone GS i-Tech), and that is seriously impressive when you realize Mizuno’s stock shaft length is 0.75 inches shorter than the competition. The model was also ranked third when it came to protecting ball speed and also ranked well within our test averages for dispersion and shot area, so you can mark the model down as being a playable driver for the masses.
Mizuno say the ST-X’s 9° loft is slightly higher spinning and more workable, and from their experience that can give elite golfers more ball speed than the ST-Z 230, which is why you should keep an open mind and try both models before deciding which best suits you.
A price increase puts Mizuno right in among the big boys in terms of cost, which is the only stumbling block we can see for this excellent driver in 2023.
Read our full Mizuno ST-X 230 driver review.
- A shorter stock shaft length is great for accuracy.
- A great sounding driver.
- Just a touch of built-in draw bias will be of benefit to lots of club golfers.
- The head is extremely shiny and likely to glare in bright sunlight.
|Lofts||9° / 10.5° / 12°|
|Stock shafts||Choose from 14 premium options|
A lovely option for golfers who’ll accept slightly lower ball speeds in exchange for fairway-finding forgiveness.
Best for slower ball speeds
Read our full Cobra AeroJet Max driver review.
- Very good value-for-money drivers in the current climate
- Thanks to the PWR-Bridge front weighting expect to see some very fast ball speeds
- AeroJet is a super attractive driver package in 2023
- Chasing ball speed through front weighting will sacrifice a little forgiveness for less consistent golfers
|Lofts||9° / 10.5° / 12°|
|Stock shafts||UST Helium Nanocore, Mitsubishi Kai’li Blue, Mitsubishi Kai’li White, Project X HZRDUS Black 4G|
Srixon ZX5 Driver
It looks lovely, sounds great and there’s a touch of high launch draw bias built in. We’d play it, but in tough economic times, £499 is hard to justify, especially knowing there’s other excellent drivers out there for less.
Read our full Srixon ZX5 driver review.
|Lofts||9.5° / 10.5°|
|Stock shafts||Project X HZRDUS Black Gen 4 / Project X HZRDUS Smoke Red RDX shafts.|
Read our full Mizuno ST-Z 230 driver review.
We don’t feel it quite warrants a ‘Best of 2023’ badge as the head shape, deep face and slightly closed face angle look aren’t what lots of golfers look for.
But if you like a lightweight, lively feel and aren’t shy of going ‘off-piste’ in terms of brands, the model’s well worth exploring.
PXG 0311 GEN5 Driver
Much of the 0311 data is spot on our test averages, plus there’s a decent choice of shafts and a pretty reasonable price.
But if we were spending our own dosh in 2023, we’d struggle to ignore PXG’s brilliantly priced 0211 driver, which features in our list of golf's best drivers.
Read our full PXG 0311 GEN5 driver review.
We love the wide, friendly and forgiving head shape, and the data hovers right around our test averages, so mid/high handicap players could do much worse than simply plumping for this option straight off the rack.
Read our full Cleveland Launcher XL driver review.
Our eyes, however, would be drawn to how the model’s data for carry distance drop off, left to right dispersion and shot area were all above the test averages.
Read our full Titleist TSR2 driver review.
We can’t argue with its stats: being just two yards back from our very longest is nothing to be sniffed at. But, as nice as the BR-Pro is, it’s hard to recommend when PXG’s 0211 is available with better dispersion, smaller shot area and reduced drop-offs, plus it’s £150 cheaper.
A slightly more rearward, forgiving CoG means you’ll give up a little ball speed and distance, but for many players who hover around an average speed (93mph with driver), that’s a trade-off worth making. A very forgiving option for a very sensible price.
Read our full PXG 0311 XF GEN5 driver review.
In such a competitive market its numbers aren’t remarkable.
In the hands of average-fast speed golfers, though, it’s an attractively shaped driver that sounds decent and represents a solid option in 2023.
Costs have spiralled so much that prices in 2023 are often triple that, so what PXG have done in making their ‘affordable’ 0211 driver available for £199 is just remarkable.
The full-body titanium 0211 is neither a low-spin nor their most forgiving model, but it sits neatly between the two. And for a wide audience of club golfers, that’s a really good set-up.
Read our full PXG 0211 driver review.
How we tested the most forgiving drivers
We asked the leading brands to send us their 2023 drivers in our Test Pro Neil Wain’s specs; draw models and those aimed at more moderate speeds were sent in Equipment Editor Simon Daddow’s specs.
We created an indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre to ensure a controlled environment, which meant we could use premium Srixon Z-Star golf balls and a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor to create the most reliable data possible.
We rejected major misses, but recorded how shots launched, span, peaked out and how far they flew in which direction.
See more about how TG tests golf clubs and other equipment.
Most forgiving drivers: Buying advice
Is there such a thing as a forgiving driver?
Whilst no driver can turn a complete mishit into a fairway-splitting screamer, it is a fact that some drivers are more forgiving than others.
What makes a driver forgiving?
One of the key factors in the level of forgiveness offered by a driver is the MOI (moment of inertia), which is how stable the clubhead is through impact. This resistance to twisting helps the face point more on target for longer, encouraging straighter drives even on off-center strikes.
The most forgiving drivers also pack in technology which helps mishits maintain ball speeds and spin rates closer to what you get from a centered strike, which helps with ball flight and distance.
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