Best Driver for Beginners and High Handicappers – Most Forgiving Drivers

In my 25 years of playing golf, once you learn the short game, the next biggest leap you can make to slash your golf score is to have a reliable and forgiving driver. Having a driver you have no confidence in will kill your game before you even tee off. That's why I have searched for the best driver for beginners. 

Using one of the best golf drivers for high handicappers, you'll feel that awesome confident feeling. It's a feeling we all want - to KNOW where the ball is going. To have the ball in play so we can approach the green and start cutting strokes quickly and dramatically. 

I'm a proponent that you can get into the mid teen handicap with nothing more than a fairway wood and hybrid, but if you do want to get some more distance off the tee, make sure you can hit it well at least 6 out of 10 shots before bringing it to the golf course. Before that stage, please practice your driver at the driving range.

The best golf driver for most higher handicap golfers is currently the PING G425 MAX for its forgiveness.


The Best Drivers for Beginners and High Handicappers

  1. PING G425 Max driver (most forgiving driver in recent times)
  2. XXIO 12 driver (most expensive but highest quality golf driver)
  3. Cleveland Launcher XL Lite driver (best for slower swing speeds)
  4. Tour Edge Exotics E722 driver (best value beginner golf driver)
  5. Mizuno STX 220 (easiest driver to launch with draw bias)
  6. Callaway Big Bertha B21 (high loft options easy to hit)

Easiest driver to hit for anyone

best golf driver for beginners

PING is the go-to name for so many golfers when it's time for a new driver. Their range of clubs never disappoints. You will almost never hear a golfer telling you the latest PING is crap. The simple fact is, PING drivers are brilliant. 

The TaylorMade Aeroburner and the Ping G425 are probably the two most popular drivers I have seen in my golf groups.

PING have made this G425 launch high and with that, you get more carry than other drivers. I've hit it myself a few times to try out. There is no mistaking the ease of use with a PING.

When you center strike the G425, you can feel a deep THWACK - it feels like a cannon. Their drivers are loud and have a slight high pitched ping but the feeling off the sweet spot is so soft and so delightful. The ball comes off the face hot and while you may look up wondering where it's gone, the answer is, it's probably going straight and at a higher launch angle than you expect.

Ping are always pushing the importance of high MOI in their golf clubs and will usually make this their number one priority when releasing a new driver.

I've found with my PING, that the ball just does not move as far to the right on my wild slices like they did before with other drivers.

The head shape has the usual PING look which seems to look really big behind the ball but really confidence-boosting. It features a matte finish with some spines on the crown. If your preferred look is shiny and plain on a very LARGE crown, this one isn't for you. 

Pros

  • Adjustable loft to aid in forgiveness and launch angle
  • Large sweet spot launching higher for more carry and ball speed
  • Beautiful crown design including alignment aids 
  • Cannon-like sound
  • So forgiving with MUCH smaller dispersion left and right

Cons

  • No adjustable weights for center of gravity like most modern models
  • Not for golfers who want to shape the ball flight

Premium quality driver specifically for moderate swing speeds

XXIO 12 driver

The XXIO brand is under the Srixon and Cleveland umbrella (Dunlop) and it is their high-end premium brand. I know this one is expensive, I know!

But let me explain why I included it. 

I have a friend in Bangkok. Well a friend is a strong word - he is an acquaintance and we have played golf twice. He couldn't hit a driver to save his life - his swing speed is a bit low and he was going for all the ego drivers from the brands we all know - Taylormade, Callaway, you name it. 

Then he discovered the XXIO at a fitting where a pro threw this at him. He hit it a few times and the machine was registering some good drives, so he bit the bullet and spent them money.

Bill can now hit a driver and he is getting 230-240 yards off the tee, where before, all he was hitting was worm burners to the left, about 100 yards. I have hit his XXIO 12 driver and even with a soft regular shaft in it, I can hit it straight. It's a beauty. 

The XXIO 12 driver is super lightweight and made of extremely fine materials. They design these drivers specifically for moderate swing speeds. If your swing speed is below 80 mph, you can really benefit from the smooth and effortless swinging and power of the XXIO 12. 

Pros

  • Premium, top notch materials to genuinely increase speed
  • Simple point and shoot driver no fancy weights etc
  • Made specifically for moderate swing speeds to slow swing speeds
  • Design helps to increase ball speed off the face and launch much higher despite similar lofts

Cons

  • Very expensive

Cleveland Launcher XL Lite

Cleveland may seem like a name that is not heard much on tour, which it isn't. This is the everyday golfers driver and one of the easiest to hit in the available ranges. The Launcher XL Lite is the version of the Launcher range designed for maximum swing speed and forgiveness. 

Brooks Koepka and Shane Lowry play Cleveland and Srixon (the same company) but the truth is that Cleveland make EXCELLENT clubs for the high handicapper and beginner. Their drivers are also in the game improvement category to help launch it higher and longer.

I used a Cleveland driver back in the day to get down to a scratch handicap. They've always made very simple-looking driver faces and very forgiving hitting areas. They fit high end shafts and you can pick one based on your swing speed to maximize your abilities. 

Looking down at the club, it looks like a PING with the matte finish and spines running across the crown. It's simple to swing and easy to hit but mainly for slower swingers. If you swing like a brute, there will be minimal benefit for you.

There is also a version of this driver for you if you want to eliminate a slice and want the ball to shape right to left. It's called the Launcher XL Lite Draw

The club comes in 10.5 and 12 degree versions. Usually I would say anyone with a slower swing speed would do well to pick a higher lofted driver (12°) to get it launching longer with more carry. It's almost always the case that you'll see an increase in yardage by going higher loft. 

Pros

  • Easy to swing and look down at - looks similar to PING 
  • Clean design with lines on the crown for easy alignment
  • Very friendly on the pocket
  • The Launcher XL Lite Draw will help to negate a big fade 

Cons

  • Loud sound

Tour Edge Exotics E722 driver

Tour Edge 722 range of two drivers. The bigger E722 model uses a 30-gram weight in the in the back perimeter of the club head for maximum forgiveness and increase club head speed. The E722 is the model of choice for you if you're looking for pure ease of use. 

The big feature is the carbon composite crown but besides the performance benefits from the lightweight material, the alignment aid on the crown is not talked about enough.

A black 'T' shape runs the length of the crown with the crossbar of the T along the edge aligned to your target and the tail piece of the T extending to the back of the crown. Anything that helps a high handicapper (even a low handicapper) with alignment is a winner.

A stand-out feature I like is that you can adjust loft up and down by two degrees. The E722 comes in starting lofts of 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees which makes it perfect for what we're looking for. The 12 degree model is definitely one to look for if you're having trouble launching a driver. 

Depending on each flex of the shaft you want, Tour Edge has selected different shafts to make the driver perform better at each flex. Amazing. 

Tour Edge always deliver excellent clubs for the average golfer, maximizing strike and reducing negative impact of mis-hits. The E722 range does all of that and this is easily the best driver in their catalog to date. I found it easy to hit when I compared it to the lower handicapper C722. 

In fact, after trying a couple of them in the USA, I would definitely, even as a 3 handicap, use the E722. It's just that good. 

Pros

  • Very very forgiving driver much like their fairway woods
  • Perfect range of lofts: 9.5° 10.5° and 12°
  • Simple point and shoot no frilly weight adjustments
  • Impact sounds like a beast of out hell

Cons

  • Shots higher in the face balloon a lot and fly really short
  • Sweet spot graphic on the clubface may be a turn off

Easy to launch draw biased for the connoisseur 

STX 220 Driver

The Mizuno SX drivers feature a 20-gram weight set in the back of the head, and the weight is more toward the heel int he X model to help pull the ball more toward the left. That's great for slicers and faders who want to straighten up their flight.

Everyone knows Mizuno irons and wedges but their woods have become extremely good. They improve on them year after year and this is the best one they have created. The STX model is to assist in moving the ball right to left but the face, unlike a lot of models, does not point straight left. That means you feel like your clubface is square at impact.

That's a huge bonus because often, your body and mind will adjust to a closed or open face with compromises. When I laid the club behind the ball while testing them with Pro Mo from my channel, I would have picked the STX model because of the forgiveness.

All we want is the ball to go where we desire it. That is what the STX model does so well. I'm a lower handicap but the driver is my weakness. The STX felt like a driver with training wheels. You swing it, and wonder where it's going to go, and miraculously, it stays high and handsome, with much less deviation than some of the more famous 'driver' brands.

The STX model is offered in the 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degree option which is perfect for a higher handicapper. The 10.5 degree is easy enough to launch and the 12 degree, if your swing is a bit slower, is perfect for high launching bombs.

Pros

  • Very big-looking at address makes you feel like the ball is so small and easy to hit
  • Weighting has been arranged according to needs and the STX model is specific for forgiveness and less slicing
  • 9.5°, 10.5° and 12° options means anyone can fit into one of these
  • Weighting inside the head helps to reduce a slice but the face looks square at address

Cons

  • Boring aesthetics - not a driver you pick up off the rack with excitement

Callaway Big Bertha B21

Best Callaway driver for beginner players 

Callaway Big Bertha B21 Driver - driver for beginners

The Big Bertha range is back with an offset option to stop the big slices and more exciting for the higher handicapper players, there are higher lofted options.

I love the sound of a 12.5 degree driver and Callaway have done it with the B21. The face is also created by AI (artificial intelligence) to increase ball speeds which makes this a very high launching driver with very low spin. We want that to avoid the big slices and we want the high launch for more carry.

Anything that helps a high handicapper feel confident like this will allow you to move on to a different driver in the future. But start here - why put the game of golf on "expert" mode before you've built that base of confidence? 

The Big Bertha B21 can be a gamechanger for many people. It's almost a mini driver when it gets to the higher loft of 12.5 degrees, but it's a maximum 460CC in size so you're not hitting a smaller clubhead. 

On top of the forgiveness and increased distance, the looks are stunning for such a maximum game improvement driver. 

Pros

  • Offset and draw bias to remove the big slices
  • Higher loft option at 12.5 degrees is available for higher launch if you struggle
  • Brilliant good looks for a maximum game improver
  • Lightweight shaft options for more swing speed

Cons

  • Slower swings only - shafts and clubhead setup is not for quick swings

What makes the best driver for beginners and high handicappers?

brian hits driver as a high handicapper

Ideal Specifications for Forgiving High Handicap Drivers

  • 10.5° to 14° loft 
  • Regular flex shaft
  • 460cc head size
  • Adjustable loft preferred

Forgiveness

What makes a driver forgiving?

Forgiveness refers to how much or little a driver punishes a bad strike. If you miss the sweet spot of the club, there'll be a loss of distance and direction. Forgiving clubs lose much less distance and promote straighter ball flights on mishits than tour spec drivers.

Luckily, modern drivers aimed at the casual golfer are the most forgiving ever made. Mishits are very common for new golfers. Older drivers used to punish mishits with pain in your fingers, shots that went nowhere and lost balls. Mishits now go further and straighter than ever before making it easier to find the best drivers for high handicappers.

Higher loft means more forgiveness

A driver has the lowest loft in the bag. Automatically that makes it harder to hit in the air and keep straight. An easy analogy is the difference between a 3 iron and a 9 iron. The 3 iron (24° loft) is difficult to control while a 9 iron (44° loft) is very easy to hit high and straight due to higher loft.

Pros use lower lofted drivers (7°-10°) and because their swings speeds are incredibly fast (110+mph), they are able to get the ball flying 280+ yards.

Amateurs generally swing at 80-90 mph and require much more loft to make up for the slower swing speed. The additional loft also creates more back-spin which prevents too much movement left or right in the air. All off this combined will mean an increase in driving distance. 

For maximum forgiveness for a beginner, we recommend loft of 10.5° to 14°

The Correct Driver Shaft for Your Swing Speed

The shaft is the most important part of the driver. It will determine how the ball flies through the air and consistency of your shots. Driver shafts are all graphite now and steel is used only in irons and putters.

Golf club shaft flexibilities are labelled in the following ways:

  • L for Ladies (slow swing speed)
  • A or M for Senior Flex (slow swing speed)
  • R for Regular (slow or average swing speed)
  • S for Stiff (faster swing speed)
  • X for Extra Stiff aka Tour (very fast swing speed)

The faster your swing, the stiffer you need the shaft to be, so you can hit a consistent ball flight. A shaft that is too stiff for your swing produces a ball flight that goes low and to the right. A shaft too flexible for your swing causes an inconsistent shape on your shots. It's all about creating optimum energy transfer from the club head into the golf ball. 

In general, beginners’ swing speeds are between 80 and 90mph so we recommend a Regular ( R ) flex shaft to help promote a straighter, consistent ball flight.

Big Driver Heads Help the High Handicapper

Nowadays, all drivers’ heads are between 440 and 460 cubic centimeters (cc). This has increased the club face size and with it, the sweet spot. It is always advisable for newer golfers to go with a 460cc driver head because well, it’s the maximum!

What is Moment of Inertia (MOI)?

Moment of Inertia in golf drivers (MoI) relates to the ability of the club head to resist a change of its position when a force is applied to it. In golf drivers, the centre of gravity (CoG) is move as far back from the clubface as possible to increase the driver’s MoI when the ball is struck off the toe or the heel of the golf club.

Drivers with high MoI, like the PING G425 will feel really good when you strike the sweet spot or near to it. As these clubs are very stable with perimeter weighting, you'll find that the face will twist less on impact resulting in longer, straighter drivers. 

Drivers will lower MoI will twist more the further you strike away from the sweet spot. Skilled players may want some flexibility in this area so they can shape the ball flight more easily. However for beginners, this leads to less accurate drives and less distance for off-centre hits. The best golf drivers for high handicappers and beginners will have high levels of MoI.

Adjustable Golf Drivers - Be your own golf club fitter

Adjustable & Fixed Weights

In the latest drivers there are weights attached to the sole of the club head that can be adjusted by sliding them around into different positions to alter the shape of the shot. This technology sounds good, but it can be highly confusing for a new player to grasp all the combinations and effects on center of gravity and MOI and all the other jargon terms used to market the clubs. We don’t recommend these expensive golf drivers for new golfers.

On the other hand there are weights that can be replaced or moved to fixed locations which are much easier to play.

Adjustable Lofts

For the purpose of this guide, which is to find you a simple-to-hit and forgiving golf driver, this is the technology that can help you most. Some of the recommendations here have this technology. It's is steep learning curve understanding how to adjust lofts and fine tune when you're a beginner, so I recommend having the settings adjusted by a PGA Professional or club fitter at first. 

The shafts can be unscrewed from the head and rotated to increase or decrease the loft of the driver from 9° to 14°. This is very valuable tech for a new player to adjust the loft to their preferred number.

Difference Between the Pros and High Handicappers

Feature

High Handicappers

Pros

Swing speed

75-85 mph

105+ mph

Loft 

10.5° to 14°

7° to 10°

Shaft

Regular

Stiff/X Stiff

Forgiveness

High

Moderate

Club Head Size

460 cc

440-460 cc

It's tempting to think the clubs the pros play on TV are the ones we should be playing. There is a massive difference between pros and amateur golfers so there is no shame in playing different clubs to the guys who do it for a living.  Play what works for you. That could be a used club from the junk store or it could be the latest Titleist 8.5° monstrosity. 

Also remember, the clubs on television are "Tour Issue", that means they have been made available only to the Tour players. The golf drivers you find in a retail shop are NOTHING like the one the pros are playing. I only state this so you can make a selection based on performance and looks to YOU, not what Brooks Koepka or Dustin Johnson or Tiger Woods is hitting. They have the means to fine tune their equipment with the best information and technology possible. 

Best budget driver for beginners

If you are low on cash but want to get most bang for your buck I'd suggest the Tour Exotics E722 driver. It's got all of the premium level technology and component for a fraction of the cost of some of the big names. 

Conclusion

I hope this guide was useful in finding the best drivers for beginners. If you decide to put a driver in your golf bag to take your game to the next level, always have it fit with a shaft by a professional club fitter to fully maximize its potential. It can literally change your life.

You can find confidence off the tee, which will put you in a better position for your approach shots and that puts you in a better position to score. 

Once you've become more experienced and are becoming more consistent with the driver in hand, you'll be ready to check out this driver guide for mid handicappers

If you're on a budget and looking for the best value golf drivers, check out this guide. There you may find the best second hand driver for high handicappers. 

Last Updated on September 4, 2022 by Matt

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