ClubTest 2021: 22 innovative new drivers tested and reviewed
With the help of GOLF’s research partner True Spec Golf, we asked 40 testers to hit more than 150 different clubs over three days to deliver the most inclusive and in-depth review of new gear in the 30-year history of our ClubTest franchise. Fact: The perfect drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and putters for you are out there — and working with a custom fitter is the fastest way to find them.
For this installment of ClubTest 2021, our testers thoroughly examined 22 new drivers from all the top manufacturers. The takeaway is clear: club-makers continue to push the technology envelope, but the difference these days is that they have your swing in mind.
Check out all the new drivers we reviewed below, read the test results, and see photos and videos to help you learn everything you need to know to find the perfect long stick for you.
Whichever driver you choose, you can purchase it with one click, or better yet, get custom fit for new clubs by GOLF’s sister company True Spec Golf.
Callaway Big Bertha B21
Our take: This eye-catching, draw-biased driver is perfect for correcting a pesky slice, but it’s the feel at impact that left a number of our testers asking if they could immediately take the BB B21 home: “Can I give it a triple love? I love the feel, launches high and it’s extra forgiving. This was my favorite by far.”
Callaway Epic 2021
Our take: Golfers have come to expect a lot from the Epic name, specifically more speed, distance, forgiveness and stability. Testers found all three Epic models to be up to the challenge, heaping praise on everything from the feel at impact to the impressive Tour-quality sound. “I put it through its paces and it never let me down,” said one tester.
Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo
Our take: No-nonsense aesthetics and clean lines appeal to traditionalists who want nothing more than drives that fly straight and far. Said one of our testers, “It looks shut at address, but it feels great and shots fired flew straight as a needle and plenty far enough. Love that matte finish as well.” In addition to Cleveland’s ultralight hosel, redesigned HiBore crown, deep-weighting sole pad and a counterbalanced shaft, it’s the turbocharged cupface that delivers the knockout punch.
Our take: With a hammer-like sound and impressive feel, RadSpeed delivered in a big way during GOLF’s ClubTest. As one tester raved, “I love the aesthetic. There’s some slight carbon fiber you can see in the back, and you can’t go wrong with matte black. Feels great, looks great.” This was the general consensus with Cobra’s latest big stick. In addition to noticing lower spin and a more penetrating flight (thanks to a reimagined adjustable sole weighting system), the CNC-milled face offers sneaky alignment assistance, framing the ball at address. It’s easy to see why this neon-yellow-and-black beauty is the driver of choice for U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler.
Ben Hogan GS53
Our take: In 1953, Ben Hogan conquered the golf world with wins at the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. A half-century later, it’s only fitting that the GS53 (named in honor of Hogan’s famed ’53 campaign) carried a similar swagger into ClubTest. “It’s no nonsense, all the way through,” said one tester. “It’s simple, feels good, goes a long way. It’s not a hard choice.” You might not find flash among the GS53’s top benefits, but you’ll have no problem finding fairways.
Honma T//World GS
Our take: Speed is what Honma was looking for with their T//World GS driver, and that’s just what they gave to testers. “Even on my misses, I didn’t feel like I was giving up very much distance,” one tester said. Additional praises were given for the ease of adjustments, catering to players of varying ability.
Honma TR20 460
Our take: The TR20 460 driver is geared to appeal to everyone from Tour stars to low handicaps, and based on what we heard from testers, they delivered. “Badass,” is what one Tour pro blurted out when he picked up the driver for the first time. “The TR20 driver has spoiled me with speed.” With a clubhead geared for speed and extra weights added for even more adjustability, testers came away gushing about Honma’s smart titanium frame and carbon body design.
Our take: Mizuno is making big strides when it comes to metalwoods of late, with the ST drivers proving that the company is equally dedicated to creating high-performing drivers with the same measure of success found in its popular iron iterations. New models not only launch the ball farther with more ball speed, they look and sound better than any Mizuno drivers tested to date.
Our take: Some drivers offer flashy distance while others provide sturdy stability. Ping’s G425, however, checked both boxes for our testers. In his first time hitting the Turbulator-crowned driver, one GOLF tester called it “wife material” due to its alluring speed and forgiveness. “All my mishits went straight,” another said. Players also found the impact sound to sing a deep, booming note.
Our take: The 0211 received high praise from GOLF’s stable of testers for an impressive level of forgiveness and stability. “I put some swings on this club that I know were not great,” said one tester. “But the 0211 held steady, and my ball managed to stay on line longer than it deserved to.” Thanks to a titanium-alloy face and substantial back weighting, golfers don’t have to worry about the head twisting at impact.
PXG 0811 X Proto
Our take: Thanks to the warm hearts at PXG, they’ve made a Tour-only driver available to us mortals. The 0811 X Proto and 0811 X+ Proto both feature four adjustable weight ports and adjustable hosels for total customization and have a matte black finish that, if you pay any attention to high-tech gadgetry these days, is the color and finish du jour. Our testers agreed, with one claiming, “I love the matte black,” and another saying, “The flight with these drivers is awesome, and I love the sound and feel.”
Our take: The ZX packs a two-fisted punch of added distance and forgiveness. One tester chimed in by saying, “The traditional shaping and the red line on the back look great. The ball feels really fast off the face. It’s the best driver I’ve hit today.” Speaking of hits, the two models offer golfers a choice between a higher trajectory with the ZX5 or a more penetrating flight courtesy the ZX7.
Our take: Asked to describe the look of SIM2, our testers labeled them “futuristic,” “modern” and “fast.” And who can argue when there’s all that new-age carbon on the sole? While the drivers carry on the original SIM (Shape in Motion) name that excelled in 2020, the company has made a few big changes. One initially skeptical GOLF tester took notice of the improvements: “I tried to hit the original SIM last year, but this new one feels a million times more solid.”
Our take: It wasn’t long ago when Titleist was super choosy about its driver iterations, usually offering one or two models from which to choose in a given series. The TS driver line eschews that strategy completely with four driver models. While TS2 and TS3 have been replaced by TSi2 and TSi3, the slice-busting TS1 and sub-460cc TS4 continue to deliver.
Our take: We can’t get over how amazing the face on the TSi drivers looks, feels and performs. Said an excited tester: “It’s a bit bubbly looking, but the ball flies hot off the clubface.” Said another: “It’s the number-one driver that I’ve tried.” Those are high praises for Titleist, considering the challenge it faced in creating a driver with a clubface made from an incredibly unique, aerospace-grade titanium.
Tour Edge Hot Launch C521/E521
Our take: One game-improvement model for all? What fun is that?! The E521 and C521 are both smartly designed for players who need some launch and distance help, but they come in decidedly different packages: the C521 is more of classic shape with minimal offset while the E521 has more offset paired with draw-biased weighting in the heel. Testers responded well to what Tour Edge describes as the diamond-patterned “mini trampolines” in the face of both drivers, which boost less-than-pure hits. “Lively feel off the face and feels light,” one tester said.
Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro
Our take: The engineering in the latest better-player offerings from Tour Edge was derived from insights from the 100-plus PGA Tour Champions pros who have played the company’s clubs in recent years. That feedback resulted in a compact, anti-left clubhead that delivers low spin and a piercing ball flight in a handsome package. The aesthetics of the carbon-fiber shell especially appealed to our testers. “Good looking club, with a nice feel to it,” one rater said.
Wilson Staff D9
Our take: For all its high-tech features, the D9 drew praise in GOLF’s ClubTest for its traditional look and feel. “Nice and soft off the face,” one tester remarked. Another noted the classic oomph at impact, which “sounded like what you want a driver to sound like.” The club’s performance proved satisfying, too, (“higher ball flight, without ballooning”), powered by a thin and lively face that’s built to maximize ball speed, even on off-center hits.
Wilson Staff Launch Pad
Our take: In GOLF’s testing, respondents focused less on sound and feel than they did on ball flight, which is fitting, since that is the Launch Pad’s main selling point. With a slightly offset hosel, a weighted heel and an upright lie angle, the club’s prime purpose is slice-prevention. Our testers found that it achieved exactly that.
Our take: The premium XXIO line is chock-full of some gorgeous luxury equipment, and the Eleven driver is, by all means, no exception. “It’s so easy to hit,” said one of our testers. “It’s very light and performed way better than I expected.” Being easy to hit is the modus operandi behind this club and XXIO delivers on that premise in a big way.
Our take: For golfers who have moderate to slow swings—a large percentage of the playing population—a lightweight driver is the perfect option for adding clubhead speed with minimal effort. The Prime is just that—a 250-gram driver that is both lightweight and strong to help golfers swing faster without really having to swing harder. It’s on sale too, making it perhaps one of the best bargains around, if you happen to want a premium, luxury product.
XXIO X Black
Our take: Designed for the player who wants some shotmaking versatility and who also needs some extra clubhead speed, the X provides more distance without sacrificing the playability better players crave. We happen to think this is a player type ripe for more innovation, and hopefully more products, as not all players who desire shotmaking versatility happen to have faster swing speeds. Good on XXIO for bringing more attention to this category.