The most consistent drivers of 2024, according to robot testing

taylormade qi10 max driver

TaylorMade's Qi10 driver lineup earned high marks for consistent launch, spin and carry numbers across the entire face.

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

Beginning this year, GOLF’s ClubTest upped the ante and started testing all lofts across every model that underwent robotic testing with Golf Laboratories swing robot. The last two iterations of ClubTest saw us test just 10.5-degree heads at 95 mph, but as we found out with the latest batch of insights, going up in loft can produce even better results in some cases.

For this particular test, we employed a 9-point face mapping that allows the robot to capture data on 90 percent of the face using Foresight’s GCQuad launch monitor. The goal is to provide a more fulsome picture of where each driver excels, particularly on mishits.

Once the data has been captured, we take the carry distance on a geometric center hit and compare it to the other 8 mishit locations to obtain a carry distance delta. The smaller the delta, the better the driver performs for golfers with inconsistent contact across the entire face.

We’ll highlight drivers that performed well on toe and heel misses in future reports but for the moment, we’re focusing on all-around forgiveness and consistency (launch, spin and carry). As Golf Laboratories founder Gene Parente always says, let’s go to the numbers.

(How we calculate: Each driver is tested using a 9-point face mapping. We hit 6 balls from each location on the face — high, low and middle quadrants — and then compare the data to the geometric center.)

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TaylorMade Qi10 Max (12 degrees) | 3.5 yards of distance dropoff between the geometric center and other 8 strike locations

TaylorMade Qi10 Max Custom Driver

$599.99
The higher the inertia the more forgiving the driver. Introducing the Qi10 Max driver, experience TaylorMade speed with the forgiveness of 10K inertia. BUILT FOR FORGIVENESS & STABILITY The Qi10 Max features a shallower head shape that extends from front-to-back and significantly increases inertia by allowing mass to be placed further away from the center of the clubhead. NEW INFINITY CARBON CROWN An Infinity Carbon Crown covers 97% of the total crown area, creating a strategic advantage for mass redistribution and enhanced forgiveness. At address, it delivers a sleek and clean view that pairs with subtle alignment cues, setting the stage for confidence and success.
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Insights: Back in 2022, Cobra’s LTDx Max driver (10.5 degrees) produced an average distance loss number that almost seemed too good to be true. Comparing a geometric center strike to the other eight mishit locations the swing robot tested on the face, LTDx Max lost only 3.4 yards. It remains the best performance we’ve seen in terms of off-center performance since GOLF started conducting robotic testing.

TaylorMade’s 12-degree Qi10 Max came oh-so-close to taking the crown with a 3.5-yard distance loss number that was nearly 2 yards better than the runner-up 12-degree Qi10 (5.2 yards). For golfers who swing around 95 mph with a neutral attack angle, the 12-degree Qi10 Max is most certainly a driver that needs to be in the testing discussion, regardless of impact location.

Even low toe and heel misses — two locations that produced distance losses ranging from 20-40 yards with other models — saw distance decrease by only 11.5 yards.

TaylorMade Qi10 (12 degrees, 10.5 degrees) | 5.2 yards and 6.1 yards

TaylorMade Qi10 Custom Driver

$599.99
Wrapped in a clean and confident package, the Qi10 driver has been strategically engineered to help players optimize distance and enhance forgiveness.  THE QUEST FOR INERTIA TaylorMade’s goal with the Qi10 family is to make each driver as forgiving as possible, using advanced multi-material constructions to increase inertia. Qi10 is engineered for a balanced blend of distance and forgiveness. COMPLETE PERFORMANCE The Qi10 Driver features a lower CG projection and higher MOI than its predecessor, delivering balanced performance without any tradeoffs. NEW INFINITY CARBON CROWN An Infinity Carbon Crown covers 97% of the total crown area, creating a strategic advantage for mass redistribution and enhanced forgiveness.
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Insights: Along with providing superior ball speed protection on high-toe misses, the 10.5- and 12-degree Qi10 drivers saw distance decrease by 6 yards or less across all 9 points on the face at 95 mph.

Looking strictly at the 10.5-degree Qi10, high-toe misses gained distance, to the tune of 2.2 yards. It’s a staggering number that highlights the significant improvements made to the carbon twist face construction.

Cobra Darkspeed Max (12 degrees) | 6.4 yards

Cobra DarkSpeed Max Custom Driver

$549.99
The Cobra Darkspeed MAX model delivers draw-bias and unrivaled stability in a low-mid spin design for ultimate distance and accuracy. REFINED AERODYNAMIC DESIGN An improved aero shape features a streamlined face to topline radius, a highercrown peak, raised skirt and reduced clubface surface area to maximize speed. SHAPED FOR SPEED AND FORGIVENESS A refined clubhead shape blends speed with forgiveness for an elevated lookat address that inspires maximum confidence on the tee.
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Insights: If you miss out on the heel or high on the face, the 12-degree Max head is worthy of further testing. The distance delta was almost zero in both locations — and that’s not a typo. While the high-toe miss delta was surprisingly high at 10.2 yards, tight numbers across the other 7 mishit locations on the face allowed the Max head to produce an impressive delta of just 6.4 yards overall.

Darkspeed produced very similar numbers to the much-ballyhooed LTDx across all three models (Max, X and LS) with a carry distance delta of just 6.5 yards on mishits, making them great options to test for golfers with inconsistent contact. But if you’re looking for one that tops the consistency list, it’s the Max in this case.

Ping G430 Max 10K (12 degrees) | 6.6 yards

PING G430 Max 10K Custom Driver

$599.99
The G430 MAX 10K is PING’s straightest and highest MOI driver to date, eclipsing the 10,000 g-cm2 combined moment of inertia threshold first surpassed by the G400 MAX five years earlier. FIXED BACK WEIGHT The fixed back weight allows for the record-setting MOI as it drives mass down and back to increase forgiveness and optimize the center of gravity position. LARGER HEAD PROFILE PING’s biggest head profile to date maximizes the USGA-allowable heel-toe and front-back dimensions while staying within the 460cc volume limit. This eye-pleasing shape helps square the golfer to the target and inspires the confidence to hit longer, straighter tee shots.
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Insights: At 95 mph, more loft can be beneficial in the search for optimal launch and spin characteristics. So it should come as no surprise that the 12-degree Max 10K head produced some of the best numbers we saw from drivers at the same loft.

Distance decreased by a mere 6.6 yards (across the 8 mishit locations), with only the low toe and heel seeing a carry distance delta beyond 5 yards. (Low heel strikes only saw a distance drop-off of 7 yards, for what it’s worth.)

What this means for someone with inconsistent contact is you can essentially hit it almost anywhere on the face and not see a significant dip in performance. There’s a reason why we compared Max 10K to a “tank” during our robotic insight videos. It can withstand anything you throw at it.

Mizuno ST Max (12 degrees) | 6.9 yards

Mizuno ST-Max 230 Driver

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Insights: Lives up to the Max name with single-digit carry distance losses on every mishit location, except low heel and toe. Even the most penalizing mishits locations (low heel and toe) saw distance dip an average of just 12.7 yards. Mizuno may be known for its irons, but it’s time the woods started getting some consideration from golfers as well.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.

JWall

Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.