A golf driver is the second-most used club in most golfer’s bag. Only the putter and possibly a favorite iron gets more use over 18 holes than the driver. Given the fast swings and long hitting that golfers do with drivers, a perfectly reasonable question arises: How long do golf drivers last? The question of how long do golf drivers last does not have a simple and easy answer.
The short answer is about five years for most golfers, but even that can vary greatly. Factors like how often you play and use your driver, plus its design, materials and build quality all greatly impact how long a driver lasts before you should replace it. Here is a closer look at how long golfers realistically should expect their drivers to last and how to get the maximum life out of them.
Do Golf Drivers Wear Out?
Like anything built by man, the natural effects of entropy always tear it apart over time. Entropy refers to things naturally going from an ordered to a disordered state. If you build a house and do not maintain it, erosion will claim it and return it to a disordered state. That same thing happens to golf drivers over time.
That is especially true when you consider the relatively violent action the golf driver endures every time you swing it. The shaft flexes a bit, the grips get worn ever so slightly, and the head makes a violent impact on a fairly solid ball. If you think the driver smacking a golf ball does not involve a great deal of energy and violence, have a friend whack your shin with a normal driver swing and see how much it hurts.
Granted, your shin is not made of titanium, carbon fiber or any other modern materials, but you still get a good idea of the physics behind the action that sends the ball on its flight path. Golf club designers call that the moment of inertia (MOI), and how your driver reacts to it makes a big difference on how much life you reasonably could expect to get from it.
What is the MOI Factor?
Inertia is a physics term that generally refers to how much energy it takes to get a motionless object, like a golf ball on a tee, to get moving. An object that is stationary takes more energy far more energy to get moving than an object that already is in motion due to inertia. That is why your car gets far better gas mileage while traveling at a greater average rate of speed on a freeway than when driving in town and enduring a lot of stopping and starting.
Inertia is what really maximizes the violence and resulting damage that occurs at the MOI when the driver’s clubface impacts the ball. In pure golfing terms, it tells you how much the driver’s head – or any golf club’s head, resists twisting when striking the ball. The higher the MOI, the more forgiving the driver is on bad hits and the better the drives are for most golfers.
A driver or other golf club with a relatively low MOI rating will twist and flex more upon striking the ball. That can cause the clubface to open or close slightly when you get too much toe or heel on the ball. Too much toe will cause the clubface to open slightly, while too much heel causes it to close. The effect is a ball that flies offline, wastes energy on horizontal movement and leaves you with a much more difficult approach shot to the green.
The greater the MOI rating, the less the driver will twist, which helps to straighten out bad hits and improve your driving distances and golf scores. If you are using a driver with a relatively low MOI factor, that driver does not hold up as well as one with a higher MOI factor. The driver with the lower MOI factor also will not last as long due to the repeated twisting and other effects from every drive that you make.
How Long Do Golf Drivers Last: Materials Make a Big Difference
Modern golfing clubs and drivers benefit greatly from technological advancements and improved materials. Carbon fiber and titanium in particular are making high-end drivers more durable, more effective and longer-lasting. The graphite and other materials used to make modern shafts help to improve the MOI factor while reducing the damaging effects of long drives on the driver and other golf clubs.
The types of materials used, the design of the driver’s head and how often you go golfing all make a big difference in how long a new driver could last. So does your ability to play the game properly. Unless you are a scratch golfer or a touring professional, odds are you game will improve if you make the effort to become better and more skilled.
Golfers who are more skilled and generally address, swing and hit the ball properly with modern drivers will put less wear and tear on those drivers. Instead if topping the ball, digging up divots or getting too much heel or toe on the ball and twisting the clubface more, they enable the drivers to work as designed and put much less wear and tear on them. A truly skilled golfer always will get more rounds of golf out of a driver than an amateur or beginning golfer who has much to correct.
Premium Drivers Usually Last Longer
Premium golf drivers made by companies like Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade and many other great manufacturers generally last longer than more affordable counterparts. That is because of the highly advanced designs, cutting-edge materials and exceptional build quality that goes into every premium driver built.
Premium drivers also tend to get used by golfers who have worked on their games and have low handicaps or might even be scratch or touring pros. Premium drivers also tend to get purchased by golfers who have a lot of money to spend on the best gear but really do not play enough to justify the purchase – aside from the fact that they can afford the fancy clubs that impress their friends and playing partners.
Some smart selection of new drivers or savvy hunting of used gear can help you to find a great driver that should give you at least five years of good service and likely more. When your average distances drop off, but your swings are the same on each drive, then you need to buy a new driver.