It seems like golf club manufacturers release a new driver every year. In fact, most of them do release a new driver every year. For example, just look at TaylorMade in the last two decades.
First it was the R-series (R-7, R-9, R-11, etc.). Then it was the M-series. Now it’s the SIM. If they keep pumping out new drivers at this pace, pretty soon they’re going to run out of letters to name them after!
And that’s just one manufacturer. Callaway, Titleist, Cobra, and many other top brands also put out a new driver every 1-2 years. That leads many golfers to ask the question: do drivers really improve from one year to the next? And how do you know if it’s actually time to replace your driver?
In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 signs that it’s time for you to replace your driver.
To get started, let’s consider how long most drivers last.
How Long Do Drivers Last?
According to Golf Channel, drivers should last approximately 5 years assuming reasonable use (30-40 rounds per year). This means players who play less than 30-40 rounds per year should consider replacing their driver every 5-7 years, while players who play more than this should replace their driver every 3-5 years.
Of course, if there’s a major breakthrough in club-making technology during this time, you might want to consider replacing your driver sooner. However, it’s not necessary (or economical) to buy a new driver every single year as some manufacturers will lead you to believe it is.
But hey, if you can afford it and you enjoy playing the latest clubs, be my guest – I envy you!
If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not it’s time to replace your driver, here are 5 warning signs that will help you make a decision.
5 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Golf Driver
1. You Notice a Sudden Decrease in Distance
If you notice a significant drop off in your distance off the tee for no apparent reason, it might be time to consider replacing your driver. Often, this is a result of a small crack in the clubface that is barely visible to the naked eye.
Those with fast swing speeds are more likely to crack the face, however, this can happen to anyone, especially if they regularly play golf in the colder months of the year.
That said, it’s important not to jump to the conclusion that your driver is to blame for this sudden drop-off in distance.
Below are some other common causes of reduced distance off the tee. If you can rule them out, then it’s safe to assume that your driver is causing the problem.
- Changes in temperature – cold weather can significantly reduce your distance off the tee. At 40 degrees, you can expect to hit the ball up to 10 yards shorter than you would at 70-90 degrees.
- Injuries – many common golf injuries (back, knees, golfer’s elbow) can significantly reduce clubhead speed and decrease distance off the tee.
- Improper swing path – swinging on an over-the-top plane is one of the biggest distance-killers out there.
- Changes in elevation – at higher altitudes, the golf ball will travel further. If you have recently moved to a new city or gone on a golf vacation, consider how altitude is affecting your distance.
If you’ve noticed a drop in distance and it’s not caused by any of these things, it’s time to replace your driver.
2. There’s Visible Damage on the Shaft or Clubhead
Next, it’s important to take a look at your club head and shaft to make sure there are no visible damages. For example, sometimes shafts will wear out due to constant friction resulting from being taken in and out of your golf bag.
Also, if you have a tendency to hit the ground with your driver (out of anger or otherwise) this can cause the glue that connects the clubhead and the shaft to come loose. You can usually tell this has happened because you’ll be able to hear the glue rattling around in the club.
3. Your Driver is More Than 3-5 Years Old
If your driver is more than 3-5 years old, it’s never a bad idea to consider a replacement. Although you might hit it fine, after this length of time clubmaking technology has likely made significant leaps. This means you might be leaving distance out on the course.
However, don’t fall for the clever marketing tactics used by club manufacturing companies that try and convince you that you need to replace your driver every single year. This is simply not true. In most cases, from one year to the next, the only thing that changes is the design of the driver.
It usually takes at least a couple of years to see significant improvements in the actual performance of the club. Or at least, enough of an improvement to warrant spending five or six hundred dollars on a new model.
4. Your Swing Has Changed
Another time you might want to consider replacing your driver is when your swing has undergone significant changes.
This can be the result of a number of circumstances. For example, maybe an injury has limited the amount of clubhead speed you can generate. Or, perhaps you’ve spent long hours on the range working on technical changes.
Regardless of the reasons for your changing swing, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the driver that best matches your abilities.
For example, if you’re using a driver with the wrong loft, you might have difficulty controlling the flight of your golf ball. Similarly, playing a driver with the wrong shaft flex can also cause issues.
If you’ve made changes to your swing and you’re looking to replace your driver, I’d recommend getting a custom fitting. This will make sure your new driver is perfectly set up for how you swing the club. For more information on custom club fitting, check out this article.
5. You Need a New Visual
Sometimes you just get tired of looking down at the same club head on every tee box. Also, designs that were once in style have now become outdated and obsolete.
You might not think that the look of the club makes a significant difference in performance. However, I often find that if I’m comfortable with how each club looks when I set up to the ball, I’m more likely to put a confident swing on it.
Also, scratches and imperfections on the top of the clubhead can draw your eyes away from the ball resulting in a less consistent strike.
What’s cool about this site is that they’ll actually send you clubs to try out on your home course before buying them.
You’ll have to pay a small trial fee ($25 for a driver, $50 for an iron set) but this definitely beats paying full price for a club and realizing you don’t like it after a week!
Golf Driver FAQ
Are new drivers really better?
This depends on the driver you currently use. For example, if your driver is more than 5 years old, then yes, a new driver is better and will likely help you get more distance and accuracy off the tee. If you’re using a driver from last year, then a new driver probably won’t make a significant difference in your game.
Do golf drivers wear out?
Yes, after a certain amount of time (or use) your driver will wear out. So if you’re a range rat who hits a bucket of balls before and after every round, your driver won’t last as long.
Keep in mind, if you have a fast swing speed, your driver will wear out much quicker compared to someone with a slow swing speed.
However, the average golfer is much more likely to replace their driver before it wears out.
Will a new driver improve distance?
Once again, this depends on how old your current driver is. If you’re using an outdated model then a new driver will provide more distance. If your driver is only one or two years old, a new driver probably won’t provide a significant boost in distance.
What driver do I recommend?
I generally don’t like providing one recommendation that applies to everyone when it comes to golf clubs. Every player is different and each swing is unique.
In order to make sure you choose the right driver for your game, you need to test it out.
As mentioned earlier, that’s why I like getting clubs from Global Golf (they’re an online golf retailer).
What’s unique about them is they will actually ship clubs to you to test at your home course.
They charge $25 for each club you want to test out, however, that’s a small price to pay compared to being stuck with a $500 driver you don’t like.
The Takeaway – How Often Should You Replace Your Driver in Golf?
Assuming you’re like the average golfer who plays 30-40 rounds per year, you can expect your driver to last for about 5 years without any issues with performance. However, if you play more than this, you might want to consider replacing your driver sooner.
These are 5 common warning signs that it’s time for you to replace your driver:
- You notice a sudden decrease in distance
- There’s visible damage to your clubhead or club shaft
- Your driver is more than 3-5 years old
- You’ve changed your swing
- You need a new visual
Hopefully, the points mentioned in this article will help you decide if it’s time for you to replace your driver!
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