As your golf handicap starts lowering in to the mid and low teens, the game starts getting pretty exciting. As a mid handicapper, you’ve probably got a good command of your swing, can strike the ball reasonably well and you every reason to upgrade your golf clubs to match your skill level. The driver is one of those clubs that is always exciting to upgrade, and mid handicappers have some pretty incredibly options that deliver some stunning performance while remaining forgiving. The best golf drivers for mid handicappers will allow you to maximize your game, and give you confidence that you’ll be in the fairway much more often.
Today we are going to look at some of the best driver options in 2021, talk you through what makes them ideal for mid handicappers and even give you some tips to help you choose your new club. Check out our complete review below!
Best Drivers for Mid Handicappers: Reviewed
TaylorMade SIM 2 Driver
The TaylorMade SIM 2 is the new and updated version of the amazingly popular TaylorMade SIM driver that came out for the 2020 season. TaylorMade has given the driver a facelift while keeping some of the features that made the original SIM driver successful. The result of these improvements has produced one of the best drivers in 2021.
‘SIM’ is an acronym for ‘shape in motion’, referring to the structure that powers the driver performance of the SIM and the SIM 2 drivers. The head is aerodynamically shaped to reduce drag and increase swing speed, which of course translates to the fastest possible ball speed and longer distance on your drives.
As for the construction of the club, TaylorMade has precision milled lightweight and high strength aluminum to create a forged ring surrounding the clubhead. This aluminum alloy construction makes the driver’s head is extremely rigid, producing explosive balls speeds off the face of the club.
The 2021 SIM 2 driver features an additional weight to the extreme rear of the driver, helping lower the center of gravity of the club even further than the 2020 SIM driver. The club also A 16g steel ‘inertia generator’ extends from the back of the clubhead, designed to increase the moment of inertia, squaring the clubface at impact giving straighter shots.
This inertia generator is paired with another weight closer to the clubface. This second weight lowers the club’s center of gravity further, helping produce optimum launch angles and reducing spin. That higher launch helps push out a longer carry distance, while the reduced spin helps the ball roll out for a longer total shot.
The best driver for mid handicappers will still need some built-in forgiveness. Fortunately TaylorMade has included their popular twist face technology in the SIM 2, designed to straighten off-center shots, making this club more forgiving. The final technical feature is the speed pocket, a regular feature on TaylorMade drivers, ensures that even low-struck shots will still have an acceptable launch speed.
If you want some of the latest and greatest from TaylorMade as a mid handicap golfer, the SIM 2 should be your go-to pick. The SIM 2 is highly forgiving thanks to a low CG, high MOI and the Twist Face technology. Combine that forgiveness with some incremental improvements on an already stellar club in the SIM, and this is one of the best drivers of the year.
- Latest and newest of TaylorMade’s drivers
- Fantastic Looks
- Great forgiveness and distance
- Excellent feel and sound
- For those looking to upgrade from the previous version of the SIM, you’ll only find an incremental improvement in performance.
Ping G425 MAX Driver
Our Top Pick: Best Value Driver for Mid Handicappers
As an intermediate golfer, you will still look for forgiveness. If you are already familiar with Ping, you’ll know that forgiveness is their main focus, and something they’ve excelled at for years.
The Ping G425 MAX is one of the best golf drivers for mid handicappers, hands down. Ping boasts that this is the most forgiving driver in golf, with the highest MOI they’ve ever produced. Boasting record levels of moment of inertia, the Ping G425 MAX features a moveable rear weight, which becomes extremely useful for a low or mid handicapper. The moveable weight allows golfers more customization, and the ability to counteract their mishits.
The clubhead features an internal ‘dragon fly’ structure. This serves to keep the head structure rigid while allowing Ping to reduce the overall weight. As a result, they have been able to start with a ‘blank canvas’ in where they position the center of gravity, allowing them to optimize CG and launch.
The driver features a forged face, giving rocket fast ball launches and a penetrating trajectory. This forged face combined with internal ribbing produces an amazing sound and feel.
In a similar style to the SIM2, Ping has given the driver a low profile and highly aerodynamic design. This maximizes clubhead speed allowing the intermediate golfer to squeeze every last yard out of their swing.
As an intermediate player, swing analysis becomes important to lower your scores. The Ping G425 MAX driver comes fitted with Arccos Caddie Smart Grips, allowing you to identify and hopefully fix any errors, making you play better. The technology in the Ping G425 MAX is unparalleled this year; if you’ve never used Arccos, you’ll be amazed at how accurate and useful it can be. Given the technology and performance packed into this club, we think this is the best value you can find as a mid handicapper in 2021.
- Phenomenal forgiveness
- Adjustable and customizable weight allowing for shot shaping
- Aerodynamic shape for faster swing speeds
- Arccos Caddie Smart Grip technology
- We don’t love the look of the vanes on the top of the clubhead. These can be distracting.
Titleist TSi2 Driver
Titleist is one of the longest running names in the game of golf, and they’re well known for producing more of a premium quality and performance golf club. Titleist is infamous for producing some exceptional drivers, and the TSi2 is definitely on our shortlist of best drivers for mid handicappers.
The Titleist TSi2 driver is Titleist’s latest entry into the world of intermediate drivers, and features a few improvements over the previous TS2 driver.
Titleist has tuned the aerodynamics of the TSi2 to allow this club to be as fast as possible. From an aesthetic standpoint, this is one of the best looking drivers they’ve ever made; it just looks badass in the golf bag.
Titleist has deepened and lowered the CG within the clubhead of the TSi2, allowing the club to have a naturally higher trajectory compared to the TS2 driver. When you combine the optimized CG with the ATI 425 Aerospace Titanium Face’s fast launch properties, the result is even more impressive distance than the last TS2. The ATI 425 Face is Titleist’s newest high strength face featuring a huge sweet spot, and technology allowing the face to produce the fastest possible ball speeds.
Titleist has also introduced multi-dimensional stability. While this may sound technical, what it means for you as a player is a smaller variation in spin rates, regardless of where the ball makes contact with the face. This stability helps the club be a bit more forgiving, which is critical for the mid handicap crowd.
Intermediate golfers have enough knowledge to correct flaws in their game. With the Titleist TSi2, this is made even easier. The hosel features a two-step sleeve, allowing you to change the lie angle for optimum trajectory and shot shape. If you want one of the more premium drivers on the market this year, this is an excellent pick.
- A real players clubs with a wide range of different lofts available
- Impressive performance
- Amazing and sleek looks
- Limited weight customization
- Not ultra forgiving
Callaway Big Bertha B21 Driver
The latest Callaway Big Bertha is designed to give golfers confidence as they play through their rounds. The 460cc size and shape will fill you with confidence standing over the golf ball, thanks to a huge clubhead that looks easy to hit.
Callaway has gone against the grain slightly in their CG placement, with a slightly more forward placement. This CG placement encourages super low spin rates, designed to reduce the severity of a slice or a hook while helping the ball run out once it lands.
This CG placement is aided by Callaway’s patented ‘jailbreak’ technology. Making the clubhead rigid with dual ‘jailbreak’ bars has allowed Callaway to move the clubhead’s weight. Aside from the CG, it also promotes much faster ball speeds letting you hit the ball further.
It’s important to point out that the Big Bertha has been precision engineered to be draw biased. This isn’t going to be perfect for everyone, but it does appeal to any golfer who tends to hit more of a fade or a slice. The draw bias will help straighten your shots and keep you in play more often. If you tend to hook the ball already, this isn’t right for you.
A big club head leads to a bigger face. Callaway has created an expansive stainless steel driver face that offers great forgiveness, even when the center is ‘missed’. This isn’t the first “Big Bertha” driver that Callaway has ever produced, but at this point it’s the most technologically advanced. If you want a draw biased club, this is a solid pick.
- Huge confidence-boosting clubhead
- Supremely easy to hit
- Draw bias leads to longer shots
- The teardrop-shaped head may be off-putting if you aren’t used to it.
Wilson Staff D9 Driver
Our Budget Pick: Cheapest Driver for Mid Handicappers
As an intermediate player, you may not be wanting to commit your entire budget to one club. You don’t have to spend close to $500 for the absolute best golf drivers. For mid handicappers, Wilson has produced a driver which is affordable and still gives great results.
Every inch of the face on the D9 has been fine-tuned and analyzed. Wilson has divided the face into zones, which have then been run through simulations to ensure the largest sweet spot. As a result, the face produces plenty of forgiveness on poor shots.
Wilson deploys a Peak Kinetik face in the D9 driver; this is made to be both explosive and responsive. The explosiveness from this face and huge sweet spot delivers a club with tons of forgiveness, without sacrificing distance.
The large 460cc head looks great behind the ball, inspiring confidence as you stand over your shot. The crown of the driver is finished with a three later composite. This comprises Kevlar and carbon fiber. Aside from being phenomenal in the looks department, you’ll get an increased feel and reduced vibration from these materials.
The Wilson D9 is often a sleeper for most players. If you want a more affordable driver from a highly reputable golf club brand, this is definitely a good pick.
- Great value in the relatively low price
- Fantastic looks with a carbon finished crown
- Quite forgiving
- Not customizable. What you see is what you get.
Callaway Mavrik MAX Sub Zero Driver
Our Pick: Best Overall Driver for Mid Handicappers
The last thing you want to do when you upgrade your drive is to make life harder for yourself. You are looking for a club that unleashes distance while still affording you the odd ‘bad day’. The Callaway Mavrik Max Sub Zero could be everything that you need and is our favorite club for the mid handicap crowd.
We’ve opted for the Sub Zero as it is purposely designed for golfers with faster swing speeds and a better player profile; many mid handicappers fall into this category. If you have a fast swing this is likely your best bet.
The Mavrik Max Sub Zero combines ultra-low spin benefits with a high moment of inertia to encourage a lower ball flight. As an intermediate player, you will be turning your back on ‘just getting the ball up in the air’ type clubs and will be looking for piercing, long rolling trajectories. If so, this will work well for you.
There is still some forgiveness in the Sub Zero. While it has a slightly shallower head, you’ll still benefit from all the great tech ‘under the hood’. The club’s face has been designed entirely by AI, after analyzing thousands upon thousands of shots. You’ll find a larger playable area on the clubface as a result.
The driver contains Callaway’s signature jailbreak bars. Allowing a light club head with precision placed CG. The stiffened club head also accelerates the ball to impressive speeds.
The Callaway Mavrik Max Sub Zero features two removable and interchangeable weights that allow you to refine the ball flight, allowing for some significant customization in this driver. The spin rate can also be dialed up or down depending on your individual preference, which is pretty unique.
The Mavrik lineup made waves when it initially came out in 2020, and the 2021 Sub Zero still reigns as one of the best clubs out there. Thanks to it being slightly out of date the club is a better value pick, while it has tons of tech to help you hit the ball as far as possible. This is a great pick for the better player.
- Very easy to hit, one of the best on our list
- Customizable weight and lie angle options
- Super fast face
- Not made for players with slower swing speeds
Mizuno ST-X Driver
As an intermediate golfer, Are you starting to consider drawing the ball? A driver that makes this easier to do can only be a good thing, right?
The Mizuno ST-X Driver is another pick that offers exceptional draw bias, so if you are looking to start adding shape to your shots, it is one of the best drivers for a mid handicapper.
The Mizuno ST-X is designed with a multi-thickness face. This way, it has been made to allow fast speeds for hits that take place anywhere on the clubface. This sort of technology is displayed in various ways across a few clubs on this list, and the results have all been impressive.
The feel and sound on the ST-X aren’t what I’m used to. After consulting the tour players, Mizuno researched and refined the feel to give something much more solid and powerful. This wouldn’t be suited to those just getting started, but it may provide a welcome change for mid handicappers.
The driver’s weighting is slightly different from the ‘norm’ and gives it the signature draw bias. Mizuno has moved the CG closer to the heel by adding a carbon composite toe section. With the weight distributed around the heel, this makes it much easier to hit a draw. If you are a mid handicapper looking to reduce fade to find the fairway more reliably, this could be really beneficial.
- Variable thickness face gives good distance even with mis-hits
- Light clubhead encourages super fast swing speeds
- The draw bias won’t be suited to every golfer. As it is internal, it cannot be changed
- The solid feel won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Driver
Cleveland has got it exactly right when they say, “to go long off the tee, you have to go faster”. It’s simple physics. A faster club means more energy transferred from club to ball, which equals a longer drive. With this in mind, they have created a driver designed to promote the maximum clubhead speed.
Here’s what they’ve done.
The face of the Cleveland launcher is turbocharged. The variable thickness face is thinner towards the center. This allows for a more efficient energy transfer between club and ball. If you’ve got a good swing speed, then it’s going to go further, period.
Cleveland has also focused on the hosel of this driver. By making the hosel as light as possible, it avoids the CG being raised up through the clubhead. In fact, the result is that the CG is lowered by 2.2mm. While that doesn’t sound like much, this means the club launches the ball on a higher trajectory that much more easily.
One of the most interesting things about the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo is the shaft design. It is counter balanced’ meaning that the weight is more focused towards the grip. This allows Cleveland to make the clubhead slightly heavier, giving a higher moment of inertia, making each shot straighter.
The Cleveland Launcher has been on the market for a few years now, and it’s been widely recognized as one of the more forgiving and easier drivers to hit. If you’re a mid handicapper who struggles with driver, this could be your answer.
- Extremely hot face giving lightning fast launch speeds
- Large sweet spot for increased confidence
- Low CG for high launches
- The crown design can make alignment a little difficult. It’s offset and made me feel like the face was open.
Buyers Guide: What to Look For in a Driver
Choosing the best driver for a mid handicapper should be relatively easy. If you have got to the stage where you are playing pretty regularly, you’ll know what works for you and what you are trying to achieve.
We’re going to take a look at some of the things that might influence your decision and are worth thinking about, whether you are experienced or not.
The great thing about golf is that you never stop learning. And by learning, we mean ‘hitting bad shots’. Even the pros do it from time to time, so don’t get down when you hit the occasional slice.
As a result, you will want to look for a driver that still offers a degree of forgiveness. After all, if you are ruthlessly punished for every off-center hit, you’ll soon find that you’ll turn from a mid handicapper straight back into a high handicapper! Here are the things I look for that can help forgiveness:
- A larger clubhead. A bigger clubhead equals a bigger sweet spot, not to mention a smaller ‘missable’ area on the clubface. Large clubheads are also great for keeping your confidence at a peak level.
- Clubface technology. You’ll see from our list above that most, if not all, of the drivers have integrated face technology to get the most out of each shot. Some have slightly twisted faces designed to straighten shots. Others vary their thickness to give a decent launch even with poor contact. Make sure you choose a driver that still makes the ball easy to hit.
- Moment of inertia. MOI is key to giving straighter shots. By being able to keep the face square, even if the ball is not struck in the center, you’ll be able to minimize all but the most severe of mis-hits.
- Center of gravity. As I’m sure you noticed, we mentioned CG quite a few times in our reviews of each club. Where the CG is placed in the clubhead has a big impact on the forgiveness of the club. In general, a low and deep CG makes it that much easier to launch, while different placements produce different trajectories and spin rates. Keep this in mind as you pick your next driver.
Performance and Distance
If you are a mid handicapper, there is a fair chance that you are well on your way to making the ball reasonably straight and reasonably far. You will want a driver that increases the potential to do this easily.
Two key areas go a long way (pun intended) to making this a reality:
- Faster Swing Speed. As we said above, it is simple physics when it comes to swing speed. A faster swing has more kinetic energy, which is then transmitted to the ball on contact.
Look for features that will give your swing the highest possible chance of achieving its maximum. Aerodynamic clubheads generally allow the golf club to be swung faster, while club weight reduction makes it that much easier to increase your speed. Twinned with this look for weight distribution on the lowest point on the club. This will lead to more inertia being generated, allowing you to hit the ball faster and further
- A Fast Face
A fast swing speed is great and will hit the ball further, provided the face transfers the energy efficiently. Imagine hitting a golf ball really fast with something soft. Do you think that would work when it comes to distance?
Modern drivers are designed to get the ball on and off the face as quickly as possible. Face speed is basically a sign of ultra-efficient energy transfer—the faster the face, the quicker the ball. A faster launch means an addition to the maximum distance you can achieve.
Look for inherent technology that encourages faster ball launch speeds, and you will see an immediate increase in your distance. Things such as variable thickness faces and smart use of different alloys are worth considering.
While a high handicapper will give anything to ‘just hit it straight’, mid handicappers will be of a level where they can consider adding and removing shape to their shots to play a hole more efficiently.
Ok, so you could use your swing path to achieve this with any club. But it is far easier to blend out undesirable trajectories with a quick turn of a key or wrench than it is to spend weeks retraining your swing.
The best golf drivers for mid handicappers nearly all have a common feature—the ability to ‘tune’ and customize the club to suit each individual player.
By customizing your driver, you can make sure that you are getting the best of its performance. Look for things such as moveable and adaptable weighting options to promote bias in the club.
Alternatively, many clubs feature a hosel-mounted sleeve that will allow you to ‘configure’ the driver’s lie angle to produce certain shot shapes and characteristics.
Reduction of Offset and Loft
For beginners and high handicappers, a little loft is a good thing. By adding loft, you increase backspin, which works against the tendency to hook or a slice. But it might cost them.
In the distance. Backspin isn’t a good thing if you are trying to hit a ball a long way. For mid handicappers, look to ‘throttle down’ and go a little stronger on the loft. Lower lofts lead to less spin. This increases the roll on a well-struck drive, giving you an increase in distance.
We’ve saved this ‘til last, but appreciate that for many golfers, it will be the overriding factor when it comes to choosing the best golf drivers for mid handicappers.
The old adage ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is worth consideration.
Sure, a driver might end up being the most expensive club in your bag. Still, all that said, what is the benefit of having a great set of irons if you only ever get to hit them from the rough?
The driver is your baseline, it sets you up for the rest of the hole, so it makes sense to spend a little more and making sure that you get the best you can afford. If you’re struggling with the price of your driver, maybe look at last years model. Instead of the SIM2, go for the SIM. You get the idea.
Still got questions? Here are some of the things most commonly asked when mid handicappers buy a new driver…
What Is Considered a Mid Handicap Golfer?
If you’ve seen our article on handicaps, you’ll already know that the USA average handicap index is around 14 [needs link]. In conjunction with this, it is fair to assume that a mid handicapper, on average, is at least a ‘bogey player’. That means they take around 18 shots more than the course par. As a conservative estimate, you can be considered a mid handicap player if your handicap lies somewhere between 11 and 20.
Putting handicap aside. A mid-handicap player will have ‘the tools’ in their bag to address elements of their game. That is, they can identify errors and have a good idea of how to correct them
Should I Use A 10.5 Or 9.5 Driver?
This all depends on your skill and how you hit the ball. If you have a naturally low trajectory with a driver, you could consider using a 10.5 degree driver. This would also be the best driver for a mid handicapper who struggles to keep the ball straight off the tee.
Conversely, you may be a player who hits the ball high anyway. This is undoubtedly robbing you of distance. Consider going down a degree or two to get the most out of your new driver. There may be a short period of adjustment, but your game will benefit greatly in the long run.
Is a 9 Degree Driver Harder to Hit?
Let’s be honest, less loft does make things harder to hit (who prefers a 3-iron over a 7-iron?). By choosing a less lofty club, you reduce the amount of backspin imparted on the ball. Backspin keeps the ball stable in flight and does lead to straighter shots (that’s the reason you never hit a hook with a wedge).
By reducing the loft, you might remove an element of straightness. However, you stand to gain in distance and trajectory by choosing a driver with a stronger loft.
9 Degree drivers aren’t to be feared like they were in the past. Provided you follow our guide above, you’ll find them packed with technology that should still keep the ball going pretty straight, even with off-center hits.
How Do I Increase My Swing Speed?
There are a few ways to increase swing speed. For a mid handicapper, you’ll hopefully be approaching the cusp of a fast swing speed anyway. It has a lot to do with technique and how you generate clubhead speed using your body. There are a few exercises you can do to make your swing faster. Check this video for an example.
Your other option is to invest in a driver that promotes faster swing speeds. You’ll see from our above list that a great many have features designed to release your swing’s full potential. Check your swing speed with your old driver on a launch monitor, then give a few of our suggestions a try. You’ll no doubt find that you are swinging faster with a newer model.
What Is the Easiest Golf Driver to Hit?
That’s a tough one. The Callaway Mavrik Max is really high on the list for the easiest driver to hit from our list above. It is actually a battle between that and the Ping G425.
The Ping is really, really forgiving and on a launch monitor generates amazing swing speed and ball launches. We really like the confidence that the Callaway Mavrik gives us when we are stood over the ball.
All that said, we realize that intermediate mid-handicap players are not ‘pros’… So you’ll find bags of forgiveness in all of our above suggestions.
Choosing the best golf drivers for mid handicap players is worth taking a little time over. After all, it is a big investment and will profoundly affect your game (if we’ve done our job right, hopefully in a good way). A great starting point is looking at what you want to improve about your long game, then choose a driver that either compliments that aim or blends out the barriers preventing you from achieving it. Whatever you choose, enjoy using it and keep improving.
We look forward to seeing you down on the course sometime soon!