Most of the leading manufacturers operate on a 12-month cycle, which means even if you buy a driver as soon as it’s released, it will be replaced by a newer model within a year. So, if you pick up one of the best golf drivers 2023, will you need to replace it next year? Thankfully, given the fact that many of the best drivers retail for well over £500, the answer is a resounding “no”.
There was a time when every new driver launch seemed to come with outlandish claims of being 30 yards longer than its predecessor, but thankfully that is no longer the case. It is widely accepted that all the best drivers are so well designed that they are pretty close to the limit of what can be achieved in terms of distance. This year’s latest driver might get you a yard or two more distance than the previous model, but you’ll do well to even notice that out on the golf course.
Feel free to buy a new driver every year if you insist on having the latest model, but don’t for a second think you need to do that or that you’ll be giving up much in terms of performance by keeping your current driver in the bag for a while longer.
That said, there are two scenarios where a new driver probably does make sense…
If your driver is really old
Those marginal gains we mentioned might not mean much from one year to the next, but add them up over the course of several years and they start to become a lot more noticeable. If your driver is more than five years old, a new model will almost certainly offer you more distance and forgiveness, thanks to improvements in design as manufacturers constantly seek to improve on every element.
If your driver no longer suits you
If you’re buying a new driver and investing a lot of money in it, it’s a good idea to get custom fitted so you can get the precise setup that works best for you and your swing.
If it’s been a while since you were fitted for your current driver – or if you weren’t custom fitted for it in the first place – there’s a good chance that a new one, built exactly to your specification, will deliver better results.
The way you swing the club can change over time. This might be the result of having had golf lessons, changes in your body, improved technique by playing more, age, mobility – all of which can mean the driver that suited you a few years ago is no longer quite such a good fit.
A good custom fitting will measure how your current driver is performing and compare that to alternative models, so you’ll be able to see what you would gain by putting a new driver in the bag.
But… you never need one
As we’ve established, there are scenarios where a new driver could offer you significant performance benefits, but you should never feel like you have to upgrade to the latest models.
Plenty of golfers – even some tour pros – choose to stick with an old faithful club that they know and love, opting for the familiarity and confidence it gives them over benefiting from the latest advancements in technology. You can still play great golf and enjoy the game with older clubs, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be in line for a significant boost in distance and forgiveness when you do finally decide it’s time to upgrade.