Old Driver vs New Driver Golf: Should You Buy A New Driver?

The driver is one club that many golfers love to buy brand new.

The hope of launching your driver high and far is enough to make the golfer invest the money with the dream of playing better golf.

We all know that the extra 10-20 yards the new driver might provide is worth the money.

The shorter our approach shots, the better our proximity to the pin, the more putts we can make.  The logic is simple and clean.

But!  Is the new driver really worth it?

Well, I decided to test it out! 

Goal: Determine if a new driver is worth it.  Does a new driver really make a difference?

Process: I hit 5 shots on my launch monitors with 4 different drivers. Old vs New Drivers!

Drivers Hit: Callaway Mavrik (2020 Model), TaylorMade R11s (2012), TaylorMade SuperQuad R7 (2007), Ping TiSI (1998)

Golf Ball: Titleist Prov1x

Golf Course: Pebble Beach 18th Hole

Background: Here at golfjourney365, I enjoy testing out different comparisons in my golf simulator setup using my Skytrak Launch monitor. 

Related Posts (Includes testing data)

Old Drivers vs New Drivers: Tested and Results

Callaway Mavrik (2020) Results

Shot NumberCarry DistanceTotal DistanceBall SpeedSpin Rate Launch AngleShot Shape

TaylorMade R11s (2012) Results

Shot NumberCarry DistanceTotal DistanceBall SpeedSpin Rate Launch AngleShot Shape

TaylorMade SuperQuad R7 (2007) Results

Shot NumberCarry DistanceTotal DistanceBall SpeedSpin Rate Launch AngleShot Shape

Ping TiSI (1998) Results

Shot NumberCarry DistanceTotal DistanceBall SpeedSpin Rate Launch AngleShot Shape

Summary: All Four Drivers Tested

Driver ModelCarry DistanceTotal DistanceBall SpeedSpin Rate Launch AngleShot Shape
Callaway Mavrik (2020)255.2273.6156.62613.610NA
TaylorMade R11s (2012)255.6273.4153.6260712.2NA
TaylorMade SuperQuad R7 (2007)243.2261.6152277710.6NA
Ping TiSI (1998)247.2258.4150.62877.612.2NA
We used the 18th hole at Pebbly Beach

Is a New Driver Worth It?

Yes, with each new model the engineers at the club companies produce a better driver.  While you might not see a significant increase in ball speed, your off center hits and other variables such as spin rate and overall forgiveness will be better.

Old Driver vs New Driver: Data Review from Test

  • Ball Speed: While I did not experience a major distance improvement from the 2012 model to the 2020 model there was an increase in ball speed.  I do feel most confident with this driver in hand, especially on off center hits.  The ball rarely balloons and the ball flight is penetrating.
  • Accuracy: The older the driver, the less fairways I hit.  The slight off center shot on the clubface has more major repercussions compared to the newer driver.  I hit only 1 of 5 fairways with the 1998 driver.
  • Variables: If I was playing in difficult conditions such as wind, I would prefer the 2012 model due to the versatility to hit the ball high or low and the penetrating ball flight that it produces.  With the 1998 driver, I would be nervous about ballooning a shot into the wind and losing significant distance.

Old Drivers vs New Drivers: Are the new drivers better?

Go with the new driver! Based on the test we conducted, you will experience a slight increase in ball speed, but the real benefits come in the other variables such as spin rate, adjustability, quality of off centered hits and overall forgiveness.  

There was a period of time in the golf world that a new driver meant an easy 10-15 extra yards from the increase in the technology and the new materials along with the improvement of graphite shafts.  The late 1990s into the early 2000s was an exciting time as titanium drivers hit the market and gave golfers some amazing new distance.

Hitting a titanium driver compared to the steelhead drivers was night and day.  The ability to launch the drivers high and far was simply impressive and worth the money.

When making a decision of whether to buy a new driver, the golfer should consider the following categories:

  1. Distance
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Adjustability
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Ping Driver could be found on every professional tour. It was ahead of its time.

Old Driver vs New Driver: Distance

The new driver is going to fly further as a result of increased ball speed, improved spin rate and the larger sweet spot.

There are many factors that influence the overall distance of a driver shot. These include:

  • Clubhead speed
  • Ball speed
  • Spin rate
  • Launch angle
  • Center of hit

With the new drivers, it is unlikely your clubhead speed is going to magically increase.  Unless you are going from a 44 inch graphite shaft to a 46 graphite shaft, chances are your clubhead speed will stay relatively the same, unless you have a slightly lighter shaft or a more flexible shaft.  Getting the right shaft for your driver may help you see a 1-3 mph increase.

Ball speed could improve with your new driver due to technology and adjustability in many of the new drivers.  

We did see an average of an extra 6 miles per hour from the 1998 vs 2020 models. 

Even though total distance is somewhat capped at this point, there are still some minor tweaks that can see you getting an extra 5-10 yards by maximizing your ball speed.  THe ball you hit slightly off center on a 10 year old driver might not travel as far as the slightly off center hit of the brand new driver.  The engineers keep working to provide the best possibly drivers for the everyday golfer.

Spin rate could also be improved.  Have you ever hit the shot that seems to balloon and not continue to drive out further and further?  This is the result of too much spin.  Today’s drivers are engineered to have a lower spin rate, allowing the ball to fly further than ever before.

Launch angle is more about your swing vs the driver in your hands.  Matching the proper launch angle with your spin rate will have an impact on your overall distance.

Center of hit will have an impact on total distance.  Once against the newer driver will have the advantage on the shot that is slightly off center.

About 12 years ago I was ready for a new driver. 

I went out to my local Golf Galaxy and was able to see first hand the impact of spin rate on the overall carry distance of the different drivers I was testing out.  I was convinced at that point to always test out drivers and be aware of spin rate before ever buying a new driver again.  Many golfers fail to understand the importance of spin rate.  Spin rate alone can take away 20-30 yards from the golfer if the spin rate is too high!

Old Driver vs New Driver: Forgiveness

The newer the driver, the more forgiving the club will be.  While there might be a large increase in ball speed, the amount of forgiveness continues to improve and be a game changer.

The new drivers are going to provide a higher level of forgiveness.  When one compares the new drivers to the old drivers, they might find that they are within 3-6 yards on a well struck shot.  The biggest gaps start to appear on the shot that is off center. I will continue to trust the engineers and the new technology to provide the greatest level of technology with the newest golf clubs!

I missed 4 of 5 fairways with the 1998 and 2007 models.  I felt the most froginess with the 2012 and 2020 models.

Old Driver vs New Driver: Adjustability

Most new drivers have a greater level of adjustability.  This provides the golfer the opportunity to adjust the club between rounds to produce more or less loft, or change the draw or fade bias.  This is a great feature that golfers should highly consider when buying a new driver.

Related: Are adjustable drivers worth it?

From recent testing on my newest driver, I found a great amount of distance with an extra degree of loft.  So I made the adjustment and reaped the benefits.

Many of the newest drivers allow the golfer to adjust loft and a draw or fade bias.  The golfer has the ability to work with a variety of settings to help them maximize their distance and accuracy with their new club.  The great news is that based on course conditions or how you are currently hitting the ball, you can make adjustments as needed and the process is very simple.

Drivers of 10-15 years ago didn’t have the technology or it was much more complicated to make the adjustment. 

The ease of adjustments with the 2020 model is easiest.  The 1998 Ping Model was ahead of its time and offered various models.

Every golfer wants a combination of distance, forgiveness and adjustability.

Does A Beginner Need A New Driver?

Yes, at a minimum a beginner should use a driver that is not older than 10 years.  

The beginner could benefit from the forgiveness of the newer drivers and can learn to love the game quicker the more success they have.  If you are trying to hit a driver that is 20 years old or some cheap driver off the shelf of a general store, it is time to upgrade.

Hitting the tee shot is vital in the game of golf and having a quality driver is important.  I would recommend buying a model that 1-2 years old and is on the clearance rack at a store.  The technology will still be good enough to help you without spending all of your money!

Final Thoughts – Buy A New Driver Every 5-7 Years

Our recommendation is to buy a new driver every 5-7 years.  You might buy the driver that is last year’s model and get a good 6-7 years from the investment.  The annual cost or the per round cost at this rate is actually quite reasonable.  This helps ensure you are benefitting from the recent technology and aren’t make the game more difficult than it needs to be.

With irons we recommend a 10 year gap between new sets of irons as the technology doesn’t improve was fast as the driver technology.

Related Posts:

Next Steps: Test Out Your Drivers

I would recommend Skytrak or a similar launch monitor to any serious golfer that loves the game and is seeking game improvement!

Rain or Shine Golf is our go to vendor for golf launch monitor and golf simulator related products:

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About five years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

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