Hi I work for a large golf retailer as the manager, after promotion from Golf Advisor. A perk of the job means I get to test all the clubs using a net and I am able to take the clubs to courses to try them out.
The common questions I get is the immortal 'What is the best driver for me?' followed by best balls or best putter. They want more distance, no slice, good draw, a forgiving club... the latter makes me laugh, a 'forgiving club'. You hit a bad shot NO CLUB forgives. Top PGA pro's, even tiger slices or hooks the odd ball. From a £40 Maxfli driver to a £300 Taylormade driver you'll see little difference in any of the above. Proof? Daley hits a Maxfli Driver further then nearly everyone in the world that uses a taylornade, is that because the Maxfli is the worlds best driver? No, it's beacuse John Daley hit it and not mortals like us.
Let me explain someting quickly. The driver is not the most important club in your bag, nowhere near it, perhaps even the least important. Why? you ask. The most important shot is your second not your drive and an average 40% of your shots are with a putter as opposed the 12-15% with your driver.
So to the main question, the best driver for you.
1. The Swingometer. How many peolpe are fooled by this contraption is huge. It tells players to chose a certain club, even ones they did not feel good with in the net. Some are made by club manufacturers and guess which clubs they think are best for you. They tell you it uses real life weather situations and realistic surface reactions...RUBISH. There is absolutley no substitute for taking it out to the course, or at least a local range. If you disagree try the club it suggested then try the one you felt good with. weather conditions are futile in the matter, your club needs to be best for you in all conditions. Take the club you feel best with in the net or at a test range, no computer can judge your club better then you, no matter what level you are at. If you feel great with a £10 steel shafted Skymax club then buy it.
2. Stiff Shafts. Stiff shafts are for low handicap to scratch players, I get alot of high handicappers buying stiff shafts 'because the pro's use them'. YOU ARE NOT A PRO! You'll find a Regular shaft far more suited to your play. If you are a scratch golfer then you'll know what I mean.
3. Head degrees. New to golf? Bought a pro 8 degree Driver? Wondering why your shots spend most of their time running along the floor? Can't loft it?....Please do not get into the habit of thinking if a pro plays with it, it must be best for me. That is FAR from the case. When starting out or even if at high handicap 10.5 degree loft is the best to use.
4. When I started out the best piece of advice given to me was to use a small faced driver. It took a long time before I could get it's sweet spot with consistency, then when I moved up to a big faced driver (R7 in this case) I found relatively easy to find the sweet spot. If you start with a large face you are spoiling yourself and not being forced to hit the better shot.
5, Most importantly, use a driving net if available, or a test range that sell clubs. DO NOT buy a club by reccomendation, NEVER buy a club that way. Even if you like the internet prices try them out elsewhere first.
Best driver part 2:
Beginner: As said above use a small face driver that costs no more then £50. Think of this saying 'Learn with a bad club to master a good club' When you are ready to make the transition, you'll see what I mean.
Intermediate (10-28 handicap): Go for the older versions of up to date clubs ie. the R5 rather then the R7, the SQ 4950 rather then the SQ 5000, the Big Bertha rather then the FT and so on. Great clubs and fantastic prices and the difference in quality you'll not even feel. Trust me i've used the 4950 and the 5000 and kept the 4950. Just because it's later does not mean it better. Would you like the brand new Jaguar XK8? or the XJ220? if you know what I mean.
High End (Scratch-9) By now you don't really need my advice accep this. If you're not pro, don't get into the trap of think the latest is the best, you'll know what you feel good with and don't let others deter you. Most importantly, very important just because your last club was a certain make does not mean, by any means that its latest version is the best club out there. DON'T GET BIAS, try all makes if they are not paying you to stick with them.
Hope this helps and good luck.