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When to (realistically) upgrade your driver?


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The first driver I got professionally fit for was a Ping G30 LST model that replaced a Taylormade R11 that I always struggled to hit consistently.

Over the next few years, seduced by the latest and greatest, I tried subsequent new model drivers and they just couldn’t improve on the performance of the G30.  The only bad thing about the G30 was that it was loud.  It wasn’t until the Ping G410 LST came along that I switched because it delivered better performance. I did not try just Ping drivers I also tried Titleist, Taylormade, Callaway, Tour Edge and Cobra as well.  

A couple of months ago I went for a driver fitting with the intention of trying some different shafts in my current driver.  They didn’t have the G410 LST so I tried the newer G425 LST, the Taylormade SIM2, the Callaway Epic and a few others and I did not find one that performed better than my 10.5 degree G410 LST with the Alta CB shaft.

So I decided to do some experimenting on my own by trying some different shafts with my current driver.

My swing speed is right at 100 MPH.  All the shafts are Stiff flex and have similar weights around 60 grams except the KBS at 70 grams. The shafts are: an Oban Kiyoshi HB, Aldila Xtorsion Copper, KBS TD, and a Grafalloy Prolaunch Blue Supercharged.  All of these shafts are also counterbalanced like my stock Alta CB except for the KBS shaft.  I bought some Ping 410 adapters to go with the shafts.

The KBS shaft was purchased for a fairway wood experiment but it had the Ping tip on it already so I tried it too, but it was not a good fit for me with my driver. 

As part of the driver experiment a few different screw in weights were purchased so that I could try lighter and heavier weights in different configurations to obtain different swing weights.


I ended up switching to the Grafalloy shaft with a lighter screw in weight than standard and with the adjustable hosel loft setting turned down 1 degree because that is what performed the best for me.  Slightly higher ball speed, better launch, decent spin, more carry and greater total distance while giving me equal dispersion.  A bonus is that it is also the least expensive shaft of the bunch!

In researching the Grafalloy shaft I discovered that the Handcrafted Project X LZ has a similar EI bend profile but was made of higher end materials and since I have one Ping adapter left I have bought a shaft off of EBay to try as well.  I believe the comparable current model shaft with a similar butt stiff, soft mid, stiff tip shaft bend profile and also counterbalanced would be the Project X Hazrdus Smoke RDX Blue.

My total outlay for the shafts are less than I would have spent on a new driver and now that I’ve narrowed it down I will likely sell off the shafts that didn’t fit me the best to recoup some of my costs to put towards something else.

You may be able to achieve similar results by optimizing your current driver.



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Ping G410 LST 10.5

Taylormade SIM Ti - 19 lofted down to 17

Tour Edge XCG7 - 21

Tour Edge C721 - 25

Corey Paul - 5-PW Japan Forged Minimalist Blades

Corey Paul Functional Art 50, 54 & 58

Odyssey O Works Black #7 with BGT Stability Tour Shaft, SuperStroke Traxion 3.0 & 75g CounterCore

Bridgestone Tour BRX

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I upgrade my driver every one or two years because I want to and usually get the new one as they bring out something new. I play more than half my games with hickory or classic clubs and have so many drivers from the early 1900’s to my recently acquired SIM2 Max.

In my opinion chasing distance is not the best strategy especially as we age. I am now in my late sixties and have learned that keeping the drive in play is more important than distance. A smooth tempo and a club that suits your game breeds confidence. A controlled swing also reduces the chance of injury.

Back to the topic. Get a new one when it suits you, but have realistic expectations. Personally, I would not make a decision based on hitting into a bay. I have a trusted fitter that knows my swing and has helped me for almost twenty years. He and I know what works best for me and can pick the shaft and head due to his knowledge of the shafts properties. For me, I learned that a driver needs to be at least D3 and I prefer a heavier shaft. By the way, the SIM2 Max has been a fairway finder, just what I wanted. I have won a lot of toonies ($2 coin) from guys chasing distance.

I like nice shiny toys like anyone else and it is fun with a new toy whether it is hickory, classic steel or modern.


Play everything from the hickory era to modern equipment.


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I recently reshafted my F9 for the second time. First time I researched all the information I needed and bought my shaft online and had it installed, loved it. Being in my 60s my swing changed enough that I was wondering if a lighter shaft would benefit me. I did a fitting and was correct in my assumption, so even after reshafting it twice, I still saved a little instead of writing a big check for one club. 

Cobra F9 driver and 3 wood, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue regular flex 60 shafts in both. PXG 5 wood, Diamana S+ regular flex 60 shaft. Ben Hogan 4-PW irons, regular flex Recoil shafts, 70g. Ben Hogan Equalizer wedges, 48, 52, and 56 degrees, Recoil shafts. Scotty Cameron Futura 5S putter. Ping Pioneer bag. Garmin G80 range finder. Maxfli tour golf balls. 

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I finally purchased a “new” driver mid 2021 a brand new still in the plastic SLDR TP. My previous driver was a Ping Rapture V2. Honestly, on the monitor and course there is almost zero difference. Always felt though that having another option to switch to helps keep my driver in good spirits knowing it can replaced at any given moment. Lol


Driver - Taylormade SLDR TP 10*

3 Wood - Tour Edge CB2 15*
Irons - Wilson Staff V2 4-pw

Wedges - Wilson Staff 54* & 58*
Putter - Scotty Cameron GoLo 3

Ball - Wilson Staff Duo Spin or Soft

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There is no right answer. If you want a new driver every year and can easily afford it, why not? If you want to spend less, a new driver every 4-6 years is probably just as effective in terms of scoring and reasonably keeping up with tech. I know guys with 20+ year old drivers, even a couple with persimmons, who are perfectly happy with that choice too. We usually wager $5 a round, so we don’t need the latest tech… 🥴

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I buy almost exclusively gently used equipment so upgrading for me is inexpensive and often break even. Just upgraded my Ping G400 LST to the G410 LST and installed a Veylix Mansion shaft. The G400 is available. I expect this upgrade will cost me $100 max. When I upgraded to the G400 from a 2017 Taylormade M1 I made $25. I keep the old club long enough to make sure I like the new one (tried an M2 prior to the M1, hated it, sold it for a $50 profit) so every upgrade has been worth it.

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Short game savant, driving disaster...

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On 1/15/2022 at 5:52 AM, Middler said:

There is no right answer. If you want a new driver every year and can easily afford it, why not? If you want to spend less, a new driver every 4-6 years is probably just as effective in terms of scoring and reasonably keeping up with tech. I know guys with 20+ year old drivers, even a couple with persimmons, who are perfectly happy with that choice too. We usually wager $5 a round, so we don’t need the latest tech… 🥴

+1 on this....

Although if you win 100 of those matches in a row you could buy a new driver......🤔

Modern Bag: :Sub70:  849 Pro 9*, Hazrdous Smoke S Flex;   :titelist-small:  915F 3w, Diamana S+ 70 S flex;  Snake Eyes 15*, & 23* Hybrids; :mizuno-small: JPX 900 Forged 5 - PW, PX LZ 6.0;  :cleveland-small: Tour Action 49*, 53*, 57*; PX LZ 6.5 ;  :ping-small: Heppler Fetch;  Ball - :Snell: MTB-Black; Bag - :1590477705_SunMountain: H2NO 

Classic Bag:  Driver - :wilson_staff_small: Persimmon; 3w - :Hogan: Speed Slot; 5w - :wilson_staff_small: Tour Block; 3 - pw - :wilson_staff_small: Dynapower; sw - Ram Tom Watson;  putter - bullseye standard or flange.

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I agree with @Riverboat who stated that upgrade should happen when you see a significant distance increase or improvement in dispersion.   We are in an era where the improvements in driver performance are incremental at best year over year.   When new models come out, I look at it as an opportunity to see if the new drivers will fit me better because it matches my swing better not because I expect it to magically give me more yards.

Improvements are hard to come by because unless you want a non-conforming driver, maximum ball speed is capped by the rules of golf.   150mph ball speed for 100mhp club head speed.     Instead manufacturers are working on keeping that max speed across the larger part of the face and providing models/adjustability so you can hit the right spin/launch window to maximize distance. 






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