The most forgiving driver we’ve tested this year is the Ping G425 Max. The TaylorMade SIM 2 Max is a very close second along with the Titleist TSi 2, and for the best value, we recommend the Cobra F-Max.
No golfer on the planet strikes every shot perfectly, with this in mind we all should consider forgiveness when buying a new driver. In this article, we’ll list the most forgiving drivers currently available and suggest which buying options are best for maxing out your driving performance.
The most forgiving drivers are:
- Ping G425 Max driver – Top Performer
- TaylorMade SIM 2 Max driver – Runner up
- Titleist TSi 2 – Great adjustability
- Cobra F-Max driver – Best value
- Callaway Epic Max – Best for distance & forgiveness
- Cobra F-Max offset driver – Reduce my slice
- Callaway Mavrik driver – Still worth considering
- TalyorMade SIM Max driver – Still worth considering
- Tour Edge HL – Forgiveness and value
What to look for when buying a forgiving driver
Here we’ll cover some top tips when you are looking to buy a forgiving driver.
Size, head shape & materials
Larger driver heads are more forgiving. However, all driver heads are now limited to 460cc (cubic centimetres) based on the rules of golf. Consequently, it has now become a game of how manufacturers can manipulate the shape and materials used within the head to maximise forgiveness.
In simple terms, head shape and materials can be used to optimise a driver’s MOI (moment of inertia). Golf clubs with a higher MOI are more resistant to twisting when hit off centre – resulting in longer and straighter shots. To improve the MOI we need to shift a driver’s centre of mass.
Centre of mass
The Centre of mass relates to a club’s point of balance – imagine if you were trying to balance a club head on top of a nail. However, this point of balance can move i) towards or away from the clubface, ii) towards the heel or toe, and iii) up and down in the clubhead.
Despite it being very difficult to see this concept as a golfer, moving the centre of mass creates a very noticeable change in ball flight and performance.
Look for drivers with a centre of mass far away from the clubface and low down in the clubhead for maximum forgiveness. Heel weighting will help close the clubface and will make heel strikes feel more solid and fly further.
When it comes to adding distance we want to lower backspin. However, slightly higher backspin rates keep the ball more stable and reduce the effects of slice and hook spin. Here is where you may want to make some slight trade-off between pure distance and forgiveness.
Ideally, you want a high ball speed across the clubface with moderate backspin rates for optimum forgiveness and distance. Optimum spin rates depend on your clubhead speed and launch angle. They range from 1,900rpm for very high-speed swingers (110mph+) to 2,900rpm for players with a 75mph swing speed.
Being 10% above your optimum values in fitting is not a bad thing if you hook or slice and want more forgiveness.
Hitting the centre of the clubface more often is one of the simplest ways to hit the ball straighter and further. Golfers hit closer to the centre with shorter golf clubs, so please check the length of driver you are buying!!
All pro shops and some retail stores offer you the option to customise your driver. The legal limit is changing from 48″ to 46″, with most drivers sold at 45.5″, but consider trying a shorter driver. For many years I’ve used a 44.5″ driver.
All manufacturers select a small range of shafts that they feel work best with their club head. However, it pays to test out a few. There is no ideal driver head and shaft for all. The driver head, shaft and golfer’s swing all interact to produce unique performances.
Shaft flex, weight, torque and kick point are all clues towards what will suit you, but you can’t beat hitting a few shots.
Adjustability & draw-bias
These days many drivers offer adjustable hosel and head weighting settings. In some cases, like the Titleist TSi 2, these can produce some dramatic changes in ball flight. Such drivers can be useful if you are planning a course of lessons to fix a hook or slice.
However, try not to get too caught up with this when looking for a forgiving driver. Instead find a forgiving driver that suits your general ball flight – straight, slice or hook. You’ll not gain much, or you’ll likely be less consistent if you keep tinkering with your driver settings.
Let’s head onto our list of the most forgiving drivers.
Ping G425 Max
There are three drivers in the new Ping G425 range, here we feature the Ping G425 Max, for a detailed rundown and testing of all three Ping G425 drivers click here.
The sleek design and matte black finish of the Ping G425 Max give you the feeling this is a serious piece of kit at first glance. Thankfully, the exciting first impression is backed up with how it performs. This new design has allowed Ping to shift the weight far back and low down to maximise performance across the face.
The result is a driver that provides great accuracy and consistency.
The Ping G425 Max weight-saving has been achieved through refining the head shape and has given rise to their heaviest adjustable sliding back weight (26g), moving the Centre of Gravity further back and lower than ever before.
This creates a more forgiving area across the clubface on off-centre strikes, and that additional stability was noticeable during testing. All shots finished within 10 yards of the target line. In testing, the start direction for each shot was within 2 degrees with sidespin not exceeding 250rpm. Meaning if you are looking for exceptional forgiveness and accuracy the Ping G425 Max driver is a great choice.
It’s also worth noting that the G425 performs reasonably well in terms of ball speed for off-centre strikes. Ball speed only dropped around 6 mph (4%), for shots that were struck low and out of the heel. Despite the less-than-attractive low cut, all drives were still perfectly playable.
If you want a great deal of forgiveness and struggle with a slice, opt for the Ping SFT, this club offers great forgiveness and does an incredible job in reducing your slice spin.
Golf Insider verdict
In summary, the Ping G425 Max is an excellent choice for high handicappers and low handicappers alike who are looking to maximise accuracy and consistency. Yes, there are drivers out there that may give you 3-5 extra yards, but few that match the Ping for overall forgiveness.
TaylorMade SIM 2 Max
The TaylorMade SIM 2 range follows on from the incredible success of the original SIM range with three new models – the SIM 2, SIM 2 Max and SIM 2 Max D. Here we focus on the SIM 2 Max which is positioned as the most forgiving driver out of the three.
The face of the SIM 2 Max driver is 5% larger than the original SIM Max driver, which further increases the surface area and makes this driver even more forgiving than the original.
Furthermore, the SIM 2 Max drivers have increased M.O.I. by 15% (resistance to twisting) compared to the original SIM range too. This is great news for off-centre hits and ensures your drives stay straighter and lose less distance when you miss the sweet spot.
TaylorMade has stripped back the driver design and rebuilt each part to optimise performance. The SIM 2 Max drivers feature a carbon crown and base, with a lightweight and high strength aluminium ring providing the stability. This has led to weight saving, better distribution of mass and less drag.
The result is higher ball speeds for centred strikes, and thanks to the increased M.O.I., great ball speeds even when you miss the sweet spot. This isn’t the best looking driver or the best sounding driver in this review, but do you really care if it keeps you in the fairway?
Golf Insider verdict
The TaylorMade SIM 2 Max earns a spot in this review of the most forgiving drivers thanks to great accuracy, stability and ball speed across the face. It offers highly comparable performance to the Ping G425, but we prefer the look and feel of the Ping. That being said, if you’re a TaylorMade fan and loved the original SIM we’re pretty sure you’ll love this just as much or more.
Titleist fans on the hunt for forgiving drivers should take a look at the Titleist TSi 2 driver – Titleist are keen to bring your attention to their new ATI 425 aerospace-grade titanium face used across the TSi driver range that is supposed to generate more ball speed than ever before.
In our testing, we found the Titleist TSi range came up slightly shorter than its Ping and Callaway competitors when struck out the middle, we put this down to the small increase in backspin on launch. However we are talking 3-4 yards, and that increased backspin has a big advantage if you are looking for forgiveness, as it will reduce the lateral error caused by hook or slice spin.
We were also very impressed with the minimal ball speed drop-off across the face. Again, this attribute should be near the top of your list when shopping for a forgiving driver. Don’t just focus on your best swings, measure your distance and accuracy across a batch of 20 swings.
The final reason the Titleist TSi 2 has made our list is thanks to its adjustability. The adjustable hosel allows you to alter the loft and lie, which in turn will affect your shot shape.
To learn more you can check out our full Titleist TSi driver review, but in short, this works very well! By altering these parameters you can set up your driver to minimise a slide/hook, or add/lower your ball flight and spin rate to fit your game as it develops.
We found an average of 5-6 yard difference in lateral error when shifting from neutral to max draw mode on a 250-yard drive. This is more than we’d expected.
Golf Insider verdict
If you are after a great looking driver and are willing to give up a few yards for a perfectly struck drive the Titleist TSi drivers are worthy of your attention. The TSi 2 offers you great ball speed and forgiveness across the face, combined with a significant amount of adjustability to dial in your preferred ball flight.
For many years Cobra has been focused on making forgiving golf clubs. The F-Max is a couple of years old now but does an incredible job of keeping your golf shots straight. It also comes in at a very reasonable price – hence why it has kept a place on this list of forgiving drivers you should check out.
The F–Max driver is 460cc in size which offers great distance and forgiveness. The F-Max driver is 13 grams lighter than the previous model, which allows you to generate more clubhead speed and distance with no extra force.
The F-Max driver features a carbon fibre crown which has attributed to weight-saving but has also allowed the designers to push the centre of mass even lower down and further back from the face. The result is less twist on impact resulting in high-launching, powerful drives and great forgiveness for off-centre hits.
This driver comes fitted with ultra-lightweight graphite shafts as standard options. Again, reducing the overall club mass and allows you to generate more clubhead speed from your golf swing.
The F-Max driver is available in a straight neck and offset design. The offset version will help square the clubface further and promote a powerful draw ball flight. Making this ideal if you tend to slice your drives.
The carbon fibre crown does make this expensive compared to previous Cobra gear, but I’m pleased to say that it still comes in cheaper than the Ping and TaylorMade drivers featured above. As a result, it is a great option if you are after great forgiveness but are shopping on a budget.
Golf Insider verdict
If you are after a forgiving driver on a budget, or you have a slow swing speed and want forgiveness and distance the Cobra F–Max is a great choice. Big hitters should look elsewhere, but for most golfers, this is an excellent choice.
Golfers are demanding, and I’m sure some of you reading this review are wanting great forgiveness and great distance. Well if this sounds like you, we’d point you towards the Callaway Epic Max driver.
The Epic colour palette of black, grey, white and lime green is smart and the Callaway “V” on the crown provides a simple but effective alignment cue helping us to ensure we address the ball in the centre of the face.
The Epic contains Callaway’s updated “jailbreak system” – the metal rods positioned behind the face enhanced the stability of the head in all directions combined and allow a new thinner “Flash Face” that results in increased ball speeds across the face.
In testing this worked, with ball speeds higher by around 2mph on average for a given driver head speed. If all other launch factors remain consistent that may equate to around 4-6 yards. Ball speed remained high even on miss-hits, with just a 4% loss in ball speed for off-centre hits, which is why you’re reading about this driver in the review.
However, why is this not placed higher? Yes, you’re right to be waiting for a but…
Firstly, the Epic Max, comes with a 16g sliding back weight helping position the centre of gravity further back and lower to increase stability and accuracy for off-centre strikes. However, when testing this feature we couldn’t find a consistent difference when tinkering with the weighting.
Secondly, we feel it is a fraction behind the SIM 2 and Ping G425 when it comes to accuracy with off-centre hits. It is still very forgiving, but we’d place it a fraction behind.
Golf Insider verdict
If you want incredible distance on your drives combined with high levels of forgiveness then this is the club to go have a hit with. Epic distance and pretty epic levels of forgiveness make this a worthy contender in this most forgiving drivers review.
If you struggle with a slice and want maximum forgiveness then the Cobra F-Max is well worth considering. I’ll be honest, I don’t find it the prettiest club to look at, but wow does it provide forgiveness and prevents a slice.
The Cobra F-max has additional mass placed towards the back of the clubhead and towards the heel. This small design tweak helps the club rotate into impact, and provides additional forgiveness for drive struck out of the heel – both these features should bring great forgiveness for golfers who suffer with a slice.
In addition, the Cobra F-max is slightly offset, which further stabilises the clubface through impact and encourages a draw. The sleek design of the clubhead is combined with lightweight shaft options (49 – 55g) which will result in a high launch and long drives, making those par 4’s and 5’s as short as possible for you.
If you’re looking for a forgiving driver and you struggle with a slice you’ll do well to find a better option. The Cobra F-max comes in 10.5º and 11.5º options, with the former suiting most golfers.
I’ve long been a fan of Tour Edge clubs, I’ve used their irons in the past and have never found a better fairway wood than their Exotics range. However, we are here to talk about their new high launch (HL) 4 driver.
The HL 4 features a new head design, with a sloped crown and additional weight placed at the back of the clubhead. Both of these features push the centre of mass away from the face and low in the club head, leading to great forgiveness and high launching drives.
The HL 4 driver also uses variable face thickness technology to ensure energy transfer is maximised between the clubhead and ball across the clubface. The result is an exceptionally forgiving driver where ever you strike the ball on the clubface.
Tour Edge manages to provide all of this forgiveness in a driver costing less than $200. Which is a key reason I’ve fitted so many golfers I’ve coached over the years with Tour Edge equipment.
The Tour Edge HL 4 driver is a great choice for golfers looking for great forgiveness at a great price. The HL 4 also comes in a standard design or off-set, with the latter being a great option for golfers looking for a forgiving driver that will also help promote a draw.
Next, in our review, we have the Callaway Mavrik Max driver. Callaway has had a few years away from being the top dog in the driver manufacturer race, however, the Mavrik series brings them back into contention.
The Mavrik drivers come in three models: standard, sub-zero and max, and it is the max driver with a 460cc head that features here. This driver features Callaway’s new A.I. designed face aiming to maximise ball speed and forgiveness across the clubface and this sure does seem to work.
In testing the Callaway Mavrik Max offers excellent ball speed and distance when hit from the sweet spot, but importantly, only a few yards drop when you start to hit towards the heel or toe of the driver.
In tandem with their face design, the Mavrik features tungsten weights in the heel and back of the club. These further stabilise the driver’s face for off-centre hits and offer you the chance to tweak the driver from promoting a slight draw or ‘max draw’ mode.
Finally, the Marvrik is available in 9º, 10.5º and 12º loft options, offering golfers a great range to suit their game. If you are looking to further max out forgiveness opt for the 10.5º or 12º loft options. The launch angle will only increase slightly, but the added backspin with keep your drives straighter and reduce the adverse effects of slice or hook spin.
Finally, in our review of the most forgiving drivers, we have the original TaylorMade’s SIM max driver. In testing the TaylorMade SIM Max doesn’t quite match the newer models for total distance, forgiveness or off-centre strikes, but because this is an older model you can get one at a great price.
The SIM Max still provides excellent distance and forgiveness, losing only a few yards and small levels of forgiveness on clubs costing $100-200 more. The TaylorMade SIM max features Speed Injected Twist Face technology – which is a fancy way of saying the face has varying thickness and curvature to maximise ball speed where ever you strike the clubface.
The abstract sole design again aims to maximise forgiveness, by pushing the centre of mass back away from the face the SIM Max driver minimises the amount the clubface twists on off-centre strikes – leading to straighter drives.
The combination of this technology results in the TaylorMade’s SIM max driver offering great forgiveness and accuracy for off-centre hits and excellent performance when you find the middle of the clubface.
Golf Insider verdict
If you want really solid levels of forgiveness across the clubface, and a big brand in your bag, the TaylorMade SIM Max is still worth looking at if you are shopping on a budget. Prices do vary, and at some point, these will go out of stock.
How we test the most forgiving drivers
Throughout our annual testing, we keep records of how all our drivers perform in normalised conditions on TrackMan. We look for the drivers that have small levels of ball speed drop-off between well and less well-struck shots.
We also look for clubs that produce consistently accurate golf shots with a variety of strikes, swing paths and clubface angles.
Finally, we consider use cases and budget. Some drivers are most forgiving for slices, others perform great for slower swing speeds. Within this review, we do our best to keep it updated with our top picks in each use case – attempting to make this the best resource when searching for forgiving drivers.
Frequently asked questions
Here is an additional section with some frequently asked questions when looking for a forgiving driver.
Are new drivers more forgiving?
New drivers are more forgiving compared to 5 years ago. Manufacturers have reached the limit for driver head size and energy transfer from the sweet spot, due to the regulations of golf. However, there has been great progress with improving ball speed for off-centre hits.
What is the most accurate driver?
From our testing, we found the Ping G425 Max driver to be the most accurate. It is worth noting that each golfer will perform differently when hitting golf clubs, therefore it is worth testing them out.
What is the easiest golf driver to hit straight?
The easiest driver to hit straight will depend on your impact as a golfer. The Ping G425 Max is great for straight hitters, and the Ping G425 SFT is a great option for golfers who slice the golf ball. All drivers listed in this review sit at the top of the charts in terms of forgiveness and accuracy.
Should I get custom fitted for a driver?
If you want to find the best driver set up for you then I would highly recommend getting custom-fitted. Many golfers are surprised to find out that a more lofted driver can often give them added forgiveness and distance.
Custom fitting also allows us to tweak the shaft and loft options for each club. Again, fitting golfers with the correct shaft can help them find the centre of the clubface more often and result in added forgiveness.
What is the most forgiving driver of all time?
The most forgiving driver of all time is likely one produced this year, like the Ping G425 Max. Manufacturers hit the legal limit for energy transfer and distance for a perfect strike around 2003. The past 18 years have seen them turn their focus onto how they can maximise distance and accuracy for shots that miss the middle of the clubface.
Best driver for distance and forgiveness
There is generally a trade-off between distance, accuracy and forgiveness. If you’re after a driver that offers the best distance (and ball speed) across the clubface, then check out our Callaway EPIC driver review.
Our testing suggested there are drivers that are more accurate, but the EPIC driver consistently produced high ball speeds, even when we missed the sweet spot.
What is the most forgiving driver for a high handicapper?
High handicappers tend to struggle to find the middle of the clubface. With this in mind, you should look for a driver that maximises accuracy for your off-centre hits. The Ping G425 Max is a great choice, a mid-range option would be the Cobra F-Max driver and if you are on a small budget, check out the Tour Edge HL drivers.
Tour Edge are not too well known, as the company doesn’t pay players to use their equipment. However, this means Tour Edge can create great golf equipment at cheaper prices. They make some very forgiving drivers that are half the price of the well-known manufacturers.
Most forgiving driver for a high swing speed
As your swing speed increases, you’ll be less suited to standard drivers. At this point, it is well worth getting a custom-fit session. Finding a stiffer driver shaft and one with more weight can often give the feeling of more control and can help you find the centre of the driver more often.
In a custom fitting session, you can dive further into shaft torque, kick-points and shaft flex profiles which will allow you to find a driver head and shaft option that best suits your golf swing.
What is the golf driver with the largest sweet spot?
This is a slightly tricky question to answer, as ‘sweet spot’ is more of a marketing term. Every driver will have a very specific point where, when struck, no rotation/twisting will occur. Hitting on or near this point gives us the feeling we have hit the ‘sweet spot’
1mm away from this point in any direction will result in the clubhead twisting. However, modern drivers have used materials and designs to position the weight in the head to minimise this twisting effect. Giving the impression of a much larger sweet spot.
All the drivers in this review excel when it comes to forgiveness and reducing this twisting for off-centre hits. But, every golfer has their own unique striking pattern, some players hit more shots off the heel. Other players may strike higher up the clubface, or more towards the toe.
When testing a new driver hit 10-20 shots, try hitting it harder and softer to see how the driver performs with the variability you have in your golf swing.
Most forgiving driver – Summary
There we have a round-up of the most forgiving drivers currently on the market. The Ping G425 Max driver tops our list, but the TaylorMade SIM 2 Max, Titleist TSi 2, Callaway Epic and Cobra F-max are also well worth considering. The drivers lower in our review are great options from previous seasons that are still available to buy at a reduced price.
If you would like some driving tips, check out our article on how to drive the golf ball. If you would like a new golfing article emailed to you every Monday join the Golf Insider weekly post, it’s free and always will be.
Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK.
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