While perusing through Golfsmith's website for a new putter headcover, it pulled up a pop up yesterday saying that there was a store near me having a "Master Fit Series" for drivers. Curious, I looked up the details and found that there was indeed something like that happening at a local Golfsmith, and I decided to head over there just to compare the "latest and greatest" to my current driver.
What I found in the results though, I must say, is kind of disappointing for all the advertising hype you see these days. I tested the Taylormade SLDR (both the 440CC and 460CC versions), the Ping i25, the Ping G25, and the Titleist 913D2 against my current Ping G10 driver. All of the test drivers had stock stiff shafts, while my driver has a ProLaunch Red in it (which was an option in the G10's, and a free upgrade when the G15's came out). The longest hitting driver of them all turned out to be the Ping i25, averaging a whopping 6 yards more than my current driver. The Titleist came in second, with an average of about 4 yards more, and the 440cc SLDR and G25 were next with an average of about the same. The 460cc SLDR must have had some weird settings (it was a 12* loft to start with) and it averaged about 15-20 yards less than my current driver. I wasn't expecting the new drivers to hit any further though, so this wasn't a surprise to me.
The surprising part, at least to me, was the shot dispersion results. A lot of non-Taylormade advertising focuses on how the new club is supposed to be more forgiving on off center hits, or that the club is supposed to go straighter. I found that, of all the clubs I tested, my own driver was the best in terms of shot dispersion. While this is likely due to me being more used to the driver, what interested me most was comparing the new drivers against each other. Taylormade's SLDR driver, which I expected to go somewhat straighter since it did have the lowest spin of the bunch (the advertising was absolutely correct in that regard) had a nasty tendency to hook in both the 440cc and 460cc versions. Every 5th shot or so would be a duck hook for me, with many normal swings overdrawing. Perhaps the reduction in backspin results in a more prominent effect of sidespin upon the trajectory of a ball? The G25 was the best for shot dispersion of the new drivers, and surprised me by being better than expected when hit slightly on the toe, but I found myself pushing it more frequently, which I feel is be a problem with the space in between my ears looking down at the elongated clubhead.
Overall, I found that (at least for me) there is not much reason to upgrade from a driver that is seven years old unless I break or otherwise damage my current one. However the new drivers did convince me to purchase a couple pieces of new equipment while I was at Golfsmith: grips. A direct comparison to what a new grip looks like made my current one (which has been there since I bought the club) feel like it was smooth glass. The new grips for my woods, I feel, will end up being a much better purchase than any new driver would have been.