When to Change Your Old Golf Driver

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Louis Pringle
Jun 27, 2024
5 minutes

When it comes to your driver, you always to be able to rely on a club that will allow you to maximize your performance on the course. At times, you’ll feel like you’re maybe not getting everything out your trusted driver. In those cases, you need to take some time and entertain the possibility that it might time to change your driver.

But before considering updating your driver, you need to confirm that it is indeed time for a change. To do, so we got our experts to come up with a complete guide designed to help you better evaluate the condition of your driver and determine whether the time has come for a change or not.

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Do golf drivers wear out?

First off, we need to bring up something that might seem obvious to some but still needs to be addressed. Like any golf club, your driver will eventually develop some wear and tear, and we’re not just speaking of looks in this case.

As the years pass and the drives cumulate, it’s only natural for your driver to decrease in performance. Fortunately, this downward trend is an extremely slow one that only shows its true effect on your numbers off the tee after half a decade. And even then, we recently conducted a comparison test with Callaway drivers that showed that 5 years old models can still match the performance of new ones.

Aside from making the switch from a driver with completely titanium club head, which were popular up until the 2010’s, you’ll be hard pressed find a massive increase in performance by upgrading a carbon club head driver from the last 5 years.  Also, believe it or not, but keeping your clubs clean will help to limit the wear and tear that they’ll accumulate over the years.

All this to say that, yes, golf drivers do wear out and lose out on performance at some point, but this discrepancy might not be as massive as you think.

However, there are situations where your driver shows drastic issues like abnormally short drives on excellent strikes or awkward acoustic on those same perfect strikes. In those case, it might be worth your while to conduct a further investigation of your driver’s condition as it may have lost its pop or its face might be “dead”.

But you might be wondering, “where should I even start?” Don’t worry, we’re got you covered!

How can you tell if you broke your driver?

When it comes to damages to your driver, they’re now easier to spot than ever, thanks to the razor-thin aluminum and titanium used in the club heads, as well as the thin carbon walls that make up the club head. The new materials are more susceptible to small impacts and the damage they can inflict. Speaking of, here’s a quick list of the different types of issues you can run into with your driver and how to deal with them.

Visible Damage

The first type of defect you should be looking for is visible damage anywhere on the clubhead, the shaft or the grip. The latter two should be obvious as soon as you put a little stress on the shaft or the grip by taking some air swings.

As for the clubhead, take a good look at the condition of the club face for starters. Are the grooves still in good shape? Are the painted alignment aids still mostly visible? Are there any hairline cracks starting to show? All of these could be early signs of a face that is prime for eventual damages that could turn into cracks, which would of course greatly affect the performance of the club.

As for the top of the clubhead and the sole, take a close look under the light for any bumps or dents near the crown of top line. These could affect overall performance of your club, and again, could lead to further issues.

Sudden Loss of Distance

While this one can be hard to catch at first, you’ll start noticing it on par 5s or those longer par 4s that demand a long ball off the tee. The undeniable sign that you’ll observe is that your approach shots on those par 4s will begin to require you to use a longer club. Losing distance off the tee, as long as it’s not related to a loss in swing speed or a swing change, is telltale sign that there’s an issue with your driver.

Older than 5 years old

We’ve been pretty adamant about the fact that you should start looking into changing your driver after the 5-year mark. Past this point, technology tends to have made enough strides that moving on to a model 5 years more recent than yours should clearly be a benefit to your performance.

However, we recently conducted a comparison test with Callaway drivers and the results sort of challenged our belief that you should move on to a more recent model after 5 years.

Performance chart from our Callaway Drivers Comparison Test

At the end of our experiment, the 2019-released Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver, outperformed the rest of the drivers tested in this experiment. This notably included the 2023-released Paradym Triple Diamond and three other models that were more recent than the Epic Flash Sub Zero.

The Epic Flash didn’t completely outclass the other clubs, but it sure showed that our beliefs that you should be moving on from a driver after 5 years might need to be pushed back a little more!

Change in your physical abilities

This is technically not an issue with your driver, but there’s no doubt that an adjustment will be need to your equipment if your body is demanding change from you. Any physical change that can have a direct impact on your swing should be a sign that your need to look for a new club that will be suited to your new skill set. So, technically, having a driver that is not fit for your playing style, is just like having a broken one.

How do you inspect for visible damage?

We just laid out the different types of damage to keep an eye on with your driver. But now that you know what to look out for, you might be wondering how to properly inspect for those defects. Once again, we’ve got you covered with a few helpful tips that might not be that obvious to everyone.

1. Check for Weak Spots on the Club Face

Your driver can develop a weak spot on the face due to repetitive impacts with the ball. The only way you can notice it is by using a credit card. Don’t worry, no need to purchase anything here.

All you need to do is slide the card across the face. Usually, the face of a driver is slightly convex, but when it starts caving in it means it’s about to crack. If the credit card doesn’t show empty space on both ends, your driver’s face has weakened out and you’re losing a ton of distance and accuracy.

2. Examine the Club Shaft

The shaft also weakens out. An easy way to notice if it does is to simply bend the shaft. Don’t try to break it, folks, you just barely need to arc the shaft. If you hear a slight cracking noise, the shaft has lost efficiency and is far from performing the way it should.

3. Leave Your Club in the Water

Another simple way of finding a crack on the head of a club is to submerge it in water for a couple of hours. If there’s a crack anywhere, water will find its way inside and you’ll notice something’s wrong with your club. You can see pretty quickly if bubbles are starting to be formed anywhere on the head, that will indicate that the driver is cracked.

4. Twist the Clubhead (Carefully)

Try and twist the shaft (not like King Kong there, people) to see if the head is loose. If it moves ever so gently, the epoxy has lost its power, and the head is about to fly away (literally). It will avoid a 50-yard walk down the driving range, ducking while other people are hitting, just to retrieve that broken club head.

If one or more of these tests reveal a weak spot, well time has come to say goodbye to your beloved driver and get a newer one!

How often should you change drivers?

As we’ve previously mentioned, starting around the 5-year mark, you should begin to consider changing your driver. But this is also very much dependent on your skill level. The 5-year-plus mark remains true for casual golfers who only play a few rounds at most a year. On the other hand, highly skilled players who need to get the most out of every swing should consider investing in the latest technology available to them every year.

Are expensive drivers more durable?

By definition, when you buy a driver at a clearly higher price than another, the one you’re buying will most likely be a more recent model. This also means that the more recent should likely have a longer life left to it than an older model.

However, at Golf Avenue, we adjust the price of drivers based on their condition, which means that two drivers of the same model can have more than a $50 price difference. In turn, you could easily find situations where you pay more for a driver in excellent condition, compared to a good condition one, but the good condition one can very well outlast the excellent condition model.

So, does that mean that because you pay more for your driver it will be more durable? There’s definitely no guarantee that the more expensive club will last longer, but it certainly helps your odds of extending it for longer.

Should you upgrade your driver?

This is a loaded question, but there are some scenarios that we can think off where a change will most likely be needed.

If your driver shows any of the damages we highlighted in the first part of this text, you should take this as a clear-cut sign that it’s time to upgrade your driver. The same goes for its age. If it's older than 5 or 6 years old, you should start looking at an upgrade.

Of course, if you feel like your skills are at the level needed to take the next step on the course, it might be time for you to look into upgrading your driver to a model that will allow you to maximize your output on every swing. And while you’re at it, why don’t you trade or sell your old club to help you save on your next driver!

 

We hope this guide helps you better recognize when you should properly consider changing the driver in your golf bag. Whether it’s damage-related, time-related, or because of your evolving skill level, a time will come to change your driver and with the help of this guide, you’re now equipped to identify when the time has truly come for a change.

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With that being said, if you need any help finding the right driver for you as you’re looking to upgrade, you can always get in touch with one of in-house experts by booking a call with any of them. Or if you like to make your own research, you can always turn to our “Club Finder” tool. Answer a few quick questions and you’ll be provided with recommendations based on your wants and needs.

Until next time,

The Golf Avenue Team

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Further reading

Used golf clubs are usually a budget-friendly alternative for golfers over brand-new golf clubs. Discover all their perks!