This year’s PGA Merchandise Show sees two giants in the industry—Callaway and TaylorMade—battle over a leadership position when it comes to drivers. It’s a similar matchup that we saw last year, with Callaway’s GBB Epic driver battling TaylorMade’s M1 and M2. This year, it is Rogue, Callaway’s latest, against TaylorMade’s new M3 and M4, bulked up with Twist Face technology.
The big question:
In past years the PGA Merchandise show was a distance battle, with equipment companies saying their driver was the longest. That’s still the case, but what you see at the show this year is a slightly different take on that common refrain. Now it is about getting more distance out of drivers when the golfer doesn’t quite catch the center of the clubface. TaylorMade launched the first salvo at the start of the year when it announced its M3 and M4 drivers with Twist Face, a technology the company says will improve strikes on the toe or heel. Callaway countered a back weeks later with Rogue, which it says has improved forgiveness given changes to its multi-material crown. With a four hour wait to test out the new M3 and M4 drivers at PGA Show Demo Day, it’s safe to say that this will be one of the hottest drivers of the year.
TaylorMade and Callaway aren’t alone at the top of the driver heap. In fact, drivers from Ping and Cobra have captured a lot of attention in past months for many of the same reasons there’s a buzz about M3 and Rogue. Ping’s G400 driver—and its recently announced G400 Max—as well as Cobra’s King F8, which was announced late last year, are also telling a forgiveness story. Ping’s G400 is one of the most forgiving in golf. Canadians Mackenzie Hughes and Brooke Henderson both use it on the PGA and LPGA Tours. The King F8 is offering a machine milled face, offering more consistency across the clubface. You had to listen carefully, but Cobra’s billed its new F8, which Rickie Fowler has in play, as having improved bulge and roll properties, which sounds very similar to TaylorMade’s Twist Face technology. Ping, on the other hand, used tungsten weighting and its Dragonfly Technology to create a driver that its says outperformed rivals in testing.
It ultimately comes down to you – the consumer, who should find more fairways and play better golf with any of these drivers. Truthfully few recreational golfers hit it like Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson, and could benefit from drivers that help them when they don’t catch the centre of the clubface.