Mexico Open at Vidanta

Vidanta Vallarta



Hot List

The best-looking drivers, according to low-, mid- and high-handicaps

February 09, 2024
/content/dam/images/golfdigest/fullset/2024/2/hot-list-collection-best-looking-drivers-collage.jpg

We love launch-monitor data. It’s a valuable tool in determining which club is right for you. Launch monitors and robots, however, don’t buy golf clubs; humans buy golf clubs. With that comes personal preferences. That’s why for the Golf Digest Hot List, 20 percent of the score is allocated to the important intangibles of look, sound and feel. Admit it: You’ve picked up a club off the rack at some point, put it down in the address position and thought, “Nope.” Although there is not a lot of “Nope” on the Hot List, there are clubs that stand out above others in the area of look. As our player’s scoring guideline states, if you’re going to give a club a 5 out of 5 in look, “You would complete the Marathon Creulon (a 26-mile race up a 31-percent incline in the mountains of Wales where you are required to lug your own safety kit) while reciting Paradise Lost (from memory) and wearing a pair of undersized FootJoy Classics from 1987 (metal spikes, of course), just to be able to look at this club for a few more precious moments.” These are the drivers from this year’s Hot List that came the closest to that lofty ideal, broken down by various handicap levels. —E. Michael Johnson

Low Handicaps

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

The lowest spinning model in the family was developed with the help of data from elite golfers and tour players. It uses a distinct multi-thickness face, designed through the use of artificial intelligence, that focuses on enhancing performance on center hits. Slightly heavier than the standard models, it aims to produce a neutral ball flight. The largely carbon-composite crown and sole save weight to make room for interchangeable weights in the front and rear of the sole. Callaway says this version improves downrange dispersion over last year’s Paradym TD by 34 percent.

More on this club

Cobra Darkspeed X
$550 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$550

Designed to offer lower spin and forgiveness on off-center hits, this model balances front and rear weighting to appeal to a range of swing speeds. The front and back adjustable three- and 12-gram sole weights tweak spin and launch. A 13-percent larger face area extends the most flexible sections to the outer edges, and an internal bridge-like weight bar is now more forward and lower than before without touching the sole or face. This means better all-around distance potential through lower spin and more direct energy transfer.

More on this club

Mizuno ST-G
$600 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

This low-spin head has two seven-gram weights that can slide in two heel and toe channels in the sole. The angled channels converge at the rear center of the sole and allow for an infinite range of heel- or toe-biased weighting. The channel cut into the front of the sole maximizes the way the face flexes. Also helping is a new titanium alloy that makes the face lighter, faster and stronger. The weight-saving carbon-composite crown and a steel bar in the channel’s polymer filling help to lower the center of gravity.

More on this club

Titleist TSR2
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

This is Titleist’s most forgiving and welcoming shape. It features a larger face area and most importantly a unique face-thickness pattern that emphasizes performance on mis-hits. All that is enhanced by the overall larger footprint that makes for the most stable head in the line. The sleeker external lines and curves make that larger shape sail through the air a bit smoother to let players generate more clubhead speed.

More on this club

Titleist TSR3
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

This is Titleist’s most popular model on tour. It's designed for players who have a consistent impact pattern around the center of the face. As a result, the face features a special variable-thickness pattern that emphasizes the best performance for center strikes. The TSR3 has a more compact size, but it also adds a movable weight that allows players to shift the center of gravity slightly. Yes, this helps somewhat with draw or fade preferences, but mostly it’s designed for lining up the CG with where a player is making impact. The result is better energy transfer.

More on this club

Mid Handicaps

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

The largest chunk of the golfing population should fit into this model. It has the most stable head in the family for extra forgiveness on mis-hits across the face, and Callaway has added a rear perimeter sliding weight to more tightly fine-tune mis-hits and swing patterns. Expect a mid-range ball flight compared to the other models in this family, and the ideal target player is a swing speed from 90 to 100 miles per hour.

More on this club

Cobra Darkspeed X
$550 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$550

Designed to offer lower spin and forgiveness on off-center hits, this model balances front and rear weighting to appeal to a range of swing speeds. The front and back adjustable three- and 12-gram sole weights tweak spin and launch. A 13-percent larger face area extends the most flexible sections to the outer edges, and an internal bridge-like weight bar is now more forward and lower than before without touching the sole or face. This means better all-around distance potential through lower spin and more direct energy transfer.

More on this club

Srixon ZX7 Mk II
$500 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$500

A compact shape with a taller face, this model is built for high-speed, high-skill players who like to maneuver their tee shots. Generally, you’ll see the lowest launch of the three models here with more of a neutral to fade-biased ball flight. Further adding to its emphasis on control are the interchangeable weights in the heel and toe of the sole (one at eight grams and the other at four). They let a player shift the center of gravity in the head to favor more of a draw or a fade.

More on this club

TaylorMade Qi10
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

Among the improvements here—beyond better overall stability on mis-hits on the heel and toe and high and low—is the increased use of carbon composite in the crown. Now stretching almost seamlessly to the top of the face, the crown saves weight to help increase stability on off-center hits and to lower the center of gravity for reduced spin and better energy transfer. The structure of the channel in the sole now gives more at impact to deliver extra flex to the face for faster ball speed, particularly on lower hits on the face.

More on this club

Titleist TSR2
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

This is Titleist’s most forgiving and welcoming shape. It features a larger face area and most importantly a unique face-thickness pattern that emphasizes performance on mis-hits. All that is enhanced by the overall larger footprint that makes for the most stable head in the line. The sleeker external lines and curves make that larger shape sail through the air a bit smoother to let players generate more clubhead speed.

More on this club

High Handicaps

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

The lowest spinning model in the family was developed with the help of data from elite golfers and tour players. It uses a distinct multi-thickness face, designed through the use of artificial intelligence, that focuses on enhancing performance on center hits. Slightly heavier than the standard models, it aims to produce a neutral ball flight. The largely carbon-composite crown and sole save weight to make room for interchangeable weights in the front and rear of the sole. Callaway says this version improves downrange dispersion over last year’s Paradym TD by 34 percent.

More on this club

Cobra Darkspeed X
$550 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$550

Designed to offer lower spin and forgiveness on off-center hits, this model balances front and rear weighting to appeal to a range of swing speeds. The front and back adjustable three- and 12-gram sole weights tweak spin and launch. A 13-percent larger face area extends the most flexible sections to the outer edges, and an internal bridge-like weight bar is now more forward and lower than before without touching the sole or face. This means better all-around distance potential through lower spin and more direct energy transfer.

More on this club

PXG 0311 Black Ops
$600 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

The standard model—the most forgiving of the two—features more stability on off-center hits from heel to toe (by a little) and top to bottom (by 25 percent). This means some off-center hits have ball speeds consistent with center hits. The way the new titanium alloy in the face deflects at impact yields higher flight with less spin. Meanwhile, the lightweight carbon-composite sections on the crown and sole result in a lower and deeper center of gravity compared to last year’s extra-forgiving XF model.

More on this club

Ping G430 Max 10K
$600 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$600

In a family of wide-body, ultra-forgiving drivers, the Max 10K is the beefiest, nearly filling the size and shape limitations set forth in the rules. That size, along with a heavy and fixed tungsten weight in the back of this massive head, pushes stability on off-center hits to the highest in company history and the edge of golf’s rules. Those limits regulate how stable a head is from heel to toe, but this driver goes another step by stabilizing how the head resolves mis-hits high and low. A carbon-composite crown section keeps the center of gravity low to control spin, too.

More on this club

TaylorMade Qi10 LS
$630 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$630

The most compact of the three clubheads, the LS is designed for better players who like to work the ball and desire less spin. Noticeably sleeker is the sliding-weight track on the sole, which is positioned more forward and lower this year for increased effectiveness on trajectory and spin. It also weighs nearly six grams less. This weight savings along with the savings from the carbon face and body construction can be repositioned in the form of 19 grams in the rear perimeter for extra stability.

More on this club