Equipment Review: The top drivers of 2024
01 Feb 2024
by Todd Mrowice of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Equipment Reviews

As 2023 was winding down, the top manufacturers in golf gave us plenty of reasons to get excited for the new year upon us. With new irons, putters, and wedges trickling in, it was the driver category that (per the usual) was getting the most attention. Now that everyone’s cards are on the table for 2024, here are AmateurGolf.com’s top drivers of the year.


Our crew here at AmateurGolf.com collectively fell for the new DARKSPEED lineup from Cobra Golf. At first glance, these drivers are super sleek with an “all business” black-on-black colorway. With an added hint of carbon detailing, you can’t ignore how good Cobra DARKSPEED looks.

Aside from appearances, Cobra DARKSPEED hits on many levels. It took no time at all to feel how hot the faces are on these drivers. DARKSPEED’s predecessor, LTDx, felt great at impact and you can tell Cobra’s R&D team made improvements for this generation. Performance-wise, DARKSPEED is as long as forgiving as anything you’ll find in 2024. The key to finding that distance and forgiveness is related to one of our favorite aspects of DARKSPEED, and that’s the number of models available.

Cobra offers DARKSPEED in three distinctly different heads.

DARKSPEED LS: This low-spin model is intended for the better player, likely with a faster swing speed that benefits from cutting down on those RPMs.

DARKSPEED X: This model will fit the widest range of players with added forgiveness and a slightly higher launch profile than the LS.

DARKSPEED MAX: Draw-bias model, intended for mig to high-handicaps looking to get away from a slice with the highest launch profile.

The collection of these three models puts DARKSPEED in a top spot as they appeal to so many amateur golfers. Golf gearheads will also appreciate the variety of shaft offerings from PROJECT X and UST Mamiya.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke

Expectations were enormously high for Callaway in 2024, at least from where I stood. The maiden voyage for Paradym in 2023 was a home run. Added distance, lowered dispersion, and great feel, all part of the first Paradym run. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have held it against Callaway if they had produced a 2024 model that didn’t have an uptick in performance. But here we are with Paradym Ai Smoke, and Callaway does it again.

Ai Smart Face isn’t the nickname of the kid you copied off of in high school, it’s Callaway’s technological highlight in Paradym Ai Smoke. The design concept is to have tiny sweet spots covering the entire clubface, and they designed it with success. When I tested Paradym Ai Smoke, I purposely took a few on the toe and heel of the club, and at impact, it still felt like I was catching it toward the middle. I loved that confidence boost, as an amateur golfer myself.

Along the same line as the Cobra DARKSPEED, Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke lands on our list of top drivers because it’s available in multiple models to fit the needs of professionals and amateurs alike.

Paradym Ai Smoke MAX: This model fits a large population of golfers. It’s forgiving, long, and has enough wiggle room for the low to mid-handicap player to use their skill set.

Paradym Ai Smoke MAX D: Callaway’s draw-bias model reduces your slice and launches just a bit higher than the MAX.

Paradym Ai Smoke MAX Fast: The perfect choice for slower swing speeds or for players who want a lighter driver.

Paradym Ai Smoke Triple Diamond: Intended for the better player, single-digit handicap. This model has a smaller overall profile with reduced spin.

When you add in the women’s models of Paradym Ai Smoke, you have enough driver options out there to custom-fit almost every player on the planet. Now that’s what I call diverse.

Titleist TSR

It should speak volumes that even among all of the “new” equipment for 2024, the Titleist TSR driver lineup is still a top option. If you’re shopping for a new driver this winter, these models should be a no-brainer to demo. TSR came into existence by professional staff players giving their input to Titleist of what they wanted to see produced. From there, Titleist’s R&D team finely tuned four different heads to meet the needs of all players. You’d really have to be trying to dislike the TSR lineup, it’s that good.

TSR1: The lightweight option that is ideal for older players or people looking to pick up some of the distance they’ve lost.

TSR2: This model fits a lot of players and falls in the middle of the packIt's forgiving for players that need that extra help on tee shots but still produces great distance.

TSR3: A step in the “player’s driver” direction. A little lower launching and less forgiving, but the low to mid-handicap player with some giddy-up in their swing will crush this model.

TSR4: The aggressive player's driver. Low-spin, lower launch, smaller sweet spot. For very good to great players, the TS4 should be in the bag.

Cleveland Launcher XL2

Since Cleveland Golf began producing equipment once again, outside of wedges, there hasn’t been much that’s thrilled me. Now that’s not to say that Cleveland’s sibling brands Srixon and XXIO haven’t come out with some good stuff. I associate Cleveland equipment with big-hit classics like the original Launcher and the oddly designed, yet incredibly solid, Hibore.

The new Cleveland Launcher XL2, however, really restores my faith in Cleveland Golf (again, outside of wedges). While I wouldn’t put this driver in the low-handicap category, I do feel comfortable saying any golfer who carries a 12 or higher should consider taking it for a ride. The XL2 is as consistent of a driver as I’ve seen this year. Consistent in distance, accuracy, launch, spin, and basically everything else.

From a technology standpoint, the Cleveland Launcher XL2 incorporates some of the traits of Srixon drivers which have become increasingly popular. MainFrame XL Face is an Ai computing process that simulates thousands of ball strikes to add forgiveness where it’s needed most. Not to mention Rebound Frame, which is a collection of flex zones you feel at impact. 

Overall, you know what you’re going to get with the Cleveland Launcher XL2. Not a ton of surprises, and if you’re swinging it decently you’ll be able to find a lot of fairways with this driver. It’s available as a standard Launcher XL2 model, or in a draw-bias model which is the XL2 D.


PING has been on a roll over the past decade, particularly in the driver category. I can’t remember the last PING driver model that I would consider a “dud” or was just “meh, alright.” Hats off to PING for consistently pointing the needle upwards, which doesn’t stop with the new G430 lineup. It consists of four driver models that are all top-notch from a performance standpoint.

G430 MAX 10K: PING boasts that this is its “straightest and most forgiving driver ever.” It has a record-setting MOI and will produce great numbers for many players, particularly those with higher handicaps that need the additional launch and ultimate forgiveness.

G430 MAX: The model that will fit the average player. The G430 is a bomber that feels great, looks great, and even sounds great thanks to acoustic improvements over the G425 models.

G430 LST: This is PING’s lower spinning option that will have a more piercing ball flight. Designed for the more accomplished player, it has a 440 cc head.

G430 SFT: Distance and performance-wise, the SFT is very similar to the MAX model. What sets it apart is its draw-bias design to help slicers stay in the short grass.

PING’s driver head designs are always a little edgy, particularly on the crown. That stays consistent with the G430 models as the top line makes it fairly easy to get lined up and it has some carbon detailing which looks great against the matte black.
PING is also sneaky-good with its in-house shafts. The offerings with the G430 include PING Alta and PING Tour 2.0 models, but you’ll also find popular shafts from Mitsubishi and HZRDUS.

Be sure to stay tuned to our equipment section here at AmateurGolf.com throughout the year to learn about all of the latest and greatest gear coming your way.

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