8 Drivers in 2 Years
By: Skyler Street
The Driver. A lot of golfers have a hate/love relationship with it, and it’s the club that probably gets replaced more often than any other. Here is my a tale of trying to find the right driver over a two year stretch that includes heads exploding on the range, drivers being launched 50 yards onto the cart path, and a bunch of silly decisions. All in all, I went through 8 drivers in less than 2 years before I found the right one. Let’s begin.
I started playing the game in youth tournaments, but unlike many junior golf stories you hear, I wasn’t very good. I once shot 126 with a mind boggling 12 on a par 3, and then later in that same round I passed out from heat exhaustion while picking my ball out of the cup on the 18th green. I wasn’t exactly a junior prodigy, but I loved the game.
As high school approached I made a terrible decision to drop golf and focus on football. Fast forward through four knee surgeries, a bunch of screws, and a meniscus that I no longer have, I really regret that decision. Since one knee didn’t let me run or do much else, I turned back to golf to get those competitive juices flowing. Once I started to dive into the game, I couldn’t play enough golf. Every day at school or work felt like a waste because I wasn’t learning how to be better at this maddening game. I was addicted, and once I started to learn about golf equipment, I took the red pill from Morpheus and went way down the rabbit hole.
My golf mania started just a few months before Nike said they were done making golf equipment. I was already on the prowl for new equipment, but once I saw the Nike Vapor Pro Driver going for $150 brand new, that was truly the catalyst that set off my club buying/swapping/trading/obsession. At the time I was playing with the Taylormade RBZ driver. I had bought it years before just to upgrade from my decade old Cleveland Launcher 400 (I still have that one). The RBZ was great, and I played great with it; I was playing a lot of golf and shooting in the low 80s consistently. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t resist the Nike price drop, and I bought the Nike Vapor Pro. I quickly sold the RBZ to fully invest in the Nike before I even tried it. Dumb decision #1.
A couple weeks went by and honestly I was playing OK with the Nike Vapor, not hitting it further or straighter, but since the RBZ was history I had no choice but to get better with it. One night a few weeks later I was reading up on other Nike clubs, and I came across the Nike Vapor Flex 440. I had never seen this driver before and for some reason it really caught my eye. For days I was dying the try it out, so in typical me fashion I just sold the Vapor Pro to a friend and ordered the Vapor Flex 440. At this point I had been driving the ball so poorly that I didn’t think it would matter.
Love & Heartbreak
All it took was one round with the Vapor Flex 440, and I was in love. The sound, the feel – that driver had it all and I was ready to name my future kids RZN or Volt. I was so excited after the first good round with the 440 that I went back to the range the following morning. After warming up, I was pretty excited to get to the big stick and see if my excellent driving was just a fluke. The first couple drives were great, but then on my 7th or 8th swing I heard this horrible hollow crack that will haunt my dreams forever. I hesitantly looked down and my blue-striped-beauty had a giant crack running all the way through the RZN crown, splitting the head into two pieces. Bummer. I called Nike, and they told me they would send me a replacement immediately. Two agonizing weeks later my blue-striped-beauty #2 had arrived, and I immediately went to the range to get reacquainted.
I’m not sure how to describe my feelings of what happened next, but despair is about as close as I can get. After a few balls, the RZN head exploded on the toe side. I dropped to my knees and cursed the golf gods for their cruelty. At this point I really didn’t know what to do, but I thought I would call Nike again and see what my options were. I got a rep on the phone and explained to him what had happened and at this point I really wanted to make it work with the Vapor Flex 440 because I loved the feel and sound. On the phone the Nike rep lowered his voice and said, “You know, I shouldn’t be telling you this, but if you hit it near the toe a lot, that head is gonna crack.” Good thing my miss is on the toe. That pretty much ended my journey with Nike drivers, and I really was disappointed, but they refunded my money and the search continued.
After the Nike fiasco, food had lost taste, water was putrid. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I was pretty bummed. My wife had seen enough and gave me the green light to go out and try a bunch of clubs that would work for me. The closest thing I could find for a fitting was the PGA Tour Superstore, so one evening I set aside several hours and waltzed in there ready to find my next Excalibur. I walked up to the guy in the hitting bay and said, “I need to walk out of here with a driver today.” He grinned a little and led me to one of the hitting bays where I spent several hours hitting just about every driver he had. I didn’t know much about launch and spin at the time, so when they would point that stuff out I would just mutter, “Oh yeah yeah, that’s very good stuff.” I didn’t know what was going on, I just wanted the driver to feel right and look good to my eye.
It came down to three options for me: PING G, TaylorMade M2, and the Cobra F6. The almighty dollar chose for me. I really wanted the PING G, but the total came out to be almost $500 with tax, and I thought my wife wouldn’t let me back in the house if I spent that much on a club. I went with my second choice, the Cobra F6, because I really liked the hollow feel and sound it had, and I thought it looked great at address with the white crown.
The transition from this driver is probably the silliest because the club was really good. The F6 felt great, and the moveable weights actually impacted the flight, but one day I was playing with a friend when he pointed out that because it had this glossy white finish, the glare off the head was pretty bad. From that point on I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I immediately disliked the color of the crown. Ultimately I did what any sensible person would do: I bought the same driver in a different color.
I sold the white F6 and ended up buying the F6 in “turbulent gray.” This driver stayed in the bag the longest, maybe two or three months, and it left simply because I am an idiot. I was playing in a men’s league with a friend of mine, and during the first 9 holes I was playing lights out. I finished with one bogey and a birdie to come out even and since I was riding high on our way to #10, I made a wager with a buddy. I was playing at about a 7 and he was around 16, and I told him I would give him a stroke each hole and we would play winner take all on the back. Golf being what it is, I went full Charles Barkley and lost almost every hole. By the time we reached the tee box on #18, I was fuming. I usually don’t let my emotions get the better of me on the course, but that day was different because after my tee shot hooked OB, I took that pretty F6 and flung it down the fairway. It wasn’t until my friend said, “Oh no, not the path,” that I realized my mistake. The driver collided with the only three feet of asphalt on the 50 yards of fairway, and I thought, “Oh you idiot.” We drove up to the club, and I was ready to bury another driver, but luckily the collision only left some scratches. It seemed like the head was still intact, and I could play with it, but I felt dumb. Every time I took the head cover off I could feel the guilt, so in typical fashion I took that as an excuse to get a new driver.
I was in the market for a new 3 wood and Cobra announced that if you bought the Cobra F7 driver, you could get the F7 fairway wood for free. I was trying to justify this purchase for what seemed like hours in the PGA Tour Superstore. I felt like the golf gods were giving me another chance to prove myself, and I needed a new 3 wood so this was a win-win situation. Order confirmed. I thought I would sell the F7 driver when it arrived, but as I was selling a set of irons, the buyer mentioned that he liked my driver as well. I told him about the scratches on the face, and he said he didn’t mind. Driver sold.
My thinking was that the F7 should feel similar to the F6, so I could pick up where I left off. You can guess how that turned out for me: the F7 was a terrible fit. I don’t know what it was, but to me that thing felt awful, it sounded awful, and I was a terrible driver with it. I know it’s the Indian not the arrow, but after my second round with that thing, I started taking a 3 iron off the tee. Golf is a mental game, and I felt like I had lost before I hit the ball.
One Last Change
On my way back from the third bad round with the F7, I stopped at the PGATSS. I turned the Cobra back in and took a week off to think about it. After some time off and with a lot of in store credit, I went back with an open mind and promised myself that I would give the driver I came out with a solid year before doing anything dumb. While I didn’t have the resources to get a great fitting like those available at Club Champion and True Spec, the guys at the store helped steer me into a club that was never on my radar. I walked in thinking about the Callaway Epic or the Taylormade M2 but I walked away with the Srixon Z765. The name sounds like a villain from a Bond movie, but that club was above and beyond the best for me. I liked the look, the feel was great, and it was the most accurate for me. The Z765 is still in the bag, and I love that driver so much my eyes don’t even wander to all the new shiny stuff coming out for the new year. Okay, the F8 looks pretty awesome, but I’m going to stick with my Srixon for the time being.
While this was a fun journey that I look back on and laugh, its not something I wish for everyone. It took a long time and a lot of ups and downs to find a driver I was comfortable with. If there is anyone like me out their searching, when you find that beautiful club, don’t let it go. Especially don’t let it go 30 yards into the air then land on the cart path.