Do Golf Drivers Wear Out?

do golf drivers wear out

Unless you are blessed with swing speed similar to long drive contestants then it is highly unlikely you will wear out your driver. The only other reason for a driver head to fail would be a manufacturing defect or damage outside of its normal use.

I did have an early titanium driver (Howson Hippo) where the head snapped off from the shaft during a shot but have never managed to crack the face of any driver but that’s hardly surprising with my swing speed.

I can only personally think of one person I’ve known that has managed to crack a driver’s face during play. He managed to do it to two Adams drivers in quick succession (in the mid-2000s) although if memory serves that particular model was renowned for cracking.

Will Your Driver Lose Distance Over Time?

It is quite unlikely that wear and tear is the source of your distance woes.

It is much more likely that your technique is to blame for any loss of distance when driving the ball. A large percentage of golfers struggle with a slice. If you are one of them then these anti-slice tips should help you improve rather than worrying about your driver wearing out.

While it’s possible your swing or physical ability may change over time causing you to need a new shaft it’s less likely that you would need to replace the head. 

What Is The Lifespan Of A Golf Driver?

If properly looked after then a driver should last longer than most people would wait before changing to a more modern club anyway. While technology does improve over time we are now at a point where limitations by the games governing bodies make it nearly impossible for manufacturers to produce a driver which would significantly increase distance on well-struck shots when compared to their previous models.

Why Do Some Drivers Crack?

Tom Wishon, who is a respected club designer/builder, did try to answer this question although the page on his site that dealt with this issue is no longer available some portions of it are quoted on thesandtrap.

Basically, drivers’ faces were made thinner and thinner in an effort to generate more distance due to the “trampoline” effect. 

Depending on the facility used to manufacture the heads the tolerance for the thickness of the face could vary quite a bit. This meant it was possible for a particular player to receive a driver that had a face slightly thinner than the design really called for. 

If such a driver was being used by a player with a very high swing speed or someone who practiced an awful lot and managed to hit the same spot on the face very regularly then it might be possible for the face to give way over time. This is probably what’s happening to people who post on forums saying they have cracked their driver.

According to Wishon, it’s unlikely that metal fatigue is playing a part since drivers are simply not hit often enough and the faces don’t flex enough for metal fatigue to occur.

One thing that could happen is the face bulge and roll radii could be affected by repeated hits, especially, from fast swinging players. This will be more likely to occur in clubs where the manufacturing process had led to a slightly thinner than intended face. If the characteristics of the face are changed then you may find a drop-off in the performance of the club.

In tests, he found that a driver with a face made 0.1 mm thinner than intended, used by a player with a swing speed of 125 mph would see the face radii start to flatten after about 200 hits. After about 500 center strikes the face radii would flatten sufficiently for the club not to perform properly.

Martin Borgmeier shows what can happen with a non-conforming (eg thinner) face and high clubhead speed.

Martin Borgmeier crushing a driver

How Often Should I Replace My Driver?

Many amateur golfers probably change their driver roughly every five years or so. Although with the rapidly increasing cost of drivers over the past decade this period may start to stretch out a little further.

Realistically if you were fitted for a driver in the last 10 years then unless you have made significant changes to your swing or physique then you may find little difference by upgrading. 

Certainly, the last few years have seen most manufacturers focus on improving distance on off-center strikes since they know it is increasingly difficult to generate more distance from well-struck shots given the current equipment rules. So if you want more distance then you will have to look at training and technique.

Do I Need To “Break In” A Golf Driver?

With the possible exception of golfers entering long drive competitions, any driver you buy off the shelf should be ready to go straight away. I have seen certain long drive competitors talk about “warming up” drivers prior to competition but even touring professionals don’t generate the sort of clubhead speed that some of the top long drive contestants can achieve. There is certainly no need for recreational players to worry about having to “break in” their new driver.

Do Golf Drivers Wear Out?: Conclusion

So golf drivers don’t wear out as a general rule. It’s much more likely that you would want to change your driver because of new technology or changes to your swing than needing to change it because it has worn out. If you swing it as fast as Bryson DeChambeu then you might need to worry though!

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