It's the most wonderful time of the year...especially if you're a golf equipment junkie.
With the 2024 PGA Merchandise Show less than two months away, golf's major equipment manufacturers are preparing to launch their flagship products for the year ahead: drivers, irons, wedges, putters and golf balls.
Right now, there's a "Big Four" of sorts in the golf club manufacturing side of the equipment business: Callaway, PING, Titleist and TaylorMade. The next tier, which includes Cleveland/Srixon/XXIO, Cobra, Mizuno, PXG and Wilson, has never been stronger. And the crop of direct-to-consumer golf equipment brands continues to give golfers smaller-batch, lower-cost options as well.
The formal releases come thick and fast after the first of the year, typically, but we have tracked plenty of rumors, chatter and black-and-white photographs when clubs have shown up on the USGA/R&A Conforming Clubs list (meaning the companies are having pros put pre-release clubs into play).
Here are 5 new drivers for 2024 that have already piqued our interest, starting with Rory McIlroy's newest weapon:
2024 TaylorMade Qi10 driver
While they have settled into a once-a-year release pattern with their drivers, TaylorMade continues to stake a claim to the top spot in PGA Tour driver counts, which contributes to its impressive market share. After two years of SIM drivers followed by two years of Stealth serving as the flagship driver and fairway wood ushering in the "Carbonwood" era, it seems "Qi" is on tap for 2024, as a Qi10 LS driver hit the USGA Conforming Club List in mid-November. A short sliding weight track close to the carbon clubface seems to be meant to dial in optimal launch conditions according to a player's strike pattern and/or typical shot shape.
2024 Cobra Darkspeed driver
The Cobra brand celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023, but for the last decade-plus it has felt current and young without pandering. Its long-term sponsorship of Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson has been part of this narrative; both golfers have been around for a while, yet still project plenty of youth.
Cobra's clubs have flown under the radar, but always look sharp and dabble in cutting-edge technologies without making a huge show of it (remember their 3D-printed putters?). The Snake's newest driver, the Darkspeed, looks to be as muted as anything the company has rolled out in years, which differentiates it from its flashier competitors. The crown is especially attractive, morphing from a flat matte grey into a subtle carbon-fiber pattern that has become familiar on most drivers of late. As ever, it should make a solid contrarian play for golfers' bags in 2024.
2024 PXG 0311 Black Ops driver
PXG founder and commandant Bob Parsons is a Marine, and his company's club models all make military references. The '0311' tag that adorns many club models stands for an infantry rifleman's numerical designation. Adding the "Black Ops" name to PXG's newest driver would also seem to conjure the stealthy and secretive world of a long-distance sniper. No doubt, Parsons wants golfers to think of long distances and a high degree of accuracy when they stand on a tee box. Three driver models - Black Ops, Black Ops Tour-1 and Black Ops Tour-3 - appeared on the USGA Conforming Club List in November ahead of the PGA Tour's RSM Classic.
PING G430 Max 10K
PING has made some of the most forgiving drivers of the last 25 years (full disclosure: I game a G425 LST), with many of them bumping up against the USGA's moment-of-inertia (MOI) maximum of 5,900 grams per square centimeter. The fact that this new variety of the company's current flagship driver carries the "10K" has led to some speculation that it refers to the sum of lateral and vertical MOI, representing a new frontier in forgiveness that still falls within the USGA limit. Interestingly, the G430 Max 10K does not feature a sliding tungsten weight, which is something that appears on other G430 drivers.
New Callaway driver for 2024 and new golf clubs from other brands?
With the PGA Tour on hiatus for a few weeks, it's likely that the other manufacturers will begin seeding their 2024 drivers - as well as other clubs - at The Sentry and the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. A new Callaway driver is a virtual certainty, and we are also hearing about a new tour-line golf ball - the Chrome Tour - from the company.
The run-up to the 2024 PGA Merchandise Show should be full of new golf club releases; stay tuned to our coverage as we speculate, investigate and review all the latest and greatest golf products for you.