From deflating balls in football, corking bats in baseball, playing will illegal curves in hockey, to using illegal golf clubs – in every sport, players are always trying to gain the upper hand.
While illegal or non-conforming golf clubs can’t be used in most official tournaments due to the benefit they give their users, amateur golfers can take advantage of illegal golf clubs (somewhat) guilt-free.
The best illegal golf clubs to use are drivers. The material, length, thickness, and size of these non-conforming drivers improve the ability of the ball to spring off the clubface when compared to regulated drivers.
This can help you to hit longer and straighter. This is the goal of every golfer, and illegal clubs make it possible for those who don’t have the time to practice day and night like the pros.
If you want to take a shortcut and start beating your buddies, then one of these drivers could be the answer.
In this article, we’ll run you through what makes a club illegal and who decides this, before moving on to the 5 best non-conforming drivers currently on the market.
What Makes A Driver Illegal?
#1: Clubhead Size
The most commonly known restriction of a driver’s design is that they are limited in size.
This was implemented when manufacturers made the switch from persimmon to stainless steel to titanium.
By using lighter and stronger materials, companies realized that they could increase the size of the sweet spot drastically.
This prompted the governing bodies to limit the volume that driver heads could reach. Currently, the limit is set at 460cc. All drivers made by big-name manufacturers fall within 440cc and 460cc, Taylor Made drivers are all 460cc.
#2: Shaft Length
This is simple, a longer shaft means more distance. If you are going to use illegal golf clubs, you might as go for one with a longer shaft and shoot for the stars.
The regulated limit of driver shafts right now is 48-inches. You can easily add an inch or two and not notice too much in your swing. But you will notice when you see how far the ball flies.
This is a less popular method of gaining distance since a longer shaft will also affect your accuracy.
Simply put, the longer shaft means you’re standing further away. This makes it harder to get accurate hand-eye coordination. However, as we learned above, thankfully illegal clubs have a larger driver head that solves this by providing a bigger sweet spot.
#3: Clubface Thickness
This is a very sneaky way to gain more distance with a non-conforming driver.
Clubface thickness refers to the coefficient of restitution (COR). It’s the measurement of how much energy is transferred from your clubhead to the ball – basically how hard you hit it.
To keep the game fair for everyone, drivers are limited to a COR of 0.830; anything higher, and the powers that be will add it to the list of illegal golf clubs.
To get a higher COR, companies make the clubface thinner which makes it more springy. This helps to hit the ball with more power and achieve greater distance. Although it does also make the face more brittle and susceptible to cracks.
Some repair shops will even shave the face of your current conforming club. That way, no one will know your dirty little secret.
Who Says Illegal Golf Drivers Are Illegal?
Let’s be clear, you’re not going to jail if you use illegal golf clubs. “Illegal” is a strong word, and we prefer the term ‘non-conforming’.
Golf is a game at the end of the day, and games are meant to be fun. If you’re respectful of the culture, the course, and your fellow golf compatriots are okay with it, then using a non-conforming club is no big deal.
You should only care if you play in tournaments or register an official handicap.
Even smaller tournaments like club championships should be avoided if you want to use your illegal golf clubs. This is to avoid any nasty disputes that could arise from competitors that are using their conforming clubs.
Many club championships use a handicapping system so everyone can compete on a level playing field. If you register your scores using a non-conforming club then you could be eligible for tournaments or flights that you wouldn’t otherwise qualify for.
Have fun and enjoy the game but demonstrate sportsmanship among your peers and only use your illegal golf clubs when playing for fun.
What To Look For In Illegal Golf Clubs – Drivers?
In one word: DISTANCE.
For most golfers, distance is the main thing you should be looking for in a non-conforming driver.
Find a happy balance between what feels right and what will produce results. You may need to practice a bit to get used to a larger head and longer shaft. It will throw off your timing at first.
Pro tip: It should feel like you’re swinging slower, but you will produce more distance this way. With a longer shaft, it takes more time for the clubhead to make it all around your body and back to the ball.
Be patient and let the clubhead build up speed. Demonstrating patience will result in booming drives.
If you’re going to get a non-conforming driver, you might as well go all out. Ensure your driver is bigger, longer, and the face is thinner.
Take good care of it though. The big, billion-dollar companies don’t make illegal golf clubs, so sometimes durability can be suspect, but the lower price also makes up for that.
The 5 Best Illegal Drivers
Here are all the details you need about non-conforming drivers on the illegal golf clubs list.
– The slightly larger head is very controllable
– A lower center of gravity improves carry distance
This is a great option to dip your toe in the non-conforming waters of golf equipment. It’s noticeably bigger when compared to conforming drivers and will take a bit of getting used to.
PGX recognizes this and has made it with a 46-inch shaft. At this length, you shouldn’t have to change the tempo of your downswing too much. You can always get a longer shaft later on it if you want even more distance.
As one of the cheapest drivers out there, it also features a lower center of gravity which is legal to do. This will help high-handicappers get a better launch angle, improving carry distance.
Now you can cut the corner on that dogleg that has been giving you problems all season long!
– Higher COR for increased ball speed
– Unique shaft installation helps square the face for straighter ball flights
This driver has a history of being long. It’s best known for winning multiple World Long Drive Championships and has been used by some of the biggest names in long drive competition including Jamie Sadlowski.
It was also used to hit the longest drive in competition history by Mike Dobbyn measuring 551 yards!
The main selling point of this club is its COR. Its razor-thin face provides an incredible bounce off the face. It feels quite different than conforming clubs when you hit the sweet spot.
Having this propels the ball at much higher ball speeds which keeps it in the air longer without having to go too much higher.
This is one of the more unique illegal golf clubs based on how the shaft is attached to the head. Basically, it’s too far to the middle of the face which helps to square the face. It’s only off by millimeters – but as we all know, golf the game of golf is a stickler for rules.
– Extra-large clubhead for a massive sweet spot
– Higher COR for more carry distance
If you’ve been waiting for the ‘go big or go home’ driver, then your wait is over. This is the club you envision when you think “illegal driver”.
Its massive head measures 515cc which is huge in comparison to off-the-shelf conforming drivers. At this size, it’s perfect for helping high handicap golfers hit the sweet spot more often. The bigger the sweet spot, the harder it is to miss.
A larger sweet spot also means a higher COR. The face is illegal as it’s too thin by USGA and R&A regulations. This gives it that amazing trampoline effect that rockets the ball off the face.
Pairing these two distance features together is a deadly combination.
To help you keep control of all this power it’s outfitted with a very prominent offset. This is great for anyone suffering from a nasty slice. The offset will turn your slice into a power fade when you aren’t swinging your best.
– The largest head being made
– Enormous sweet spot to help off-center hits maintain distance
If you want bigger, you got it. The good part about not worrying about what the higher-ups say is that you can go as big as you like. This is the biggest driver I’ve ever found – and it’s huge!
Entering the chat at 550cc there is no bigger sweet spot than this one. If you’re a high-handicapper or new to the game, this club will help you play your best golf (that’s why it’s illegal).
Having such a voluminous head means the clubface is larger and thus easier to hit. It also means the face has more flexibility to propel your ball like it’s being shot out of a gun.
The size of the head and higher COR is what makes this driver non-conforming and you can see it right away – makes me wonder how far the touring pros would hit this if they got it in their hands.
– Neutral head shape and design allow for shot shaping
– Higher MOI to prevent the driver from twisting at impact
Staying with the theme of abnormally large drivers within the world of illegal golf clubs, this makes the list as being a great balance between distance and accuracy. It’s bigger than the Juggernaut but not as offset.
Mid-handicappers will love the extra distance but also the capability to work the ball in both directions.
With a more neutral head shape, you’ll gain more control over your ball flight so you can use this driver for more than just brute strength.
A bonus with this driver is the lightweight shaft and grip that comes with it. Purposely reducing weight will add a few mph to your swing so you can squeeze every yard of distance out of your drives.
It’s also expertly weight to increase the moment of inertia (MOI) which is the measurement used to see how much a club twists at impact. This has a very high MOI meaning it doesn’t twist a lot. This is great news since you’ll be swinging at a higher velocity.
Want To Double Down On Your Improvement?
We have some tips here to improve your consistency so you won’t have to rely on illegal golf clubs all the time.
Take advantage of these illegal golf drivers by crushing them with a repeatable and powerful swing by using these tips for more consistent ball strikes.