• The Big Test
If you’re in the market for any new clubs this year, don’t spend a penny until you’ve checked our results
Chris Ryan, pro Chris is senior instructor at The Belfry’s PGA National Academy.
Simon Daddow, 10 handicap A former club designer, Simon is a slow-swinging player who is very consistent.
Chris Jones, 11 handicap Chris has been testing golf clubs since 2005. He’s a hard-hitting but inconsistent player.
We started organising it last October, but here it finally is – the biggest and most comprehensive gear test we’ve ever published, Top Gear 2017.
There are two reasons we’ve done it. The first is that the interest in last year’s Top Gear, both in print and online, told us we needed to make it an annual event, so that’s what it will be.
And secondly, the golf equipment market continues to change. Most brands (Ping and Titleist the notable exceptions) are now on annual product cycles, which means a raft of new clubs at the start of the year. So there’s no point in us testing putters in July or wedges in September when they’ve been on sale for months. That’s why we’ve put them all in one special issue, right at the start of the golf season with lots more detail.
Who did it
He’s an expert in club fitting, too.
How we did it
We asked all the major manufacturers to submit their entire 2016 ranges for testing. Only one, PXG, declined.
In order to ensure a level playing field, each of the three testers was fitted for the equipment tested. We conducted a test every week from January, when every new club was available.
We tested both indoors with a premium ball and outside in a range bay using range balls, as that’s how many golfers will get fitted. We collected a ton of data from every shot, using a Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor, and then pored over all this information to come to a conclusion.
Our launch monitor
We again picked Foresight Sports’ GC2 launch monitor with Head Measurement Technology (HMT). Thanks to its high-res camera and stereoscopic lens (which captures up to 10,000 frames per second) we were able to collect thousands of pieces of data not only from the ball, but also from the clubface. We picked it for several reasons: • We were able to record where every shot impacted the clubface, making it possible to analyse where the fastest shots came from and monitor how much ball speed was lost on off-centre hits. • It can be used both indoors and outside. That means we were able to create a controlled environment inside at a comfortable temperature to collect data
while using a premium ball. To ensure data was relevant to you, we also tested outside using range balls. • By hooking the system up to a laptop and using Foresight’s software we saw where every shot had gone and how it had flown. • Its portability let us take it to different ranges
when we needed to gain more data. • The GC2 is recognised by manufacturers, players and teachers of the game as giving unmatched accuracy. Foresight’s new and improved GC Quad only became available after we’d started testing, so for consistency we stuck with the GC2. • Visit www.foresightsports.
com for more.
How we picked our winners
To help you choose the best new clubs for your game, we picked our top 10 products (five for Budget and Performance drivers) in each of the following 12 categories: • Drivers (Budget; Performance; Premium) • Fairway woods • Hybrids • Better player irons • Game-improvement irons • Super game-improvement irons • Wedges • Putters (blades, mallets, high MOI models)
Each tester also came up with a personal top three in each category to show which products they’d put in their own bag.
Where we did it
We’ve been testing gear at the National Fitting Centre at The Belfry since 2005. It’s a fabulous facility in the heart of the country.
*Please note certain equipment featured may not be available in your market