Our an­nual re­view of the best clubs in the game

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Front Page - by mike stachura

There are 111 prod­ucts on this year’s Hot List, an in­sanely high num­ber, the most since we went to nine cat­e­gories in 2010.

The truth is, there’s just that much good stuff on the mar­ket now. Sure, equip­ment sales have been trend­ing down, with con­sumer en­thu­si­asm for buy­ing new clubs flat at best. It al­most seems as if golfers be­lieve all the in­no­va­tion that’s ever go­ing to hap­pen in the game has al­ready hap­pened. Not even close. In­no­va­tion in golf con­tin­ues to in­trigue us, and we should know. We’ve seen ev­ery­thing out there, and we’ve never been more im­pressed. The goal of the Hot List is to re­view the panoply of new prod­ucts that we think will make a dif­fer­ence in your game, clubs that show us pos­si­bil­i­ties that hadn’t ex­isted. We’ve spent three months con­sult­ing sci­en­tists, in­dus­try in­sid­ers and play­ers of all abil­i­ties to ar­rive at the game’s most mean­ing­ful clubs. We re­viewed 307 clubs to find the 111 that mat­ter most.

In­no­va­tion might be less out­landish than it used to be – square driv­ers, any­one? – but that’s the point. Ex­cep­tional im­prove­ments to­day begin with an at­ten­tion to an aes­thetic that ap­pears al­most clas­sic. Club de­sign­ers are no longer pur­su­ing the­o­ret­i­cally ben­e­fi­cial ma­te­ri­als, man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques or constructions with­out be­ing sure they first do no harm to the club’s sound or feel.

Golf’s in­no­va­tors are demon­strat­ing a supreme un­will­ing­ness to ac­cept what seems to be ob­vi­ous. Be­cause what seems to be ob­vi­ous blinds us to what might be pos­si­ble.


De­sign­ers are tap­ping into new con­cepts and even new kinds of re­search to make to­day’s clubs bet­ter. The Hot List prod­ucts re­veal an un­re­lent­ing pas­sion for in­no­va­tion, from the ob­vi­ous (mov­able weights) to the ob­scure (pro­gres­sive sole width on your irons). Why? Be­cause you can’t make things bet­ter by do­ing them the same way they’ve al­ways been done. For ex­am­ple, it’s why wind­tun­nel testing is al­most a pre­req­ui­site in designing to­day’s driv­ers. The in­cre­men­tal re­sults are driv­ers that make your same old swing brand-new fast.

It’s also why the bot­tom of the club­face is get­ting as hot as the cen­tre. All those chan­nels, slots and ac­cor­dion-like fea­tures in the sole re­sult in springier faces in the place where many of us make con­tact.

It’s why iron faces are start­ing to flex like driv­ers. No one ever thought that would be pos­si­ble, un­til com­pa­nies de­cided to see just how thin they could make a sheet of steel. The re­sult is iron faces that be­have at im­pact no dif­fer­ent than driv­ers.

It’s why wedge grooves are the largest and sharpest they’ve been since the rules rolled back their size. En­gi­neers now cal­cu­late, to the in­di­vid­ual groove, how long un­til a milling tool stops cut­ting the per­fect edge. And it’s why we al­ready have so­lu­tions to the ban on an­chored put­ters a year be­fore the rule takes ef­fect. Coun­ter­bal­anced, any­one?

All this in­no­va­tion is rea­son enough for you to ex­am­ine your gear. Get with a qual­i­fied club­fit­ter, and study our re­port. You don’t need all 111, but we’ll guar­an­tee you this: The one you need is on this list.

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