Our annual review of the best clubs in the game
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.
THE PARADIGM OF THE 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.