How we did it
If you’re in the market for any new clubs this year, don’t spend a penny until you’ve checked our results
What it takes to pull together a test of every golf club on sale.
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, images and video – plus some 50 products that didn’t make our Top 10s – on our website, www.todaysgolfer.co.uk
This year, for the first time, Top Gear has been supported by American Golf, which has enabled us to create more content – especially video – online.
WHO DID IT Chris Ryan, pro Chris is senior instructor at The Belfry’s PGA National Academy. He’s an expert in club fitting, too.
Simon Daddow, 10 handicap A former club designer, Simon is a slow-swinging player who is very consistent.
Chris Jones, 11 handicap TG’S editor has been testing golf clubs since 2005. He’s a hardhitting but inconsistent player.
HOW WE DID IT We asked all the major manufacturers to submit their entire 2016 ranges for testing. Only one, PXG, declined (though you can still find reviews of their clubs on our website).
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 in the UK.
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 sub-£280 and over-£380 drivers) in each of the following 12 categories: ● Drivers (-£280; £280-£380; +£380) ● 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.
LOADS MORE ONLINE! These reviews represent a fraction of the content we produced during Top Gear. Of the 160 clubs tested, only 110 made it into our Top 10s. You can see everything else at www.todaysgolfer.co.uk, where you’ll also find videos of every club, more images, designer Q&AS – plus the chance to save money by buying it all from American Golf.
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.
BONUS TIPS! GARETH JOHNSTON CALCOT PARK Fellow TG Top 50 coach and Director of Golf at Calcot Park, near Reading. Their tips will help you use the tech.
BONUS TIPS! ADRIAN FRYER FELLOW OF THE PGA TG Top 50 teacher based at True Fit Golf Centre, Warrington. See more at www.solidgolf .com