What we learned
Some key discoveries from the biggest equipment test we’ve ever done
Useful insight that will help you make a better buying decision.
1 MONEY TALKS
As much as we don’t like to admit it, you do usually get what you pay for when it comes to golf clubs. Our top-five £380+ drivers (in the hands of our test pro) carried drives – on average – six yards further than those in the £280-£380 category, and eight yards further than those under £280. Only you can decide if that’s a price worth paying.
2 CARBON EQUALS DISTANCE
Carbon-fibre is taking over the driver market, as brands use it to free up weight in their latest models. Pitting carbon-clad drivers against all-titanium models, there was an average of 10 yards extra carry distance in favour of carbon-fibre.
3 MOVING FROM THE CENTRE
Last year, two centre-shafted putters made it into our top 10s. This year we didn’t receive any to even test, which has to say the centre-shaft trend is declining. It’s a real shame, as we think a centre-shaft offers such a simple way to putt.
4 WIDE BODY = BETTER PERFORMANCE
Wider bodies are almost always more forgiving in golf clubs. But if we told you that, on average, the forgiveness of our wide-body hybrids helped create higher launch, more ball speed and nine more yards of carry than the narrow bodies, would you really want a narrow body alternative in your bag?
5 16.5° LOFT SECRET
Faster faces mean 15° fairway woods now deliver almost as much distance as your driver; not ideal if you’re trying to lay up short of fairway bunkers off a tee. A 16.5° loft gives better gapping for many of us, and they’re easier to launch from the deck with a lower-spinning, modern ball.
6 WANT TO HIT YOUR IRONS FURTHER?
Ever wondered why game improvement irons fly further than better-player models? Part of it is down to the stronger lofts. The average 7-iron loft of the super game improvement irons we tested was 30°, compared to 31° for game improvement and 33° for better-player irons. In terms of distance, that equates to 185 yards for SGI irons, 180 yards for GI irons and 171 yards for better-player irons. For most golfers that’s over a full club of difference.
7 COMPARING THE BIGGEST DRIVER LAUNCHES OF 2017...
The four most talked-about drivers of 2017 were inseparable when their results were averaged across our three testers. Callaway’s GBB Epic Sub Zero was fastest and longest at 148.6mph/266 yards; Taylormade’s M2 came in at 147.6mph/265 yards, GBB Epic 147.6mph/263; and the M1 147mph/263.
8 LAUNCH IT HIGHER, CARRY IT FURTHER
Brands keep telling golfers that to hit it further, you need to hit it higher. We have to agree, especially for the club golfer. And it was the same case whether it was drivers, fairways, hybrids or irons.
9 DRAW DRIVERS REALLY WORK
There’s never been anything cool or sexy about admitting your game needs a draw driver before. But Taylormade have changed all that with the M2 D-type (Ping also make a G SF-TEC). It performs brilliantly not only for slicers, but also for golfers who hit shots out of the heel.
10 SLIDING FAIRWAY WEIGHTS HAVE A NEGLIGIBLE EFFECT ON SPIN
Moveable weights in drivers are the norm nowadays and spin changes of up to 600rpm are not unusual. Our data shows moveable weights in fairways though have a much smaller effect on spin. We’d say fairways offering shot bias weighting are much more useful to the club golfer.
11 PRICES HAVE GONE UP
Last year, the average price of a driver in our Top 10s was £311.50 – that’s jumped to £357.25 for 2017. The trend’s not just limited to drivers either, it’s across the board.
‘NO MATTER IF IT’S DRIVERS, FAIRWAYS, HYBRIDS OR IRONS PREDOMINANTLY OUR AMATEUR TESTERS SAW MORE CARRY FROM HIGHER SHOTS’