Check out Golf Digest’s 2019 Gold Equipment Hot List
ABOUT THE 2019 HOT LIST
Golf Digest’s Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde talks with Golf Digest equipment editors Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson about the 16th edition of the Golf Digest Hot List asking the following questions:
WHAT MAKES 2019 THE YEAR TO BUY A DRIVER?
More levels of adjustability fit more golfers’ preferences than ever. Every driver today looks like a race car and feels like it goes that fast, because it does—when’s the last time you moved something 130, 140, 150 miles per hour? Also, manufacturing of drivers is getting right to the edge of being too hot for the rules.
HOW MUCH DID THE FOUR-YARD DISTANCE GAIN ON THE PGA TOUR IN 2018 HAVE TO DO WITH EQUIPMENT INNOVATION IN 2019?
The area of the face that produces the highest ball speeds, the highest springlike effect allowed, is not a single point on the face or even the size of a thumbtack. It’s now in some cases the size of a quarter. That means mis-hits are getting better, which is why distance on tour is increasing, because tour players don’t hit it dead solid perfect every time.
WHAT’S NEW IN FAIRWAY WOODS AND/OR HYBRIDS?
Driver technology continues to percolate down to shorter, more-lofted metal-woods. Face flex on most fairway woods and hybrids can get close or equal to the springlike effect of drivers. There is also been a lot more higher-lofted hybrids that extend well into the 5-, 6-, 7- and even 8-iron range. Based on testing, national fitting chain Club Champion shows a hybrid is going to be better than most golfers’ iron at any loft that isn’t a short iron.
WHAT’S THE RECOMMENDED COMPOSITION SET ON LONG IRON NOW?
Most golfers shouldn’t have a 5-iron or longer in the bag. There’s no such thing as a standard set anymore. Companies are making it easier to mix and match what fits your game.
HOW DOES “PLAYERS DISTANCE” IRONS DIFFER FROM “PLAYERS OR GAME-IMPROVEMENT” IRONS?
Who should use Players Distance irons? Anyone who use to be a really good player or still is a decent player but lost some of the zip off your iron swing and now hit it perhaps a half club to a full club shorter than you did 20 years ago. These irons are golf’s Fountain of Youth.
WHAT’S NEW WITH PUTTERS? NEW FACES, SHAFT TECHNOLOGY?
The adjustable shaft on the Ping Sigma 2 putters is a game-changer. Getting the right length helps deliver the putter more consistently. Without that, you’re not taking full advantage of the great feel and roll technologies in the face.
Another one worth mentioning, the Odyssey’s Stroke Lab, which is a genuine paradigm shift in where the putter market has been trending. Heads have gotten heavier, grips have gotten lighter, and as a result, you’ll be at risk for losing some consistency in your strokes without even knowing it’s happening. This re-examination of the putter as a system might open a new door to consistency.
TESTING INDICATES THAT ALMOST HALF OF ALL GOLFERS SHOULD USE A PUTTER OF 34 INCHES OR LESS. HOW WOULD SOMEONE KNOW IF THEIR PUTTER’S TOO LONG?
Go see a fitter. A putter is the easiest club to fit, and it often doesn’t result in having to buy a new one. But some telltale signs: The toe of the putter is up in the air at address. Your eyes are way inside the line at address. Your arms do not hang freely from your shoulders through the stroke. (Bending the elbows breeds inconsistency.) Your posture is not natural.
BEST NEW GOLF CLUBS SELECTION PROCESS
GOLF DIGEST CONSIDERED 222 CANDIDATES FOR THE 2019 HOT LIST; ONLY 129 MADE THE CUT.
The clubs featured here, the ones that made it through their rigorous scrutiny, are the only sticks worth your time, energy and dollars this year. That means trying before you buy, certainly, but whether you’re revamping your whole bag or just replacing a wedge, Golf Digest urges you to include a qualified fitter in your process.
THE JUDGES CAST THE ONLY VOTES IN THE HOT LIST, BUT THEY GATHER INSIGHT FROM THREE INDEPENDENT PANELS.
The Scientists advise us on Innovation. Retailers assess Demand. Players evaluate Performance and Look/Sound/Feel. A product’s score is based on its weighted average in these four criteria, with Performance, Innovation and Look/Sound/Feel largely determining the total score. Judging is based on a 100-point scale.
The utility of a product, or what happens to the ball when it’s struck by the club.
INNOVATION = 30%
How a club’s technology, including custom-fitting, advances the category.
LOOK, SOUND, FEEL = 20%
What the golfer experiences before, during and after impact.
DEMAND = 5%
The relative interest in a product and its reputation.