A Peek at the 2009 Golf Digest Hot List
Whether you’re a golf equipment fanatic or just a casual observer of the latest offerings and trends in golf clubs and accessories, the 2009 Golf Digest Hot List is a golf equipment smorgasbord. From drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, to irons, wedges and putters-oh, and bags and balls, too-the equipment gurus at Golf Digest break it down in their popular annual equipment ranking.
If you’re wondering how golf equipment experts rate, for example, Callaway drivers or TaylorMade irons, think Excel spreadsheets with thousands of data points, hundreds of pages of technical data from golf equipment manufacturers, scientists, a four-part judging criteria, and a two-week visit to a San Jose, California, resort for field testing.
The process is, in a word, exhaustive. Golf Digest evaluated the “universe” of golf clubs-471 entries, to be exact-and judged them across four weighted criteria: 1) performance (40%), 2) innovation (30%), 3) look/sound/feel (20%), and 4) demand (10%).
After all the facts and data were collected, the judges engaged in nine days of meetings that included 800 debates to arrive at the 116-club Hot List. Along the way, they ate a lot of take-out food.
Following is a peek at this year’s list.
Golf Digest breaks down the golf drivers category into two parts: drivers over $350 and drivers under $350. Then it splits the two categories into gold and silver winners.
Three of the gold winners in the over $350 category are the Callaway FT-9, PING Rapture V2 and the TaylorMade r7 Limited.
No one is better than Callaway at using multiple materials, said the judges about the FT-9. Players like the look, balance and carry of the PING Rapture V2, which has a similar look to the PING G10. The TaylorMade r7 Limited has movable weights and features an Ozik shaft. Some said it produces the best feel of any club on the market.
Gold winners in the under $350 category included Adams Speedline, Callaway Big Bertha Diablo, PING G10 and TaylorMade Burner.
Irons were broken into three categories that correspond with playing ability and interests: game improvement, super game improvement and players irons.
Gold winners in the game-improvement category included Callaway X-22, PING G10 and TaylorMade Burner. One player said he could hit the Callaway X-22 irons blindfolded. Sign me up, he said. Callaway X-22 led in the Demand category, which is an assessment of reputation, interest, intrigue and excitement. The PING G10 is a long-time category leader, and the TaylorMade Burner irons really shined, leading in three of the four judging categories: performance, innovation and look/sound/feel.
TaylorMade also had a gold winner in the super game improvement category: the Burner Plus, which features an oversized clubhead and hefty offset to help get the golf ball in the air.
In the players irons category, Titleist AP2 rose to the top, along with TaylorMade Tour Preferred, Callaway X-22 Tour, Callaway X-Forged and PING S57 models, four among the total of six gold winners.
Arguably, there’s no golf club more important than the putter. Golf Digest took a close look at two main categories: blade putters and mallet putters.
Gold winners in the blade putter category over $200 included the Odyssey Black Series I #6, TaylorMade Daytona TP-KIA MA and Titleist Cameron Studio Select, which led in three of four criteria: performance, look/sound/feel and demand.
In the blade putter category under $200, top picks were the Odyssey White Hot Tour 1, two PING Anser models and the TaylorMade Daytona.
Gold winners in the mallet putter category included the Odyssey Black Series I 2-Ball, PING iWi Craz-E and TaylorMade Itsy Bitsy Spider. And leading mid-mallet putters were Odyssey, Titleist Cameron and MacGregor models.
Hot List judges took a look at lightweight carry bags and “do it all” cart bags, selecting their 21 favorites. Leading the list of gold and silver winners were models from Callaway, PING, TaylorMade, Titleist, Bag Boy, Nike, Ogio, Sun Mountain, Wilson and Izzo.
What Tour Pros Play
What do the top tour professionals play? Following is just a sampling.
Callaway: Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Annika Sorenstam
TaylorMade: Kenny Perry, Sergio Garcia, Paula Creamer
PING: Angel Cabrera, Lorena Ochoa, Hunter Mahan
Titleist: Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott