To paraphrase Ben Hogan's line about finding the secret to better golf, the best way to understand a club's DNA is to dig it out of the dirt. Sure, it's nice to know who plays a certain club on Tour, but the fact is those guys could play with anything. The size of a company's marketing budget doesn't make a difference, either. Or what a brainiac R&D guy says the club should do. What matters is how it performs when you are holding it in your hands.
For ClubTest 2007, we invited 40 readers to poke and prod the newest clubs for two weeks at Ginn Reunion Resort in Reunion, Florida. Your fellow readers (and ClubTesters) are conscientious guys who work on and off the course. They formulate thoughtful, concise and descriptive responses for each model. Ask any of the testersit's not as easy as it sounds.
We go to great lengths to ensure that testers review clubs with proper specs for them. First, each player is custom-fit for drivers. Our research partner, Hot Stix Golf (hotstixgolf.com), uses a launch monitor to capture data for testers' current drivers. (All test drivers go through a diagnostic evaluation at Hot Stix headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.) Hot Stix fitters use the data to recommend a match between testers and test clubs (fairway woods, irons, etc). Hot Stix Golf also gathers objective, comparative data using a launch monitor for the drivers, fairway woods and hybrids in ClubTest. That's the beauty of ClubTestwe provide you with subjective and objective information so you can be confident in your next purchase.
Since we started the ClubTest program in 1992, we've learned something new every year. One takeaway from this test is that all the products listed are quality sticks (that's not always the case). Some clubs, naturally, play better than others. But each one has something useful to offer, even if it isn't a Testers' Top Pick. Now it's time to bone up on what's out there so you can begin to shape your new set. Enjoy.
To see the results of ClubTest 2007, click on a link in the chart below.
If you are looking for golf equipment that appeared in 2006 ClubTests, click here.
HOW WE DO IT
GOLF Magazine's editors review thousands of applications and interview candidates we think would make exceptional ClubTesters. We watch video of their swings and critique their answers to detailed questions. After months of deliberation, we selected 40 ClubTesters. Their handicaps range from 2 to 20one-third are single-digit handicaps, two-thirds are double-digits. Those selected fell evenly into three age groups20 to 39 years old, 40 to 49 years old and 50 or older. (Ages range from 25 to 66 years old.)
Individual testers try all the clubs in a particular category (drivers, hybrids, irons, etc). We use full sets (not partial), both on the driving range and on course in real game conditions. (For your benefit, we spell out the exact lofts and shaft models tested.) We make sure not to overload our panel with an enormous number of clubs, because we want them as sharp on the final day of testing as they were on the first.
Lastly, we divide irons into three distinct categoriesbetter-player irons (tested by panelists with 2 to 10 handicaps only), game-improvement irons (10 to 20 handicaps only) and max game-improvement irons (14 to 20 handicaps) for higher handicappers. For a more detailed description of the methodology, visit golf.com/testing