Today's golf equipment bears little resemblance to the clubs our fathers used, so what will your grandkids be playing years from now? Here's a sneak peek at what manufacturers are planning in their dogged pursuit of golf's holy trinity: greater distance, consistency and control.
Today: 460 cc titanium head with a 45-inch graphite shaft. Aerodynamic designs, movable weighting and adjustable clubface mechanisms are trendy.
The Future: The entire driver face is at the legal trampolineeffect limit. Clubhead shapes will change hourglass (pictured above), C-shaped, or cavities in the body will redistribute weight for stability. Drivers will vary by look, center of gravity (CG) location, and shaft length to create a personalized performance package.
Today: Most have small steel or multi-material heads.
The Future: Clubface design will advance so that center strikes will fly like shots hit by a driver.
Today: Iron-like hybrids (narrower from face to rear) launch shots lower and with less spin than wood-like hybrids.
The Future: A removable rear wall will open the door to full customization, and this will allow the golfer to dial in precise weight and placement (high, low, heel, toe, etc).
Today: Three classes of cavity-back (better player, game-improvement, max game-improvement) offer different levels of forgiveness, workability and feel. Varying face thicknesses tighten spin-rate and ball-speed differences from shot to shot.
The Future: Clubfaces will be made from durable, lightweight, non-metallic materials (e.g., composites), or laminates. Removing mass from the face will contribute to greater forgiveness. Irons will be based on loft rather than number, similar to woods. Tailored shaft lengths rather than standard 0.5" increments will suit each club's role.
Today: Head shapes similar to those from 60-plus years ago. Multiple lofts and bounce angles match the club to your swing and course conditions.
The Future: Unconventional-looking sole designs based on increased understanding of how clubs perform in different grasses or lies will be introduced.
Today: Heel-toe-weighted blades and mallet heads feature face inserts (made of polymer or metal) to soften feel. Face technologies (such as grooves) are used to create consistent roll.
The Future: Customizable kits will let you select head style, lie, length and alignment aid. Technology virtually eliminates spin or speed variation from putt to putt. The bottom line: Putters will produce forward spin regardless of where on the face you hit the ball.
Today: Solid-core balls constructed from two, three or four pieces. Balls with urethane covers are considered "premium" due to their ability to create more greenside spin and softer feel. Ball makers are at the "5- or 10-yard line" with current materials and processes.
The Future: Balls will fly like rockets in breezy conditions due to newfangled surface geometries (possibly swirls or grooves rather than circular dimples). Nano particles and advanced construction techniques will help refine spin levels to ideally suit a player's game. Manufacturers will be able to produce balls just for your swing.
Today: Launch monitors measure what's happening during your swing and prescribe the proper set based on the results.
The Future: Fitting technology will be even more at your fingertips thanks to pocket-sized ball-flight monitors that will allow you to tweak your gear on the fly.
Today: Titanium driver, steel-headed 3- and 5-woods, 3-hybrid, 4-iron to PW, gap wedge, sand wedge and putter. Hybrids have killed the long irons.
The Future: Full hybrid iron sets, hollow irons with "wood" attributes (like rebound and feel) and transition sets (wood- and iron-like hybrids, cavity-back irons) are seen as "traditional."
Today: Lightweight, portable, handheld electronic devices take the guesswork out of distance to the pin, to hazards, etc.
The Future: It's anybody's guess what we'll have 50 years from now. Let us know your idea for golf's must-have invention for 2059 here.