Special Features

GOLF Magazine ClubTest 2008

Photo: Schecter Lee

GOLF Magazine ClubTest 2008

One thing's for certain: It's a great time to be a golfer. Consider, for a moment, the fine people you get to meet, the wonderful places you get to play and — of course — the really cool, high-tech tools you get to enjoy. But finding the best equipment for your game can be challenging, given all the chatter about multi-material heads, geometric shapes, high-MOIs, low CGs and the like. And that's where we come in. To make your club search easier, we enlisted 40 golfers just like you to field-test the latest and greatest gear at Legend Trail GC, home to the state-of-the-art Hot Stix Performance Center, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

All told, our ClubTest buyer's guide showcases 83 models, ranging from space-age 460cc drivers to pristine forged wedges. (Turn the page for the complete list.) The testers reported precisely what makes each model stand out from the rest.

We went to great lengths to ensure that testers evaluated clubs with proper specs — our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, custom-fit each golfer for drivers and irons (see "Hot Stix Golf," below). You owe it to yourself to do the same when you make your next purchase.

Tester feedback is just one part of this package. Hot Stix Golf also gathered objective, comparative data (carry distance, total distance and dispersion) for every driver and fairway wood model using a TrackMan launch monitor. In addition, the Hot Stix R&D team measured the moment of inertia (MOI) for each iron as a comparative indicator of forgiveness. Hot Stix personnel also robot-tested putters for distance roll and forgiveness on center, heel and toe shots. That's the beauty of ClubTest — we provide you with the best information from tester research and machine testing.

How We Did It
The editors at Golf Magazine pored over thousands of applications and interviewed candidates who we thought would make terrific ClubTesters. We watched video of their swings and critiqued their answers to detailed questions. After months of deliberation, we selected 40 ClubTesters. Their handicaps range from 2 to 23 — a third have single-digit handicaps, while the rest are double-digit players. Those selected fell evenly into three age groups: 20 to 39 years old, 40 to 49 years old and 50 or older.

Individual testers tried all models in a particular club category. We used full sets on the driving range and on the course, under real game conditions. For your benefit, we've spelled out the exact shaft models and lofts tested. We divided the 24 driver models into three categories: Tour (tested only by panelists with 2 to 10 handicaps), Game-improvement (10 to 20 handicaps) and Maximum game-improvement (15 to 23 handicaps). We also broke down 26 iron models into three groupings: Better-player (2 to 10 handicaps), Game-improvement (10 to 20) and Maximum game-improvement (15 to 23 handicaps).

Legend Trail Golf Club, home to the Hot Stix Performance Center, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Rating System
How it works: Testers vote on Look, Feel, Playability, Forgiveness and Distance. The winning model (the one that receives the most points) is awarded GOLF Magazine/ClubTest 5-star status.

Our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf (hotstixgolf.com), uses the TrackMan launch monitor to capture data for testers' current drivers. (All test drivers go through a diagnostic evaluation at Hot Stix headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz.) Hot Stix fitters use the data to recommend a match between testers and test clubs. In addition, they custom-fit testers for irons (including proper lie angle). Manufacturers sent us iron sets in standard and upright lies. When necessary, Hot Stix bent irons to the proper lie.

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