Gear of the Year 2013, Best Golf Equipment, Equipment News

1 of 10 Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
2013 began with one of the biggest equipment-related announcements ever. Nike Golf introduced it's latest staff player, two-time major champion and then-World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, with a massive ceremony in Abu Dhabi that included a hologram of the young golfer from Northern Ireland. McIlroy would go on to struggle for much of the season.
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In May, the USGA and R&A released a joint statement confirming the ban on anchored putting beginning in 2016 that they had proposed in 2012. In July, the PGA Tour decided to adopt the ban, despite opposing it earlier in the year.
3 of 10 Courtesy of TaylorMade
TaylorMade debuted its new SLDR driver on Tour in the summer, and it quickly became the most popular driver on Tour. The SLDR features an innovative sliding weight on the sole that moves the CG horizontally. Even Phil Mickelson, a Callaway player, tried out the SLDR briefly at the end of the year.
4 of 10 Manfred Koh
In the fall, Nike announced its newest drivers: the VRS Covert 2.0 and Covert 2.0 Tour. The clubs are a major improvement on previous Nike drivers, and were put into play almost immediately by several Tour pros, including Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. McIlroy used the Tour version to win his first tournament of the year at the Australian Open.
5 of 10 Thomas Lovelock/Sports Illustrated
In the summer, Phil Mickelson began using a new Callaway 3-wood, the X Hot 3Deep, in favor of a driver. He didn't even carry a driver at the U.S. and British Opens. Many criticized the move, but it paid off when Mickelson won his first British Open and fifth major title.
6 of 10 Michael Chini
Towards the end of the year, Callaway unveiled two new drivers: the Big Bertha and the Big Bertha Alpha. They are the first clubs in five years to carry the iconic "Big Bertha" name.
7 of 10 Courtesy of Nicklaus Golf
Jack Nicklaus announced he was entering the golf ball business in October, with the release of three balls: the Nicklaus Black, Nicklaus Blue and Nicklaus White. The balls correspond to the tee that a player normally hits from. Nicklaus' balls fit into a larger trend of manufacturers tailoring new golf balls to specific players, or style of players. Callaway's new Speed Regime balls, for example, are designed to fit specific swing speeds.
8 of 10 Snap36
Another new trend witnessed in 2013 was the driving iron. Several companies released these clubs that are designed as alternatives to hybrids and fairway woods. Many golfers put them into play at the U.S. and British Opens, played at Merion and Muirfield, respectively: two courses that are short but strategically demanding.
9 of 10 Courtesy of Titleist
Equipment companies also made a leap forward in wedge customization in 2013. For years, Tour players have used wedges that are tailored exactly to their needs in terms of loft, sole grind, custom stamping, etc. Now, many companies offer such customization to anyone willing to pay for it, most notably Titleist, with it's WedgeWorks system.
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Finally, with the anchored putting ban set in stone, club companies began focusing on making putters for ex-anchorers that are known as counterbalanced putters. Counterbalanced putters have extra weight in the grips to create improved stability similar to what golfers achieve by anchoring.