Golf Digest SIP 2021 - Hot List

Golf Digest empowers the modern golfer, delivering monthly content on how, what and where to play. Golf Digest provides "how-to" articles by an unparalleled team of the game's top professionals, the most in-depth equipment rankings, the Hot List and is the No. 1 authority for golf course rankings.

United States
Conde Nast US

in this issue

3 min
be an ignorant genius

Welcome to the 2021 Golf Digest Hot List. We’ve been testing and ranking the universe of golf clubs for 18 years, but this is our first wholly dedicated issue—nothing but equipment from cover to cover! If you’re holding the print rendition in your hands right now, is it audacious to suggest this might one day become a collector’s item? Probably depends on the collector. Seriously, this is a big deal for us. The analysis and photography presented here are at a scale never previously attempted in golf. You might find yourself overwhelmed. In fact, it’s almost a certainty. Understanding the subtle differences among clubs in a world in which everything new is basically really good—more fastidiously designed and built better than almost any club was five years ago—takes serious concentration. Even though…

1 min
say hello to your new best friends

After a year in which we were forced to make the best out of having a lot less, the golf-equipment industry has a message for 2021: More is finally here. Exhibit 1A is this year’s Hot List. Our 18th ranking of the game’s most intriguing golf clubs produced the most winning entries ever. Not only that, within our 137 winners are dozens of permutations of models, settings and styles totaling more than 560 options. Like all the new golfers taking up the game, the clubs that will make you play your best golf ever—the clubs that will become your new best friends—are increasingly individualized. There is not one driver or iron or putter everyone must have. But the one driver, iron or putter that you must have is definitely here…

3 min
the process

CRITERIA OUR JUDGES, listed at right, cast the only votes in the Hot List, but they gather insight from three independent panels. The Scientists advise us on Innovation. Retailers assess Demand. Players evaluate Performance and Look/Sound/Feel. A product’s score is based on its weighted average in these four criteria, with Performance, Innovation and Look/Sound/Feel largely determining the total score. All scoring is based on a 100-point scale for each of the four criteria, relative to the entries in a category. PERFORMANCE 45% Based on interviews with our player panelists, player-testing data and other sources, the judges assess the utility of each product. In other words, this is a grade of what happens to the ball when a player hits it. (Note: Foresight Sports GCQuad Launch monitors are used at every hitting station.) INNOVATION 30% In consultation with…

4 min
gender neutral

The question comes fairly regularly when the Hot List makes its annual appearance. Where are the women’s clubs? Our answer: You’re looking at them. We don’t mean to be flippant, but because we believe so strongly in the value of clubfitting and because manufacturers have greatly expanded their selection of lofts, shafts and head styles, every club on the Hot List can work the same for a female golfer as it will for a male golfer with the same specs. We know this from the women golfers on our panel and because fitters tell us frequently that female golfers are vastly better served today than in the past. “Many of our female students fit nicely into men’s irons and drivers,” said Nick Clearwater, vice president of instruction at GOLFTEC, the nationwide instruction…

15 min
internal audit

I’m the furthest thing from a gearhead. This tends to shock my peers because I’m a scratch-level player who covers golf for a living. But when it comes to equipment, I am woefully uninformed. Or I was woefully uninformed. At this time last year, the whole of my knowledge of Golf Digest’s Hot List was that Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade and Titleist seem to do well every year, and that some in the golf industry are convinced the reason for that is the whole thing is bought and paid for by advertisers. I was curious to find out if those accusations are true. I also wanted to know what role the Hot List should play in an age in which just about everyone, including the Hot List editors, believe all golfers should…

15 min
why you should get fit for clubs

For the entire 18-year history of the Hot List, there has been one constant: the undisputed value of getting custom-fit for new clubs. Although we frequently extoll the virtues of clubfitting, it’s not often we tell you what it’s like to get fit, how the experience is no less—and no more—daunting than hitting a shot off the first tee on a busy Saturday morning, and, most importantly, how results can be both game-changing and soul-soothing. What follows are four stories on recent fittings from three of our editors and our part-time contributor and full-time spiritual advisor Rabbi Marc Gellman. Let their wisdom be an inspiration to see how far new clubs—the right clubs—can take you. NAME: STEVE HENNESSEY, 32 HANDICAP: 14 TYPE OF FITTING: DRIVER A driver fitting at off-course retail: Trust the process Investing…