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The Hottest Launch Monitors of 2017

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“Golf is what the ball does, which is entirely dependent upon what the club is doing at impact.” Those words are from legendary golf instructor John Jacobs, and they offer the simplest explanation of why launch monitors have become an almost essential piece of equipment for PGA Tour players, custom-club fitters, instructors and maybe even a few golfers at your local driving range.

To quote an old business adage, “If you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it,” and golf’s newest launch monitors allow golfers to measure their games more accurately than ever before. Even better news is that launch monitors have become more affordable. This list is proof, with five of its eight launch monitors selling for less than $6000.

To create this list, we scoured the GolfWRX Forums in search of our community’s most talked about launch monitors, which are listed from low to high in price. Because launch monitor technology is complex stuff, we sought to describe them in the simplest terms possible. We also broke down the data each launch monitor provides into different categories (ball data, club data and body data).

As always, please let us know about your experiences with these monitors in the comments section.

Ernest Sports ES12 ($199.99) 

Ernest_Sports_ES12

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance.

All it takes is $200 to be a launch monitor owner with Ernest Sports’ ES12, a 1.1-pound unit that uses Doppler radar to measure ball speed and calculate the carry distance of every shot. The ES12 is just 5.3 inches tall, 3 inches wide and 1.8 inches thick, making it easy to slip it in your golf bag. Just keep a spare 9-volt battery and you’ll always be ready for distance-gapping practice and long-drive contests.

Setup with the ES12 is as easy as it gets. Position the unit 12-14 inches in front of and to the side of your golf ball. Golfers will also need to remember to enter the club they’re using (driver, 6 iron, lob wedge, etc.) on the LCD panel for the most accurate readings and remember to change the club setting when they change clubs. For even more accurate data, golfers can set the unit to their specific altitude (0-3000 feet above sea level).

The ES12 pairs with a free ES12 app that connects to smart devices via bluetooth. It provides visible and audible feedback of each shot and can store entire practice sessions that can be converted to Excel formats and emailed, allowing golfers to track their progress over time. The app also includes a “course caddy,” club gapping, side-by-side video analysis, a skills challenge, a scorecard, weather and notes.

Voice Caddie SC200 ($349.99)

Swing_Caddie_2

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Smash Factor.
Club Data: Club Speed.

Voice Caddie’s SC200 is a pocket-sized launch monitor that uses Doppler radar to track carry distance and ball speed, as well as swing speed and smash factor (ball speed divided by swing speed). Most importantly, it sells for the pocket-sized price of $349.99 while offering a few cool bells and whistles.

Operation of the AAA battery-powered unit is simple. Golfers set the SC200 to the club they’re using (they can manually program the exact lofts of their clubs to make the data more accurate), position the unit approximately 40-60 inches behind the ball and swing away. It works for shots from 30-320 yards, and automatically calibrates barometric pressure to offer accurate readings in different conditions.

The SC200 also offers three different game play modes: Practice Mode, Target Mode and Approach Mode. In Approach Mode, the SC200 sets a random target and scores golfers from 1-10 on their accuracy. Target Mode offers the same experience, but allows users to input a specific yardage. The unit also keeps statistics of a golfer’s last 100 shots.

In our review of the Voice Caddie SC200, our Andrew Tursky was impressed with its key feature, an adjustable voice distance output. The SC200 “speaks” the distance each shot carries so golfers do not have to look to an app or the SC200’s 4-inch LCD screen for data. He also enjoyed the function of its wireless controller.

“I was skeptical about using the controller at all, but bending over every time you need to change modes gets old fast,” Tursky said. “Luckily the remote couldn’t be any easier to use.”

The SC200 isn’t claiming to be as accurate as units that cost thousands more. Its stated margin of error is +/- 3 percent in ball speed and +/- 5 percent in carry distance. Still, there’s a lot to like about the unit and it will be enjoyed by golfers looking for a budget-friendly way to better understand their ball speeds and carry distances with each club.

FlightScope Mevo ($499.99)

FlightScope_Move

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Launch Angle, Smash Factor, Spin Rate.
Club Data: Club Speed.

FlightScope’s Mevo is golf’s most anticipated new launch monitor. It will sell for $499.99 when it’s released on March 1 and offer ball speed, club speed, smash factor, vertical launch angle, carry distance and spin rate (when a metallic dot is placed on a golf ball) through Doppler radar. It connects to smart devices through Bluetooth to offer real-time data, video with data overlay, automatic video clipping/storage and the ability to upload/ share practice sessions.

The buzz surrounding the Mevo is fueled by its low price point, but also FlightScope’s reputation. The company is an OG in the launch monitors space, and its premium models (X3, X2 Elite) compete against the best from Foresight and Trackman.

Can FlightScope give golfers the launch monitor of their dreams… one that sells for a few hundred dollars and measures shots with the accuracy of a unit that sells for thousands? We’ll find out very soon.

SkyTrak ($1,995)

 SkyTrak_Feat

Ball Data: Angle of Descent, Backspin, Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Flight Path, Flight Time, Launch Angle, Max Height, Offline, Roll, Side Spin, Side Angle, Smash Factor, Total Distance.
Club Data: Club Speed.

SkyTrak is a camera-based (photometric) launch monitor that takes high-speed photos of a golf ball just after impact to predict its flight. Its cameras measure ball speed, launch angle, backspin, sidespin and side angle, which allows the system to calculate its other data points.

We used a SkyTrak in our review of Callaway’s new Chrome Soft X golf balls and found its data impressively accurate. It’s particularly strong for golf simulation, integrating with WGT, TruGolf E6, The Golf Club Game and Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf. It is also highly portable, weighing just 1.7 pounds and measuring just 5.75 inches in length, 6.75 inches in height and 2.5 inches in width.

SkyTrak Accuracy Claims

-- Ball Speed: 0-200 mph (+/- 1 mph)
-- Launch Angle: 0-55 degrees (+/- 1 degree)
-- Back Spin: 0-12,000 rpm (+/- 250 rpm)
-- Side Spin: 0-4,000 rpm (+/- 250 rpm)
-- Side Angle: 0-20 degrees (+/- 2 degrees)

SkyTrak users need to make sure they’re hitting shots from a defined area that’s indicated by a laser dot. That’s not a big compromise for a unit that only requires 10 feet of space and sells for less than $2,000 (and can be financed for as little as $59 per month).

SkyTrak connects either directly to Apple devices and PCs (the company is working on Android compatibility) or through Wi-Fi. Its lithium-ion battery charges through a USB cable and offers up to five hours of continuous use. The unit does not need to be calibrated and has an accelerometer internal leveling system.

Ernest Sports ES16 Tour ($5900)

es16_surface_2

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Flight Path, Hang Time, Landing Angle, Lateral Carry Distance, Lateral Total Distance, Launch Angle, Launch Direction, Maximum Height, Roll Distance, Shot Dispersion, Smash Factor, Spin Axis, Spin Rate, Total Distance.
Club Data: Angle of Attack, Club Path, Club Speed, Dynamic Loft, Face Angle, Spin Loft.

The ES16 Tour from Ernest Sports is designed to give golfers the best of both worlds, using both Doppler radar and a photometric (camera-based) system to offer golfers the company’s most accurate ball and club data.

The ES16 depends on four Doppler radars to measure club head and ball speed and two high-speed camera to measure spin and direction. Like other camera-based launch monitors, users will need to make sure their golf ball is placed in a defined hitting area with the ES16, which is indicated by the presence of a green light on the unit. Golf balls also need to have their logos positioned toward the unit to assist the camera in measuring spin rate.

The ES16 is in a different league than the company’s ES14 launch monitor, a $700 unit that we praised in our March 2015 review. While the ES16 sells for just shy of $6,000, its features compare to launch monitors that cost more than twice that amount. It pairs with Ernest Sports’ app, which shows live ball flight and allows users to store player-specific data to chart their improvement over time. The unit is also compatible with full golf simulation from The Golf Club, E6 and Perfect Parallel.

Ernest can package the ES16 with everything golfers will need to create a premium simulator (impact/theatre screen, simulation bay enclosure, FiberBuilt indoor turf mat, simulation-specific laptop, HD projector with ceiling mount, 30-day full simulation demo, all necessary cords) for $17,000.

Foresight GCQuad ($14,000 and up)

GCQuad_Isometric (1)

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Descent Angle, Flight Path, Launch Angle, Offline, Peak Height, Smash Factor, Side Angle, Sidespin, Spin Rate, Spin Axis, Total Distance.
Club Data: Attack Angle, Closure Rate, Club Speed, Dynamic Lie at Impact, Face-to-Path, Face-to-Target, Loft at Impact, Impact Point on Club Face, Face Angle, Swing Path.

Foresight’s new GCQuad was introduced at the 2017 PGA Show in late January, a follow-up to the company’s widely acclaimed GC2 and HMT launch monitors. The GC2 and HMT units are sold as separate units (the GC2 tracks the ball, while the HMT tracks the club). With the GCQuad, however, the units have been combined into one ultra-portable device.

The GCQuad uses “quadrascopic” cameras to measure the golf club and golf ball from four different angles, enhancing the precision of one of golf’s most trusted launch monitors (Foresight says the GCQuad’s data ranges are twice as tight). The unit’s biggest advantage over its competition is its ability to measure the movement of the club face before and into impact with uncanny accuracy. For those measurements, users will need to add special dot-like stickers to their club faces, which aid the system in measuring all-important variables such as attack angle, dynamic lie at impact, dynamic loft, face angle, face-to-path, swing path and impact point. It’s the GCQuad’s ability to measure impact point (exactly where a golfer contacts the ball on the club face) that could be its most important distinction, however, both in instruction and fitting capacities.

The GCQuad starts at $14,000 (ball-data only), which includes the company’s FSX Software and five courses to play. An $18,000 version of the GCQuad adds club head data. Both units come with a swappable battery and weigh 7.5 pounds. They’re 7 inches in width, 12.5 inches tall and 4 inches deep.

Compared to the GC2-HMT combo, the GCQuad offers a six times larger hitting area as well as proprietary alignment stick, which calibrates the system’s target line so that golfers can vary their alignment without needing to realign the unit. The system’s LCD screen was also made larger for easier viewing, and results can also be paired to devices via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB.

Trackman 4 ($18,995 and up)

Trackman_4_Cover

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Flight Path, Landing Angle, Launch Angle, Launch Direction, Hang Time, Height, Side, Side Total, Smash Factor, Spin Axis, Spin Rate, Total Distance.

Club Data: Attack Angle, Club Path, Club Speed, Dynamic Loft, Face Angle, Face-To-Path, Low Point, Swing Direction, Swing Plane.

When most golfers think of a launch monitor, they think of a Trackman. The company has developed a devoted following for its Doppler radar launch monitors — according to Trackman, it has sold more than 400 units to touring pros — because of their ability to track ball flight from takeoff to landing, something camera-based units don’t do.

The company’s newest launch monitor is called Trackman 4, and it beefs up accuracy and speed by using two radars: one radar dedicated to measuring long-distance ball flight and one dedicated to measuring short-distance shots, as well as what the club does before, during and after impact.

Trackman also offers a wealth of software that’s valuable for improvement. Take the company’s “Optimizer,” for example, which allows golfers to see how they need to tweak their spin loft, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and shot height to achieve ideal launch conditions for the way they deliver the club.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Trackman’s “Combine” has become the default test center for golfers around the globe who want to identify their ball striking strengths and weaknesses and compare their performance to other golfers. For a more customized experience, there’s Trackman’s “Test Center,” which allows a golfer to create unique challenges and practice plans. Then there’s Trackman’s “Normalization” feature, which predicts what a shot hit with a range ball would have done if it was hit with a premium golf ball. Normalization also removes the effects of wind and weather on ball flight.

Each Trackman unit has an internal HD video camera and can connect with as many as six other cameras to seamlessly merge video and data. There’s even a new Trackman “Putting” software (currently in beta), which measures everything you’d expect and a lot more. Data such as skid distance, roll percentage, effective stimp and total break has the potential to change the way golfers and golf instructors think about high-level putting practice. All this from a unit that is just 12 inches in height, 12 inches in width, 2 inches in depth and weighs just 6.2 pounds.

Trackman, which is available for indoor use ($18,995) and outdoor use ($24,995), offers solutions for both wired and wireless HD video, as well as golf simulators. Users need a minimum 16 feet of space between radar and net to use a Trackman 4 indoors.

GEARS ($24,500 and up)

 gearsRoom

Ball Data: Ball Speed, Carry Distance, Flight Path, Height, Impact Location, Launch Direction, Smash Factor, Spin Axis, Spin Rate, Total Distance.

Club Data: Attack Angle, Club Path, Club Speed, Dynamic Loft, Face Angle, Face Heading, Face-to-Path, Launch Angle, Lie, Shaft Deflection, Shaft Droop, Static Loft, Swing Direction, Swing Plane.

Body Data: Body Lines, Club Angular Velocity, Grip Speed, Hip Angular Velocity, Joint Angles, Kinematic Sequence, Knee Angle, Leading Arm Angular Velocity, Shoulder Angle, Spine Angle, Toe Angle, Torso Angular Velocity, Wrist Cock.

At $24,5000 and up, Gears is more expensive than the portable launch monitors on this list, but it measures things the others can’t. It uses a room-sized, camera-based motion capture system to not only capture ball flight, but the entire movement of a golfer’s body and club… a utopia of data for golf instructors.

When using Gears, golfers are outfitted with 26 sensors on their bodies and six sensors on their club. The system captures more than 600 images per swing, which are analyzed by Gears’ software in less than one second. The wealth of recorded data allows users to analyze and compare movements of the body and club from start to finish in a golf swing.

Gears is also an incredible club fitting solution. Like Foresight’s GCQuad, it measures exactly where impact occurs on the club face. And because Gears measures the movement of the entire golf club, it can also measure shaft deflection and droop. If you’re in search of the perfect golf shafts for your game, there may be no tool better than Gears to help you find them.

There are currently 43 Gears systems located throughout the U.S. Click here to Find a location near you.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. STeve

    Feb 9, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I have a tech question regarding the GC2+HMT and GCQuad. Are spin and carry distance outputs affected by what ball is used (dimple pattern, category type, etc.)? Obviously, it matters to the high-end radar-based LMs because they actually measure the entire flight and therefore, ball differences come into play. However, does it matter to the Foresight machines?

    • Uhit

      Feb 10, 2017 at 7:10 am

      @STeve

      the Foresight machines measure the spin at launch…
      …thus, it matters what ball is used.

      However, they don´t measure the entire flight…
      …thus, they don´t know, what the aerodynamics really contributes to the flight…
      …therefore they are not the best way, to evaluate ball performance.

      If I had to buy a LM, then I would probably buy the Ernest Sports ES16 Tour, because it combines radar and photometric measurements…
      …which gives you more real data, than a specialized system.
      I could well imagine, that the combination of both methods enables this system to be more accurate as a whole, even if the photometric and the radar based parts of the system are not the leading edge.
      For I final conclusion, you would have to test the ES16 against the GCQuad, Gears and Trackman at the same time, or over a big sample size with clearly seperated variables.

      • Bill Baroo

        Feb 10, 2018 at 6:46 pm

        Being an owner of the ES16 and a user of the Foresight GC2, I can say that the Foresight is a much better machine. As currently stands with the ES16, it does a very poor job measuring ball speed and spin. It requires you to tell it what club you are hitting. While I can see this to be important information for something like ‘spin loft’, it should have no bearing on ball speed or spin rate, but if I forget to tell the machine I’m using an 8 iron and its left on Driver, spin rates are around 2500 and distances are 190 yards with a 75mph swing, in my opinion, the ES16 is a very expensive machine that guesses what’s going on. The outdoor mode on the ES16 is a complete joke as it picks up your club head speed and guesses at all the rest. I’ve hit 8 irons launched sky high and skulled line drives yet the machine measures around 20 degrees each time…nowhere near real world results. If I HAD to say one nice thing about it, it picks up club head speed within 5% of reality. It might guess right on 1 out of 8 shots, but even a broken clock is right two times a day.

  2. Trent Bird

    Feb 8, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    cant wait for some reviews to be done on the Mevo.

  3. Alfred

    Feb 8, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    If you want combination of ball speed, carry distance, club head speed and swing path and face to path info. Just get the swing caddie sc200 and pair it with garmin truswing golf club sensor and you’ll have all the info you need for about $700 in Canadian at least. US is probably cheaper

    • Uhit

      Feb 9, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      @Alfred,
      instead of the garmin, you can also use GSA PRO – for less money, and you get additional informations, like consistency, tempo, rhythm…

      I think, that the devices, which include photometric measurements, are the only really useful indoor devices…
      …as long as you don´t use these additional type of tools, which we both mentioned.

    • Rod

      Apr 13, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Or buy spend $500 or less on an old Accusport. You get ball speed, carry, club head speed and spin. Uses dual camera tech that is almost 10 years old but the accuracy was reported to be with 0.5%. Requires tech skills and lots of patients, but solid once setup.

  4. EricT

    Feb 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Without club path info, all you learn about is getting distance. Nothing below 5900 does this. Waste of money.

  5. Daniel

    Feb 7, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Something I didn’t originally consider for indoor use is that radar systems require minimum 8-10 feet in front of and behind the ball. Camera systems are the way to go indoors if space is an issue. I just got SkyTrak projected onto a HomeCourse retractable screen set up in my office, really accurate. The new Foresight is (and looks) awesome if you can afford it.

    • Dan

      Feb 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Very true – something I considered too when purchasing my monitor. This ultimately why I purchased the Ernest ES16. You don’t need any additional room behind the unit and you only need 8-10 feet in front of the ball (which you would need in any environment to keep away from the ball bouncing back at you off the screen).

      It was an investment for me and a toss up between the flightscope Xi tour and the ES16. The ES16 won for me because I really wanted club data (face/path) which really tells you what you’re doing right/wrong. Add in not needing space between the ball and the unit and being a few thousand cheaper, I pulled the trigger. Best winter ever.

  6. Kris

    Feb 6, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    There is a Gears in Ottawa too.

  7. Tom Stickney

    Feb 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    If you are serious about improving as a teacher or player then there is a launch monitor for your budget

    • Jam

      Feb 7, 2017 at 11:02 am

      What would you recommend for a low handicap player who only wants to dial in wedge distances outdoors? What’s the least expensive option out there that will give you accurate distances?

      • S Hitter

        Feb 7, 2017 at 8:19 pm

        Why not just use a lazer and pick targets and hit them? You don’t need a launch monitor for that

        • Daniel

          Feb 7, 2017 at 8:54 pm

          They’re great for dialing in distance control since they give you carry distance and other info your eyes won’t give you.

          • Chris Hutch

            Feb 8, 2017 at 10:37 am

            Another tip is:

            On our range we have a bunker so i simply laser and move until the ball carries in it. Yes a laucnh monitor would make this easier, but it worked for Faldo.

            • Steve

              Feb 8, 2017 at 4:18 pm

              It did work for Faldo (and many others). But I can guarantee you that if high quality launch monitors were as readily available as they are today, every single one of those older players would’ve been using them, just like today’s players.

          • edreM

            Feb 9, 2017 at 11:18 am

            You can’t see 100 yards for wedges where the ball lands? Do you need glasses? The dude said Wedges, not to dial in mid-iron distances

            • Jam

              Feb 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

              It’s easier for me to correlate a swing feeling and immediately see a number, rather than get my range finder and try to pinpoint exactly where it landed on on the back of some practice green. Furthermore, for better players, there is a big difference between hitting a shot 105 yards and hitting one 109 yards, and eyeballing it like you isn’t precise enough.

              • S Hitter

                Feb 11, 2017 at 3:20 am

                You know, back in the day when the Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus, Player, Palmer, Trevino, et al used to play they did it all by sight and feel and practicing day and night without any of this tech, by walking off the paces and then checking the yardages on the courses by using books and sprinkler head markers. What a concept, eh

                • Jam

                  Feb 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

                  Sigh…everyone knows that, and yes, it’s a perfectly effective way to practice and get better. Everyone also knows they would have used launch monitors if they were available like today.

                • larrybud

                  Feb 13, 2017 at 11:59 am

                  Awesome! I’ll let the other 50 people on the range know I’m walking out into their landing area and they’ll have to wait a couple of minutes until I get out of the way!

        • larrybud

          Feb 13, 2017 at 11:58 am

          The advantage of an accurate LM over laser would be saving historical data.

          I also think that if you think you can get THAT accurate with a laser and determining carry distance, I think you’re wrong. Even if you’re hitting area is perched above the landing area, you need a vertical reference point to get an accurate number.

  8. Unko

    Feb 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    What about the other Flightscopes?

    • Andrew

      Mar 6, 2017 at 9:32 am

      I have a flightscope XI Tour. Great Monitor for indoor and outdoor use!

  9. The dude

    Feb 6, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Good article

  10. Tom

    Feb 6, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    more sensors …. more $

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Whats in the Bag

Jon Rahm WITB 2020

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  • Equipment accurate as of the WGC-Mexico Championship

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8 X

Irons: TaylorMade P750 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade Hi-Toe (52 degrees), TaylorMade MG2 (56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP 5 (#10)

Grips: Golf Pride MCC Red/Black Midsize (1 wrap of tape)

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Whats in the Bag

Dustin Johnson WITB 2020

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 @ 10 degrees, D4 swing weight)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1 inch, 45.75 inches)

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila RIP Alpha 90 X

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max Rescue (22 @ 19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Black 105 X

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), TaylorMade P730 DJ Proto (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft stepped)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09, 60-10 @ 62 degrees)
Shafts: KBS Tour Custom Black 120 S

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Mini
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Pistol GT 1.0

Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 58R (1 wrap 2-way tape + 2 wraps left hand, 3 right hand)

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Equipment

Top 10 clubs of 2003—inspired by Adam Scott’s Titleist 680 irons

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As has been well documented, Adam Scott recently won the Genesis Invitational with a set of Titleist 680 blade irons, a design that was originally released in 2003. One of the great benefits of being one of the best players in the world is you don’t need to search eBay to find your preferred set of 17-year-old irons. Titleist has been stocking sets for Mr. Scott—even to the point of doing a limited production run in 2018 where they then released 400 sets for sale to the general public.

A lot of time has passed since 2003, and considering the classic nature of Scott’s Titleist 680, I figured now was a good time to look back at some other iconic clubs released around the same time.

Ping G2 driver

This was Ping’s first 460cc driver with a full shift into titanium head design. The previous Si3 models still utilized the TPU adjustable hosel, and this was considered a big step forward for the Phoenix-based OEM. The driver was a big hit both on tour and at retail—as was the rest of the G2 line that included irons.

TaylorMade RAC LT (first gen) irons

The RAC LTs helped position TaylorMade back among the leaders in the better players iron category. The entire RAC (Relative Amplitude Coefficient) line was built around creating great feeling products that also provided the right amount of forgiveness for the target player. It also included an over-sized iron too. The RAC LT went on to have a second-generation version, but the original LTs are worthy of “classic” status.

TaylorMade R580 XD driver

Honestly, how could we not mention the TaylorMade R580 XD driver? TM took some of the most popular drivers in golf, the R500 series and added extra distance (XD). OK, that might be an oversimplification of what the XD series offered, but with improved shape, increased ball speed outside of the sweet spot, and lower spin, it’s no wonder you can still find these drivers in the bags of golfers at courses and driving ranges everywhere.

Titleist 680MB irons

The great thing about blades is that beyond changing sole designs and shifting the center of gravity, the basic design for a one-piece forged head hasn’t changed that much. For Adam Scott, the 680s are the perfect blend of compact shape, higher CG, and sole profile.

Titleist 983K, E drivers

If you were a “Titleist player,” you had one of these drivers! As one of the last companies to move into the 460cc category, the 983s offered a classic pear shape in a smaller profile. It was so good and so popular, it was considered the benchmark for Titleist drivers for close to the next decade.

Cleveland Launcher 330 driver

It wasn’t that long ago that OEMs were just trying to push driver head size over 300cc, and Cleveland’s first big entry into the category was the Launcher Titanium 330 driver. It didn’t live a long life, but the Launcher 330 was the grandaddy to the Launcher 400, 460, and eventually, the Launcher COMP, which is another club on this list that many golfers will still have fond memories about.

Mizuno MP 33 irons

Although released in the fall of 2002, the Mizuno MP 33 still makes the list because of its staying power. Much like the Titleist 680, this curved muscle blade was a favorite to many tour players, including future world No. 1 Luke Donald. The MP 33 stayed in Mizuno’s lineup for more than four years and was still available for custom orders years after that. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a set now you are going to have to go the used route.

Callaway X-16 irons

The Steelhead X-16 was a big hit at retail for Callaway. It offered greater forgiveness than the previous X-14’s but had a more compact shape with a wider topline to inspire confidence. They featured Callaway’s “Notch” weighting system that moved more mass to the perimeter of the head for higher MOI and improved feel. There was a reduced offset pro series version of the iron, but the X-16 was the one more players gravitated towards. This is another game improvement club for that era that can still be found in a lot of golf bags.

Ben Hogan CFT irons

The Hogan CFTs were at the forefront of multi-material iron technology in 2003. CFT stood for Compression Forged Titanium and allowed engineers to push more mass to the perimeter of the head to boost MOI by using a thin titanium face insert. They had what would be considered stronger lofts at the time sounded really powerful thanks to the thin face insert. If you are looking for a value set of used irons, this is still a great place to start.

King Cobra SZ driver

In 2003, Rickie Fowler was only 15 years old and Cobra was still living under the Acushnet umbrella as Titleist’s game improvement little brother. The Cobra SZ (Sweet Zone, NOT 2020 Speed Zone) was offered in a couple of head sizes to appeal to different players. The thing I will always remember about the original King Cobra SZ is that it came in an offset version to help golfers who generally slice the ball—a design trait that we still see around today.

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