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2014 Gear Trials: What are the best clubs in golf?

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“What clubs should I buy?” is such a loaded question, but it’s something all golfers find themselves asking at some point.

Ask 10 people their opinion on the best clubs in golf and you’ll get 10 different answers. And you can’t ask anyone who works for an equipment manufacturer. We’ve encountered very few OEM employees who won’t tell you that their company’s clubs will help you hit it “longer and straighter” than any other club on the market without hesitation.

So how can anyone actually figure out what clubs to play? It starts with an understanding that there are no “best” clubs, only the best clubs for you.

Our 2014 Gear Trials Best Clubs lists cut through opinions and marketing claims to help golfers choose the best drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons for their game. We rank the best clubs in three different categories — Distance-First, Forgiveness-First and Balanced-Performance — to help golfers gain a better understanding of what clubs will actually suit their needs.

Here’s a little bit more about how we break down our categories:

  • Distance-First: What clubs go the farthest? It’s a simple question that’s answered using launch, spin and ball speed. This category is skewed toward the needs of golfers with either really fast swings or those who create a lot a spin, because they are the golfers who tend to benefit the most from the low-spinning head designs that tend to create the most distance.
  • Forgiveness-First: It’s said that golf is a game of misses. The clubs in this category help minimize distance losses when golfers do miss the sweet spot. The formula here is more moment of inertia (MOI), which is what most golfers are talking about when they say forgiveness. A higher MOI helps your mishits fly more like your good shot, which means they’ll end up closer to your intended target.
  • Balanced Performance: Having top-level distance and forgiveness is the ultimate goal of club design, but it’s no easy task. This is our most stringent category that will fit the needs of the widest variety of golfers. Know that if you buy a club from this category, it is truly one of the best models in golf.

How could we possibly develop such a list? Read on.

Who votes?

In our past best clubs list, we relied on both the feedback of our equipment editors and an elite panel of custom fitters located across North America. For this year’s list, we decided we needed another component: mass player testing of every major manufacturer’s clubs performed by fitters at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Mich. Those fitters spent eight days with 33 different testers of various ability levels evaluating each club from each category.

After that, we surveyed our five other top custom fitters located across North America: Carl’s GolflandModern GolfMorton Golf and two other custom fitters who chose to remain anonymous.

The scoring process

Unlike in years past, this year’s scores were entirely based on the performance of each club, removing the subjective categories of looks, sound and feel from the equation. What was left was the votes of our custom fitters (60 percent of the club’s score), the results of our mass player test (30 percent of the club’s score) and the votes of our staff members (10 percent of a club’s score).

The scores have been tallied and winners awarded. Below are the results, with the important areas of stress for each category.

2014 Gear Trials: Best Drivers

BestDrivers

2014 Gear Trials: Best Fairway Woods

fairwayredo

2014 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids

GTnewhybrid

2014 Gear Trials: Best Players Irons

ironfeatgt

2014 Gear Trials: Best Game-Improvement Irons 

gameimprvpic2-1

Click the links above or browse below to see the winners from each category. Read all about Gear Trial FAQ’s here.

See the 2015 Gear Trail Winners here

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

Whats in the Bag

Charles Barkley WITB: The Match 3

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Driver: Callaway BB21 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ventus Blue 6 X (@46.5″)

3-wood: Callaway BB21 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Ventus Blue 7 X (@44″)

Hybrid: Callaway Mavrik (19 degrees)

Irons: PXG

Wedges: PXG

Putter: PXG

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Whats in the Bag

Peyton Manning WITB: The Match 3

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Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 6 X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue

Irons: Callaway Mavrik Pro (3-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 110 S

Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (50-10S, 56-10S, 60-10S)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 110 S

Putter: Scotty Cameron SB+

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS with #18

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Equipment

What GolfWRXers are saying about the best 3-woods for a high handicapper

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In our forums, our members have been looking at 3-woods for high handicap players. WRXer ‘Metro07’ is very much a Cobra guy but is open to other suggestions, saying:

“I am 53 and not a long hitter so I obviously don’t have a fast or even moderate swing speed. I got back into golf 5 or 6 months ago after being out for many years and was never really that good back then, I still haven’t broken 100 on a real course. I’m hitting my 4 iron about 175 carry.”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Nichex524: “I’d focus on either a 4 or 5 wood honestly… and as far as forgiving goes, most Ping models will probably be helpful enough as far back as the G20 even. Make things as easy as possible, especially if you’re not looking for distance.”
  • ThwFlyingWasp: “I know you’re a Cobra guy, but I swear the Ping G410 SFT is the easiest fairway wood I’ve ever hit off the deck… it’s not the longest out there (by far), but it’s point & shoot easy & great off the tee as well if you tee it down… plus lofts are a little higher than normal to help the ball in the air… 16* 3 wood & 19* 5 wood… it’s like cheating… it’s so good… seriously lol… try them.”
  • Striker Ace: “I highly recommend the Callaway Big Bertha B21 5 wood, IMO it is so easy to hit straight, especially with the amount of offset that this thing has. I use it as my driver also, but it is also easy to hit from the deck. Give it a try!”

Entire Thread: “3-woods for a high handicapper?”

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