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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

C.T. Pan’s bronze medal-winning WITB

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Driver: Titleist TSi2 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Red 7 X

5-wood: Titleist TSi2 (20 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK 80 TX

Irons: Titleist U500 (4), Titleist T100 (2021, custom black) (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper AMT Tour White S300

(Image, featured image c/o Sports Marketing Surveys)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F), Vokey WedgeWorks (59)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Purple S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 11.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Whats in the Bag

Xander Schauffele’s winning WITB: 2020 Olympics

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  • Xander Schauffele WITB accurate as of the Olympics. 

Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (9 degrees, NS setting, 6GF, 6GB)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD BB 7 X (custom black, 45.5 inches, tipped 1 inch, D3)

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

3-wood: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (15 degrees @14)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 TX (43.25, tipped 1.5 inch, D3)

7-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (20 degrees @18.8)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 9 X (41.5 inches, tipped 2 inches, D3)

Irons: Callaway Apex TCB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (52-10S), Titleist Vokey Design SM6 (56-10 @57), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (60-T @61)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: Odyssey O-Works #7 CH Red
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion 2.0 Tour (10 grams)

(Photo via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder)

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X LS Prototype

Grips: Golf Pride MCC (Black/White)

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Equipment

Bettinardi unveils limited-run SS9 ‘Forever 90s’ putter

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Bettinardi has introduced its third limited-run of 2021: the Studio Stock 9 “Forever 90’s” putter, with just 325 pieces available worldwide.

The SS9 head shape on the new putter is milled to 353 grams from 303 Stainless Steel, re-mixing a hit by giving the putter a full Flymill face insert with a rainbow PVD finish to bring alive the retro 90’s style with every roll.

Completed in a fresh Tour Blast finish, the flat-stick features engraved abstract shapes and milled horizontal lines across the sole, with a 90’s themed neon paint scheme.

The SS9 putter comes equipped with a hot pink stitched, black perforated leather Gripmaster grip and a matching “90’s or nothing” premium Made in USA headcover.

The putter is priced at $900 and is available for purchase at select Bettinardi specialty dealers worldwide on August 5th, 2021, and online in the Hive at Bettinardi.com at 10 am CDT. 

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