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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.

Equipment

Inside Jon Rahm’s putter switch before U.S. Open win

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report

His 18-foot, curling left-to-righter breaks toward the hole, eyes locked on its path, Jon Rahm raises his Odyssey Rossie S putter and unleashes jubilant fist pump as his ball dives into the darkness.

We’ve seen the highlight how many times in the handful of days that have passed since that putt clinched Rahm’s U.S. Open victory?

It’s hard to imagine after seeing the confidence and firm conviction the ball would roll inevitably into the hole Rahm displayed on Torrey Pines’ 17th and 18th greens, Sunday, that the world No. 1 only switched into the flatstick the tournament prior to the U.S. Open. It’s surprising, too, that the mid-mallet model he settled on was a significant departure from the gigantic rear-center of gravity, high MOI mallet he had been using for months.

So, how did we get here? How did Rahmbo look more like 2008 Sunday Tiger Woods on the 72nd at Torrey Pines and less like a golfer who was so frustrated with his putting he went back to the drawing board less than a month ago?

The week prior to the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, Rahm visited with Callaway head of tour operations Tim Reed and Odyssey rep Joe Toulon at the Ely Callaway Performance Center in Carlsbad, California, to test putters. There, Rahm was most intrigued by an Odyssey Rossie S mid-mallet putter. He remained happy with the Microhinge Star insert that had been, well, inserted into his 2-Ball Ten at the PGA Championship, so Toulon and company had the Rossie built with the Microhinge.

After evaluation on SAM PuttLab and Quintic (two putting analysis systems), it was clear the Rossie performed better than the higher-MOI, rear-CG 2-Ball Ten he had been putting with since joining Callaway’s tour staff in January. And as evidenced by his barnstorming three rounds at the Memorial Tournament and his clutch putt-filled win at the U.S. Open, the Spaniard’s putting performance was indeed elevated.

For the inside story of Rahm’s Rossie S, GolfWRX spoke with Odyssey tour rep Joe Toulon.

GolfWRX: When Rahm signed with Callaway, he was using a putter that looked very much like the Odyssey 2-Ball Ten he ultimately put in the bag. It intuitively made sense that’d be his choice, but he switched to a different putter at the Memorial. Why?

Joe Toulon: When he came into our putter studio in January, he hadn’t really been putting great. He was anxious to get into something. We had, probably, 20 putters made up for him, and the whole time, we were thinking the 2-Ball Ten with the S-neck would be the winner because it was similar to what he was using coming in.

But through that process, you have to listen to what the player is saying and how they’re saying it. He was struggling with setup and how his putter sat on the ground…and he found himself fidgeting.

In his college days, he used a 2-Ball. So the 2-Ball Ten, the way it sat on the ground for him was the reason he gravitated toward that. He felt comfortable with it…and with his path, he squared it up a little bit more and hit more putts in the center of the face.

The last thing we did with that putter was change to a White Hot insert. He’s such a feel player, and he told us that White Hot felt good at impact.

So that’s what he switched to at the Farmers Insurance Open and used through the PGA Championship.

Read the rest of the piece on PGATour.com.

*Featured image via Callaway’s Johnny Wunder

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GolfWRX Spotted: Dustin Johnson returns to ‘old faithful’ driver set-up at Travelers Champ

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Dustin Johnson has been back and forth with a variety of his clubs this year, but it looks as if the World Number Two is set to return to a trusty set-up at the top of his bag this week.

The 37-year-old made a significant change last month before the PGA Championship, putting an LA Golf Prototype shaft in his SIM2 Max driver.

The move was significant since DJ has used his Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution 2.0 Tour X Flex shaft for the best part of 5 years, and though just becoming a partner of LA Golf, our photos from the range this week suggest he’s ready to return to the Speeder shaft.

It also appears that DJ will return to the original SIM driver after playing the SIM2 Max for large periods this year.

We’ll keep an eye on DJ during today’s opening round to see what driver and shaft go into live tournament action at the Travelers Championship.

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Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (06/24/21): Tour Only Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Tour Only Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter. ($1500)

From the seller (@sajohn12345): “Tour Only Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 with a crescent neck. Has the matching hexperimental prototype headcover. $1500, offers will be considered.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Tour Only Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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