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Gear & Equipment

Rookie At The Hot List: Playing through a wedding isn't as easy as it seems


It was the final day of Hot List testing on Saturday -- so sad -- but it was lots of fun and we got some good work done. Here's a brief rundown of all the action:

We almost fell into a crisis early when we nearly ran out of golf balls. Luckily for us the range-picker, who we took to calling J-Bone (no one's sure why, it just happened), delivered us a fresh batch.

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J-Bone tried to leave quietly...but that wasn't going to happen. The testers were chanting his name as he walked back to his cart and Golf Digest Social Media Editor Ashley Mayo even snapped a picture with him. Look how happy she is.

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In non-related J-Bone news, here's a picture of one of our photographers J.D. Cuban doing what he does.

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And when I say doing what he does, I mean taking stunning pictures like this. J.D. was the man tasked with taking pictures of most the 998 clubs that were out here at the Wigwam, plus pictures of the testers, and the site, and shooting some video. I guess that's the reason people call him a legend.

Showing off to your friends is imperative, that's why it's important to test out a wedge's trick shot capability. That was what Hot List tester Peter Lee thought, anyway.

Golf Digest Staff Writer Max Adler and I did manage to play some golf late in the day. If you look closely in the distance to the right, you'll see a wedding taking place. It was very distracting to tee off during it, but at least we both hit the fairway...
 
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Things ended at dinner when Golf Digest and Golf World Equipment Editors Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson made a little speech (which was nice), then we all enjoyed some chocolate cake (which was very nice).

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Until next year!

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Gear & Equipment

A Rookie At The Hot List: Drivers, wedges and...orange chip shots?


Busy day at the Hot List on Friday, the testers hit drivers and wedges (and an orange, but we'll get to that later) and battled the Arizona heat surprisingly well. Here are some of the best bits from Friday's action:

Golf Digest Equipment Editor Mike Stachura provided the morning entertainment. Sorting through golf balls is usually a pretty tedious task, but watching him trying to throw golf balls into a bucket two feet away was brilliantly funny. Who knows, maybe it's more difficult than it looks -- but probably not.

After picking up all the golf balls Mike had thrown near the bucket, I ran into my old college golf coach from the University of South Carolina Beaufort, Shane LeBaron (he's in the sunglasses below). Shane has been the Director of Instruction at the Wigwam for about a year and has already worked his way into our "Best in State" rankings. Better yet, he found time to give me a quick tune-up on the range; I've got to rotate my torso left through the ball more, so I'll be meditating on an image of Annika Sorenstam's swing for the next couple days.

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This is what one of our tester notebooks looks like. After each wedge one of our testers hits, we ask them a variety of questions about each of the categories you see below, and ask them to give a ranking on a five point scale for each. By the end of the day, you won't have many clean looking pages like this one.

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Jason Guss, one of America's Best Young Teachers, tried hitting a golf ball out of an empty orange on Friday. Didn't turn out well -- not enough muscle. So, remember, the next time this happens to you, make sure to swing hard at the orange.


I think it's worth taking a moment to admire how cool Golf World staffer Brendan Mohler makes drinking a Gatorade look. Notice how the color of the Gatorade matches the color of the shirt. Effortless. It's like he's not even trying.
 
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Want to be a Hot List tester? Well beware, because it's not all fun and games. The group hit a lot of golf balls today, especially this guy -- just look at his hands.

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Gear & Equipment

A Rookie At The Hot List: Cool sunrises, weird warm-ups and way too many drivers

By Luke Kerr-Dineen
 
Golf Digest's Hot List has a long and proud history. It prides itself on being the definitive guide for consumers in their search for equipment to improve their games. But that doesn't come easy. It takes, among about a million other things, hard work from dozens of staff members and testers and a great host in the Wigwam Golf Resort in Arizona. Here's a little look at what the Hot List looks like from behind the scenes, through the eyes of someone experiencing it for the first time:

It's important to start your day with laughter, and that's how I found Golf Digest Assistant Editor Steve Hennessey when I met him bright and early on Thursday morning. Too bad he was laughing at his own tweets...

That guy behind him is Mike Johnson. He's Golf World's Equipment Editor, and he (alongside Golf Digest's Equipment Editor Mike Stachura) has been running the Hot List since the very beginning.

Call me an ignorant New Yorker-turned-Englishman-turned-South Carolinian-turned New Yorker, but Arizona has an uncanny ability of opening its skies to reveal some truly phenomenal sights.

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Like, really phenomenal.

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But back to golf, and it turned out that Golf Digest's Social Media Editor Richard Simmons...whoops, sorry, I mean Ashley Mayo...made an appearance to help limber up all the testers. It looked like it was about to turn into a Jimenez-like warm up at one point, but luckily she didn't think any rotating hip thrusts were necessary.

The way testing worked on Thursday is that three different group were split into three different sections: fairway woods, mallet putters, and game improvement irons. Each tester hits as many balls as they need to and then give a verdict on a variety of different factors; sound and feel, for example, or looks. It's fun, but there are a lot of clubs, so it's also hard work.

The highlight of my Hot List so far? Finally meeting this guy, John Strege, in person. Strege is a writer at Golf Digest and has authored five books, one of which won the USGA International Book Award. Everyone told me that he is "the man," something I can now confirm. Let the word go forth: John Strege is, indeed, "the man."

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John Bronson is also "the man," or, if it's more grammatically correct, "one of the men." A self-described 17ish handicap, Bronson played two years in the NFL as a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, and joined us at the Wigwam on Thursday to test some super-game improvement irons. 

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The testers didn't hit drivers on Thursday, but that's me, below, teeing one up and aiming at a spot about three fairways over (on purpose, thank you very much, that sun was killer). That was one of about 30 different soon-to-be-released drivers I hit today as part of a mini-shoot for an upcoming video. It was sneaky exhausting, but in the grand scheme of things, not a bad way to end the day.

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Gear & Equipment

Video: Previewing the Golf Digest Equipment Insider on NBC

By Mike Stachura

You can watch a pro golf tournament on television multiple times a day every weekend of the year, but only once a year will you see an hour of network golf coverage devoted to the stuff that really matters to average golfers: the hottest gear in the game. That hour comes this Sunday when Golf Digest and NBC Sports combine for the fifth annual edition of the Golf Digest Equipment Insider, a tour through the game's latest technologies in clubs, balls and fashion.

Related: Check out Golf Digest's 2013 Hot List

The show will be hosted by Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" co-stars Holly Sonders and Gary Williams, and will feature insight from Golf Digest Senior Editor for Equipment Mike Stachura; Golf World Senior Editor E. Michael Johnson and Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty "Mr. Style" Hackel.

The Golf Digest Equipment Insider will feature segments on every equipment category in the bag from drivers to putters, as well as a special segment on club-fitting and a closer look at the problem of counterfeit clubs. Throughout the show the leading experts in equipment technology at all of golf's top manufacturers will offer their perspective of how modern innovation is making the possibility for improvement not only commonplace for the top players in the world, but for average golfers, too.

The show will air at 1:00 p.m. ET, prior to Golf Central Pre-Game and the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a sneak peek.

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Gear & Equipment

Adjustability isn't just for drivers anymore

By E. Michael Johnson

In the 2010 Golf Digest Hot List, just one fairway wood was adjustable. This year there were seven.

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In addition to TaylorMade's RocketBallz Stage 2 Tour (profiled in the Jan. 30 issue of Golf Digest STIX), the following adjustable fairway woods can help you take more control of your game.

Adams SUPER LS
:
Multi-material fairway wood has 16 settings for loft/face angle and length.

Callaway RAZR FIT XTREME: Adjustable from 2 degrees open to 1 degree closed. Open setting also reduces loft by 1 degree; closed setting adds 1degree.

Cobra AMP CELL: The 3-4wood model can be adjusted from 13 to 16 degrees with two draw settings, and the 5-7 wood ranges from 17 to 20 degrees with two draw settings. Available in four head colors.

Nike VR_S Covert Tour: The 3- and 5-wood models can be adjusted to five lofts each.

Ping ANSER:
Each loft model can be altered by plus or minus half a degree.

Titleist 913F: Loft and lie angles can be adjusted to one of 16 overall settings.



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Gear & Equipment

Coming Soon: The 2013 Hot List

Looking for this year's version of our comprehensive Hot List equipment guide?

The 2013 Hot List has been moved from its traditional spot in the February issue and will be in our March issue, on newsstands in early February.

hot-list-470.jpgFor an exclusive first look at the Hot List, sign up for Golf Digest Stix, our new e-magazine featuring breaking news about equipment and style, delivered to your inbox every Wednesday. The premiere issue, featuring a preview of the 2013 Hot List, will be Jan. 23.
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Gear & Equipment

The search is on for Hot List testers

How would you like the opportunity to try the latest equipment from every manufacturer long before it reaches stores, and to add your input to the game's leading review of the hottest drivers, irons and putters? Intrigued? Get your application in now to earn a spot as a Golf Digest Hot List panelist this fall. 

120524_johnson_lachman_460.jpgEquipment Editor Mike Johnson takes notes as panelist Steve Lachman reviews a golf club. (Photograph by J.D. Cuban)

Becoming a Golf Digest Hot List panelist is widely considered the greatest honor any Golf Digest reader can acquire. Our Equipment Editors assemble a panel of 20 amateur players from across the nation to test new clubs at an exhausting (and rewarding) four-day summit at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa in Litchfield, Ariz. in October (all travel, room and board is paid by GD). The feedback we receive helps us determine the results of the Hot List, the world's most thorough and comprehensive review of golf equipment, which is published in our March issue. 
 
Every year, we replace a few of our panelists, and we are looking for players with handicap Indexes between scratch and 15. If you think you have what it takes to help us better evaluate golf equipment, earn your chance to become a Hot List Panelist by testing three new clubs at your local pro shop and sending us 30-word reviews about the performance of each one. It is your responsibility to gain access to these clubs (we recommend asking your pro or retailer for a demo). 
 
Here are the three clubs you need to test: 
 

In your e-mail to hotlist@golfdigest.com, please include your name, age, mailing address, telephone number, GHIN number, whether you're a right-handed or left-handed golfer, the current clubs you play and their specs, the three 30-word club reviews, and a short bio. Tell us who you are, what you do for a living and why you'd like to be a Hot List Panelist. We encourage applicants to include a short cell phone video of themselves hitting balls and telling us who they are.

We will select the lucky readers by the middle of August. 

Good luck!
Golf Digest Equipment Editors 
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Gear & Equipment

Podcast: Discussing the 2012 Hot List

gd201202_cover_290.jpgThe beginning of a new year means the release of our annual Hot List, Golf Digest's complete guide to the best new equipment on the market. The full Hot List is available now in the February issue on newsstands and in our tablet editions, and you may have already seen the clubs we selected in the ever-important drivers category.


Related: The complete 2011 Hot List


As for some behind-the-scenes insight, listen to Golf Digest's Senior Equipment Mike Stachura, discuss this year's Hot List, what sets it apart from our equipment ratings, and what he likes and dislikes most about the process of putting the whole thing together.

Listen to the podcast | Download free on iTunes ... Read
Gear & Equipment

The Sound of Silence

There was a strange silence in our meeting room at the Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa yesterday. It was day one of our meetings with the retailer panel at the annual Hot List Summit, and no one was talking. Why? Simple. After four-plus hours of uninterrupted, lively discussion about all elements of the golf marketplace, it was time to eat lunch.
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That's about the only thing that stopped this group of industry veterans and proven observers of the golf retail space from sharing the knowledge that we believe makes the Golf Digest Hot List a trusted, thorough analysis of the game's most intriguing products. 

It's trusted because we feel an obligation to our readers to examine every resource possible to best understand the merits of one new product over another. As a team our six retailers easily combine for more than 150 years of experience in the golf industry. In short, they have seen and/or done nearly everything the business of golf has offered up. If you're looking to find the pulse of the golf consumer, this group lives it every day.
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Gear & Equipment

Hot List Summit Picture Of The Day

LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ -- Day 3 of the Hot List Summit brought brought together a panel of seven retailers from across the country.
 
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Among many other things, the retailers were asked to grade every club nominated for the Golf Digest Hot List.

--Photos by J.D. Cuban
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