Arriving At Hot List Wisdom

February 2009

Author and physician Martin H. Fischer wrote: "Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification."

He could have been describing the Hot List process. We do pile up facts. One Excel spreadsheet for driver testing contained more than 5,000 data points. But that was just the beginning. Manufacturers submitted more than 1,200 pages of technical data to be reviewed by our editors and technical panel of Ph.D. scientists. In addition, our editors visited numerous manufacturers during the year.

We took the universe of clubs—471 separate entries were considered—and examined every detail that covers our four judging criteria. We then settled on 218 preliminary finalists. What followed was a 13-day visit to CordeValle Resort near San Jose, Calif., where, among other things, we met with our scientists to evaluate technology claims and trends, spent two days with six prominent retailers to better understand the market, and conducted three days of club testing with 20 player panelists, gathering insight and opinion into what resonates with golfers of different abilities and what doesn't.

After returning home, the judges gathered to discuss the results. We evaluated and debated every club based on each of the four criteria. In the end, the judges voted on 218 clubs—meaning there were more than 800 debates during nine days of meetings that included several cartons of take-out food. Once the votes were tallied, we had our 116-club Hot List—or as Fischer might say, the wisdom of our simplification.

Section openers: Ashley Mayo; Drivers: Mike Stachura; Fairway Woods: John Strege; Hybrids: Stina Sternberg; Irons: E. Michael Johnson; Wedges: John Strege; Putters: Max Adler; Instruction: Ron Kaspriske

The Glossary

Some Technical Terms Defined


The amount of space between the leading edge and the groundline when the club is in the square address position. In general, more bounce is better for soft sand and lush grass; less bounce is better for firm sand and turf.


The face curvature from heel to toe that corrects spin on mis-hits.


The radius measurement of the sole from front to back or heel to toe.


A way of manufacturing a clubhead by which molten metal is poured into a mold.


A cubic centimeter is the unit of measurement for clubhead volume.

Center of Gravity (CG)

A theoretical point that defines the average location of weight in a clubhead. It's the internal point about which the head rotates. A low CG helps to launch the ball higher. It isn't always found at the geometric center.

Computer Milled

Refers to the process by which an automated machine cuts and shapes solid blocks of metal by reading code. Grooves and faces are often made this way to ensure tight tolerances.


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