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.