In 2004, back when—believe it or not—drivers with adjustable hosels weren't even legal, Golf Digest's decision to rate equipment for the first time in its 54-year history wasn't entered into lightly. Now that the Hot List is in its 15th year, and the idea of a driver without adjustability is considered almost radical, our sense of responsibility burns deeper. Why? With fewer retail stores and more dollars being spent online, getting smart advice about what to buy has gotten harder for average golfers, who are desperate for trusted information. We believe the Hot List continues to be the most valuable source amid all the confusion. Hopefully, too, it's a call to action to rethink the old clubs you've been carrying in your bag, perhaps since 2004.
We bring that guidance to you by being diligent and broad in our methodology—unbiased, uncensored and, well, honest. Our extensive process is intense, and its greatest focus occurs during a two-week annual Hot List Summit—the latest was at Pinehurst Resort. That fitting location served as the workplace where our team of editors, expert contributors and golfers set about determining the products that matter in 2018. We've learned that the most significant clubs aren't just those that intrigue industry experts and a roomful of Ph.D.s, but are those that resonate with players just like you.
The 121 clubs on the 2018 Hot List are a record number, a reflection not on the difficulty of being unique in an industry awash in sameness and parity, but instead a celebration that clubs from all kinds of manufacturers large and small are finding ways to help golfers improve. It's not merely that today's designs are better than yesterday's. (They are. We ran the tests) It's that so many of the new clubs are better in ways that hadn't been contemplated in 2004. We're talking about razor-thin metalwood construction, a new category of irons (Players Distance) and grooves so sharp you'll forget there ever was a groove rule.
It has been quite a journey since 2004, but the destination remains the same: better-informed, better-equipped and better-playing golfers.