It’s that question we get every year: Is the new stuff really better than last year’s stuff? The answer is a without hesitation “yes.” That said, if you bought a new driver or set of irons or wedges or putter last year, it might not be instantly recognizable. Fact is, seismic shifts in golf equipment are few, the result of the fact that pretty much everything the past few years has been pretty dang excellent. However if you haven’t upgraded your clubs in four or five years or—heaven help you, longer—the chances of you seeing significant improvement is strong.

The fact is, golfers are getting better and equipment technology is the reason. That might manifest itself in better scores or a lower handicap. It might be in the form of more quality shots more often. Or it might come from a less-skilled player getting more enjoyment from the game because they are finally getting the ball in the air and moving it down the fairway. If you haven’t changed your clubs in several years we know the reasons. “I’m not good enough” or “None of that equipment helps average golfers all that much.” Then there’s the one we dislike the most, “I’m doing just fine with what I’ve got.” Unfortunately, not really. We’ve learned over the years that equipment is designed to help average players more than tour players, and the designs today are aimed at helping the mis-hit more than the Sunday punch. In other words, the game can be made easier. Not easy, but easier. And who doesn’t want that, especially when a case can be made that it’s happening across every section of your bag.

The right wedge used to be simple math, an adding and subtracting of lofts to get you to fill in the right yardages at the short end of the bag. Now, when it’s done right, wedges are a system in your bag, fit together with a kind of algorithm that considers everything from the type of irons you play to the type of course you play. But golfers who embrace that search—indeed, wedge fittings are increasingly offered and fun to do—will find how the new collection of sole grinds and bounce options might show you the right combination makes up for any scoring shortcomings in your short game. Further good news: They haven’t quit on making new grooves better (sharper, thanks to manufacturing tolerances pushed to dramatic new possibilities) and with soles that allow you to deliver the club more cleanly for solid contact and better distance control.