How did we get to the 105 products that make up Golf Digest's 2017 Hot List? In short, time, people and effort. It starts with a commitment to be thorough in understanding the golf equipment landscape in all its forms and facets. That means a lot of meetings with all the principals and the R&D teams at companies both large and small throughout the year. It means a two-week annual Hot List Summit at The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, Ariz. where we meet with our three primary advisory panels.
First, there's the six leading golf retailers, who give us a hands-on sense of what kinds of products are resonating in the marketplace as well as their guidance on what will. Then, we've got our group of six top scientists with decades of experience understanding how all things work so we can understand how golf things work.
Finally, we brought in 23 players that represent the vast range of golfers from teaching pros to 20-something handicaps. Each of them is paired with an editor throughout the club evaluation process and we are taking notes and compiling scores to get a sense of what products consistently are producing the most favorable assessments. They are in a very real way showing us what clubs should be on your radar as you begin your search for the products that will matter to you and your game in 2017.
The Hot List is not just a numbers game, of course. Sure, we review a lot of clubs (172 were submitted this year) and our panelists hit a lot of balls (33,000, give or take a small bucket. Giving all the latest golf clubs the once-, twice- and thrice-over is only part of our process, which featured Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitors at every hitting station. The analysis and feedback from our testers provided the basis for our scores in Performance (45 percent of the total score) and Look/Sound/Feel (20 percent). Intense deliberations with our technical panel informed our score in Innovation (30 percent), and our industry review by our panel of golf retailers gave us the information for the Demand score (5 percent).
All of these contributions, plus weeks of scrutiny by the judges, form the Golf Digest Hot List, our uncensored guide for all the equipment that can change your game this year and for years to come. Products that earn 93 points or more are awarded Gold medals; a score of 88 to 92.99 earns a Silver.
This list of exceptional products for 2017 reveals breakout technologies, fundamental changes in process and unique new materials. That combination of innovations provide demonstrable gains in how to exact better performance from your less-than-perfect hits while at the same time setting the stage for you to more often maximize your potential.
We've done our work to get you an informed start on your next equipment purchase, something we believe strongly should involve a clubfitting. Chances are you'll discover exactly what our panelists found this year. As one veteran said after a long day hitting hundreds of balls: "Just incredible. There are so many excellent clubs out there, and a few that are truly exceptional." Your quest for your own exceptional starts here.