"Surviving the Hot List"

A new video series offers an unprecedented look at Golf Digest's biggest project


"Surviving the Hot List" goes behind the scenes of our painstaking process in reviewing golf equipment.

A fly-on-the-wall perspective into the painstaking process of testing new golf equipment might sound like compelling documentary material to only the most devoted of club junkies. But “Surviving the Hot List,” a four-part series chronicling the player testing at our annual Hot List Summit, is about more than the parsing between the best in new golf technology. It’s an inside look at the most ambitious project on Golf Digest’s calendar, and the assortment of personalities who make it work.

Thanks to camera crews on site all week for the Summit in Mesquite, Nev., last November, “Surviving the Hot List” captures the blistered hands, sore backs, and inevitable squabbles that arise as Golf Digest editors and a team of volunteer testers try to delineate between the great and the very good in golf equipment. What most golfers see is the finished product—in print and online—of our annual equipment review. But for the first time, they can appreciate everything that went into it.

“It’s a year’s worth of research,” we hear in Episode 1. “Tens of thousands of miles traveled. Weeks of conversations with scientists and the smartest R&D people in golf. And a team of the magazine’s editors wading through hundreds of new woods, irons, wedges and putters each fall, all in the name of finding out what clubs matter, what clubs resonate, and what clubs shift the paradigm in the game.”

As the release of the 2022 Hot List approaches, “Surviving the Hot List” puts human faces to this difficult but impressive endeavor. You can see Episode 1 below, and the full series here.

Episode 1: Good Cop, Bad Cop

The Hot List testing kicks off for the 19th year in a row in Mesquite, Nev., and testers new an old brace themselves for four grueling days of hitting 500 balls a day. They do their jobs under the watchful eyes of chief Hot List judges Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson, the brains behind the franchise and the top equipment editors in golf. To fully understand the Hot List, you have to know the Mikes. “It’s like being around an old bickering couple sometimes,” says one of their coworkers.