MESQUITE, Nev. -- This was a day that can best be described using numbers, starting with this one: 2,500 pounds.
That is the weight of the equipment (clubs and range balls) that was shipped from Golf Digest's Wilton, Conn., office to the CasaBlanca Resort here for the annual Hot List Summit.
One-hundred-sixty-eight club models made the trek (featuring different flexes, iron lofts and putter lengths). All told, more than 800 clubs were brought here for club testing, which began on Thursday, day five of the Hot List Summit. Forty-two manufacturers are represented in the process.
This was the first of three days of range testing by 16 players of varying degrees of ability. There are six with handicaps of 0 to 4; four with handicaps from 5 to 10; and six with handicaps of 11 to 15. On Saturday, another group will join them -- four players with handicaps of 16 to 20 (to test super game improvement irons).
Nineteen game improvement irons, 20 fairway woods and 23 mallet putters were tested by each of the 16 players on Thursday. So how many balls did they hit?
Starting with the iron category, each player was asked to hit each iron at least three times (most hit each of them more than that). Each particular iron tested came in 4-iron (or a 4 hybrid), 6-iron and 9-iron. They were asked to hit each one at least three times. So using a conservative estimate of three shots with each iron, each of the 16 players hit 171 iron shots, for a total of 2,736 balls hit. Each player hit each of the 20 fairway woods, conservatively, three times, 60 shots each, for a total of 960 shots by the 16 panelists. This adds to 3,696 full shots hit.
Each player struck at least five putts with each of the 23 mallet putters for a total of 1,840 putts hit.
They were on the range and putting green for six hours, after which most of the testers went out onto the course to play nine holes.
It was a weary group that trudged back to the hotel late Thursday afternoon, and they get to repeat the process again on Friday and Saturday.
-- John Strege