LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -- The heavy lifting began on the fifth day of the annual Golf Digest Hot List Summit -- player testing, a full and exhausting day of hitting countless shots with a variety of fairway woods, game-improvement irons and mallet putters.
Veterans of this process tend to note how competitive some of the categories have become over the years, game-improvement irons one of them. This is the iron category to which companies commit vast research and development resources, given that the greatest number of players are likely to find their irons in this category, and the range runs the gamut, from the low-handicapper to the high-handicapper. One Hot List Summit veteran, Donnie Luper, a low-handicapper, actually continues to use a set of super game-improvement irons he bought following the Hot List Summit one year when he discovered the ease with which he could hit the ball with them.
Eighteen sets of game-improvement irons were tested at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa. "I think I'll buy one [club] of each," one tester said jokingly, finding several brands with which he'd be comfortable.
Mallet putters, meanwhile, present a wide variety of styles. Given the personal-preference nature of putters, some were received better than others. "I hope all my friends buy this one," said Jim Jones, a Hot List Summit veteran, figuring that in the hands of his friend it would give him a competitive advantage.
On deck: Day two of club testing, with wedges and the glamour category, drivers, moving to the fore.
-- John Strege