An equipment editor at Golf Digest sounds like a dream job, and seeing the assortment of new clubs clustered around Mike Stachura and Mike Johnson’s desks does little to disrupt the fantasy. But look closer and you might also see stacks of scientific papers thick as college textbooks. Or one of the Mikes entering another decimal into a dense spreadsheet.
One of the great myths of the Golf Digest Hot List, now its 17th year as the definitive review of the best golf equipment on the market, is that it involves little more than Mike and Mike grabbing a fistful of new drivers and stealing off to the range to give them a whirl. In fact, it is a months-long process that involves understanding manufacturers’ latest offerings at quite literally a molecular level (those manuals aren’t just for show, folks). Yes, there are golf swings involved as well, but that’s usually when Mike and Mike are grilling our player testers for every detail of the experience, and not before they’ve consulted with physicists, mechanical engineers, and golf club retailers.
This 360-degree assessment is all in the service of what Stachura describes as “thin slicing shades of excellence.” There are no more bad golf clubs being made on a mass level anymore, but to understand what makes one hybrid slightly better than another -- or for that matter, why one might be better for you -- it requires Mike and Mike to be singularly, almost maniacally, focused on why and how they work. And in the process, they’re helping make your job as the golf consumer a little easier.
As we do every year when we launch the newest Hot List, we had Mike and Mike on the Golf Digest Podcast to talk about this year’s crop of winning clubs, emerging trends in equipment, and why this year is both the easiest and hardest time to find a new driver.
Also on this week’s podcast, Alex Myers, Steve Hennessey and myself discuss how the tragic death of Kobe Bryant rocked the golf world and assess Tiger Woods’ 2020 debut. Plus Hennessey and Chris Powers look ahead with their picks for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.