Behind The Hot List Process
The right club is out there. not talking about one perfect that works for everybody. the 2020 Hot List, Golf Digest’s annual review of the game’s meaningful new equipment, reflects an effort among manufacturer to optimize equipment not merely for pursuit of perfection, but for your scores. Increasingly, the most are designed to serve the needs of individual players by complementing strengths and mitigating weaknesses.
The Hot List is your personal guide for the clubs that will bring out your better golfing self. In the pages ahead are dozens of dynamic new metalwoods, irons, wedges and putters that can provide your game with the distance, accuracy, control, feel and touch you didn’t know was possible. Also, this year we expand our advice at golfdigest.com with our first online club-selection tool that will help you further refine what’s best for you.
The 2020 Hot List is the result of months of discussion, debate and evaluations by players of all abilities, including a two-week testing session at the CasaBlanca Resort in Mesquite, Nev. Here we detail the features and benefits of the 131 most exceptional clubs in the game, with advice from tour pros and six equipment-related instruction tips from Golf Digest Chief Digital Instructor Michael Breed. Want to imagine how much better you can be? Let the Hot List be your inspiration.
OUR JUDGES CAST THE ONLY VOTES ON THE HOTLIST, BUT THEY GATHER INSIGHT FROM THREE PANELS: SCIENTISTS, RETAILERS AND PLAYERS LIKE YOU.
Our judges cast the only votes in the Hot List, but they gather insight from three independent panels. The Scientists advise us on Innovation. Retailers assess Demand. Players just like you evaluate Performance and Look/Sound/Feel. A product’s score is based on its weighted average in these four criteria, with Performance, Innovation and Look/Sound/Feel largely determining the total score. All scoring is relative to the current field of entries in the category.
Based on interviews with our player panelists, player-testing data and other sources, the judges assess the utility of each product. In other words, this is a grade of what happens to the ball when a player hits it. (Note: Foresight Sports GCQuad Launch monitors are used at every hitting station.)
In consultation with our technical panel and based on interviews and our review of company technical documents, this grade reflects how a particular technology advances the category in all aspects, to what degree the commitment to fitting the vast majority of golfers is executed, and how that technology is explained to the public and to our editors.
LOOK SOUND FEEL
Using input from the player panelists, our judges evaluated the relative excellence of the visual, auditory and tactile experience of using a particular club. The more the club resonates with our understanding of what a golf club should be, the higher the grade it receives. In short, this is a grade of what the player experiences when viewing, holding, swinging and hitting the club.
An assessment of the reputation, interest, intrigue and excitement about a particular product, considering market presence, tour use, relative value and consumer satisfaction through consulting research from Golf Datatech, other published resources and a panel of leading retailers. All judging is based on a 100-point scale.
Products earned a score of 93 to 100.
Products earned a score of 88 to 92.99.
CLUBS WE RATE
We review the current marketplace with a key stipulation: only products still at their full price will be considered.
The Hot List is our review of the best clubs on the market, but you might find a few well-known and well-received products not on the following pages. Those noteworthy clubs include the G410 FAMILY OF WOODS AND IRONS FROM PING, including the G410 Plus, G410 SFT and G410 LST drivers and fairway woods; the G410 hybrid and the G410 game-improvement iron. Also, you won’t see the CLEVELAND RTX-4 WEDGE. Although these clubs are available and all of them earned Gold medals in their respective categories in the 2019 Hot List, they fail to meet one key stipulation for our annual review of the game’s current equipment. Under Hot List rules, only “new” equipment is considered. “New” is not specifically a reference to how long a product has been in the marketplace. In fact, more than a fourth of products on this year’s Hot List also were on last year’s list. However, in the context of the Hot List, “new” means a product’s current price has not been permanently reduced from its introductory price. The Ping G410 clubs and the Cleveland wedge all reduced their price late last year, and thus we removed them from consideration in our Hot List judging. —THE EDITORS