Behind The Hot List Process
One of the great myths of the Golf Digest Hot List, now its 18th year as the definitive review of the best golf equipment on the market, is that it involves little more than our equipment editors Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson grabbing a fistful of new drivers and heading 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 Stachura and Johnson, and their third judge, Joel Beall, 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.
The Judges cast the only votes on the Hot List, 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 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 based on a 100-point scale for each of the four criteria, relative to the entries in a 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 evaluate 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.