With a new year approaching, now is about the time when us golfers begin eyeing some upgrades to the equipment in our bags. We’ve played enough rounds to know which aspects of our game haven’t been up to par—maybe the driver has started to get a little wild, or perhaps the wedge has lost its loft. From top to bottom, here are some of the most innovative products on the market today.
Golfers who took up the game before, say, 1990 may remember the simple, pleasing looks of that bygone era’s persimmon drivers. Cleveland Golf ditched the unforgiving clubface but applied the persimmon’s stylistic hallmarks—the rich mahogany finish, the golden alignment aid on the face—to its new Classic driver. And there’s plenty of technology under the retro-looking hood. The Classic features a deep titanium clubface that promotes a piercing, wind-cheating ball flight, and the driver comes in three weights—270, 290 and 310 grams—all of which are light enough to enable players to pick up clubhead speed without any extra effort. From $300; clevelandgolf.com.
Ever since Fred Couples went with the sneaker-like Ecco Street Premiere at the 2010 Masters, spikeless designs have been all the rage in golf shoes. And a three-year-old company called TRUE Linkswear has quickly risen to the top by building its products with a platform that’s a mere ten millimeters high, so golfers have a closer connection to the turf than with any other shoe. While the shoes take a few holes to get used to, many players compare the TRUE experience to wearing a pair of slippers on the course—the level of comfort they offer is hard to beat. There are several models, but we like the Stealth, which comes in high-quality leather and a stylish toe cap. $200; truelinkswear.com.
Wedges have been the most stagnant category in golf for decades, and their performance industry-wide actually took a step backward when the USGA changed its rules about clubhead grooves in 2010. After that veteran club designer Terry Koehler decided to reinvent the wedge from scratch. The result is the innovative SCOR4161 line, designed to offer unparalleled flexibility in the short game. The company offers heads in every loft, from 41 (a modern nine iron) to 61 degrees, allowing players control over distance gaps. Wedge shafts usually feel heavy and unresponsive, but even this component has been designed to optimize feel, with a firm tip section for full swings and a tiny bit of play in the midsection for finesse shots. From $150 a club; scorgolf.com.
Behold this year’s most buzzed-about product, TaylorMade’s RocketBallz fairway wood. The company makes the eye-popping claim that these woods can add as many as 17 yards to one’s game, thanks to the Speed Pocket carved into the sole. For years, drivers and fairway woods have been designed with centers of gravity pushed low and back in the clubhead, leading to high launch angles and high spin rates. This slot, however, moves the center of gravity forward, thus taking spin off the ball, which, at higher swing speeds, actually keeps the ball in the air longer. $230; taylormadegolf.com.
In the iron department, Mizuno continues to make some of the sweetest clubs in the game. Erstwhile world no. 1 Luke Donald has in his bag the MP-59, so we paid a visit to Scott Ward, an independent club fitter based in Bethel, Connecticut, to test the club. Forging two metals into a seamless whole is a challenging task, Ward explained, but by adding a lighter metal, titanium, to the area behind the MP-59’s steel clubface, engineers were able to spread that weight savings around the perimeter of the clubhead. In the process, Mizuno created the ultimate golf paradox—a forgiving blade. $1,000; mizunousa.com.