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Michael Johnson/Mike Stachura
We are lucky to have two of the most knowledgeable golf gearheads in our office. And they are sharing their knowledge with you. Golf Digest's equipment editors, Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson, have covered the golf equipment business for decades, and there are few who know the industry better.
We've asked them to answer your questions in a weekly equipment round-up.
What trends in woods, irons and wedges do you guys predict for the coming five years? Also, how would you rank the top five game-changing moments in terms of equipment?
Without getting into jumps in equipment tech from a century ago, lets focus on more recent times, say from 1960. Why then? Because we already did the exercise a few years ago with our bracket challenge to determine the biggest leaps since that year.
Our final four was the Ping Anser putter (the original heel-toe weighted blade and the most copied club ever); TaylorMade’s original M1 driver, which provided unmatched levels of adjustability, and its r7 driver, which brought to market in 2004 the concept of movable weights in a clubhead, paving the way for all others in adjustability; and the original Callaway Great Big Bertha, which launched the game into large-headed drivers.
The Odyssey 2-Ball putter also could get a nod for its inventive approach to alignment, which made mallets fashionable again. As for trends, in drivers and irons expect manufacturers to continue to improve performance in the off-center parts of the clubface and in wedges, look for surface roughness to be a likely area of continued development.
Is it worth getting fit for clubs I already own? I am 28, never been fit for clubs before. I currently use an off the shelf Ping set that I’ve had for about four years. I’m 5-5 and sometimes feel certain lengths of clubs might be a bit too long.
This is a great question because it addresses something many people don’t think about. And the answer is absolutely yes, it’s worth getting fit for clubs you already have. Especially if you’re 5-foot-5, since a stock set of clubs isn’t likely to have the proper lie angle for you.
Luckily, if that’s the case, it’s not a difficult fix. Now if the shafts are a bad fit, that could become an expensive proposition, and you might look at new clubs as the cost could be comparable.
But if you can make the changes easily enough, there’s probably still some miles left on your irons before you need to swap them out. (By the way, this also applies to anyone who has had their irons for a few years and perhaps has undergone a swing change. If that sounds like you, clubs that once were fitted to you might not be now. Get it checked out.)
I’m new to golf (practice range only, never been on a course). Should I start with budget equipment or should I go for the big brands. So far I have a driver, 3-iron, 4-iron, 3-wood and putter.
Although it is not uncommon for those new to the game to grab a handful of sticks and head to the range, you might have picked some of the most difficult clubs to hit with that 3-iron, 4-iron and even the 3-wood. The issue with much of the budget equipment out there is that it’s simply not very good and could make it harder for you to enjoy the game, even on the range.
A typical “short set” would be a driver, 5-wood, 5-iron, 7-iron, pitching wedge and putter, or something along those lines. Instead of buying from a budget brand, do some online shopping of used clubs from reputable retailers. Used clubs from a reliable brand are probably a better start to your game than a new set from a budget brand.