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By Mike Stachura
Tour pros are better than average golfers in just about every way, but they really separate themselves with the driver and wedge. Tour pros are about a football field longer off the tee than average golfers, according to stat-tracking numbers from Arccos, whose on-club sensors track performance data and use artificial intelligence to provide strategy recommendations via the Arccos Caddie feature.
Tour players also hit the fairway 62 percent of the time compared to about 38 percent for average golfers.
The difference between us and them is even greater with the wedge. Based on 20 million shots, Arccos says average golfers take three or more shots to hole the ball from off the green 70 percent of the time. On the PGA Tour, zero players average three shots or more most of the time.
How can the rest of us catch up? Well, lessons and lots of practice, of course, but the right driver and wedges will help, too. For example, some new driver shafts are barely heavier than a slice of bread. This kind of weight savings can help some players gain more speed and control without changing their swings or spending hours in the gym. Other drivers are designed with weighting that minimizes a slice, or they use offset to help you hit it straighter.
In wedges, new groove designs and sole shapes can help improve spin and contact. How much? A GolfTEC study found that even a two-year-old wedge lost a third of its spin compared to a new model. Average golfers go about five years without replacing their wedges. (For tour players, five weeks might be a lot.) So, yeah, tour players are different than us, but these new drivers and wedges could help you close the gap.
1. Callaway Epic Flash Star
The face, designed with the help of artificial intelligence, gives ball speed a boost. Also, the club weighs 50 grams less than standard to boost slow swings.
2. Cleveland CBX 2
The cavity features a hollowed-out section to expand the sweet spot. The wider sole offers forgiveness and playability options around the green.
3. Mizuno T20
The durability of the boron-infused steel maintains groove sharpness, and the vertical channels between the grooves divert moisture for cleaner contact.
4. Tour Edge Hot Launch 4
Built for forgiveness, bot standard and offset models use rear weighting and a sloped crown to lower the center of gravity for high launch and low-spin.
5. Titleist TS1
It's 45 grams lighter than other TS drivers, and its high launch yields slightly more (not low) spin, something the company says slower swingers need.
6. Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo
The thin, closed face mixes with deep weighting for higher flight, forgiveness and slice correction. The shaft weight is balanced toward the grip for control.
7. Callaway Jaws MD5
There are 23 options and four sole grinds, and the new sharper grooves' upper edges are cut at a tighter angle to provide more spin on partial shots.
8. TaylorMade Milled Grind 2.0
The unfinished, raw face isn't an aesthetic touch; it promotes more consistency in the sharp grooves and laser-etched surface pattern for more grab.
9. Ping Glide 3.0
The four sole options include a version that's true to the venerable Eye2's sole and high toe, and they feature a larger polymer cavity insert for softer feel.