GET OUT & PLAY

Here are 23 ways new technology can help improve your golf game now

By Madeline MacClurg

Golf club technology is constantly progressing. So much so, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest equipment. We compiled a quick rundown of equipment on the market right now that can help you improve your game. Whether you're looking at buying your first set of clubs, or you have a standing monthly appointment at your local clubfitter, everyone can learn from the latest evolution of golf technology.

Consistency, not just distance, is a result of getting fit
 
In this exclusive study Golf Digest did with Club Champion, we found that when golfers were properly fit for a driver, they began to hit their tee shots more consistently. When you look at the driving average of the group, you'll see that distance was 51 percent more consistent. Players also saw consistency improve with their dispersion, ball speed, spin rate, clubhead speed and face angle.
 
18 upgrades to get your golf bag ready for the season
 
Whether it's something big like getting fit for new clubs or something small like changing the batteries in your rangefinder, preparation is key for starting your season strong. Head into your next round with confidence after making simple upgrades to your equipment.
 
Our experts share the smartest way to buy used clubs
 
When it comes to purchasing used golf equipment, finding a reputable dealer and attention to detail are essential. Before you buy anything, make sure the specs closely match what you would typically use and always check the condition of the clubs. Overlooking something as simple as grips could end up costing you additional money.
 
How close are we to getting trackable golf balls?
 
GPS tracking in a golf ball sounds like something straight out of the Jetsons, but it's not. OnCore Golf is in the process of developing a ball that has technological capabilities such as location services and tracking performance data. Even though it's not quite ready, it's still a pretty cool idea.
 
Yes, even average players can hit stingers
 
Utility irons are a new alternative to traditional long-irons and high launching hybrids. Compared to a normal 4-iron, the 4-utility flew farther, straighter and launched 2 degrees higher than the standard iron. Although these clubs are more forgiving than a normal iron, players can still hit "stinger" shots, making them an excellent compromise for people who can't quite hit driving irons but don't want a hybrid.
 
The best driver to fix your slice
 
Slicing your drive is one of the many frustrating shots in golf. Luckily, you can straighten out your tee shots with the help of a moveable weighted driver or a closed face driver. If you fade the ball slightly, try an adjustable weighted driver and move the weight into the heel. For players who hit a more dramatic slice, try using a closed face driver.
 
Should you fix your swing before or after you get new clubs?
 
Golfers adapt their swing to their equipment, so practising with the wrong clubs will only keep you from making that swing change. That's why it's so important to get fit for clubs before changing your swing. Nick Sheburne, a Golf Digest Best 100 Clubfitter, suggests letting the club fitter know your plans for changing your swing so they can keep that in mind when fitting you for equipment.
 
Why toe-hang mallet putters are becoming more popular
 
If you use a blade putter and your game on the green feels a little off, it might be time to try a toe-hang mallet putter. Even though it looks like a mallet, it acts as a blade putter. That's why this putter works well for golfers such as Tiger Woods who use a blade with an arcing stroke.
 
When you should start to consider buying Players Irons
 
Switching to Players Irons might not end up being an advantage at all. Players Irons require a lot of skill because they are the smallest, least forgiving and shortest-flying irons in the game. Instead, try a Players Distance Iron or even a Game Improvement Iron, this will be a more forgiving option and it won't compromise distance or control.
 
Hybrids do more than boost your distance
 
More golfers should consider adding a hybrid to their bag. Not only are you able to hit a hybrid farther than an iron, but hybrid shots land more softly into greens than irons, especially from longer yardages. Hybrids are also great for escaping thick rough and making greenside saves. No wonder LPGA Tour player Jennifer Kupcho says that it's her favourite club.
 
Why splitting iron sets benefits your game
 
Most tour pros believe that to get the most out of their iron game, they need to combine iron sets. While it might sound crazy initially, think about the different courses and conditions they face over an entire season. It makes sense that they would want to have specialized clubs for specific conditions.
 
Common equipment mistakes tour players see from amateurs
 
PGA Tour player Webb Simpson shares two common equipment mistakes he sees amateurs make: They use clubs that are too heavy and play with small-headed irons. Amateurs would be amazed at the difference a properly weighted shaft can make to their swing speed and how quickly their contact and consistency would increase from playing irons with a bigger face.
  
Why you should start using a higher-lofted fairway wood
 
PGA Tour pros have started playing higher-lofted fairway woods, and you should too. Why? Because the loft of the club adds height and shrinks the distance gap between the next hybrid or long iron. Unless you're more consistent than PGA Tour pros like Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Tony Finau, maybe it's time to try using fairway woods that are 16 degrees or higher.
 
What you can learn from Jordan Spieth's wedge setup
 
Titleist shared specs from Jordan Spieth's wedge setup, and we found that his 46-and 52-degree wedges use the same shafts that are in his irons, Project X 6.5. However, his 56- and 60-degree wedges have a sub-flex shaft, which can add feel. Take a page out of his playbook and try using your iron shafts in your lower-lofted wedges. After all, you probably use them as full-swing clubs more.
 
Mallet putters are taking over the Tour
 
Nearly 40 percent of the PGA Tour players use mallet putters, while only about a third used one back in 2014. Of the top 50 on tour, 23 use a mallet now, but just five years ago, there were only 19. It seems that more players are seeking the forgiveness benefits of mallet putters.

Why you should rethink your driver loft
 
In a study Golf Digest completed with Club Champion, we found that players with swing speeds between 80 to 100 miles per hour consistently hit the ball farther when using a lower loft. The study also revealed that people have adjusted their angle of attack and are hitting the ball on a slightly upward angle to optimize their distance. Next time you're able to practice, try using a lower lofted driver while hitting up on the ball and distance should follow.
 
Are golf equipment prices out of control?
 
The short answer is no, and here's why: The most popular driver from 1995, Callaway's Great Big Bertha, cost $500, and in today's dollars, with inflation, that comes out to about $850. However, the average price of any metalwood today is about $250, and that's including the rising cost of labor. While golf clubs aren't cheap, you can find plenty of affordable deals if you know where to look. A good starting point is GlobalGolf.com.

How to pick the best ball for your game
 
Don't let your handicap limit what kind of ball you play. Instead, find the shot that determines how well you play a hole and then choose a ball that optimizes that skill or negates that miss. If you think you're spending too much on golf balls, play nine holes with a cheaper ball than what you use currently. If you can't tell the difference, then your decision should be pretty obvious.
 
When investing in new clubs, try adding a hybrid in the mix
 
Whenever anyone gets fit for new clubs, they expect to hit the ball farther. While new iron technology could help you gain a few extra yards, your long irons can't compete with the distance a hybrid will produce. Plus, hybrids are more forgiving and help you launch the ball higher than an iron. Try adding a hybrid to your bag, you may never go back.
 
How much damage do range mats do to your club?
 
First off, mats aren't the only reason your lie angles could be off. Constant chunks and practice on firm turf can affect your lie angle as well. A while back, Golf Digest conducted a test and found that hitting hundreds of balls off mats resulted in clubs being off by about a degree. Forged irons might feel the effects more because they are made from softer steel. Moral of the story, if you're known to chunk your shots or have been hitting off mats, it might be time to check your lie angles.
 
Do drivers have a shelf life?
 
Over time, repeated hits can cause the face of the driver to be altered to a point where they become nonconforming and can eventually crack. This issue is most prevalent with players who have swing speeds upwards of 105 mph. Golf Digest equipment experts Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson say, "The bottom line is that while drivers do have a shelf life, you will most likely buy a new one before your current driver fails on you."
 
A lighter shaft rarely leads to a faster swing
 
According to Liam Mucklow, a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, a lighter driver shaft rarely leads to a faster swing. Mucklow shared that "only 12 percent of golfers swing their fastest with the lightest club." He also said that a clubhead that's too light often results in poor swing mechanics and a loss of power. Luckily a club fitter can help you put power back in your swing by finding the proper club shaft weight for your swing.
 
The next generation of irons
 
Golf companies create the new era of irons by combining materials strategically to maximize distance, forgiveness and feel. When forging these irons, companies use heavy materials to lower the center of gravity and launch the ball higher. This means more distance, and who doesn't want that?

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