Best Golf Products of the Year
Putting together a list of the top golf products of the year was a difficult task. Why? Because the number of exceptional products to choose from this year was truly astounding. That said, we’ve crunched the numbers, watched feedback videos, had detailed product discussions, and counted the ballots, and the end result is this: Our list of the Best Golf Products of the Year. So if you have needs for your golf game or you’re looking for gift ideas for family or friends, here’s a great place for you to start. Let’s get to it:
TaylorMade M2: When TaylorMade released the M2 driver as a complement to the M1, Tour play was split between the two models roughly 50-50. Since that time, however, TaylorMade staffers, including the likes of Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, have steadily gravitated toward the more forgiving M2, and most recently Rory McIlroy added an M2 driver to his bag. Recreational players also have flocked to the M2 thanks not only to its higher MOI but also the high launch conditions, low spin rates, and fast ball speeds it generates.
Titleist 917: Whether it’s the more forgiving D2 or the smaller, lower spinning D3, Titleist is giving players complete performance with its new 917 drivers. Not only has Titleist been able to bring ball speeds up and spin rates down, but this is also the most customizable driver the company has ever made thanks to the combination of the SureFit CG and SureFit hosel. For all those reasons, the 917 has been a huge success with touring pros and average players alike.
Cobra King LTD: The inclusion of the Cobra LTD on this list might come as a surprise to some, but it won’t come as a surprise to the myriad of players who put this driver into their bags in the last several months. To put it succinctly, the combination of forgiveness and distance, the latter of which comes from amazingly low spin rates coupled with naturally high launch, produced by the LTD make it one of the best 2016 products on the market regardless of category.
Callaway XR 16: Face Cup technology has propelled Callaway to its current status as industry leader when it comes to fairway woods, and XR 16 features the hottest, most forgiving face that Callaway has ever produced, with the result being amazing distance. Additionally, a slightly larger clubhead and low CG placement produce high launch conditions and make the XR 16 fairways easy to hit off the deck or a tee, which has made them a popular choice for players of all ability levels.
PING G: When it comes to PING golf clubs, one thing you can always count on is a high level of playability and forgiveness. And that’s absolutely the case with the PING G fairway woods, as these are clubs that have been designed to produce effortless launch thanks to a low CG placement and lower leading edge. They also, however, deliver consistent ball speeds from impact points across the face, and it’s that combination of performance that has made the G fairway one of the year’s best.
TaylorMade M2: As popular as the M2 driver has turned out to be, M2 fairway woods, which Taylormade have coined as “UnFairway,” might be even more popular thanks to an impressive combination of distance, launch, and forgiveness. Just how long are these fairway woods? TaylorMade had to slow down the clubface to meet USGA standards and many touring pros have had to play their M2 fairways at higher lofts or shorter lengths to keep from hitting them too far.
Titleist 716 AP2: Titleist calls the 716 AP2 the most advanced players iron it has ever made. And it’s hard to argue with that assessment when considering the look, feel, control, workability, distance, and forgiveness that these irons provide, a combination that has made them a favorite among Titleist staffers. More specifically, what gives these irons the distance that’s often lacking in a players iron is the use of tungsten weighting, which lowers the center of gravity to align perfectly with the ball at impact.
Callaway Apex Pro 16: Callaway relied heavily on its Tour players in creating the Apex Pro 16 irons, which has resulted in a classic shape and heads that have been forged from 1025 carbon steel for the softest feel. But where these irons excel is from a playability standpoint, as the longer irons have been designed for higher launch and increased distance, while the shorter irons have been designed for ultimate control, a combination that has made these irons extremely popular among better players.
PING iBlade: The PING iBlade is one of the most unique iron offerings on the market today, as it’s a true blade design that features a cast construction. Fear not, however, as this is an iron that still feels and sounds great at impact. It’s also an iron that delivers the type of playability rarely found in a blade, as in addition to its elegant look and crisp feel, the iBlade excels in terms of forgiveness, launch, and distance, which is among the reasons that this iron, despite its classic look, isn’t just for low-handicappers.
GAME IMPROVEMENT IRONS
Srixon Z 565: If People Magazine were giving an award for the sexiest game improvement irons in golf, the Srixon Z 565 would win in a landslide. With its compact blade shape and forged cavity back construction, the 565s don’t look or feel like your typical game improvement irons. But the distance, launch, and forgiveness they provide is among the best you’ll find in their category, which makes this iron an intriguing candidate for more than just high- and mid-handicap players.
TaylorMade M2 Tour: The M2 irons are also a quality game-improvement offering from TaylorMade, but based on its cleaner look and softer feel, we’d give a slight edge to the M2 Tour, which flat out delivers in terms of incredible distance and maximum forgiveness. Additionally, the M2 Tour produces impressive launch conditions thanks to its Speed Pocket technology, but it also gives players ample workability to shape shots and control trajectory thanks to a slightly higher CG placement.
Callaway Steelhead XR: Of all the irons we tested with TGW customers throughout the year, none delivered more “WOW” moments than the Steelhead XR, which drew rave reviews for its explosive distance, made possible by the company’s latest Face Cup technology, and its high level of forgiveness. While bringing back the classic X-14 shape might have seemed gimmicky to some, this is an iron that ranks among the best products of the year regardless of category.
Titleist 816: Between the H1 and H2, Titleist has an 816 hybrid that will work for any player. The H1, with its slightly larger profile, is great for players who sweep the ball offr the turf, while the smaller H2 utilizes a slight offset design that enables players with steeper angles of attack and who hit their hybrids like an iron to enjoy better turf interaction. Both models, however, deliver fast ball speeds from across the clubface and low spin rates, a combination that leads to exceptional distance.
Mizuno JPX 900: Mizuno has probably best been known through the years for the classic forged irons it releases, but it was the new JPX 900 hybrid that stole the show recently during TGW consumer testing. Feel, workability, impressive distance, and forgiveness are all part of the JPX 900 package, and our testers loved that, unlike many hybrids on the market, there was no draw bias at all evident in terms of performance, which is made possible by the 900’s flatter lie angle.
Cleveland RTX-3: Cleveland has long been an industry leader when it comes to wedges, and RTX-3 will do nothing to diminish that standing. With three new sole designs that improve turf interaction, a new CG placement that enhances feel and tightens shot dispersion, a clubface designed for maximum spin on full shots and around the green, three great looking finishes, and a cavity back model that will appeal to higher-handicappers, the RTX-3 line has something for everyone.
Vokey Design SM6: The name Bob Vokey has become synonymous with golf wedges over the course of the last several years, and the new SM6 line just might qualify as his best work yet. Five grinds are offered in the SM6 line to suit the needs of all players depending on their swing characteristics and the course conditions they typically encounter, while a progressive CG placement depending on loft delivers more consistency in terms of distance and trajectory.
Odyssey Works: Odyssey designers coupled their best feel technology with their truest roll technology to create the Odyssey Works lineup. That union resulted in the Fusion RX insert, which more specifically is a soft White Hot insert that has been covered by stainless steel mesh. The Works family of putters features several classic shapes, such as the 2-Ball and Tour favorite #7, and the lineup has various head styles designed to work well with any type of putting stroke.
Titleist Scotty Cameron Select: The 2016 Select line features some of the most popular blade and mid-mallet shapes that Scotty Cameron has created, many of which have been played extensively on Tour. Notably, these are putters that will work best for players with some sort of arc in their stroke. In the 2016 lineup, multi-material construction has been utilized depending on the model for optimal performance, and a vibration dampening insert has been added to create a soft, solid feel.
PREMIUM GOLF BALLS
Titleist Pro V1 & Pro V1x: If you didn’t expect to find the Pro V1 and Pro V1x on this list you haven’t been paying attention for the better part of the last two decades. These golf balls changed the game when introduced and have dominated the premium golf market and Tour ball counts ever since. Distance, control, spin, soft feel, and durability are all part of the performance package with both models, which is why so many professionals and amateurs make this their ball of choice.
Callaway Chrome Soft 16: The original Chrome Soft hit the market in December of 2014 and was an instant success, as players loved the soft feel and Tour performance. In an effort to make the ball even better, after collecting feedback from touring pros, the 2016 version was upgraded with a dual core that was designed to give players better distance control on shorter shots while still providing low spin and incredible distance off the tee, as well as the soft feel that golfers of all ability levels loved about the original.
DISTANCE GOLF BALLS
Srixon Soft Feel: In North America, Srixon has best been known for its golf ball offerings, and through the years the Soft Feel has been arguably the company’s most popular product. This year, Srixon released its 10th generation of the Soft Feel and fifth generation of the ladies Soft Feel. The new version, at 60 compression, is the softest ball Srixon has ever made, but the enhanced feel does not come at the expense of the distance or spin that has made the Soft Feel so successful.
Wilson Staff Duo: Wilson has long been an industry leader when it comes to low compression golf balls, and the Wilson Staff Duo, with a compression of just 29, is the softest golf ball on the market today. The two piece construction allows for less spin off the tee, which equates to more distance and improved accuracy, while the soft feel of the ball makes it more playable around the green. Additionally, the Wilson Staff Duo is available in both white and yellow colors.
PING Hoofer Stand Bag: While it was designed for maximum comfort while walking, including a 24-inch leg span that promotes stability, the PING Hoofer stand bag also has a cart strap channel that keeps all pockets accessible if a player is walking. Hoofer stand bags also feature five dividers, two of which are full-length, and there are designated pockets for valuables, clothes, rangefinders, and water bottles, as well as an umbrella holder and a rain hood.
RANGEFINDERS & GPS WATCHES
Bushnell Tour V4 Slope: A rangefinder, in many ways, can serve as a caddy for players on the golf course. And what a caddy the Tour V4 Slope is. This product is lighter, smaller, and faster than any rangefinder Bushnell has made, and most impressively it’s design has made it easy for players to keep their hands steady while retrieving yardages. Additionally, JOLT technology allows players to know they have the right yardage courtesy of a vibration, and slope functionality accurately adjusts yardages for uphill and downhill shots.
Garmin Approach X40: It’s truly amazing how much technology and functionality is packed into the compact, sleek band design that is the Garmin Approach X40. This is a product that delivers on all of the GPS needs you have on the golf course, including measurements to the front, back, and center of each green, as well as stat-tracking capability and social media sharing, while also tracking your daily activity as it relates to heart rate, steps taken, calories burned, and activity intensity.
adidas TOUR360 BOOST: It was 2004 when adidas released its first generation 360 golf shoe. In bringing back the franchise after an absence of a couple of years, adidas was most focused on improving comfort and support, which was accomplished by incorporating new Boost technology. However, grip has also been improved during the swing thanks to additional spikes and secondary traction that won’t damage greens, and this is a full-grain, premium leather shoe that comes with a two-year waterproof warranty.
FootJoy Pro/SL: A classic looking but spikeless golf shoe, the FootJoy Pro/SL has been an instant hit with touring pros like Adam Scott and recreational players. The traction and stability that the Pro/SL provides belies the fact that it’s a spikeless shoe, but where it excels is in terms of comfort and support. Additionally, the ChromoSkin leather used in the design is lightweight, flexible, durable, and waterproof to provide optimal performance in any conditions.