[PHOTO: Rob Carr/Getty Images]

The golf world’s best and most definitive guide to all things equipment is officially on its way, beginning with the April issue of Australian Golf Digest.

The 2024 Hot List takes a better part of a year to put together. To celebrate its monumental undertaking, I asked the two suckers for punishment behind it – our equipment editors Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson – to explain two key terms you may have heard pop up somewhere along your golf journey. Understand them both, and you’ll better understand how your equipment can help your game.

1. Loft jacking

Loft jacking is the name for the recent phenomenon in golf equipment where the iron lofts have become lower over the years. That’s good because, generally speaking, lower-lofted clubs go further – it’s why your driver is about 10 degrees, and your pitching wedge about 42 degrees.

So in that sense, jacking the lofts lower is good! But like everything in golf, it’s not that simple: you also need to hit the ball into the air. With old technology, lowering the lofts too much would hurt golfers’ ability to get the ball into the air. But manufacturers have become so good at moving the weight around that they can send the ball higher into the air with lower lofts.

As the two Mikes explained to me, the key is working with a fitter to find your ideal combination. The right clubhead design, paired with the right loft specs for you.

Iron lofts continue to drop. Is that a good thing?

2. Gapping

Somewhat related, gapping is the distance gap between each of your clubs. So, let’s say you hit your 5-iron 160 metres, your 6-iron 150 metres and your 7-iron 140 metres – your gapping is 10 metres.

Gapping is important for two reasons.

First, lots of golfers rarely have any idea how far they actually hit their irons, let alone the distance between each of their clubs. It really hurts their game.

And second, knowing your gapping will expose inconsistencies. You might have a five-metre gap between two clubs at the top of your set and a 15-metre gap towards the bottom. That means you may need to rejig your club setup so that you have a more even spread through the bag.