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The Hot List 2024: Roll Your Own - Australian Golf Digest The Hot List 2024: Roll Your Own - Australian Golf Digest

The Hot List is your guide to the right clubs. You’ll never settle for hire clubs again

I hate hire clubs. if even one round of golf is in the offing, I’ll accept the brunt of airport baggage claim on both ends. That guy stuffing clubs in the cramped overhead of a train? That’s me. Jangling through a narrow turnstile, straddling them shotgun in a taxi, travel case wheels thumping up and down a parking garage staircase in aching tow? Yes, yes and yes. Once, while flying to visit the in-laws for Christmas, I turned heads – mostly looks of disapproval, though I sensed a few compadres in line – as the young father checking multiple child car seats and a Club Glove. (Her dad is a golfer.)

This deep attachment to playing golf with only my set is paradoxical considering I get the opportunity to hit the best new clubs side by side annually and so possess intimate renewed experience of how difficult it is to tell any difference. Basically, all modern equipment is good. Figuring out what’s really good, which clubs will make the difference in those important future moments, the do-or-die when you’re all-square thru 17 with a weird hanging lie to a downhill pin, is hard. What our 32 Hot List player testers do, systematically working through each club category from sunup to sundown across eight days to judiciously identify and grade the subtleties, is a remarkable feat. I wouldn’t be cut out for it. Though the physical effort is awesome, I think I’d fear more the mental strain.

Same as you, dear reader, I simply wait and benefit from their collective labour. After we publish each Hot List, I always upgrade part of my setup. Like Theseus replacing the boards on his ship as he forever sails, my set is always distinctly mine even if no individual club endures.

And I love my set. When it gets cold, I never let my bag spend a night in the boot of a car, even though from a materials-science perspective, our equipment editors Mike Stachura and E. Michael Johnson assure me this is neurotically overprotective. If you can relate, you’ve come to the right place. In this 21st edition of the Hot List, we’ve made key strides to help you home in on the special clubs that are right for you.

In addition to doubling our number of testers to better represent the golf-playing population and render our data more robust, we’re introducing what we call “the vectors”. These are relative measurements such as high versus low launch, hard versus soft feel, loud versus quiet sound and so forth for each club category. Recognising that golfers have personal preferences that aren’t strictly tied to universal performance, we’re optimistic these vectors will provide a useful new layer to winnow your search.

I won’t bore you with what I’m searching for. You’ve got real reading to do. Once you get your set dialled, you won’t want to settle for hire clubs, either.

Getty images: Michael Williams