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Golf Digest's Hot List

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

In preparation for next week's Bag Drop, I'd like to get some feedback on the state of Golf Digest's Hot List. It seems like this gets to be a hot topic when it comes out for one reason or another, and now that it's out, I'd like to see what you think. First off, this isn't going to be a flame war, and we're not going to bash something just for the sake of bashing something. I want any criticism to be of the constructive flavor. So with that in mind, I'm looking for something along the lines of:

 

  1. It's perfect, leave it just how it is!
  2. Your take on the Hot List, good or bad?
  3. What parts of it would you change, and why?
  4. Is the way they rate clubs helpful to you as a potential buyer?
  5. What parts would you keep exactly as they are, and why?
  6. Do you think it has/has not lost a little bit of it's luster or credibility over the last few years, and why?
  7. Do you think the smaller companies get short end of the stick, while the big boys get all of the spotlight?

 

Of course, you don't have to answer all of these questions, and you're free to add whatever you want. These are just suggestions. Also know that there's a chance your response may be quoted in the column next week.

post #2 of 16

It's fun to read through quickly-but it doesn't do anything for me in terms of real insight into how clubs perform.  It's also an incredibly transparent advertisement for the newest/current equipment offerings.  Main problem is there are no numbers presented-no indication of the spin and launch characteristics of certain clubs when used by low, medium, or high handicappers.  No information about how accurate the testers are with clubs, how long, how close to a target they are, the actual (close to pin/number of putts) performance of wedges and putters.  Precious little info on the different shafts available/corresponding performance.  The Hot List for golf balls is a lot more scientific/informative.

 

It's a completely subjective review-how much their testers "like" the clubs they hit is going to be based in large part on how they sound, how cool they look, and any perceived brand cachet.  I know those are all factors in buying a club, but performance is at least as important to me and many others.  I'm also tired of reading in the Hot List about how everyone has got to get the newest clubs, they're so improved, your 2 year old driver and 3 year old irons are practically unhittable.  It's BS.  Also stop telling me that every set should have more hybrids, or (paraphrasing here) "blade short irons require a ton of skill to hit properly."  They won't even include blades in the Hot List, which is ridiculous.  But not surprising, it's about advertising/sales.

post #3 of 16

I agree with and reiterate what max power said.  It's almost as if you can feel the companies coercing the editor with each 'review'.

 

It's very fluffy, and a majority of the content seems to be nothing more than tech specs and marketing babble from the manufacturers.  They award so many Gold/Silver awards in each category, with little comparison between and within these groupings.  The end effect is pretty useless in my opinion.

 

I'd like to see a more pointed approach to club testing, where specific metrics are defined and clubs are tested and evaluate using discrete data.  Things like distance, spin, ball speed, shot dispersion, even weight and swingweight.  

 

post #4 of 16

 

  1. It's perfect, leave it just how it is! - While it certainly isn't perfect, I think it's probably the best mass-testing of golf clubs out there. 
  2. Your take on the Hot List, good or bad? - I say good, but mostly because there are always a few clubs on there than even the most informed of readers have never seen.  
  3. What parts of it would you change, and why? - The rating system is next to useless for the purpose of a mass-testing of golf clubs. The star system is decent, but not prominent enough. I think a numbered scale would be better. Occasionally they seem to nit-pick in the HOT/NOT thing at the bottom (why is Callaway's Jaws wedge being knocked because Golf Digest would "Like to see more of an effort to educate players on finding the right mixture of bounce/loft"?), and the "Buzz" or "Demand" or whatever it is this year (however meaningless to the overall rankings) is pointless. Consumers know the buzz about the clubs because we are the ones being bombarded with ads in their magazine and on TV. 
  4. Is the way they rate clubs helpful to you as a potential buyer? - Not really the way they rate clubs, but I do find value in the opinions of the different testers. I mostly like the Hot List as a collection of all of the new clubs for the year. And because I get bored in January. wink.png
  5. What parts would you keep exactly as they are, and why? - Most of it, just not the rating system. 
  6. Do you think it has/has not lost a little bit of it's luster or credibility over the last few years, and why? - Yes because now you can get better/more in-depth reviews elsewhere (here!), but no because Golf Magazine has basically stopped competing with the Hot List. 
  7. Do you think the smaller companies get short end of the stick, while the big boys get all of the spotlight? -Yes, but it's not really all Golf Digest's fault. Smaller companies generally put out more expensive products that most people will never be able to even find in stores. I did see that Scratch made it in a year to two ago (and this year) and Fourteen also made it in, which is nice. If a small company sends Golf Digest some clubs to test out, and they like them, I see no reason why Golf Digest would omit them from the list. You could say advertising conspiracy, but I'm not so sure I'd buy it. 

 

Those are my quick thoughts, however irrational, incomplete, or jumbled they might be. tongue.png

 

And I agree with max power about how they urge you to buy all new clubs every year. What was it called last year, the Obsolete List? Total BS. There is your advertising conspiracy. 

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Great responses so far, thanks guys. I also wonder if and how many people out there make purchases solely based on content in the Hot List? If not, I wonder if it even has any influence at all on a purchase. I mean, when you see a full page ad for xyz iron set, and that silver or gold star is somewhere on the page, does it really even register or draw attention?

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ControlJunkie View Post

Great responses so far, thanks guys. I also wonder if and how many people out there make purchases solely based on content in the Hot List? If not, I wonder if it even has any influence at all on a purchase. I mean, when you see a full page ad for xyz iron set, and that silver or gold star is somewhere on the page, does it really even register or draw attention?

 

For me, no, because I like to really research and test out the stuff I buy. This gets into the ineffectiveness of the rankings too. I have seen ads where a company will "show off" their silver star. Because nearly every product (and just about 99% of big name OEM products) gets a gold or a silver, they basically got that silver star because they submitted a product. So while it looks nice, that silver means very little. 
 

post #7 of 16



Overall, I enjoy the issue a lot because it is fun to see what new stuff is out there.  It is a good starting point when buying new equipment and it feeds my equipment buying addiction in the winter months.  That being said, I assume Golf Digest makes its money by advertising and not by subscriptions.  This of course presents a conflict of interest and hence why we have so many Gold/Silver rated items from all the big name manufacturers.  Additionally criticism seems to be limited to "the shaft looked too busy" and "its expensive".  Golf Magazine use to put out a good equipment issue some 3-4 years ago when they gave statistics on the equipment and (slightly)more criticism.  However I think advertisers also got to them as well as they now spread out their reviews for several issues and offer more fluff than feedback. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by delav View Post

I agree with and reiterate what max power said.  It's almost as if you can feel the companies coercing the editor with each 'review'.

 

post #8 of 16

I'd like to see a club test where they get 50 golfers in each of these 3 handicap ranges.

Scratch to +7

+8 to +15

+15 and up

Being a 19/20 handicapper, I could care less about what a scratch golfer likes/dislikes as we are not playing the same type of clubs.

 

Then let each group test: Blades (forged), Tour level clubs (cast), Game improvement and Super Game Improvement irons.

Base the awards on the following categories:

1) Best Technology

2) Best Looking

3) Best Value for the Money

4) Best Playability (i.e. which clubs did you hit the best at the range)

5) Which clubs would you be most willing to buy

 

   

post #9 of 16
  1. Your take on the Hot List, good or bad?  I really want to say it's good, but I don't think it is.  The gold/silver/etc breakdown that GD provides isn't very objective in that the scientific/technical data isn't presented or published.
  2. What parts of it would you change, and why?  I'd like to see more numbers.  Average carry distance + average total distance, average distance from target line, average distance from hole, etc.
  3. Is the way they rate clubs helpful to you as a potential buyer?  Somewhat.  They'll say something softly, like  "those wanting a low ball flight might want to look at another club".  By far, most of the critiques are positive and, for the most part, a quote from one of the club testers that liked the club.
  4. What parts would you keep exactly as they are, and why?  They do a good job of publishing the club's weight, shaft length, club face size, etc.  The pictures of the equipment are nice.
  5. Do you think it has/has not lost a little bit of it's luster or credibility over the last few years, and why?  Yes, there have been some unbelievable trends.  They always seem to rank Callaway drivers really high.  2007 Editor's choice FT 5  2008  FTi  2009 FT9 2010 Diablo Edge 2011 Diablo Octane.  There have also been some scathing remarks from reputable sources regarding their evaluation methods
    http://www.addicted2golf.net/?p=662
  6. Do you think the smaller companies get short end of the stick, while the big boys get all of the spotlight?   The manner in which the hotlist panel tests the clubs favors the larger companies.  The larger companies are able to provide a larger quantity of clubs to test and according to some (see linked article), the panel gravitates to testing the larger company's products.I don't want to go as far as to say that the hotlist contributed to the demise or buyouts of MacGregor, Nickent, Yes, Hogan, and Sonartech; but these companies all made quality golf equipment that was arguably superior at lower price points. 
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, just wanted to say thanks to everyone that replied, and also that if anyone has any other comments on this subject, now would be the time to post a response. We'll be running this subject this week on Bag Drop.

post #11 of 16

I'm thinking to do any more in depth research on clubs, they should make a real "buyers guide" and not just a "hot list" but I believe the name they are using is accurate, these are well known and established companies, who most people will purchase.

 

I'm thinking a buyers guide in the vein of consumer reports is more what avid golfers are looking for. Detailed descriptions and genuine value ratings. Dedicate a whole magazine to that concept once a year, and the die hard's will rejoice.

 

I look at the hot list as something that average joe-duffer can show his wife so she doesn't buy him some stupid clubs from a big box store.

post #12 of 16

I'd like to see pics of each club from an "at address" angle.  I do enjoy The Hot List overall, gives me something to drool over during the long winter months.

post #13 of 16

completely agree with erock9174 on getting players with different handicaps. as it stands, the players they use really arent based on the overall population.

pretty easy to see in a comparison chart here (between Hot List player handicap and USGA):

 

2011-hot-list-index.jpg

 

i think they need to get back to having different categories of players rate the club completely separately (be it a slicer, hooker, fader, short-ball hitter...etc.) somehow.

for me, the list really doesnt provide any use. and the categories that they use to rank them are meaningless to me, particularly like demand and innovation, which make up 35% (!) of the total score. and innovation score "reflects how a specific technology advances the category and how it's explained to the public and our editors" - to me that simply doesnt matter. that sounds like you could have two clubs from different manufactuers which are the *exact* same in every way (just pretend this is possible), and the manufacturer that has the best press and tries new things is going to have a much higher hot list score for their club vs its twin. but all i want to know is which club *performs* best

 
other comments:
  1. It's perfect, leave it just how it is!  ..... well, its never going to be "perfect" for me, I just read it to see what "new" products are available
  2. Your take on the Hot List, good or bad? .... only useful to see the cross section of clubs available - more marketing for gd than anything else
  3. What parts of it would you change, and why? ....like above, have different types of players evaluate clubs appropriate for them
  4. Is the way they rate clubs helpful to you as a potential buyer? .... not a big
  5. What parts would you keep exactly as they are, and why? ....i bet some of their data is interesting and should be left as is, i just wish they would show it (how do they score every club and every category - just show the scores for all clubs tested, even those that didnt make the list)
  6. Do you think the smaller companies get short end of the stick, while the big boys get all of the spotlight? ... unfortunately, i think so...
post #14 of 16


Good call on the innovation issue.  Innovation is great if it leads to results/performance, but "innovation" alone shouldn't have any effect on a club's rating.  Having different levels of players rate the clubs would help tremendously.  I can see why a bogey golfer would never rate blades higher than just about any modern cavity back, but a 5 or 10 'capper might find that the actual performance of a new blade exceeds many of the other clubs in the list.  85% of the testers may not like a few sets or irons, but if the the 4-8 'cappers all rate them highly it would make me take another look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somanyqs View Post

completely agree with erock9174 on getting players with different handicaps. as it stands, the players they use really arent based on the overall population.

pretty easy to see in a comparison chart here (between Hot List player handicap and USGA): http://criticalgolf.com/blog/

 

i think they need to get back to having different categories of players rate the club completely separately (be it a slicer, hooker, fader, short-ball hitter...etc.) somehow.

for me, the list really doesnt provide any use. and the categories that they use to rank them are meaningless to me, particularly like demand and innovation, which make up 35% (!) of the total score. and innovation score "reflects how a specific technology advances the category and how it's explained to the public and our editors" - to me that simply doesnt matter. that sounds like you could have two clubs from different manufactuers which are the *exact* same in every way (just pretend this is possible), and the manufacturer that has the best press and tries new things is going to have a much higher hot list score for their club vs its twin. but all i want to know is which club *performs* best

 
post #15 of 16

I think the hotlist isn't so much a buyers guide as it is a validation for products you already want.  For example, I typically replace my driver every 2-3 years and currently I play a 2009 Burner driver.  I skipped the superfast/R-9 series, but interested in the superfast 2.0 and R-11 drivers (and new Titleist 910, Adams F11), so it will be of interest to me to read what GD and various other review sites say about them.  I have never purchased a high ticket item I have never heard of or researched just because it was on the hotlist, and I don't think many people do. For me, the final purchasing decision will come down to a demo.  Like most people, I have several items in my bag which never made the hotlist.

post #16 of 16


2. Your take on the Hot List, good or bad?

It's a systematic look at the new clubs coming out. Comments from High, Medium and Low handicappers give spot opinions of the clubs. Gives me some idea of whether new features are functional, or mainly cosmetic (i.e., first-phase Diablos). Also, I can go back to archived Hot Lists from a couple of years back, and see if the predictions panned out. Archives are also useful for charting different models/families of clubs (i.e., Callaway X18, X20, X22, and Tour variants) and how they have changed.

 

4. Is the way they rate clubs helpful to you as a potential buyer?

The last couple of years, GD Hot List seems to rely more on comments from L, M and H hdcp players. I miss the circa-2008 version where the writers talked a little more about the technology changes, and supposed benefits to performance. If a club looks interesting, I then go to the OEM site and look at the specs sheet; also, Maltby will usually have his MPF ratings done by early summer, giving assessment of iron heads user-friendliness. Unless club looks really hot, I usually try to pick it up about the time of the first price cut - this can backfire if the item sells out. Also, I like to comparison-test competing club models before purchase. Hot List ratings show you what's out there, but it has little influence on what I finally buy.

 

 

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