If you're in the market for any new gear in 2018, here are some key things that will help you choose
If you've got the time and patience to dedicate to your game, a course of lessons with a PGA pro is the best thing to buy if you want really to improve. But many of us don't have the time and patience to rebuild our swing - and that's where the latest gear can help. Want more yards?Chop in your old driver. Want more control? Look at new wedges. Iffy putting stroke? Get a fitting. Can't choose a ball? Get another fitting.
We've seen time and time again the difference the right gear - packed with the latest tech - can make to average golfer's scores, be it more distance or greater consistency. So based on our test experience from last year, here are 17 ways to buy a better game in 2018.
Consider a draw- biased driver (From £369)
2017 was a breakthrough year for draw drivers, when they've become the star of the show rather than the doorman. The TaylorMade M2 D-Type, and Ping G400 SFT are the two best draw specific drivers we've seen, and their heel weighting really can help steer the ball away from the right rough.
Worn wedge grooves will cost you spin (From £40)
Our recent test proved how an old wedge with worn grooves can cut backspin on average by 1200rpm. That's more than enough to make a signi cant di erence when it comes to cosying up delicate approaches closer to the ag. If your wedges are more than a few years old, invest in new ones – and watch your scores drop.
Take advantage of the latest driver tech (From £149)
We've seen TG readers who, when properly fitted for a driver (when their previous driver wasn't), can gain over 40 yards. It's not the norm, but it can be done. When we tested five-year-old drivers against their latest equivalents, we saw an instant average gain of six yards in carry, thanks to their more exible faces and speed-boosting features. Technology never stands still.
Get Speed for Free (From £389)
It's a common phrase among driver designers. By reducing drag you maximise club and ball speed with absolutely no trade-o s. Ping say their latest G400 driver is so well optimised it generates ball speeds over 1mph faster (which equates to about five more yards) than the previous G driver, which was already very aerodynamic compared to the competition.
Better traction (From £70)
New spikes or shoes can really help when it comes to building a stable foundation for your swing. Our recent test pitted wearing golf shoes against bare feet – and we saw a 12-yard carry distance gain for shoe- clad feet in a recent test. Admittedly, a new set of spikes won't have quite the same impact on distance. But it proves how important a decent pair of stable shoes really are.
Improve alignment (From £99)
If a putter's blade is one degree off target at impact, you'll miss. That says correct alignment is absolutely vital. There's tons of different sight line options and alignment aids on the market, from golf ball-sized discs on the head to putters that stand up on their own (so you can accurately align whilst not addressing a putt). The key is finding one that not only inspires confidence, but helps you aim squarely at the target, too.
Get the right golf ball (From £22 a dozen)
Even we were astonished at some of the distance gains TG readers got when they were tted for a Srixon ball over the summer – one guy added 40 yards to his driver tee shots over his regular, popular ball. Srixon also told us that tour balls are not for everyone – indeed, the very spin better players crave can really hinder average players o the tee. Our advice? Get fitted for your ball.
Give me forgiveness (From £79)
Many manufacturers admit hybrid heads are more forgiving than traditional irons, so if you're prepared to leave your ego on the first tee and put more hybrids in the bag you will see an improvement. Hybrids are available nowadays right the way down to 7-iron lofts. Think maximum playability and high enjoyment levels.
Add to your putting stroke (From £89)
Until recently, heavier mallet- headed putters were the only way to increase stability in a putting stroke. But nowadays golfers should look at wacky shaped, high MOI heads, as well as counter-balancing (in the grip) to help iron out kinks. Oversized putter grips can also play a role in improving control over the putter face, too.
Launch woods off the fairway (From £99)
Getting close to, or on, par 5s in two shots can really help lower your scores. But many golfers, thanks to modern balls spinning less, find launching long distance fairway woods o the deck a challenge. High-launch fairways, where a 3-wood has a 16.5° loft instead of a traditional 15°, are an excellent option. They launch higher, increase air time, which is great for carrying hazards and maximising how far you hit shots from the turf.
Stay fresh (From £249)
Electric trolley specialists Motocaddy reckon carrying your bag can put your game at risk coming down the stretch. They insist staying fresh and focused for the last few holes helps you make better decisions and consequently score better. An electric trolley could have just as much impact on your score as a new driver.
Get fitted for your next set of irons (From £350)
An iron head that suits your ability, a shaft that suits your swing speed and a grip matched to your hand size all lead to lower handicaps and extra enjoyment of the game. When we tested new blades against their cavity cousins (see page 93), we saw distance gains of up to 20+ yards and lots more forgiveness.
Get more accurate with your wedges (From £109)
Cleveland say their new cavity-back CBX wedges cut dispersion by almost half when compared to their bladed RTX-3. With 84% of golfers playing cavity- back irons, it's a no-brainer that our wedges should match our ability. A tighter dispersion means hitting shots closer to the ag more often, which only helps shoot lower scores.
Get yourself a caddie (From £249)
Selecting the right shot on the golf course saves strokes. Where caddies until now have been human and needed paying (and feeding at the halfway hut), there's now an alternative on the scene. Shot- tracking brand Arccos have developed an electronic caddie on their app, which will make club recommendations (only from the tee at present) based on your previous performances. Arccos say golfers using shot-tracking improve 36 times faster than the average golfer.
Get fitted for a putter (From £99)
You use your putter more than any other club, so it makes sense to buy a putter that is matched to your stroke. Putter fitting (thanks to the introduction of launch monitors that measure putts) is on the increase, and is a no-brainer to us.
Go easy launch (From £149)
Golf is played by all ages, but thankfully equipment brands cater for slower swings and have developed specific lighter and softer shafted ranges to help. Cobra's F-Max for example is lighter, faster and more fun. Each club within the range is capable of increasing club speed, launch angle and carry distance for golfers who don't quite flight shots from the turf like they used to.
Plot your way around (FREE)
The caddies from the European Tour all talk about playing "smart, stress- free golf" – keeping your ball away from the trouble and leaving yourself the easiest shots. They use detailed yardage books; we use lasers, handheld GPSs, GPS watches or even free apps. Read their guide here