A toast to 2010: The best golf gear from a crazy year
It was a crazy 2010 in golf. While we might not be able to predict who’s going to win the majors each year – or what Tiger Woods’ next swing will look like – there is one constant in the sport: Each year brings a new generation of longer, straighter, cooler, and (usually) more expensive golf equipment.
Here’s the best of the best from our 2010 testing.
This was the year that Nike Golf perfected its adjustable-head driver. The SQ Machspeed Str8-FIT offered a better combination of accuracy and distance than any of Nike’s previous SQ models, or any other driver we tested in 2010.
A significant development over the past few years has been more forgiving irons that still have smaller heads and excellent workability. The Cleveland CG7 Tour Black Pearls are a prime example of this class of irons. The CG7s feature laser-milled clubfaces with the maximum number of grooves and texture allowed by USGA rules. The resulting ball flight is high and long with enough spin to hold almost any green.
Your wedges should be your “go-to” clubs. If you are supremely confident from 150 yards in, you’re handicap is going to go down. The Vokey Design WedgeWorks Exclusives can be customized and designed to your own specs using the WedgeWorks web interface. And if a personalized Vokey wedge doesn’t inspire confidence, we’re not sure what will.
Sometimes, best doesn’t mean most expensive. In fact, just about the most inexpensive piece of equipment we saw this year ended up being the best putter of 2010. The Dynacraft On-Line Putter by Hireko Golf costs less than $40, and it has a bit of a curious “tink” at contact, but I ran in more long putts with it this past summer than with all the other putters I tested combined. (And the short putts were nearly automatic, too.)
Bags are – pardon the pun – a real mixed bag. For my money, bags that can be as easily carried as loaded onto a pull or motorized cart are the best bets. In 2010, the Grom Stand Bag by Ogio offered the most features, from cosmetic to structural, including the most stable stand legs on the market.
Golfers drop more shots on the greens than a shaky-handed bartender. OK, that’s a strained simile, but you get the idea. Short-game practice will help your improve your score more than anything else. This year, several portable, indoor putting greens (well, mats) have been introduced, and the most versatile is the SKLZ Vari-Break Putting Green. It comes with two foam pads that allow you to practice uphill, downhill and side-to-side breaking putts.
This is a tough one – there is an awful lot of innovative, stylish swag out there. The best accessory that’s crossed my desk this year is the chic Dormy belt by Sumi-G. It is made from supple leather and features a polished stainless-steel buckle with a magnetic ball marker.
This year’s best golf book was not specifically a golf book. Choke by Sian Beilock is an accessible, fascinating examination of why people choke under pressure. Beilock is a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago who has been conducting research into performance under pressure for a decade. She’s studied kids taking tests, soccer players dribbling balls, and, yes, golfers putting. The results of this work are convincing, and the suggestions she gives to avoid choking are invaluable.
Well, that’s all for 2010. It was a bit of a rough one, but now that it’s over, we’ll see you at the 19th hole. We raise our glasses to the eternal promise of a better round next time, and a better year in 2011.
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