We expect to see these 15 gear trends grow this year...
15 Biggest Golf Equipment Trends For 2021
Every year we see fantastic technical advancements, more innovative thinking and new fashions in golf equipment and 2021 is set to be a bumper 12 months.
Tour pros are pushing the boundaries, manufacturers are raising their games, the sport as a whole is becoming more inclusive and eco-friendly – and we’re all going to benefit.
Whether you’re intending to buy new equipment or you simply want to know what gear you’re going to see on Tour, these 15 trends will help you stay ahead of the game.
1. 48-inch drivers on Tour
Bryson Dechambeau successfully used a longer-than-normal 45.75-inch driver last year, and he’s been testing a 48-inch model that we’ll likely see in tournament play in 2021.
His US Open win legitimised his approach of swinging as hard as you can with a longer driver. Callum Shinkwin put a 48-inch driver in play at the end of last year and many others are testing longer drivers.
One of the main factors in this change is that modern drivers are now more forgiving. It used to be that you had to hit it out the middle of the clubface to hit a good shot.
Now, the sweet spot is so much larger that players are able to swing harder and with longer clubs and still find that larger portion of the face that produces incredible ball speeds and maintain enough accuracy to keep it in play.
We almost certain to see more 48-inch drivers in play throughout 2021.
2. More and better training aids
Hands up if you’ve bought a training aid, indoor putting mat or practice net in the last year. The majority of us have.
As the global pandemic has forced golf courses and driving ranges to shut and golfers to stay indoors during lockdowns, there’s been greater demand for ways to practice at home than ever before.
Where there’s demand, supply will follow, and more companies are putting emphasis on training aids this year.
They can be extremely effective if used in the right way, so it’s well worth seeing what options are out there for whichever areas of your game you’re looking to improve.
Related: The best golf training aids
3. More wedges for amateurs
As irons continue to get longer and/or stronger it leaves a bigger gap to fill at the bottom end of your bag.
If your pitching wedge is flying 120-130 yards, that leaves a lot of yardages and shots below that distance that require precision.
Think about how many approach shots and pitches you hit per round from closer than a full PW and you’ll soon realise how important that area is.
You’ll probably save more shots from having an extra wedge instead of a long iron or wood that you hardly use. It’s well worth considering a four-wedge set-up that includes a pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge.
When picking your lofts, make the decision based on carry distance. Start from your PW and then create even distance gaps of 8-10 yards from there.
There are also a few more cavity back specialist wedges around in 2021 so make the most of that added forgiveness if you need it.
Related: The most forgiving wedges
4. Expansion of wearable tech
Information is power and there’s no shortage of ways you can get extra info about your golf from technology that you can wear as you play.
Some of the best shot tracking devices like ShotScope and Arccos will record all of your shots and help you analyse your performance, from knowing exactly how far your 7-iron really goes on the course and identifying your real strengths and weaknesses to suggesting your optimal strategy for a hole and much more.
Then there’s the emergence of things like Whoop bands that monitor and analyse your personal performance data, including your heart rate, sleep patterns and recovery.
5. Combo iron sets
Combo iron sets have been around for a while but they’re growing in popularity and the major manufacturers are more aware of mixing and matching when designing their models and pushing the idea through their marketing and fitting.
Retailers are also making it easier to purchase sets in this way. It makes perfect sense to have more forgiving and higher launching long irons combined with more workability and better feel in the mid and short irons.
Next time you’re buying irons, think about exactly what you need from each club through the set to really improve your game.
Related: Best compact mid-handicap irons
6. Custom fitting experiences
The old saying goes ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’ and it’s fair to say we’re all appreciating golf a lot more now than we were before we were told we couldn’t play for months at a time.
In many cases, we also haven’t spent as much money as we might normally do, and we’ve all missed out on many great experiences.
So why not treat yourself to a proper custom fitting experience the next time you buy new clubs?
It may cost a little bit more but it’s well worth it to get the right clubs and the experience itself can give you something to look forward to and be hugely enjoyable and insightful about your game.
7. 3D printing
Cobra revealed the first of three planned 3D-printed products last November – the limited-edition King Supersport-35 putter.
It’s a technology that has very exciting implications in golf club design as it allows for quicker production and greater precision.
It enables design teams to prototype and test products much faster and create clubs and parts that are lighter and stronger.
You can bet your bottom dollar all the manufacturers are already working on ways they can use 3D printing to produce better clubs.
8. Relaxed dress codes
Dress codes have long been a point of debate at golf clubs, but there’s no doubting things are going to become more relaxed in 2021.
Tyrrell Hatton won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last October wearing a hoodie and Erik van Rooyen has become known for wearing trousers that look like jogging bottoms.
A healthy number of golf clothing brands have hoodies in their ranges, including adidas, Nike and Under Armour.
It’s vital that golf becomes more inclusive and attracts new and younger players and relaxing dress codes is an important part of doing that.
9. Greater emphasis on female and junior equipment
Another part of becoming more inclusive and attracting more players to the game is equipment that is aimed specifically at female and junior players.
Brands like Ping already have a fantastic selection of ladies clubs and Callaway offer a superb junior package set, but more needs to be done in these areas – and it will be in 2021.
You can expect to see more products and marketing that cater for a wider audience.
Related: The best women’s golf clubs
10. More free agents on Tour
It used to be that every player on Tour signed a sponsorship deal with one manufacturer and played all their products, but that’s not the case anymore.
Increasing numbers of players are choosing to forego the sponsor dollars in favour of playing whatever clubs (and ball) they want to.
Let’s face it, when you can potentially earn millions of dollars a year it makes sense to use the equipment that’s the best for your game.
The likes of Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia have taken that approach more will follow, especially as the current financial situation will mean less money for the brands to spend on sponsoring players.
11. More forgiving drivers
The significant common thread running through all the new driver launches for 2021 is increasing forgiveness.
It’s tough to get more performance out the middle of the clubface when you’re already performing at the legal limit, so the best way to improve the performance of the ‘big dog’ is to spread that maxed-out performance across a larger sweet spot.
That’s exactly what designers have done with ingenious weight savings and more exotic materials.
12. More consistent golf balls
Consistency has become an ever more important performance factor when talking about golf balls.
That’s in terms of all balls of the same model behaving in the same way and any given ball doing what it’s supposed to – a slightly off-centre core or a hair more pain on one side that the other could have serious implications for how that ball flies and rolls.
This year, brands are placing a bigger focus on manufacturing processes, quality control and aerodynamic consistency through new new dimple patterns and unpainted models (Wilson) to ensure the balls you use are as consistent as possible.
Related: The best premium golf balls
13. Sporty, athletic golf shoes
You can get pretty much and style and look you want from a golf shoe these days and the emphasis in very much on versatility for 2021.
More and more people are wearing their golf shoes on and off the course so it’s important that the balance is right – you want it to perform like a golf shoe on the course but look like a general trainer or lifestyle shoe off the course.
The new models from Ecco, FootJoy and adidas tick every box.
Related: The best spikeless golf shoes
14. Eco clothing and accessories
It’s important that golf doesn’t impact the planet in a negative way and many clothing and accessory brands are tapping into the desire to protect the planet while still wearing and using fantastic products in 2021.
There’s a bigger focus on environmentally friendly materials and production techniques from the likes of Galvin Green, who made a pullover out of recycled plastic bottles, and adidas’ continued use of recycled materials in its clothing and footwear.
This should also be the year that plastic tees become extinct as we should all be using sustainable bamboo versions from Ocean Tee, who also make environmentally-friendly clothing, and Green Tees.
15. Armlock putters spreading from tour to club
Matt Kuchar was the first to use this method a few years ago but it really came to prominence last year following the putting performances of Bryson Dechambeau and Webb Simpson.
The technique involves running a longer putter grip up the left forearm (for right-handers), so it stays locked to the arm throughout the stroke.
This changes the angle of the shaft so you need a putter head with loft that’s been specifically designed to work as an armlock model.
Ping, Bettinardi and Odyssey already have armlock models in their ranges and you can expect to hear more noise about them in the coming months.