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The Golf Gear We’re Using In 2022 And Why
As golf season rolls along toward summer, we thought it would be a good time to check in with the Golf Monthly review/buying advice team to discuss a number of topics that revolve around golf gear. Included is a look at the golf balls our writers are playing and the golf shoes they’ve been wearing most frequently in 2022. We also asked them for their preference as it relates to GPS devices or laser rangefinders and to highlight some golf companies they believe don’t get enough credit. And finally, we had our team dive into some of the things that average golfers might not understand about their golf clubs or bag setup.
The information that follows might give you some ideas about products that can help you play better golf or golf companies to consider that you might not have previously. And if you’re in the market for a Father’s Day gift, there are great ideas to be gleaned as well. Above all else, however, play well and have fun!
The Golf Gear We’re Using In 2022 And Why
1. GPS or Rangefinder: Which is your preference and what is your go-to device on the course?
Dan Parker (DP): I hate to sit on the fence with this question, but it's both! I'm currently testing out the new Performance Plan on the Motocaddy M5 GPS, which gives me full hole mapping and yardages embedded in the trolley handle. I've been super impressed with how convenient having that GPS functionality in the trolley handle is and the performance plan has taken it up another notch. I'm also testing the Motocaddy Pro 3000 laser at the same time, which has been equally impressive and integrates brilliantly with the M5 GPS. I must say I've found myself using the laser rangefinder less and less recently, such is the data on hand using the M5. I also have to acknowledge I'm in a privileged position when it comes to testing all this gear, so for those reading I'd lean towards a comprehensive GPS system over a laser so you can get the full picture out on the course.
Joel Tadman (JT): A bit like Dan, I combine my rangefinder with a GPS-enabled electric trolley. My current laser rangefinder is the Bushnell Tour V5 Shift Slim, it’s just so easy to use and the optics are crystal clear. But when my drives find the trees, which is often the case, or when I want to play it safe on a long approach shot, I’ll often refer to the GPS front, middle and back distances on my Motocaddy M5 GPS electric trolley.
Neil Tappin (NT): I tend to go for a laser. I love how easy my Bushnell V4 rangefinder is to use. In recent times I've also used the GPS distances available through the Arccos App. I've found this handy on courses I'm not too familiar with (being able to see overhead hole maps). But if I had to choose one, it would definitely be a laser.
Chris Wallace (CW): The first thing I’d say on this subject is that every golfer should have one or the other. If you don’t have a measuring device of some sort you’re making the game harder, and it’s hard enough as it is! Personally, I’m a rangefinder guy. I see the value in GPS devices but what I like about a rangefinder is that I can quickly and easily gather the information that is most pertinent to me as it relates to the shot I’m about to play. For the last few years I have primarily used a Bushnell V4 Shift, and it is a great device, which is what Bushnell is known for. But lately I’ve been using the new TecTecTec KLYR. I love the crystal-clear display optics and compact, lightweight design, and it’s both fast and accurate. The KLYR has really impressed me and is a great budget rangefinder option as well.
Andrew Wright (AW): I’m a rangefinder guy and have used the Bushnell Tour V3 for years now. I’ve tested multiple GPS devices but find them generally to be less accurate and more time consuming to use. The best lasers, on the other hand, are very straightforward pieces of kit that leave the mind uncluttered by what can be an overbearing amount of information.
2. What golf ball has emerged as your gamer in 2022?
DP: I played the TaylorMade TP5 Pix for pretty much all of last season. It was a great ball, but I wanted to try something a bit harder to gain a little more distance in my long game. I'd have probably gone for the TP5x if it wasn't for the fact I'd spotted the Bridgestone Tour B X on offer at my local store. I'd recently read Neil's review on those balls and thought I'd give them a go. It's really lived up to the 'premium distance' offering and I don't generate enough greenside spin to have noticed any drop off in control. It's also nice and soft off the putter face, so it's the best of both worlds for me right now. I do miss the visuals of the Pix though, so I can see myself going to the TP5x Pix when I've distributed the rest of the Bridgestones across the trees and lakes of the wonderful courses Warwickshire and Worcestershire has to offer.
JT: I’ve used the Titleist Pro V1x for as long as I can remember. It’s a reliable, consistent and predictable ball that is actually quite durable given it has a urethane cover. To be honest, I could just as easily use a TaylorMade TP5x or a Srixon Z-Star XV. They perform just as well in terms of distance and spin control, although given the Z-Star XV arguably feels too hard I’ve been enjoying testing the new Z-Star Diamond, as it’s a little more responsive off the wedge face around the greens.
NT: Titleist Pro V1x for me as well. I get to test lots of different golf balls as part of my role at GM. There are some excellent contenders - both Callaway's Chrome Soft X and TaylorMade's TP5 are particularly good and among the best premium golf balls on the market - but when it comes to competition, I tend to revert back to using the ball I've played most consistently over the last two decades!
CW: There are so many excellent golf balls on the market these days that it's pretty tough to make a bad choice. Most of the on-course testing that I do is done with the Pro V1x, which I think everyone knows is a great ball and maybe the most popular ball in golf. But when it comes to serious rounds or competition, the TaylorMade TP5x has been my pick the last couple of years. For me it has consistently provided the best combination of distance, greenside control, and stability in the wind. I will say, however, that a contender has emerged in 2022. I’ve tested a number of golf balls this year and the Bridgestone B RXS has been a standout. I gave it a 5-star rating and have continued to try it out, as it gives me a bit more spin around the greens without having to sacrifice distance. The B RXS is going to get a shot in the starting lineup in my club championship later this month. Stay tuned!
AW: I’ve played Titleist Pro V1 balls since they hit the market basically. Although I do fondly remember playing Titleist Professional 100s prior to that iconic launch. This year is probably the most tempted I’ve been to make a change in this department, as I’ve been impressed by the new Callaway Chrome Soft. I’m also a big fan of the Triple Track lines and would encourage anyone to try it out. But, alas, I must not deviate from the ball that offers, in my opinion, the best all-around combination of distance, feel and durability. One thing to note for anyone reading this is that it really pays to use the same ball consistently. Through testing this year, I’ve noticed just how much of a difference the brand and specific model makes.
3. What golf shoes are you wearing most frequently in 2022?
DP: I raved about these shoes in the last roundtable article, but I'm going to have to mention the Ecco Biom C4 once again. I've tested upwards of 10 pairs of golf shoes this year and the C4 is the one I keep going back to time and time again and in my opinion one of Ecco’s best. I think they look fantastic and the super-soft leather and underfoot cushioning leave me with little foot fatigue to speak of after 18 holes. While I'm here, it's worth giving a shout out to the new Under Armour HOVR Tour SL, which has also been a favorite of mine this year. It's sort of the polar opposite in theory to the Ecco. The HOVR Tour is one of the most supportive shoes I've ever worn and feels like a genuine extension of my foot. This isn't to say it's uncomfortable compared to the Ecco, just firmer. The HOVR Tour also has the best spikeless outsole I've tried this year.
JT: I chop and change between the FootJoy Tour Alpha, which is one of the best spiked golf shoes on the market, and the 2022 FootJoy Pro SL Carbon. They’re both really stable shoes but also very comfortable underfoot, which is a combination I like. Support is a really important characteristic for me; I don’t get on with golf shoes that are overly flexible. For a smarter look, I go for the G/Fore Gallivanter, but it’s worth pointing out I’ve just designed a limited edition Duca del Cosma Regent shoe that looks incredible, if you don’t mind me saying!
NT: My favorite golf shoe is the Footjoy Pro SL. There are obviously a number of great FootJoy shoes to choose from, but the Pro SL tops the list for me. It looks very smart and offers all the on-course performance I'm looking for. I also think the simple styling the brand has adopted this year makes them even more versatile -- my all-white pair could be worn with pretty much any outfit.
CW: Over the course of the last few weeks, and especially as the weather has gotten warmer, the Asics Gel-Kayano Ace has emerged as my go-to shoe. My experience with Asics golf shoes has always been positive, and I liked the Gel-Kayano a great deal when I first tested it. But each time I wear the shoes now they seem to get more and more comfortable, and they've truly emerged as one of the most comfortable golf shoes I've ever worn. They also breathe incredibly well and are extremely lightweight, both of which are great attributes in the heat that we’re starting to see in Georgia at this time of year. I will occasionally change it up, however, and at times have also been wearing the Sqairz Speed golf shoes, which have been one of my biggest surprises of the year. I wasn’t expecting much from the shoes, or the brand to be honest, but they have proven to be really good, especially in terms of comfort and stability.
AW: I’m fortunate enough to have plenty of options when it comes to shoes and my choice tends to be based on which pair I see first. At the moment that philosophy has had me wearing the snow-colored G/Fore MG4+ shoes with the camo sole for the past few weeks. With little nubs on the inside that massage the underside of your feet, they are incredibly comfortable, while there is plenty of stability and grip on offer. I also really like the style, which is usually a strength when it comes to G/Fore golf shoes. One note of caution, however. They are small made, so I’d recommend going half a size up if considering a purchase.
4. What would be your choice for a golf company that simply doesn’t get the credit it deserves?
DP: Wilson - especially in the UK. Yes the brand might be well known for its package sets and 'cheaper' golf equipment but if you look at the mid-to-high price items there is some serious quality and value to be found. The D9 Forged Irons are one of the best players distance irons out there right now and the sister D9 irons are some of the best cavity back irons, too. And don't forget the Wilson Triad golf ball, which has been one of the surprise products of the year. More golfers should definitely be looking at Wilson golf clubs and golf balls.
JT: Evnroll. It makes incredible putters that are customizable and feel amazing. I’ve had my ER2V in the bag for years now and round after round it continues to deliver, so my Arccos Strokes Gained stats tell me. The tour tac grip is the perfect size and texture too, which certainly helps with confidence and control. For whatever reason Evnroll doesn’t have much Tour presence but I’m sure this will change soon. It has some eye-catching new shapes but plenty of traditional ones too for those that want the performance to do the talking. Rick Shiels also uses one.
NT: The first name that springs to mind is Snell. I was really impressed by the golf balls I tested, including most recently the MTB-X. They may not have the Tour presence of other brands (and the price you pay reflects that), but that's not to say the product doesn't perform, both in the long game and the short game.
CW: I’m going with Tour Edge, which keeps churning out excellent golf clubs yet continues to fly under the radar for many golfers. From an R&D standpoint, Tour Edge delivers impressive technology, and it’s a company that develops products to meet the needs of golfers of all ability levels and their budget parameters. A great example of the latter would be the C522 driver that I recently tested, which blew me away in terms of the performance it provided at what is just an incredible price point. It should also be mentioned that when it comes to fairway woods, Tour Edge can hold its own against any golf manufacturer. And as an honorable mention pick, I’m also going to give a shout out to Srixon, which deserves a far bigger piece of the pie than it gets when it comes to its golf ball offerings and its excellent range of forged irons.
AW: I’m going down the apparel route here. Long had I searched for golf trousers that tick all the boxes in terms of comfort, style and affordability, and long had I found the market unable to meet these needs. That was until I put my trust in Original Penguin. In particular, their Everyday Trousers fit superbly well from waist to ankle and are extremely comfortable while offering perfect levels of stretch. It might be quite a niche choice but that’s how impressed I have been. I won’t deviate unless the company pulls the plug on their golf operation.
5. What is one thing about golf clubs that in your experience most average golfers don’t really understand?
DP: Shafts. Unfortunately, shafts aren't as sexy as clubheads so education and awareness of them often gets neglected from a marketing perspective. The tangible benefits of a different shaft are hard to explain and are often too bogged down in science to be accessible to most golfers. I think we all roughly understand shaft flex, but what about length, torque and kick point? I'll hold my hands up and say I'm not as clued in on golf shafts as I'd like to be and I think a better understanding of how the different elements of a golf shaft function will help average golfers select better clubs for their game.
JT: Golfers obsessing over the extra distance their new iron set goes has always baffled me. Why would you want to hit your irons further? It just creates headaches at both ends of the bag that requires more money to be spent in order to fix the resulting gapping issues and often comes down to loft cranking anyway. Golfers need to switch their focus to the consistency of their carry distances - is the iron hitting the number you want it to, time after time, and then the descent angle. Not enough emphasis is placed on the landing angle, which has a big impact on how playable an iron is on the course. Anything around 45 degrees with a mid iron is considered optimal.
NT: Sole grind on wedges. Most of the leading manufacturers offer a range of options when it comes to their best wedges but knowing which one is best for you probably requires a wedge fitting. I've been through a couple of these in my time and found them hugely beneficial. Getting the right sole grind has really improved my wedge striking from long and short range.
CW: I’m going to piggyback on Neil’s answer and also talk about wedges. Golfers need to pick wedges and grinds that create short game versatility, especially when it comes to their sand and lob wedge. First and foremost, one wedge should be chosen to address a player’s biggest weakness. Once a golfer has addressed that weakness, their other choice(s) should offer different yet complementary playability. For example, if a player choses a Titleist Vokey SM9 K-Grind lob wedge at 60 degrees to improve their bunker play, going for a 56-degree sand wedge with less bounce and a bit of heel and toe relief, something like the M Grind, will give that golfer the ability to execute completely different types of shots. Remember, the ultimate goal is to have 14 clubs in the bag that each do something different. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking that advantage when you shop or get fit for wedges.
AW: I’m also going to base my response on one above. Contrary to Dan’s point, I actually think too much emphasis is put on the shaft. Yes, each brand will be different in terms of what their shafts offer so it’s definitely worth doing some testing. But once you’ve found whatever works for you, unless you go on a Bryson DeChambeau-esque transformation, just stick with it. I actually think there’s more that’s not understood about clubheads. With all the optionality when it comes to moving weight around, it really pays to go for a custom fitting to get clued up. I was really impressed with one I had for a driver a few years ago. By the time I’d finished, I was able to swing as fast as I possibly could and the ball would not go left, such was the fitter’s nous.
Chris joined Golf Monthly in February of 2022, becoming the organization’s first full-time staff writer in the United States. In his role at Golf Monthly, Chris reviews a broad spectrum of golf equipment, ranging from the latest in golf clubs to what’s new in the world of golf technology. His vast experience in the game allows him to look beyond the marketing hype to judge the merits of the latest equipment for golfers of all ability levels. As for the trend in golf equipment that Chris has been most impressed with in recent years, the Players Distance Iron category would earn that distinction, as golfers now have far better options for irons that provide the assistance that so many need in terms of distance and forgiveness without forcing them to sacrifice look and feel.
On a personal level, Chris played college golf and was a three-year letterwinner and two-year captain at Lynchburg College in Virginia and later spent two years as the assistant golf coach at the University of Virginia. The vast majority of his professional career, however, has been spent as a sports writer and editor. In the early phases of his career, he covered college football, college basketball, and golf for different newspapers and websites before turning his attention solely to golf in 2011. Over the course of the past decade, Chris managed the Instruction Blog for GolfChannel.com and more recently created equipment-related content for TGW.com and 2ndSwing.com.
An avid player, Chris currently maintains a handicap index of 2.4 and has a career-low round of 66, which he has shot on three occasions. He lives about 20 miles north of Atlanta in Roswell, Georgia, with his wife, Stacey, and is a member at Atlanta National Golf Club.
Chris is currently playing:
Driver: Callaway Epic Sub Zero, 10.5*
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3, 17*
Hybrid: Callaway Apex UW, 19*
Irons: Mizuno JPX 921 Forged, 4-PW
Gap wedge: Cleveland RTX 4, 50*
Sand wedge: Titleist Vokey SM6, 56M
Lob wedge: Titleist Vokey SM8, 60L
Putter: SeeMore Nashville Z3C
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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