2023 has been another epic year for new equipment releases in just about every category. But what would you choose in your dream bag for the year if you could pick absolutely anything and money was no object? Well, that’s exactly the dilemma presented to Joel Tadman and myself, and here is what we decided…
Joel decided upon the Taylormade Stealth 2 Plus largely due to the moveable weight at the front which allows him to mitigate his bag shot which is generally a hook. The combination of a low spin head with a good amount of forgiveness was also a plus point and puts it amongst the best drivers on the market.
Another factor that pushed this driver into Joel’s bag was the aesthetic. He loves the bold red face for alignment purposes and coupled with the solid feel, this was enough to make the Taylormade Stealth 2 Plus Joel’s choice for 2023.
This driver made a huge splash on professional tours around the world with its compact 450cc head and futuristic looks. It has quite a unique dull thud at impact which hides a very aggressive ball speed. Not for the masses but certainly one of the best drivers for distance, perfect for a higher speed or spin player looking for a seriously penetrating ball flight and makes it into my 2023 Ultimate bag.
Joel: Ping G430 LST Fairway
The LST version of the G430 was a late addition to the range, but certainly Joel felt it was well worth the wait. It definitely sits amongst the best fairway woods of 2023.
As many people are looking for assistance to get and keep the ball in the air with their fairway wood, it is a bit of a niche choice being a low spin model, but throughout testing Joel was surprised at how playable the LST version was.
An attractive carbon effect crown and a slightly open face at address really appealed and the tungsten weight on the sole really helped to add launch to a low spinner.
Joe: Mizuno ST-G Fairway
Not traditionally renowned for its work in the metal wood category, this is a real gem from Mizuno. One of the most visually appealing fairway woods I have ever seen, the performance matches the look.
It has a fairly compact footprint but a nice deep face which makes it a potent weapon from the tee as well as the turf. Easy to launch but with the spin very much under control, the ST-G really ticked all the boxes for me. With a subtle and muted impact sound, the ST-G fairway lets its performance make the noise!
Joel: Cobra King Tec Hybrid
Joel picked out the Cobra King Tec hybrid due to the exceptional looks and versatility. He particularly loved the matt finish, clean and classic aesthetic with a nod to the modern day with its carbon effect crown. Joel even described the King Tec as having “oodles” of adjustability!
In fairness, he’s not wrong, with moveable weights on sole to encourage fade or draw and loft sleeve adjustment, it can be fine tuned to just about any requirement. The King Tec produces a very strong flight in the standard setting but as mentioned, loft can easily be adjusted to soften the trajectory. Versatile, powerful and a great looker, the Cobra King Tec is undoubtedly one of the best hybrids of 2023.
Joe: Callaway Apex UW
The area between fairway wood and irons has always been a tricky one for me to fill and the Apex UW fits my needs perfectly.
Sitting somewhere between fairway wood and hybrid in terms of its profile and looks, the UW gives me tons of launch and forgiveness all wrapped up in a super clean aesthetic. I love the simplicity of the head, with no fussy logos or graphics, this club is all about function.
I will say, I preferred the look of the sole on the previous model (which is a very minor negative), but the performance is every bit as good if not a little more refined.
Joel: Titleist T150 Iron
From all of the best irons of 2023, Joel selected the T150 from Titleist as his ultimate pick. The combination of a compact player’s look combined with the assistance of the internal tungsten weighting was the perfect blend for Joel.
Having struggled with his iron play for some time, he had been playing a slightly chunkier, game improvement style iron but just wasn’t happy with the look. Fortunately Titleist came to his rescue with the T150 which provides real playability wrapped up in a sophisticated profile.
One of Joel’s favorite aspects of the T150 is the density of strike which is comparable to some of the best blade irons on the market.
This category was an easy choice for me if I am honest. Sometimes just one look at a club will be enough to capture your interest and this was very much the case with the Apex CB for me. I spend an awful lot of time looking at various iron profiles and everything about the CB aesthetic did it for me. Curves in all the right places, minimal offset and the perfect top line ticked all my boxes.
Performance is very strong too. The dual chamfer sole does a great job of helping the club slide effortlessly through the turf and strike is soft but with a hint of liveliness. It will take something pretty special next year to get these out of my bag!
For his wedge’s, Joel decided upon theCleveland RTX 6. Sitting comfortably as one of the best wedges of 2023, the RTX 6 packs in more tech than most wedges and has a lot of tour presence which is always a good sign.
With deeper, sharper grooves and face milling, Joel found the RTX 6 to be one of the spinner wedges he has tried, particularly in wet conditions where moisture trapped between club and ball can be a spin killer. Lot of tech.
There is plenty of choice in terms of bounce and sole options and Joel was a particular fan of the soft yet crisp impact feel.
Joe: Ping Glide 4.0 wedge
My choice for wedges was the Ping Glide 4.0. A bit of a departure from my normal Vokey selection, when testing I just really enjoyed the extra reassurance of a little bit more mass behind the ball. We often speak about the importance of the wedges around the greens, but they are equally as important to scoring on full shots and longer pitches and I found the Glide 4.0 to be particularly strong on these shots.
A classic profile hides the tech story of precisely placed weights and with plenty of bounce and grind options, I am very happy with my wedge choice!
TaylorMade’s answer to the Scotty Cameron, the TP Reserve has very classic refined looks that are in stark contrast to some of the other more “out there” designs in the Taylormade range.
Joel feels it is one of the best putters on the market currently, particularly in terms of appearance. With clean lines and some good alignment help, it is a very premium looking short stick.
Joel liked the good levels of forgiveness facilitated by the heel and toe weights on the sole and found the grooves on the face dampened sound nicely and provided a good roll. The soft, buttery feel was enough to get it into Joel’s ultimate bag for 2023.
I’ve not exactly stuck my neck out here with one of the most popular putters of all time(!), but as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The newest iteration has absolutely nailed the visual for me. Those who don’t look at as many clubs as me may not even notice, but the lines are a lot sharper on this version than some of its predecessors and reminds me hugely of the PIng Anser 2 that Mark O’Meara (amongst many others) wielded on his way to two majors in 1998.
The feel is predictably premium and everything from the grip to the headcover is top quality. I don’t feel like I even need to justify this choice, it’s in!
So, those are our choices for our ultimate bags of 2023. Do you agree or have some other favorites that we’ve overlooked?
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Joe has worked in the golf industry for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles. After a successful amateur career being involved in England squads at every age group, Joe completed his PGA degree qualification in 2014 as one of the top ten graduates in his training year and subsequently went on to become Head PGA Professional at Ryder Cup venue The Celtic Manor Resort. Equipment has always been a huge passion of Joe’s, and during his time at Celtic Manor, he headed up the National Fitting Centres for both Titleist and Taylormade. He’s excited to bring his knowledge of hardware to Golf Monthly in the form of equipment reviews and buying advice.
Joe lives in North Devon and still plays sporadically on the PGA West region circuit. His best round in recent years came earlier in 2023 where he managed a 9 under par 63 at Trevose GC in a Devon & Cornwall PGA Tournament.
Joe's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: Srixon ZX5 LS 9.5
Fairway wood: Taylormade M2 Tour 2017, 13.5°
Irons: Callaway Apex CB 24' 3-11
Wedges: Taylormade MG4 54 and 60 degree
Putter: Odyssey Toe Up #9
Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1x
- Joel TadmanTechnical Editor
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