Our annual Most Wanted tests allow us to take a purely objective data-driven look at product performance, but as the season winds down we’d like to offer you a slightly more subjective look at the industry.

For our Editor’s Choice Awards we consider not only performance, but also the opinions of the our staff, the golfers we speak with, while in some cases also considering either the immediate market impact, or a product’s long-term potential to advance the industry.

Our goal with Editor’s Choice is to recognize the select few products, innovations, and companies that we believe were difference-makers in 2015.

New Club Technology – PXG TPE Core

editors-choice-pxg

We’re not oblivious to the fact that PXG’s initial offerings are well outside the average golfer’s price range, but at the same time we can’t ignore that PXG’s TPE (Thermoplastic elastomer) filled cavity allows for a face that’s 50% thinner than anything else on the market. That’s a huge gain in a time when rapid advancements are next to non-existent.

PXG believes its technology is well-protected by patents, but the golf industry always finds away (or more accurately, a way around). So what excites us isn’t so much that the technology exists in a premium offering, it’s that, we believe, similar technology will eventually find its way into affordable mainstream lines where more golfers will be able to take advantage of it.

Driver – PING G30

editors-choice-g30

It’s hard to find anyone with much of anything negative to say about PING’s G30 series of drivers. Between the standard model, and the LS and SF Tecs, there’s a G30 for nearly everyone.

As a group the drivers tested well for us, but perhaps of equal importance, as Nike is fond of saying, The Consumer Decides, and well…you really decided. The G30 led Golf Datatech’s units sold count for 8 straight months (February-September), and basically proved that super-forgiving doesn’t have to mean excessive spin. We’re now seeing the industry shift to more forgiving drivers as a direct result of G30’s market success.

Toss in the fact that Turbulators is now part of the golf equipment vernacular, and you can see why the G30 was an easy choice.

Fairway Wood – None

editors-choice-none

It’s not easy to innovate within the fairway wood space, and frankly we’re not convinced anyone actually did in 2015. While there were plenty of solid offerings to be had, we can’t think of a single one that really stands out from an innovation or performance standpoint. It hasn’t been a banner year for fairways.

Sure, we could go with something just because, but that’s not us. Time will tell, but 2016 appears to be shaping up a bit better.

Hybrid – Adams Red

editors-choice-adams-red

The Red Hybrid will likely prove to be the last Adams hybrid designed for better players…maybe the last Adams hybrid PERIOD. What a shame that would be.

Red offers a level of adjustability never before offered in a hybrid – and what’s more, it actually works, and it does it all while maintaining the compact and visually-appealing shape that fans of Adams pro hybrids have long appreciated. All that, and it’s currently selling new for just 85 bucks.

Game-Improvement Iron – TaylorMade RSi 1

editors-choice-rsi1

A runaway winner in our Most Wanted Iron test, we continue to be amazed by the consistent results we get from TaylorMade’s RSi 1. We know it’s the trendy thing to pile it on TaylorMade right now, but the reality is that for game-improvement golfers looking for more consistency, RSI 1 is absolutely as good as it gets.

Transitional Iron – Mizuno JPX-850 Forged

editors-choice-mizuno

First, a quick definition. To my mind the transitional space sits between game-improvement and better player iron. The best irons in the category blend the best characteristics of both.

The JPX-850 Forged is any easy choice in this spot as no other iron better defines the category. Mizuno’s first Boron Forged design, the JPX-850 Forged offers plenty of forgiveness with a head shape that will suit the eye of many better players. Simply put, it’s more forgiving than a players iron, and more playable than a game-improvement iron. It also doesn’t hurt that it feels like a Mizuno.

For many of us that makes the JPX-850 Forged nearly perfect.

Players Iron – None

editors-choice-none

The true better player iron space (irons designed for single digit handicap golfers and below) isn’t exactly a breeding ground for innovation. To meet golfers visual and feel expectations, there’s not a lot of room to push forward without disrupting the status quo, and so it’s not totally unexpected that nothing really stands out this season.

As we discussed the category internally what we found is that while each of us has products we liked, there wasn’t any sort of consensus for any single iron. Our conclusions is that as much as 2015 was a good year for players irons, the category didn’t offer any clear best of breed either.

Wedge – Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind

editors-choice-pm-callaway

Among the several wedges that grabbed our attention this season, the slightest of edges goes to the Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind. It’s tempting to look past the PM Grind because it’s admittedly more of a niche product than most, but we love that Callaway stepped way outside the box with this one…and we love that it works.

Sure, mastering the PM Grind takes dedication, effort, and plenty of patience, but at the same time it not only encourages practice, it makes those greenside practice sessions almost as much fun as playing.

Putter – PING Ketsch Heavy

editors-choice-ketsch

While there’s no such thing as an automatic putter, our infatuation with the PING Ketsch’s accuracy continued again this season.

This year’s version, the Cadence TR Ketsch Heavy, dominated the Most Wanted Mallet competition, and was also our overall Most Wanted putter. Unlike the original, inventory is readily available at retail. You should probably take advantage of that.

Golf Ball – Callaway Chrome Soft

editors-choice-chrome

Billed early and often by Callaway as The Ball that Changed the Ball, there’s a bit of supporting evidence for the predictive claim. While Callaway wasn’t the first to go soft, Chrome Soft has created a tipping point of sorts as the industry is now rapidly shifting towards softer balls.

Equally as relevant, until recently there hasn’t been a clear #2 in the ball category for quite some time, but powered by the strength of Chrome Soft, Callaway has laid claim to that spot and now trails only Titleist in the category.

Shaft – Aldila Rogue Series

editors-choice-aldila
Each and every season it seems there’s a new shaft that cements itself as THE hot shaft on tour, and almost without fail, that shaft becomes THE shaft in aftermarket as well.

Beginning in the summer of 2014, Aldila’s Rogue series (particularly the Silver line) was golf’s it shaft.

As its popularity with tour pros and obsessive tweakers grew, the Rogue quickly became a popular stock offering for several manufacturers including Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, and even Tour Edge. While the shaft market had plenty to offer this season (as it always does), nothing left a bigger footprint than Aldila’s Rogue.

Consumer Tech – Skytrak Launch Monitor

editors-choice-skytrak

$2000 is admittedly a high price for what we’re calling consumer tech, but doesn’t a fully-featured and reliable launch monitor for thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands, of dollars less than any reputable competitor’s products deserve our full attention?

Given its potential to drive down prices, and make launch monitors more accessible to the average golfer, we say hell yes it does.

Since the initial release SkyTrak has expanded its offering to include more features and has even added an option for simulator play on 18 different courses (annual subscription required).

Golf Shoe  – PUMA Titan Tour

editors-choice-product-titan-2

Supremely comfortable from the get, we admit to being surprised (very pleasantly so) by PUMA’s Titan Tour Golf Shoe. In a year where we’d argue some of the industry leaders didn’t bring their A-games, PUMA stepped up with what is unquestionably the company’s best golf shoe ever.

While it would be a stretch to say that the Titan Tour had the same sort of market impact as TaylorMade’s original Tour 360, it is the type of shoe that PUMA might look back on 10 years from now as the shoe that was the foundation for everything that came after it.

Comeback Company – Ben Hogan

editors-choice-hogan

For many the return of the Ben Hogan brand was the feel good story of 2015. Those who remember the Hogan brand fondly appreciate Terry Koehler’s no-nonsense precision first approach to iron design, while new converts simply appreciate the look, feel, and performance of the FW15 Irons and TK 15 wedges.

2015 was just the beginning. In 2016 you can expect Ben Hogan to position itself as a full-line golf company. It’s going to be delightfully interesting to see how far this can go.

Golf Company – Callaway Golf

editors-choice-callaway

Briefly overtaking TaylorMade as the #1 Metalwoods company in golf is only part of Callaway’s 2015 story. The company also currently lays claim to the #1 spot in both irons and putters (Odyssey), is #2 is the ball category, and may soon overtake Cleveland for the #2 on the wedge list. While the ambitious team at Callaway might tell you they’re not done yet, one could argue that the company’s 5 Year War (the plan to make Callaway relevant again) has ended in victory.

Callaway’s 2015 also included the birth of a weekly live internet show, plenty of cross promotion with other brands (and retailers), and because why not, the repurposing of San Diego’s Petco Park as a golf course. Not long ago the company was on the verge of irrelevancy, now it’s once again of the most popular brands in golf.

Callaway had a pretty damn good 2015, but we suspect that and that’s probably not the end of it. Be on the lookout for more in 2016 as the Callaway machine shows little indication that it’s running out of steam.