In a 2007 Golf Digest article, golf legend Jack Nicklaus said, “The best golfers should be better today than the best golfers of yesterday.” The modern golf game is an entirely different animal from the one played by the Golden Bear, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. With the advent of metal clubheads and improved golf ball technology, players can hit the ball longer with more accuracy than ever before. Although Nicklaus admitted that he’d like the see a regression with some of these technologies (he thought the game had gotten too easy), most of today’s golfers have embraced them. To score better on the course without necessarily practicing more — although that obviously helps — consider incorporating some of the best golf innovations of 2015 into your game.
Vice Pro Plus Golf Balls
Best New Golf Balls: Buying the best golf balls is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you want the best performance from your ball. On the other, you don’t want to spend a fortune on something that’ll (probably) end up in the creek. Vice Golf finds a happy medium with their new Pro Plus golf balls. Each ball has a four-piece design that promises longer distances. Also, their 336-dimple facade helps the ball stay low. But what really separates them from the top-of-the-line Pro V1 is price, which they almost cut in half. All Vice Golf’s products are exclusively available online.
Epson M-Tracer MT500GII Golf Swing Analyzer
Best Instructive Device: The M-Tracer MT500GII Golf Swing Analyzer is about as close to a personal Hank Haney as most of us will ever get. The device mounts on any club’s grip and delivers real-time feedback via Epson’s app (iOS and Android compatible). Capturing 1,000 frames of data per second, the device relays accurate and constructive swing analyses. It shows your swing path, clubhead speed and even the club face’s angle at the time of impact. Admittedly this isn’t a device for beginners (it takes a high golf acumen to understand), but for avid golfers, it’s a cost-efficient and entertaining way to improve.
Arccos Golf Performance Tracking App
Best New Golf App: This app uses Arccos’s Golf GPS and Shot Tracking system to send real-time stats directly to your smartphone. During a round, the app keeps track of how far you hit the ball with each club, average distances hit, fairways and greens hit or missed, putting stats and sand saves. It’ll help golfers understand their game by showing both their strengths and weaknesses — all without the golfer inputting anything. The full system (app, golf GPS and shot tracking system) costs $299.
Adidas Asym Energy Boost Shoes
Most Innovative Golf Shoes: The front and back feet have different responsibilities during a golf swing. The back foot provides more of the power, while the front foot ensures stability and an efficient followthrough. Adidas’ new Asym Energy Boosts are the first fully asymmetrical golf shoes. This means that they’re also the first golf shoes that come in both lefty and righty sizes. Each shoe has strategically placed gripmore lugs to help a golfer optimize their power while also making the swing more efficient. The Asym shoes also have Adidas’ proprietary Boost midsoles for additional comfort.
TaylorMade R15 Driver
Best New Driver: Off the tee, the goal of any golfer is to drive the ball long and straight — which is the R15 driver’s specialty. First of all, the club has an expanded sweet spot. Secondly, it’s completely adjustable. With a sliding split weighting system, golfers can adjust the club to fit their needs. If they are looking for more draw, tune the club to have more weight in its heel. Need more fade? Increase the weight to its toe. The R15 also comes with a loft sleeve that users can tinker with.
Dunning Golf Collection
Best Golfing Apparel: At first glance, Dunning Golf’s wares look clean and maybe more sophisticated than clothing from larger performance brands. But don’t be fooled. Dunning Golf was founded using cutting-edge performance fabrics and continues to make extremely technical clothing. Check out their new certified “non-mulesed” merino wool tops, four-way stretch pants and shorts, and lightweight pique polos.
Bushnell Tour X Rangefinder
Best Golf Companion: Bushnell dubbed this “The World’s Ultimate Golf Laser Rangefinder”, and it may be just that. This rangefinder comes with two interchangeable face plates that give golfers accurate yardage between them and the pin. When the black faceplate is on, the rangefinder is tournament legal. Its red faceplate — which utilizes Bushnell’s patented slope compensation technology to calculate distance, factoring slope and elevation — is really fun, but not tournament legal. In addition, the Tour X will vibrate when locked onto the pin, and its display can be adjusted for sharpness and color.
Mizuno JPX 850
Best Fairway Wood: Some people can’t consistently hit a driver. Others simply need more distance when on the fairway. In such cases, a fairway wood is key — and the JPX-850 by Mizuno might be best of the bunch. It has a Shock Wave sole that flexes on contact to generate more force and hit the ball further. Additional specs include a low center of gravity to create a larger sweet spot and four degrees of adjustability and customization. Basically golfers will hit the ball farther, get more loft on it, and be able to customize the club to fit their needs.
Callaway Apex Irons
Best Game-Improvement Irons: Golfers drive for show and putt for dough. Yet it’s in the fairway and rough where they’ll spend most of their time. These Callaway Apex irons have a forged solid steel frame, Tungsten sole inserts and wide-grooved faces. All these attributes make the clubs more forgiving (without compromising power) while adding more loft.
Adams Golf Red Hybrid
Best New Hybrid: A hybrid, or rescue club, is designed to hit the ball long and straight out of the rough and fairway. And the Red Hybrid does this job better than most. Its head is a little smaller (95cc) than other hybrids on the market, which also makes it more forgiving. It has Adams Golf’s patented upside-down head, which lowers the club’s center of gravity and helps get the ball in the air fast. In addition, the club comes with three transferrable weights on its sole to make it more customizable.
Odyssey Works Versa #1
Best Blade Putter: Looking to upgrade your blade putter? Get one by Odyssey Works. Their Versa #1 putter boasts the brand’s new Fusion RX insert, which gives the ball a purer and faster roll. It also helps golfers get an unprecedented feel when they make contact with the ball. But if these facts don’t sway you, know this: Odyssey Works is the number-one putter on the PGA tour, and their Versa #1 putter is the recipient of Golf Digest‘s 2015 Hot List Gold Medal.
Sun Mountain H2NO Lite 14-Way Stand Bag
Best Golf Bag: Although this bag fits seamlessly in any golf cart, it’s ideal for carrying. The H2NO Lite 14-Way Stand Bag is lightweight at less than six pounds and has an accommodating Auto-Fit Dual Strap System. But what distinguishes the bag is that it’s completely waterproof. Its sealed seams, dependable YKK zippers, and enveloping rain hood also seal off the moisture.