So, what do you think now of that new driver you bought last summer? Or the new putter or wedge you added to the bag? Or the golf ball switch you made?
As we look ahead to the season upcoming in 2009, the outset of the new year is an opportune time to take a quick look back at the season just past and the myriad equipment introductions made available to golfers in 2008.
For our CBSSports.com panel of testers, this also is an opportune time to present a final review and selected ranking of the new equipment.
|The Scratch Golf JLM wedge earns the Gold Tee Award for 2008 for best overall introduction.|
For golfers, the selections have never been greater. One reason is the degree of customization the industry has achieved. There is no longer just one model of iron being offered by Company A or one "premium" ball being offered by Company B. Clubs and balls are being tailored to match up better with players' skill levels, individual playing styles and preferences.
In presenting our Best of 2008 Equipment Awards, we bypass for now clubs and balls introduced this past fall, which are geared primarily for the coming season. Products such as Srixon's new Z-Star balls, Ping's iWi series putters, Nike's Victory Red irons and TaylorMade's r7 Limited and new Burner drivers are not listed.
Meanwhile, we may include clubs and balls that first appeared on a limited scale toward the latter part of 2007 but that really gained full distribution in '08.
Also, ongoing models of clubs and balls are not listed. These accolades are meant only for equipment introduced for or during the past season.
Judging was as tough as ever. In many categories, arguments could easily be made for a driver being given an Eagle Award instead of a Birdie or Par.
Before we get into the various category citations, we first present our Gold Tee Award for 2008 to the best overall introduction of the year: Scratch Golf's JLM lineup of custom-tailored wedges. Picking Scratch Golf is akin to David slewing an army of Goliaths. In a very competitive category in which several major companies' products could have claimed the Gold, Scratch -- a small equipment maker quickly gaining renown among both pros and amateurs -- received a virtually unanimous nod from CBSSports.com's year-long testers.
With products for 2009 already rolling out in abundance, the following categories represent a selective showcase of eagles, birdies and pars for clubs and balls in 2008.
Two types of Taylor Made drivers, the r7 CGB Max and the Tour Burner/Tour Burner TP (which comes in two slightly differing models), earned a tie for the Eagle Award in our rankings.