New Testing Methodology for Drivers
At the end of 2005 GolfTest USA partnered with Golf Illustrated, one of the top national golf publications, to provide them with the results of our standard golf equipment testing that we conduct on an ongoing basis. Golf Illustrated has agreed to publish a feature article in each issue highlighting many of the new clubs that have been introduced. In the process of explaining our testing process to GI they asked if we could expand the criteria we have the testers evaluate. We agreed and there are now 10 criteria that the testers evaluate. There is also an additional rating we list in the last column which is the combined “AVERAGE” of the first 10 criteria. We feel this “AVERAGE” gives golfers a good indication of which clubs performed the best across all the criteria.
60 golfers of varying skill levels will hit a group of 5 to 7 driver models. (We never have a tester hit more than about 60 shots in a testing session).
If a driver is designed for lower handicap golfers than the testing group will be made up of golfer with handicaps of 12 or less. If a driver is more of a game improvement club than the group will be made up of golfers whose handicaps are above 12. Some drivers are made to help golfers who tend to slice or have difficulty controlling their drives and therefore we look for golfers we think will benefit from these types of drivers. We have a tester hit a few shots with a driver until they feel comfortable swinging it. Then we ask them to hit 5 shots keeping in mind that they will be asked to evaluate how they feel they performed hitting that driver. Once they have hit the shots we have them come over to a test administrator where they are asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the ten criteria. We ask them to be as fair and unbiased as they can be in their evaluation. Once they have evaluated driver #1 they move on to driver #2 and so on. They are told not to compare one driver to another but only to rate how they performed with each driver. While they are hitting each driver the test administrator is rating how they perform in distance, control, accuracy and trajectory. A rating factor is established for each tester that is then used at the end of the test and which supplements their ratings. This helps to insure that the tester is being fair and unbiased and consistent in their rating from driver to driver. Out of the 60 golfer who test each driver we then pick the 50 evaluations that we feel were done in a fair and consistent manner and use them to come up with the average rating in each criteria for each driver. We have found that this methodology gives a fair and accurate representation of how each driver performed in the test. We still observe that the “well known” clubs tend to get slightly higher ratings then their actual performance while lesser know clubs don’t get quite the credit they deserve in the testing. By using the rating factor which is added based on the actual results we are able to level the playing field and “smooth” out the results and give a more accurate representation of how each driver really performed in the test. By averaging the results of 50 testers we are confident that the results reflect how golfers really performed with each driver. Because the ratings are averages the results tend to group together in a small range usually from 7.8 to 8.6 (but sometimes fall outside a standard bell curve). Even a rating point of .1 better can indicate that one driver performed better than another one. A driver whose rating in “Distance” was 8.3 could be considered to be longer than a driver whose rating was 8.2. (That might only equate to 1 or 2 yards longer on average) We have yet to test the driver that hits a ball ten yards longer than any other driver. In the “Accuracy” criteria the average dispersion is 11 yards measured from a center line 200 yards from the tee. So a driver whose average is 10 yards is 10% better than the average and clearly superior to the average driver. That 10% might only translate into a .1 better rating overall. But that is still a significant improvement for a golfer looking for a driver that hits the ball straighter. Having said all that, this is still not rocket science. We do feel however that this testing format is one way that can be used by golfers to help determine which golf clubs would be best for them. It is a very crowded field of golf equipment out there and golfers need all the help they can get from an independent and unbiased source. We feel that GolfTest USA helps to provide the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being best) they rated each of these criteria.
Distance: Each tester rated how far they hit each driver.
Control: Testers rated how much control they felt they had while hitting each driver.
Accuracy: Testers rated how accurate they felt each driver was.
Forgiveness: Testers rated how forgiving the driver was on off center hits.
Sound: Testers rated how did they liked the sound of each club.
Appearance: Testers rated how much they liked the appearance of the club.
Feel: Testers rated the feel of the club at set up, during the swing and at impact.
Ball flight (Trajectory): Testers rated how they liked the trajectory of the ball off the club?
Recommend to others:The testers were asked to rate how strongly they would recommend each driver to their friends or other golfers.
Overall Rating: The testers were asked to take into consideration what is important to them in a driver and give it an overall rating. (This is not an average of the other criteria).
Overall Average: A final category was added at the request of Golf Illustrated which is the average of the 10 criteria rated by the testers. We feel this average helps to give golfers an indication of how each club performed taking into account all of the criteria in the test.
Why are the test results the way they are? Click here to find out!
Let us know if there are other drivers you would like us to test and we will contact the manufacturers and see if they will participate in our next testing cycle. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on the testing completed to date we have determined that any club that has an “Average” score 7.9 or better based on our scoring system is awarded the GolfTest USA “Seal of Excellence” award. Being awarded the GolfTest USA “Seal of Excellence” indicates a golf product has been tested and reviewed by our staff of golf testers and has been judged to be of superior quality, value and performance. Golfers who purchase any of these clubs can feel confident they will be obtaining a quality golf product.
Click on each column head to sort ratings by that criteria.