How Today’s Golfer tests golf equipment


At Today’s Golfer we pride ourselves on carrying out the most in-depth tests of golf equipment. Here’s exactly what goes on behind the scenes as we test and review golf clubs, balls, clothing and shoes.

Golf equipment doesn’t come cheap, so it’s important to make sure the gear you buy is the best fit for your game. Whether that’s golf clubs and balls, shoes and apparel, bags and trolleys, or even umbrellas and tee pegs, we want to help you make the best choices every single time.

For more than three decades, Today’s Golfer has been testing and comparing all the latest and greatest equipment in golf. Today, thanks to advances in technology, our testing protocol is more detailed and reliable than ever before. Here’s what goes on behind the scenes…

driver test

How Today’s Golfer tests golf clubs

To produce the most accurate data possible, we create a controlled test environment at Keele Golf Centre, using premium TaylorMade TP5x golf balls. Our previous robot testing has found the TP5x to be the most reliable ball in terms of performance and consistent quality control, so it’s our go-to choice when testing clubs.

We collect every data point from every shot hit, using a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor –

Our main club testers are PGA Professional Golf Coach and Custom Fit Technician, Neil Wain, and Today’s Golfer Equipment Editor, Simon Daddow, who plays off 10. We also involve other staff members, such as nine-handicap Digital Editor Rob Jerram, 12-handicap Editor Chris Jones, and six-handicap Digital Writer Rob McGarr, along with selected readers, when it benefits the test.

We use Neil as he’s a consistent, accurate striker of the golf ball, which means we don’t need to remove lots of mishit shots from our data (which is an inefficient use of energy and hitting time). It allows us to create clean accurate data, which leading golf club engineers stress is essential for proper analysis.

As an amateur, Neil played for England, before turning professional off a +4 handicap. He’s also a fully qualified PGA Professional. Over the years Neil has been a regular participant and winner on the PGA Midlands circuit. Today Neil’s time is split between teaching and custom fitting golf equipment at Keele Golf Centre in Staffordshire.

Neil’s attack angle with a driver is a little down onto the ball. Whilst not being optimal for ultimate distance (as drivers are usually developed for neutral to upward attack angles), it is typical and representative of many club golfers. Throughout the rest of his bag, Neil has a very neutral delivery. Neil’s tested with Today’s Golfer since 2016 and during that time he’s had several hole-in-ones whilst testing irons and wedges, which highlights his accuracy and consistency.

Using Neil and Simon allows us to test at different swing speeds, which is key, because performance at tour-level speeds of 120mph may not always correlate to the average amateur swinging at 90-95mph. We also measure strike location, so we can ensure our data isn’t unfairly skewed by comparing pure strikes with mishits. This also enables us to show which clubs are the most “forgiving” in terms of keeping ball speeds up when you miss the middle of the clubface.

Unlike many other media and testing companies, we openly share all the launch monitor data we collate during our tests, enabling you to delve into the detail and make your own choices based on what’s most important to you.

We use a robot to test golf balls because it's the best way to get reliable and comparable data.

How Today’s Golfer tests golf balls

Even the world’s very best golfers can’t hit a ball exactly the same way, time after time, so we used a robot for our most thorough golf balls test to date to guarantee consistency of strike and produce data that isolates the one variable we are trying to test: the performance of the golf ball.

Human testing is crucial for intangibles like looks and feel, but to ensure consistent, reliable, irrefutable data, every golf manufacturer uses a robot when developing golf balls, and we feel it’s vital to do the same when testing them.

The £250,000 robot can be adjusted to deliver different lie angle, swing path, face angle, attack angle, impact point, hip rotation, and wrist action, at swing speeds from 5-130mph.

We also cut balls open to examine the construction, checking for asymmetries and off-centre cores or mantle layers.

We test balls in a controlled indoor environment on a launch monitor and take balls to the course to test them in a real-world environment. By doing that we can ensure the numbers match up with what we see in terms of ball flight and the way the ball reacts on the green, among other things. This also enables us to hit the full variety of shots, while testing feel and durability.

Where balls are targeted at a particular type of golfer – players with slower swing speeds, for instance – we’ll use reviewers who match the criteria, like our Equipment Editor Simon Daddow. This enables us to see if the manufacturer’s promises stack up in reality. 

We also pit balls head-to-head against models they claim to be better than or more expensive balls we believe they could outperform.

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We test golf apparel everything in real-world situations.

How Today’s Golfer tests other golf equipment

For everything else, where launch monitor data isn’t an option, we rely on our team of carefully selected reviewers to test and assess each product over an extended period. With golf shoes, for example, that means wearing them for multiple rounds, so we can determine the out-of-the-box comfort as well as durability and performance in a variety of conditions.

Having tested tens of thousands of products over the years, we know exactly what to look for, and will ask every possible question of each product we review. Whether that’s using an umbrella on a windy day, a laser rangefinder in the fog, or testing shoes in slippery conditions, you can rest assured that if it’s a situation that can arise for you on the golf course, we’ve already put the product through that scenario before recommending it.

The TaylorMade P790 is one of the best players' distance irons of 2022.

How we rate golf products

On our ‘best‘ pages you’ll find the top-performing models all receive a ‘Today’s Golfer Best’ badge as shown above. With products such as apparel and shoes, we only include the products that we believe are the best in that category.

We also produce an annual ‘Editor’s Choice Awards‘, in which our Editor, Equipment Editor, and Digital Editor select their top products of the year across all categories.

Elsewhere, on each individual product review page, you will see a ‘TG rating’ out of five stars. Here’s what you can expect from products with those ratings:

5 stars – One of the absolute standout models in its category, and one we can recommend without hesitation. This is a product that delivers in every aspect, with no real weaknesses. Any product with a five-star rating deserves your consideration when it comes to making a purchase.

4.5 stars – A top-drawer product with no substantial faults or weaknesses, and one we’d happily put in our own golf bag, but didn’t quite wow us enough to warrant five stars.

4 stars – A product that performs to a very high standard and is well worthy of consideration but doesn’t quite do enough to make it stand out from the crowd and/or has minor drawbacks.

3.5 stars – A solid showing, but unlikely to be our top choice when it comes to recommending products in its relevant category. There may be better options in terms of performance and/or budget.

3 stars – An acceptable performance but not one that did enough to get us excited. Given the breadth and quality of choice available nowadays, products rated three stars and below are probably only worth considering if you’re looking for something that is different from the norm or if budget is your biggest concern and you find a deal that’s too good to turn down.

2 stars – Best avoided. There are plenty of better options available.

1 star – Seriously flawed and not doing what it should. Don’t let it near your golf bag – even if they’re giving it to you for free.

How Today’s Golfer saves you money

On our review pages and ‘best of’ category pages, you may see the words “View Offer” alongside a product’s RRP. This means we’ve scoured the internet to find the best price we can. If you choose to buy via these links, we may receive a small commission, but you don’t pay a penny extra and we never allow this to influence our product selections or recommendations.



- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.