Bill Simmons’ first “NFL Playoff Manifesto” was published in January 1998, and I never read it. That column appeared on his old website before his days at ESPN, before I started reading his columns and listening to his podcasts on Grantland and The Ringer. Written for people who love football and love to gamble on football games, it is filled with advice you never want to forget, such as, “Never, ever, EVER back a crappy QB on the road,” and “Ignore final records and concentrate on how the team finished the last five or six games of the season.” He’s updated it several times over the years, and I glanced at it during last season’s NFL playoffs.
What does this have to do with golf equipment? It’s early September, and while there’s been a heat wave seemingly baking everyone across the United States this summer, hopefully, you have been playing and enjoying your gear. But with fall right around the corner, prices on new equipment may start dropping soon to make room for 2023 arrivals. Many brands release new woods, irons, wedges, putters and balls in January, which is just four months away, but others historically have dropped new products in September and October so that shops in the Sun Belt and Southwest have new gear to offer golfers who tee it up year-round.
With that in mind, I give you Golfweek‘s first Equipment Manifesto, a list of advice every player should keep in mind when he or she is thinking about purchasing new gear. It may not win you as much money as Simmons’ 2018 Rule No. 1, “Beware of the ‘Looked a Little Too Good the Previous Round’ team,” but I promise it can help you make smarter choices at the pro shop.
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If you have a double-digit handicap, you should not carry a 3- or 4-iron, and your 5-iron should be on a short leash.
Golfers who typically shoot around 85 or above are rarely strong iron players, so why carry the most challenging irons? Find a range or practice facility with TopTracer Range or TrackMan Range, hit several 4-irons and see how your average shot flies. Then hit a hybrid club with the same loft and see how much higher, straighter and farther the average hybrid shot goes. Unless you are a single-digit handicapper, high-lofted woods and hybrids should fill the top portion of your bag.
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If you are buying a new set of irons, get them individually.
Most iron sets today come 4-iron through gap wedge (eight clubs), but almost every iron can be purchased individually. Good custom fitters will be happy to order you a five- or six-club set. Going this route frees you up to organize your wedge gaps more efficiently and create your own blend of clubs at the top end of your bag.
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best irons for 2022″ link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-irons-2022-every-handicap-callaway-taylormade/”%5D
Even if you are a good player, buy a 7-wood.
Max Homa, Dustin Johnson, Jason Kokrak, Keith Mitchell, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith hit long irons better than you, and they regularly carry a 7-wood. Most 7-woods have about 21 degrees of loft, but they are longer, fitted with graphite shafts and have a low center of gravity that makes it easier to get the ball up in the air and land softly on long par 3s, from the fairway on par 5s and when you really need to hit a tight fairway. To quote my 17-year-old son, “It’s a cheat code.”
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Buy the best-performing golf balls your budget allows.
Multilayer, urethane-covered golf balls don’t come cheap, but they perform better than two-piece, Surlyn-covered balls. Balls such as the Titleist Pro V1, TaylorMade TP5, Callaway Chrome Soft, Srixon Z-Star and Bridgestone Tour B X provide distance off the tee and more control around the green. If such balls are too pricey, try urethane-covered options in the $30-$40 range, such as the Titleist Tour Soft, TaylorMade Tour Response, Callaway ERC Soft or Srixon Q-Star that have premium qualities at a slightly lower price.
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best Golf Balls for 2022″ link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-golf-balls-2022-titleist-callaway-taylormade/”%5D
When in doubt, buy the mallet putter.
Tour pros practice putting a lot and strike most of their putts in the sweet spot, but weekend players are lucky to hit more than a half-dozen practice putts before scurrying to the first tee. Mallet putters usually have a higher moment of inertia, which means that if you strike a putt toward the heel or toe, they do not twist as much and your putt rolls straighter and doesn’t come up as short. All things being equal, a more-forgiving putter is always a better choice.
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If you have a fast swing, you need four wedges.
Golfers who hit the ball a long way have shorter approach shots into the greens, and because it is easier to be consistent with a full swing than a partial swing, carrying more wedges allows you to hit more full-swing approach shots. Be mindful of your 9-iron’s loft, so there is a logical distance gap between it and your pitching wedge, and then a consistent distance to your gap wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge.
If you are a slow-swing player, you might get away with just two wedges, a pitching wedge and a sand wedge, allowing you to carry more woods and hybrids.
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s best wedges for 2022″ link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-wedges-2022-spin-control-callaway-titleist-taylormade/”%5D
Invest in a modern distance-measuring device.
Lasers are easy to use, quick, work on every course and many reveal a “plays-like” distance that takes slopes into consideration to provide a compensated distance. GPS watches and devices usually can show the entire hole at a glance, let you see the distance to bunkers and hazards and can make discovering lay-up distances easy. A good laser or GPS should last you several seasons, can help you play faster and might save you a few strokes right away.
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best Rangefinders” link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/golf-rangefinders-best-bushnell-vortex-laser-nikon-callaway/”%5D
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best GPS watches & wearables” link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-golf-gps-watch-wearables-garmin-bushnell/”%5D
If your shoes have replaceable spikes, replace them now.
Spikeless shoes have gained in popularity over the last decade, but once their traction elements are worn down, that’s it. Shoes with replaceable spikes let you unscrew the cleats and replace them in less than five minutes so you can enjoy like-new traction again. But recreational players rarely replace their spikes, even though a package of spikes usually goes for less than $20. If you’ve had your golf shoes for a year, replace the cleats.
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best Men’s Shoes” link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-mens-golf-shoes-2022-summer-season/”%5D
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best Women’s Shoes” link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/womens-golf-shoes-nike-adidas-footjoy-ecco-gfore-best-2022/”%5D
Buy gloves in bulk.
No one likes paying for a new glove, which can easily cost $25-$35, but we all know someone who plays with a glove that is ripped, torn or filled with holes. Remember, a worn-out glove forces you to grip the club more tightly, which is bad for your swing, so find a glove that you like, take a deep breath and buy five. Ask the pro shop if you can get a little discount. Maybe the person behind the register can help you.
Leave three at home and put two in your bag. Play with one glove, and after you’re done put it back in the package it came in to prolong its life instead of balling it up and stuffing it in a bag pocket with your golf balls. When that glove starts to get a hole or lose its tackiness, toss it and use the other glove in your bag. When you get home, take one of the three other gloves you bought and put it in your golf bag. See, fresh gloves all season!
[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best golf gloves for 2022″ link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-golf-gloves-2022-callaway-footjoy-nike/”%5D
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Water-resistant tops are fine.
Soft rain or drizzle can feel good on a hot day and make a golf course a little easier to play, but no one likes playing golf when they’re wet. Invest in a good-fitting water-resistant jacket and keep it stashed in your golf bag. Water-resistant tops keep you dry unless you are trying to play through a steady downpour, and they breathe better than waterproof garments. If you know it’s going to rain all day, waterproof is the way to go, but water-resistant works fine when a quick shower develops.
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Waterproof shoes are a must.
Blisters can make walking miserable and keep you off the course, and they are often caused by friction between wet socks and your shoes. If you only have one pair of golf shoes, make sure they are waterproof and look for a one- or two-year waterproof guarantee. If you are going to buy a second pair of shoes, they can be water-resistant, but your first pair has to be waterproof.
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[afflinkbutton text=”Golfweek’s Best golf shoes” link=”https://golfweek.usatoday.com/lists/best-mens-golf-shoes-2022-summer-season/”%5D
Buy tees online.
I have big hands and admit that when there are free tees at the starter’s position, I’ve been known to grab a healthy handful. Some cool companies are making wooden tees, but most golfers are just looking for a white tee, so buy a big pack online and fill a pocket in your bag with nothing but tees. Bulk purchases of 100 or more will save you money, and some retailers sell them in bags of 1,000 or more.
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