The best golf gear advice I learned from the pros in 2023

Billy Horschel irons with lead tape

Billy Horschel used irons with a lot of lead tape to get the feel right.

Ryan Barath

Even as an avid club builder and fitter, when you spend enough time around some of the best players in the world, along with the many people responsible for building their clubs, you learn a thing or two about equipment and the way they think about gear. Each tournament stop provided the opportunity to ask questions and observe, and after a year on the road, here are the top pieces of gear advice I learned in 2023.

Tinker until it works

If the second half of the PGA Tour season taught us anything, it’s that long putters are once again here to stay. The trend came to a head this year in Las Vegas after the FedEx Cup, where we saw a bunch of players seeking out long putters to test, and a few more making their way into players’ bags.

vegas long putters
Long putters are back in a big way on the PGA Tour Ryan Barath

It goes to show that whether players were struggling on the greens or just looking to better understand the putting method, there is nothing wrong with tinkering a little bit.

L.A.B. Golf MEZZ.1

Zero Torque. Zero Compromise. MEZZ.1 Stock makes it easy for any golfer to benefit from Lie Angle Balance. It looks pretty much like a normal putter. But it actually helps you make putts.  MEZZ.1 Stock is our mid-mallet putter that’s fully CNC machined from a billet of 6061 aircraft aluminum (body) and 303 stainless steel (midsection). It includes 10 weights (eight on the bottom, two on the sides) that allow us to individually build each putter to a golfer’s exact specifications. Finish: Anodized 6061 Aircraft Aluminum (Black) and Brushed 303 Stainless Steel. Length: 33, 34, or 35 inches. Lie Angles: 67, 69, or 71 degrees. Loft: 2.5 degrees static loft (1-degree of effective loft with Press II 1.5º).
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Say yes to higher-lofted fairway woods

Stealth 2 9 wood 9woodStealth 2 9 wood 9wood
9-woods make it easier to escape the rough and land the ball softly Ryan Barath

From Adam Scott to Tommy Fleetwood, higher-lofted fairway woods continue to grow in popularity on the PGA Tour with more and more players using 7 and even some 9-woods to navigate longer course setups.

Stealth 2 9 wood 9woodStealth 2 9 wood 9wood
‘This club has changed my game’: Why a 9-wood could be the answer to lower scores
By: Ryan Barath

We generally see a lot of higher-lofted fairway wood testing around the Masters and U.S. Open but they have become more commonplace thanks in large part to firmer greens making it more difficult to stop the ball with longer clubs.

So if you’re a golfer who has trouble with longer approach shots or needs some extra help from the rough, a 7 or 9-wood could be your ticket to lower scores.

There’s nothing wrong with bounce

Justin Thomas US Open wedge
Justin Thomas had multiple wedge options at the U.S. Open this year Ryan Barath

A lot of recreational golfers assume that most professionals can hit such a wide variety of short-game shots thanks in part to their use of very low bounce wedges, when in fact it is the opposite.

Wedges that have more bounce, but also varied geometry (bounce angles around the sole) offer the best of both worlds since players can manipulate the blade without fear of having the club stick into the ground and causing a chunk. Extra bounce also helps from thick rough by preventing the club from getting stuck into the grass and causing shots to miss higher on the face, lose energy, and come up short.

Titleist Vokey SM9 Raw Custom Wedge

For every shot, every lie, every course, there’s a grind fit for your swing. Finding the right grind to match your swing and playing conditions will give you the best turf interaction, contact and shot performance. Master Craftsman Bob Vokey has spent decades crafting, developing and improving his tour proven grinds to fit players of all levels. Anyone can manufacture a wedge, but it takes a master to turn a piece of high-performance technology into an instrument of creative control. Bob’s six tour-proven grinds are designed to offer maximum creativity, versatility and consistency, all meticulously developed through years of working with the best players in the world. PROGRESSIVE CENTER OF GRAVITY SM9 features a progressive center of gravity (CG) throughout the lofts, which optimizes ball flight, accuracy and forgiveness. Using tapered top lines and varied hosel lengths, the Vokey R&D team has raised the height of the CG in the higher lofts, which promotes a lower, more controlled flight. The CG is also forward of the face, resulting in increased MOI, exceptional feel and a club face that simply wants to square up at impact. SPIN MILLED GROOVES SM9’s patented Spin Milled grooves are meticulously engineered through a new cutting process to maximize spin and durability. The process starts by cutting the face perfectly flat with a high-speed saw. Then every groove is individually cut based on loft and finish; low lofts (46°-54°) are designed with narrower, deeper grooves, while higher lofts (56°-62°) have wider, shallower grooves. Micro-grooves are individually cut in between grooves, which maximize spin on partial shots. A proprietary heat treatment is applied to the impact area which doubles the durability of the groove without impacting feel, making it the most durable groove in golf. The process is only complete when every Vokey wedge is 100% inspected for utmost quality and performance.
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So the next time you’re looking at new wedges, don’t just default to the lower bounce options and give something with a bit more bounce a try.

Know your numbers

tiger woods on driving range
Using a launch monitor can help you dial in distances Getty Images

We understand that not everyone has unlimited access to a launch monitor like the pros, but when you do have the chance to use one of these tools, make sure to take advantage of your time.

PGA Tour players work very hard to know exactly how far their clubs go, and when you combine knowing your distances with a better understanding of your variances, you can pick better targets to help hit more greens and also miss in the right places.

Bushnell Tour V6 Shift Laser Rangefinder

Utilizing new and improved electronics, along with our patented, Tour-trusted Slope technology, Tour V6 Shift is the most accurate, consistent and longest ranging Tour series laser Bushnell Golf has ever released. PATENTED, TOUR TRUSTED SLOPE TECHNOLOGY Our Tour-trusted Slope formula gives you the most precise Slope compensated distances and is used and trusted by 99% of PGA Tour pros. SLOPE-SWITCH TECHNOLOGY Conveniently utilize Slope to get compensated distances around the course when you want it, and have a USGA-conforming device that is legal for tournament play when you need it. UNRIVALED PRECISION Utilizing new and improved electronics, the Tour V6 Shift is the most accurate, consistent and longest ranging Tour series laser Bushnell Golf has ever released. IMPROVED PINSEEKER WITH VISUAL JOLT In addition to feeling when you have locked onto the flag, a red ring now flashes as JOLT vibrates to give you even greater feedback and confidence to know you have locked onto the flag. IMPROVED WEATHER RESISTANT DESIGN (IPX6) The most weather resistant (IPX6) Tour series laser Bushnell Golf has ever made. LENGTH: 4.5″ WIDTH: 1.6″ HEIGHT: 3.1″ WEIGHT: 8.7oz WATER RESISTANT: YES, IPX6 DISPLAY: LCD POWER SOURCE: 3-Volt Lithium (CR-2) SLOPE SWITCH YES MAGNIFICATION: 6x OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER: 24mm EXIT PUPIL: 4.0mm EXTRA LONG EYE RELIEF: 16mm RANGE: 5-1,300 yards RANGING ACCURACY: 1 yard FIELD OF VIEW: 330ft@1000 yards FULLY MULTI-COATED: YES
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Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.