The abbreviation “XL” has different meanings within the golf world, depending on the product to which the term is attached. It typically means either “extra long” or “extra large,” depending on whether the product is a ball, club or piece of clothing. Shoppers should be aware that in no case is there an authority overseeing the use of the XL designation. As with any buying decision, consumers should verify a manufacturer’s “extra long” or “extra large” claims prior to purchase.
Top-Flite has been selling a variety of golf balls with the XL designation for about 30 years. In this case, XL stands for “extra long,” which refers to the company’s claim that its products will travel farther than the typical golf ball. Consumers should be aware that certain golf balls will travel farther only when hit by players with high swing speeds. Casual players wishing to purchase XL balls should be sure to select balls that are geared to their swing speeds.
With respect to drivers, XL again stands for “extra long,” and again refers to the distance the driver is supposed to achieve, rather than the club’s length -- although the term may have a double meaning for a 48-inch driver, which is the longest allowed under the Rules of Golf. Manufacturers such as TaylorMade and Cleveland produce drivers with the XL designation. The same caveat given to XL balls applies to XL drivers: The technology that provides the extra distance may only work for some players.
Manufacturers such as Turbo Power and Top-Flite sell sets of clubs with the XL label, in which case the “extra long” description doesn’t really apply. When it comes to wedges and putters, for example, raw distance isn’t an issue. (refs 2-4)
When it comes to clothes, the meaning of XL in golf is no different than at a standard clothing store: XL refers to “extra large” clothing. This applies not only to golf shirts and pants, but to golf shoes, gloves, socks, outerwear and hats. As with non-golf clothing, however, there is no standard for XL golfwear. A tall man may fit comfortably into one manufacturer’s XL golf shirt, while another brand of XL shirt may be too large or too small.
As with complete golf sets, the term XL may be used without any specific meaning as a generic designation for a variety of golf equipment. For example, some golf laser rangefinders carry the XL designation, purported to be accurate for more than 1,000 yards. Because you only need a rangefinder to be accurate for your next shot, that greater distance is meaningless on a golf course.