Now on the Tee… Golf Equipment Fandom
Being entrenched in the golfing world for most of my life, as well as being a marketing student, I have always been fascinated with golf companies. As a player, you have to be committed to staying up to date on the latest gear coming out.
Golf clubs are an interesting product because over the last 30 years they have evolved extremely quickly. Woods were given that name for a reason, and the phrase ‘hit it on the screws’ used to be literal.
Today golf clubs are honestly identical in performance, whereas back when metal woods first appeared there was an honest argument revolving around performance vs. heritage as well as the criticism that making clubs that performed too well were ruining the game; making golf too easy, yeah right. The only real differences in clubs now are purely cosmetic. Each brand has their own distinctive look for their drivers, hybrids, irons, wedges, putters.
When looking for a new club or iron set, what you should be looking for is a shape that you like, that feels good when you are hitting balls, and that you feel confident swinging take the BS about how much farther you are apparently going to hit it out of the equation. This is important because the trope of “GAIN 20 YARDS WITH THE NEW TAYLORMADE EPIC SASQUATCH R19” is what companies cling to now and it is for the most part baseless. You will gain distance with the correct shaft in your driver (which is a topic that is far too boring and does not need to be elaborated on at this point), not because of a new technology that a brand magically invented in the last 8 months.
Gimmicky marketing of golf clubs is the bane of my marketing philosophy, but it is probably the most effective method. A casual golfer will care much more about how far they hit the ball, usually totally disregarding the part about where the ball is going: ‘I get that you are upset about your window ma’am, BUT I WAS LIKE 280 OUT I CRUSHED THAT THING’. TaylorMade is the main culprit of this kind of marketing. From what I can tell, this is the strategy for their clubs: Come out with new clubs every 7 or so months, change the color or come up with a new name (R9, R11, R…1?) and come up with something that we changed so that people don’t realize it’s basically the same club, then plaster ads everywhere that these clubs will make you hit the ball LOOOOONG, and profit. This may seem like a harsh and exaggerated synopsis, but let me remind you that TaylorMade actually called a set of woods RocketBallz, and then followed up with RocketBallz Stage 2.
Yes, their clubs are white. Which, depending on who you are asking, is because this makes the player focus more on the target line (???)or because it looks cool.
You might be getting the impression that I am not fond of TaylorMade, that I am very much biased against them. That would be mostly accurate, but it’s mainly because of their obnoxious marketing. It also doesn’t help that their clubs are pretty hideous and the feel of their woods are bland. Alright then, what clubs do you like?
I’m glad you asked. As a player and as a marketing student, what I love in a golf club and company is something is straight to the point, no BS, strictly business. Enter Titleist: “Titleist designs the highest performing equipment and offers the most precise club fitting experience in the game”. That’s from their website. Honestly, what would be more appealing to a golfer: Hit the ball a mile, or hit the ball long and in the fairway? From what I can see, this is Titleist’s strategy for their clubs: Do extensive R&D with our tour players, asking for their opinions and come up with improvements based on such, take time to develop those improvements as well as new technology, come out with a new club whenever necessary. This is most important distinction between the two companies. TaylorMade has new releases on a 7–10 month cycle. Titleist has no set cycle for releases, they once went three years without releases new woods (from the 910 to 913 series) because they basically didn’t feel like it needed an update.
There are also major differences in the appearance of their drivers. Titleist has always kept its classic pear shape, while TaylorMade’s have changed over time, evolving into a graffiti riddled albino metallic object I am totally unbiased, remember? Did I mentioned that all my clubs are Titleist? Yeah there’s that too.
It is evident that I like my clubs to be clean and simple, but with a lot of tech underneath the hood. In the end, deciding what clubs you should use has to come down to the confidence they give you, as that is what will make you hit a club better than any other.
This is just a small taste of what a total lunatic I am about equipment. Trust me, I haven’t even mentioned the messiah of putters Scotty Cameron, holy be thy name. I’ll introduce you to that dystopian universe later.