This was originally published in 2007 but the story remains the same.
“It’s not the gun, it’s the gunner.” Do you believe that?
Judging by our bleeding obsession with clubs I’m guessing not. Square heads, movable weights, boxer hybrid shaping, high modulus stabilization ribs, precision trimmer blades, color-safe bleach…
Somehow thinking about all these options hearkens that scene in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” when the glutton ate that one last “wafer thin mint”. I think if I have to assimilate one more new golf club design concept all that will be left of me is hair, teeth, and hamburger, decoratively spackled on the interior walls of my office.
Of course, we all are compelled to play the clubs tiger uses… or Phil, or Davis. At least that’s what the big club companies want us to be thinking. Why else would they pay out infinite bucks to these guys to brandish their latest iteration of hypedom? Heck, with what the top two tiers of players knock down in club endorsement dough (Tiger being Tier One, a few others filling Tier Two), it makes the payout in the inaugural FedEx Social Security Quest for the Cash look like chump change.
It’s essential to assert that I hold the major golf OEMs in the highest possible regard. Their contribution to the game we love is much more than you likely think. These guys beat their heads against the wall year after year, many struggling to survive the bitter competition. But even if their motives are 100% profit-oriented (I don’t believe it–few in the golf industry are not motivated by a good dose of blind passion for the game), they spend a fortune to promote it. That’s good for golf. Long live the big OEMs.
But, sadly, the OEMs have been sucked into an insidious cyclone. Product cycles have become frighteningly short. The branding competition to capture market mind share drives staggering endorsement expenditures. The essential need to come up with the newest-best miracle “technology” strains R&D budgets. And like Ex-lax and heroin, the more you take the more you need.
Even worse, a foundation of innovation and player-endorsement is a false one. The OEM house is built on enough sand to fill a million church pews.
On the topic of player endorsements, the clubs the pros use–as club guru Tom Wishon pointed out–are no more like the clubs you buy than NASCAR cars are to those in the showroom. And, there is no fundamental logic to the concept of playing the same clubs the pros play. When was the last time you cut a 240 yard 4-iron ten feet off the ground?
On the topic of innovation, do you really think that whatever the designers come up with next year will enable you to hit it straighter and/or longer? Did the clubs you bought this year lower your handicap? We’ll reserve the deeper discussion of this topic for a later installment.
The bottom line is that it IS the GUNNER. But… It also IS the GUN. But it’s NOT the elliptical shapes, the cavities, OR the new blue bleaching crystals.
Today’s lesson: It’s the FIT. And it’s having clubs that FIT THE FIT.