The Search For The Magic Wand
By joe jones on 9/13/12
Joseph Jones is well on his way to becoming a regular contributor on oob, and for that, we applaud him! Here is his latest submission. If you missed his previous submissions, you can read them here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Golfers are always on the lookout for the newest technical advances in equipment in the hope that they can improve the way they play the game. Whether it is the latest driver that will help them regain the distance they have lost or a new putter that promises to make every putt they will try anything. It might be the new ball that promises more or less spin and greater distance that will make them continue to seek what I call The Magic Wand.

While it is true that technical advances have become more available in recent years it is unfortunately also true that most of these advances will be of little benefit to the weekend golfer. They will mostly help the golf pro or low digit player that can generate the club head speeds required to do the job.

The average weekend golfer has a swing speed of between 85 to 95 MPH. Senior golfers have even slower swing speeds. Compare that to some of the shorter hitters on the tour that generate 125 to 135 MPH and you can see the logic of my argument.

I admit that I have not been immune to the lure of new equipment. I have been known to look for the Holy Grail just like everyone else. My problem is the cost of new equipment. It's just too darn expensive.

A recent article in Golf Digest listed the actual manufacturing cost for equipment.

Premium Driver: $400
  • Club Head: $55

  • Graphite Shaft: $15

  • Grip: $3

  • Labor: $4

  • Total Cost: $77 Per Club

Premium Iron: $125
  • Club Head $7

  • Steel Shaft: $3.50

  • Grip: $3

  • Labor $4

  • Total Cost: $17.50 Per Club

Premium Putter: $200
  • Club Head: $15

  • Steel Shaft: $3.50

  • Grip: $3

  • Labor: $4

  • Total Cost: $25.50 Per Club Balls

Premium Golf: $45
  • Total Material Cost: $4.26 Per Dozen

So why does equipment cost so much?

Research and development, advertising and player endorsements must make up a lot because as a group golf equipment companies don't have a stellar financial record. Most are just hanging on. Wall street leaves them alone most of the time. If a cell phone or computer reaches the market the financial industry goes nuts. Not so with the golf industry when they debut a new wonder club.

Of course there are alternative ways to get your hands on good premium equipment. We are blessed with many used equipment shops that offer deals on just about every brand known. The internet sites like E Bay have good deals if you don't mind playing the bidding game. Estate sales and garage sales often offer good deals especially if the golfer in the family is gone or no longer able to play. The remaining spouse may not be aware of the true value of the equipment and are often willing to bargain.

Last but certainly not least many component companies offer clone equipment that may not exactly duplicate the OEM equipment but they are close enough to fool a lot of people. Some people have an aversion to playing with clones but if you have the ability to put the sets together or have a friend that can do it for you the price benefits are huge. For folks on a limited budget it is a good alternative. The secret of club building is being able to fit the person to the correct club configuration. The shaft is the most important part of any club. It is the one component that you should spend a little more on.


This was written by Joseph Jones, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!


Image via Flickr, TheDillmiester


[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
Dont forget the cost of maintaining the equipment and paying the workers that do all this. For every golf ball machine that pounds out 100000 balls, there's a small army of people to maintain and run it, not to mention the initial cost of the machine and the interest it produces. I'd be interested to see the full cost sheet associated with manufacturing a golf ball or a golf club. The machines are precision. I thought of making myself a putter a number of times. when i realized that it would be about as expensive when all is said and done as buying a new putter, i decided to buy one. Cost of materials, time to work the design and cast/forge it. Just didn't add up for me. I'm still amazed the companies can do it at such a low cost.
9/13/12
 
Bryan K says:
To be fair, it did say that this was total manufacturing cost. Now as someone with a degree in business, I assume that this means all of the actual resources that went into production including equipment and labor. Of course, I could be wrong. And since we don't know for certain, I think the numbers are kind of worthless.
9/13/12
 
bobhooe says:
if you buy the best you can take that part of the game out of the equation and have no one left to blame but yourself
9/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
@BK, i have a hard time believing that $4 Labor includes all that? I suppose it could, considering how many units they pump out daily. i'm sure it exists somewhere.
9/13/12
 
joe jones says:
As a manufacturers rep I have done business with both ball and club manufacturing plants in the past. We did maintenance repair, welding and machining that helped them keep the plants operating. I can't tell you how many hours I spent at the Acushnet (Titlest) plant in suburban Chicago. The article didn't give a complete breakdown on the $4.26 cost for a DOZEN golf ball but I can assure you it didn't involve enough cost to purchase the machinery and operating costs to justify the $45 DOZEN retail cost. I think the number of PGA pro's and the sponsorship deals make up the larger portion of the difference. Personally, I would rather buy without the middle man.
9/13/12
 
joe jones says:
Just as an aside. I read in the wall street journal that Acushnet estimated that 1.6 million balls were lost every year. Knowing my penchant for hawking balls, my wife said I probably found about 1 million of them . If that were only true. Most of the balls I found seem to be Top Flights. Oh well!
9/13/12
 
mmontisano says:
i think the breakthroughs with hybrids, 460cc drivers, rubber core balls and super game improvement irons have helped the average golfer tremendously. the average handicap hasn't gone down because we're playing completely different courses now than they did even 15 years ago. courses now are bigger, brawnier, faster and just plain harder.

and the average swing speed on tour is more around 115. Bubba is leading the field with a 124.55.
www.pgatour.com/r/stats/info/?02401

the costs above are only factoring in Acushnet's costs. they have to make it, store it, ship it and market it. then it goes to, say Golfsmith, who also has to store it, ship it and market it. it all adds up quickly.
9/13/12
 
Bryan K says:
Chris: I think a lot of golf equipment is manufactured in China these days, so the $4 labor per club cost doesn't surprise me all that much. What I don't think is included is the money that is paid to the executives who run the company and the travelling (etc) that they do. And, as has been mentioned, I'm not certain that R&D, endorsements, and advertising are figured into those costs either.
9/13/12
 
Bryan K says:
Another very important thing to point out is that having the best equipment is irrelevant if it's not the right equipment for an individual's game.
9/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
@ BK - good call there on both counts
9/14/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
Joe frankly I was shocked at your recommending that people buy counterfeit clubs. On second thought who cares, those guys are assholes. Serves them right for getting into bed with cheap unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers. In general our love affair with cheap Chinese manufacturing is eroding the whole economy. Personally I prefer the eBay route. Most of the clubs I use I bought there. If you know specifically what you're looking for, there's no other place to buy IMO. Anyways I've said it before I'll say it again, long as you have clubs that fit you, you are more or less good to go. You want to improve your golf game, don't look at your clubs, look in the mirror!
9/14/12
 
joe jones says:
Beef. I didn,t recommend counterfeit clubs I just offered them as a reasonably priced alternative to the high priced brands. My point was to show the unbelievable mark up in equipment market.There is a large population of the golfing market (especially seniors) that can't afford top shelf booze and have to buy the cheap stuff. Clubs are the same way. If you can't afford to play top notch golf courses do you give up golf or play some cheaper tracks.? You yourself have described how Dyker Beach is no longer well maintained. Have you given up golf or have you found a comparable less costly place to play.
9/14/12
 
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