A Trip to Oz
EIDOLON Golf and I live in a community of 70,000 that is two hours from Houston, Austin and San Antonio, so I don't get regular exposure to what is going on at the golf retail store level. In reality, I don't pay that much attention to what the other companies are doing anyway, as my approach to golf club design is to keep designing and testing new ideas against the products we already make, and when we find something that works better, we continue to refine that. What this company or that is doing . . . what fad seems to be catching on . . . who's signing who to an endorsement contract . . . all are interesting trivia, but really don't factor into our major decisions.
But I was in Austin for meetings all day yesterday, so we killed a piece of downtime with a trip to Golfsmith, just to see what's going on in Oz. I came up with that name for the big box retailer some time back, as they promise to have whatever ails you. Scarecrow needed a brain; this driver (and that one, and that one, and that one . . .) offers a claim of more distance. The Lion wanted a heart; and these irons (and those, those and those) promise more distance. Tin Man wanted courage; and those fairways woods and hybrids promise more distance. Of course all golf balls are sold on that claim. But isn’t it a little crazy that even tees and shoes are sold on that premise . . . or promise?
Yes, a trip to Oz is always interesting. Hundreds of drivers, all pushed right up to the USGA limits on technology, but all claiming to be longer than the other. Dozens of sets of irons, with all kinds of creative design, all claiming to be longer, maybe even more accurate than the competition. And many hundreds of fairways, hybrids, wedges, putters . . . I’m actually thankful that I build all my own stuff in our R&D shop and don’t have to face this when I want to make a club switch.
How do you guys do it?
In fact, as the somewhat cynical “Texas WedgeHog” comes out in me, all those claims are kind of like the Wizard, aren’t they? He wasn’t all he claimed to be (did the term “smoke and mirrors” come from the story/movie?). And whether or not most golf clubs deliver on their promises, it’s the New Year, and manufacturers are rolling out the new models, all of them trying to get your attention and convince you “they” are THE ONE!
So here are a few questions for all you readers and fans. I hope we'll have some fun with this:
1. Will the new white driver catch on or be a fad? And how long will it take before every other company has one?Those are just a few to get the juices flowing and dialog coming. Let’s share our thoughts on Oz this weekend.
Thanks for reading, guys, and I can’t wait to see what all you have to say on these topics.
P.S. We ran a contest last fall asking you to contribute your ideas for a name for our new 2011 product introduction. That is scheduled for Spring, and we’re still deciding on the final direction. I promise to share that first “leak” with you after the PGA Show week after next. Stay tuned . . .
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Sorry we missed you here Terry (live in Austin). I personally do not like the white driver (personal taste). I am more a traditionalist and like the look of a pear-shaped black head on a driver. It just looks better to my eye. I think it will be a fad and there will be a few sold. Look for TM to come out with a "standard" look R11 later (just a prediction). As far as wedges go, again fadish! I like chrome wedges - again maybe traditional. Putters are interesting. Ask Jim Furyk if you need a $300 putter to win $10 M...it's the stroker and not the strokee!!! I am actually taking my first putting lesson/fitting tomorrow with Marius Filmalter. I will report later...
As far as balls go as a walker I find a lot of balls and so I've tried out just about everything out there. I gravitate toward what seems to work best for my game. Also I tend to go for a ball that gives me my desired trajectory rather than for spin, but that's me.
Forgot 2 things:
1. Got my Eidolon wedges - LOVE THEM!
2. Golf balls - MUST be Titleist Pro V1x (when in competition). When practicing, I will play mostly Pro V1x's however sometimes I will just play whatever I find.
its all marketing hype and my bet is a lot of people buy into it and that is what pays the bills at those big names Taylormade, Nike, Callaway.... Most people dont get fitted, dont really know what they are buying (justa guess for the occasional weekend golfer) I bet most go with what looks good reasonably priced and what feels good. I think like you said most clubs are all maxed out tech wise so it is about choice. bottom line the swing is 80% what makes the ball go far and straight the clubs play into that equation at about 20%. I think the White driver will stay around and the different finishes on the wedges as well, people want choice and that is what they are offereing. i like the satin finish wedges myself. Golf balls i go for realtivly cheap but soft enough to get the good feel. I think i am going to start saving for a white R11 they seem so awesome.
I walked the yellow brick road a few years back when I wanted to 'start taking my game more seriously and get better at golf.' I went to a few of the big-name chains and they saw me as dinner like the flying monkey's did Toto...
I quickly learned that if I had enough $$ I could "greatly improve my game" - Then I saw my swing [read: HACK, wood chopper, grave digger, etc]... My best money spent was on lessons - not equipment.
Don't get me wrong I've upgraded my equipment from then. [bought an Eidolon 52deg late this fall and love it!] But a "longer off the tee, hotter driver" just meant I was slicing it farther down the course, until lessons and correct practice helped me correct that.
The white (TaylorMade) is cool looking but I noticed that they dropped the length back under 46"...
I like the Satin or chrome on wedges, but I think the predominate offerings will be cyclical (a couple of companies are putting a splash of color on their wedges lately)...
Rossa Imola putter off the used rack averaging 1.8 putts per hole, cant complain (could practice once in awhile though)...
Been playing Wilson balls for 30yrs so finding new Wilson Staff 50/50's and TX4's last year on eBay for $6 to $10 per dozen is a no brainer (still have about 16dz before I have to find a newer offering from wilson)
Now that I feel like I know my game better, my brain's gotten better. I shop the big chains to test-drive the equipment and then look to other places to purchase it for less. I would rather save my $$ for green fees, my golf game, than overpay for bloated advertising campaigns and execs.
I'll bite on 2, 3 and 4
2 - I like the non-glare of the darker finishes, but it's not a deciding factor
3 - I'm still in the air here on putters - think they are way overpriced but I putt by feel mostly so I don't shop prices, but playability (until I see the prices!)
4. I'll play most anything, except Pinnacles, but really like the feel of ProV's and Callaway iX and iS - I tried the Bridgstones and Nike's in uerathane cover but just didn't feel the same (I'm prety sure it's just me being quirky)
Agree with you there, man. Until I got fitted I didn't feel comfortable over the ball. Lessons helped me a lot (found a great Pro that was really reasonbly priced, lessons wise.)
BTW - I found knetgolf.com (Oob did a quick write up them last year) for buying higher-end golf balls at reasonable prices, they shipped quick and had really good quality, some seemed brand new at less then 1/2 the price. Free plug for them but I was impressed by the service and quality they delivered.
1) Hard to say. I'd liken it to the 2-ball putters. It's about the visual and if there are enough people that like the visual, then it'll stick.
2) All about the visuals. For me, as long as it's not too reflective, it can be any color. I use the Vokey matte finish wedges. I've got a 60* Eidolon and the standard finish on that works fine for me too.
3) I agree with bducharm. Ask Jim Furyk about fancy putters. I've also got a Yes! putter and I can make putts just like guys I see with Scotty Cameron's.
4) I'm generally pretty brand loyal. I've tried Callaways, ProV1's, and some TaylorMades and keep coming back to Bridgestone. I'll play the e-series balls or the 330-RX/RXS. I may test some new ones that are supposedly good but none have been good enough to get me away from the Bridgestones.
Seems like equipment is so good now that all many mfrs can really do is to change the visuals.
Kurt the Knife says:
1) a.yep b.about two weeks
2) a.dunno about turning to the dark side. b.we won't know until we get all the way to the past.
3) a. my putts all cost me the same...a little dignity
4) a. balls. Like most things if you keep the variables to a minimum, observing change becomes easier. And observable change is what I need most days.
I put my money on custom built clubs, whether it be driver, woods or irons. As for shapes, I do prefer a 400 cc driver head, thinking on trying the Titlelist D3 for the head shape more than the adjust tool built in.
As far as wedges go, visually I do like the darker ones, not that much glare.
For the putter, I don’t think too much on that, I’ve bought only two since I took up golf four years ago, went to the store, started trying out several, found one that felt right, hit some more, had good distance control, and bought it.
About balls, I usually use Nike or Bridgestone, why? Cause I bought 3 packs and still have some left :D
1. I don't know if every company will issue a white driver, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some diferent colors. I grew up with persimmon. Black was the exception, not the rule, in those days, and mostly reserved for laminates. Why does every modern driver have to be black? The thing that will hurt the white driver is that the first guy in every group who brings one out will suffer from merciless teasing from his buds, and he'll be back to the black one the very next week.
2. I think the reason for the black finishes is the same reason for all the white grips. They look bad quicker and thus get replaced sooner than black grips or more durable looking finishes. I've never been a fan of high polished chrome, much preferring the satin variety.
3. The only reason $250+ putters exist is because there are a lot of guys who like to have something to show off to their buds. The only problem is it looks pretty stupid when it turns out you can three jack with that one too. I can roll the ball just as well, or poorly, with a $2 Cash-In from Goodwill as I can with anything else. Most of the golf I play is on overwatered greens tracked up by turf shoes with plastic spikes. A waffle iron would be smoother, and anything outside a foot that goes in is pure luck. But the floor in the men's room does hold up better than it did with metal spikes.
4. I play what I find, and I find plenty of $4 golf balls. It was amazing how many of those I found in the leaves this fall. The modern $20/dozen ball is a remarkable thing that is perfectly serviceable for the vast majority, but the ball companies have done a good job selling the consumer on the idea that if you aren't paying $50 a dozen, you aren't trying.
2. I agree with previous posters, dark finished last longer. I really lue the gun-metal look.
3. A putter that works for you is priceless, no mater if it cost you 30 or 300. To get a putter to work for you you need to spend countless hours practicing... not countless dollars purchasing.
4. Try several and always return to the ProV1x.
*Lue = like
Great piece. There have been white drivers on the market before and they did not take. But who knows, white belts sure made it!
Matt F says:
1. Will the new white driver catch on or be a fad? And how long will it take before every other company has one?
It will be around for one or two companies for a while. The rest may give it a go, then revert back to black.
2. The wedge rack is going dark – a variety of black or dark finishes, and chrome is getting pushed out. Is that because you demand it, or that they can offer it? Is classic satin or polished chrome a thing of the past?
Not demand, they are trying to make the trend go that way. There will always be a call for satin and chrome. (My choice)
3. The putter rack is going more and more “tech-y” it seems. Do more putts go in if you spend $250-400? Or not?
No they don't. Can't fathom why I'd want to spend $250+ on a Method or Cameron when my 5 year old $120 Yes! Tracey get's it done time after time....must be a bragging thing.
Matt F says:
4. How do you sort through the golf ball maze? Do you experiment with new models often, or are you loyal to one and not prone to drift?
Play around a little bit, but as with aaronm04, keep coming back to the Bridgestone E5. Soft feel, good spin and distance. #1 ball in golf is because they paid to be. The true #1 ball for you, is the one WORKS FOR YOU not what everyone else thinks you should work for you. Regardless of if it costs $20 for 15 or $55 a dozen.
Travelling Golfer says:
My irons are at least 11 years old, so I don't buy into the marketing machine every year ... but I do regrip EVER year and sometimes twice.
I play Titleist X-Outs because they're inexpensive and perform better than just about anything else for me.
I like chrome on my muscle cars and my wedges ;-)
I putt with an old, old, old putter ... Moses stumbled on it as he came down off Mt. Sinai.
The only new technology I have is Nike's Str8-Fit driver and 3-wood, just because I need the 2 degree flat setting.
Haven't been in a *major* golf retailer in many years and I don't subscribe to any golf mags. Too much conflicting advice and too many ads for stuff that I don't want or need.
Oh, by the way, I play to a low single digit handicap in spite of these limitations ;-)
Bryan K says:
1. Don't know and don't care. It's all about function to me. I'd use a pink driver if it felt good when swingning it.
2. I prefer a matte finish on my wedges because of glare. Nothing is worse than addressing the ball and not being able to look at the ball because the glare off the top of the club is too bright. I actually used sandpaper to evenly scuff the top of the wedges I currently use because of this.
3. What I really need is a putter that gets me more distance. Ha! Seriously, though, the most important aspects of a putter to me are a) how easy is it to line up and b) does the loft allow the ball to roll smoothly after contact. I use an Odyssey White Steel 2-Ball Putter because it was cheap (under $100), easy to line up, and rolled true.
Bryan K says:
4. Until recently, golf balls have been all about price. Then I shot a full round with a ProV, and I realized that equipment does make a difference. It was, by far, my best round ever. And I only lost one ball (on the last hole). Now, I've realized that I need something with a little bit more bite. I really started comparing balls at the end of the year last year, and I know that I won't be using any that roll clear across the green any more. There is a Callaway ball I'm looking at switching to next year that sells for a decent price new, but it's not common enough to be found in bulk quantities by the recycling companies.
Putters and Drivers for me.
After changing drivers recently, I found that I was hitting a lot further and that made it easier for GIR.
Then a new putter helped to drop a shot or 2 per round.
From a 16 down to an 8 - gotta say the new tech works for me ;-)
I don't buy in to the hype. I play what works for my game. It's a mixed bag so to speak. Cobra driver, or sometimes my Louisville Fairway Finder Persimmon driver. Louisville Niblick 3W, Stan Thompson Ginty 5W, (these two clubs I hit the best). Louisville Persimmon Blades 3i to PW (Love these irons!), Eidolon 51* & 56* wedges. Scotty Cameron classic blade putter that resembles the old Acushnet blade putter. And I switched to Srixon (cliche, I know) last year after realizing Pro V1 and Pro V1x are no good for my accuracy.
I did learn something yesterday, however, after about a four month lull from golf. Been waiting for tendinitis to heal in my left elbow, well it finally did. Before the injury I tried to kill the ball each shot. So I took Terry's advice about hitting low trajectory wedge shots, i.e.: a lighter grip, and swing with the body, hitting through the ball not at it. I lost some distance with my irons, but gained accuracy. Played 27 holes, and shot 46 48 48. I would normally struggle to shoot under 100, but it felt so good, so right yesterday, I know what to do from now on.
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