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Adams: Straight answers about equipment costs

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While reading comments from previous articles, the cost of equipment was often mentioned as a reason folks were not enamored with the game. The “$400” driver came up several times. Before I get into more depth I’d like to issue a disclaimer, or maybe it’s a claimer, not sure. I spent 30 very hands-on years in the golf equipment business; no golf balls, just drivers through wedges. I don’t want anyone to think that because I’m no longer involved I’m going to take pot shots as some kind of ego fulfillment. Yet, there will be some candid comments – it would be disingenuous to approach the subject any differently.

Back in 1998, the USGA instituted the Spring Effect rule and was joined by the R&A in 2002. There are web sites galore that dissect these specifications in great detail.

Here’s what they (the USGA and R&A) mean; as the ruling body for golf equipment, we don’t want the ball to go any farther, period. This means if I woke up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea to increase driver distance and IT MET EVERY DETAIL OF THE RULES, by the time the club was submitted (and they all must be to become labeled conforming) the rules would be changed and the driver would not pass.

Yet virtually all the equipment ads promise, or imply more distance. Why you ask? Distance sells equipment to the 1-9+ handicappers, all else follows. Maybe not the elite player, but as a market percentage they fit in a closet, the ones who don’t already get free stuff. So are the companies lying in their ads? The answer is no (well, sort of).

Since sometime after 2005 or so, the major companies were maxed out on distance, defined as a good hit going down the fairway. It doesn’t mean that for your particular swing you can’t find something that will be a bit easier to hit, or even pick up a little distance. One of the great boons to club makers is that we are not machines, our swings are like fingerprints, our very own. I’m not trying to be political here, this is the club market I’ve known for many years. But compared to real technology like, for example cell phones, golf clubs are static and that’s just the way the USGA and R&A want it.

That also doesn’t mean there isn’t a psychological effect from having the newest and latest, but go back to the USGA and R&A. They are paranoid about the subject to the point where they glare at current golf balls.

“Ah Ha!” say the serious club junkies. “I’ve told you this all along. Get an old model driver head you like and invest in a high tech (expensive) shaft.” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is some clarity needed.

The shaft by itself produces no extra distance. Its job is to join your hands to the club head and allow you to deliver the club head to the ball as efficiently as possible. At the moment of impact, there is no shaft. Imagine you are standing in the middle of a freeway and a semi-truck hits you going 100 mph. At the moment of collision, it’s aerial is insignificant.

Furthermore, there is no research that shows expensive graphite shafts perform any better than less expensive models. While I’m at it, “puring” has no effect on ball flight, and using a frequency analyzer to determine graphite shaft stiffness is not applicable.

It works like this – when you put a shaft into a frequency analyzer it is clamped on the butt end. You then flex the shaft and the speed it vibrates is read out at the tip end in cycles per minute, which in turn is translatable into stiffness. Because the reading is at the tip end, the reaction is to think of the stiffness in this area as what we feel as golfers. However, what the analyzer really does is tell us how many times the shaft vibrates around the point where it is clamped. To be accurate, the shaft material must be isotropic, which means essentially that the measurement in that one particular spot is applicable over the length of the shaft. Steel is homogeneous and works fine, graphite by design does not. You can measure the relative stiffness in a graphite shaft but not on an analyzer.

Graphite shafts have a spine (technically so does steel but it’s microscopic) when they are in the analyzer, and if the spine is off-center, they wobble all over the place. By orienting them along the spine you can decrease the wobble until they vibrate much like steel. This process is called spine alignment; since graphite shafts will have multiple spines, there is another procedure called “puring,” which is much more precise with the goal of getting shafts consistent within a set. You can go on YouTube and watch videos.

My point: we tested this thoroughly and came to the conclusion that, while very dramatic on gauges, we could find no correlation to ball flight or feel. Many touring professionals have their shafts pured – it falls under the category of “why not.” So before the “puring purists” get up in arms I’ll reiterate; we were a small company looking for anything that allowed us to produce superior product. We tested thoroughly and found no measurable effect with ball flight or feel.

What about buying a set of clubs. Today’s market is full of current 3-or-4-year-old products that are on some kind of special and perform at the highest level of technology. Compare the prices of this inventory to the “good old days” (I was there), then factor in the consumer price index and they are a relatively good deal. Not cheap, the product is too complex for cheap but relative to past years, not expensive.

Golf balls are expensive. I hate losing one.

I’ve run this test several times, hoping for a breakthrough; I help a small retailer with equipment ideas, and in turn I get paid in golf balls. I have access to a course where I can find an empty fairway in the evenings with no one passing through. I hit drives and mark where my best ones end up. Over the years, I’ve used multiple brands, multiple compressions, multiple everything to find that extra 10 yards off the tee. At my best effort with mid-high 80 mph swing speed, the differences among all the models is negligible and I sure don’t need the top of the line.

One last item when it comes to investing in clubs; unless you are a very accomplished player, you don’t need 14 clubs. In fact, I’d take bets on the plus side of those who would play better with less clubs. They would learn more about the golf “swing” rather than a full out “hit.”

Some of this may be a bit unsettling, especially to the serious equipment types; I do read the comments!

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at barneyadams9@gmail.com Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

307 Comments

307 Comments

  1. Scientific Golfer

    Jan 7, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Barney…. how could Bobby Jones et al hit a golf ball with spaghetti flex hickory shafted clubs? Did they only have 75 mph clubhead speeds and 220 yard max drives?

    Perhaps maximum ‘feel’ can only be achieved with soft flex shafts whip snapping the clubhead at the ball…. and the Ping X-flex shafts can only shovel at the ball!

  2. leftright

    Nov 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Why get fit? Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazan never got fit. Did Jack Nicklaus get fit in 1960 or Arnold in 1957. Take the club and hit off astro turf. It will immediately tell you whether it’s too flat or too upright. Take it to Mr Pickles (sorry, he has been dead for 40 years but could take and and bend the club to you on his antiquated machine and perfect divots everytime….for “good” players. For guy who an’t bust an egg, it makes no difference what they play as long as it’s a reasonable golf club. If I took a Nike PD soft back 25 years every player on the tour would play it, not because it is longer but because the performance would last 18 holes and they may hit is a bit further. It spins as good as a Titleist pro 100, I know, I have compared them and the pro ball was 10 yard shorter. No appreciable distance gains with SS over forged. It’s all longer clubs (big mistake for most guys) and delofted clubs. I had 3 shafts to choose from in 1980, Dynamic R, S or X and everyone played just fine. Like the Federal govt and industry everything is about choice and how much more can I do for you and money is the fulcrum. I see all of this righting itself in the future and I sure hope the govt is affected also. People are getting wise to all these gimmicks and scams and everyone is going to suffer. I hit my 13 Tour spoon TM the other day. I can still fly it out with the Ping 3 wood I have when I strike it solid, herein lies the difference, clubs are easier to hit and more forgiving but not longer when you strike the middle. I’ve probably bought my last expensive golf club for the rest of my life not unless Uncle Sam get’s out of my pocket.

  3. Callaway X Hot

    Nov 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Thanks for your candid opinions on the state of golf equipment. I can only imagine how the oem’s feel about these opinions. It’s like pulling the curtain back on the great and powerful Oz.

  4. Designs Clubs

    Oct 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Maybe this was mentioned by some other comment, but I didn’t read them all. Your implications about new equipment not providing more distance is misleading.

    New materials/designs/technologies make it possible for designers to:

    1. Design clubs with adjustable loft/lie and CG/MOI. As you stated, every golfer has a different swing. Having the ability to adjust these variables to the optimum setting for each particular swing, can and will maximize distance – particularly if you get fit properly to find you optimum launch conditions.

    2. In the case of a driver, maintain USGA CT limit, but, increase the size of the “sweet spot”. This is achieved with extensive design studies and FEA analysis. And admittedly, this makes a very small differnce in the player’s overall average distance, but it is worth noting.

    • Justin

      Dec 26, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      No, the “sweet spot” is a point inside the head where all the balance points intersect. It can’t be made bigger or smaller. As Wishon says “it just is”.

  5. Waqar

    Oct 16, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Why use cell phones? The analog fixed phones did do and still do the job. Why buy a modern car with all the gadgets for safety and pleasure? A model T in good condition will still haul us around? We are a consumer based society, and we all desire to have the best of everything within our means or sometimes even beyond our means. We buy new equipment as it is released, the manufactures make profit and reinvest some of it into R&D and develop even better equipment. It employes a lot of people mainly in China. The equipment is made with precious minerals like titanium, carbon, boron, and others. Imagine how much titanium can be recovered if all the wood heads in the beaten up clubs baskets. Enough to make a few rockets I am sure. The manufacturers should be pushed to recycle, golf can be made truly green.

    What I find very upsetting is every new club from a specific manufacturer is the same price. $399 for a driver for example. How do they determine the price? I am sure there is no specific system. It is not driven by cost, which I am certain about. Add a tour spec shaft and increase the price by exactly $100. No other industry follows this kind of pricing system. It just shows these guys are making big margins.

    • Justin

      Dec 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Think of it this way:

      Last year’s MyPhone 22 had a dual-core processor with 512MB of internal RAM. The next year, the MyPhone 23 has a quad-core processor with 1GB of internal RAM. Same model line, but very different- yet appreciable- guts.

      Juxtapose that with a driver head. Last year’s Big Baddie had a cup-face made of titanium, lightweight crown, 460cc/.83COR/5500MOI, in 9, 10 and 12 degrees of loft. This year’s Big Baddie has a cup-face made of Ti, lightweight crown, 460cc/.83COR/5500MOI, in 9, 10 and 12 degrees of loft. The paint scheme’s different, though!

      There’s much more room for real, honest improvements inside a cell phone than there is inside a driver. Unless someone comes along and caps all cell phones…

  6. Big-Dog

    Oct 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Every amateur needs 14 of the best that money cab buy clubs in his bag. That way there will never be a shortage of stock at Play it again, or eBay. All of my bag came from the bargain barrel and proud of it!.

    Thanks Mr. A.

  7. tom mcauliffe

    Oct 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

    as a small, green grass golf equipment retailer who has always considered his relationships with sales representatives as a ‘partnership’, I’m beginning to wonder if I need to downsize to Laddies and so-lo’s, tees, and gloves along with logo hats and shirts.

  8. Pingback: How Much Should I Spend To Have a "Good" Set of Clubs? - Green Lantern Golf

  9. Mad-Mex

    Oct 5, 2014 at 1:42 am

    I believe that for 90% of us would befit more by spending $200 on lessons instead of a new shaft which will reduce your spin 200 rpms (I have read many say this, “The Boombastix nimrod X283 reduced my rpms by 200 and gained 3 mph club head speed)

    We would also benefit more from spending a third of the price of a new set of irons on getting fit by a pro than asking people on a website and spending another third to get them fixd.

    • bradford

      Nov 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

      I know my spin, bra. I carry EVERY drive exactly 289.7 yards with a 1.478 smash factor. My spin rate is 2804.1. No error, ever. That shaft wasn’t optimized for me, bra. But by writing “Tour” or Limited, that’ll fix it. Tour prefe$$ed, bra.

  10. Me Yow

    Oct 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I can appreciate the “fresh approach” in the article taking a risk on such a heavily gear-aroused website. I agree that we all could shoot lower with 6 or 8 clubs than a bag of 8. I have a friend with an “old” set of clubs, like circa 1991 metal head woods old. I absolutely butter-stroke his driver (1991 13 degree big bertha) straight down the fairway every time. I probably gain 20 yards with my new driver, but I’m at least 40 yards more spread…and I’m a low handicap. Anyways, find some clubs on ebay and go hit the ball – have fun. This sport is no different than any other G.A.S. market (like cameras), it’s doesn’t take the pro stuff to shoot pro stuff.

  11. pugster

    Sep 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    The article really did not address equipment cost, in my opinion.

    Can someone correct me with the point of the article?

    Anyway, I went into Macys Department store and a top of the line bath towel cost between $15 and $20. I then went into Golfsmith and a “much” less quality towel, and smaller I might add, with the word “Titleist” on it was $25.

    A Nike or Under Armour golf shoe was well over $100. Similar item at Dicks, under $90.

    • pugster

      Sep 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      Correction, Sorry.

      The Nike and Under Armour shoes were golf shoes, the shoes at Dicks were regular non-golf shoes.

  12. Mad-Mex

    Sep 25, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Once again, GET YOUR CLUBS FIT! I once “knew” I needed “stiff” shafts, was fitted to regular,1 degree upright (vs 3 upright “I knew” I needed) and what do you know? average 5 strokes less after 6 months,,,

  13. Walter

    Sep 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Barney,

    With all the talk about getting no real improvement with the new equipment and people saying just to buy used equipment, what is the typical life span for the face of a driver/wood or for the shaft. Does the spring effect lose it’s effectiveness over time? Does the shaft lose it’s stiffness over time or it ability to spring back?

    Thanks,

  14. Mike

    Sep 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you Mr. Adams (Barney) for sharing the experiences of an entire CAREER in the club making industry. I was sorry to see Adams get gobbled up. There are a lot of posted comments, so it must be nice to see so that so many have read your article (some more closely then others).

    I have only been playing golf for 14 years, taking the game up in my early 40’s. I fell victim to the arrows marketing campaigns early on, but have gotten a little wiser with time. So I’d like to share a few comments based on my own experiences that align well with your points.

    First, my first couple of sets of clubs were “2nd hand”. The first set were Pings. The second were MacGregor’s. The third was a set I built mostly for myself from components. The problem with all of these sets was that one of the clubs didn’t match it’s brethren. In the Pings, it was the 4-iron. In the MacGregor’s, it was the 6 iron. Oddly enough, in the set I built on my own, it was also the 6 iron. So while I agree, in principal, that the arrows don’t matter, sometimes they do. I recently spent a small fortune on a new set of custom fit Mizuno’s. They all match. They’re wonderful. You hit them in the middle of the clubface and it feels like butter. Each of them goes the distance I expect them to, off the same lie. If I were a better golfer, I could have used my 5 or 7 to cover for my bad 6 irons. I’m not a good enough golfer. Buy new, for no other reason then to have someone to address the bad club issue.

    Second, I almost agree with you on the golf ball comment. On a windless day, I think a 4-piece ball is a 4-piece ball, a 3-piece ball is a 3-piece ball,and so on and so on. But when you’re hitting into a 3-club breeze, there REALLY is a difference between brands. I like the Calloway aerodynamics, but not their price. So I buy them “experienced”, for half price (or less). Then I try, really hard, not to loose them. 🙂

    Third, you nailed the shaft comment on the head. There is a right shaft for everyone. It’s not the same shaft, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but there is a right one. That’s where the professional club fitters come into play. They can help you find the right shaft, for you.

    Fourth, in my own defense, I do still purchase new wedges every few years. The sand is hard on the grooves, and I tend to practice my short game much more then anything else. So they do wear out, sort of, and I really like being able to spin a ball back for the first couple of months that they’re still “new”. It’s just cool. But I heard that when Sam Snead died, they went into the shed he had on his driving range and found a bunch of old iron sets. Each clubface had a spot, about the size of a dime, worn perfectly smooth…right in the center of the face. I have played with a gentleman who has a similar dime-size spot on his clubs, and he’s good enough to play on tour occasionally. Now I don’t have a dime-size spot on anything, unless it’s a mustard stain, but I’ve vowed NOT to replace my irons until I’ve worn a dime-size spot on each of them.

    Finally, I am fortunate to be able to play as much golf as I do, and to have access to a truly top rate practice facility. I try to use it 2-3 days per week, and look forward to increasing that once I retire. That said, what has made the absolute biggest difference to my scores (and that’s what this silly game is really all about) has not been the $K that I’ve spent on equipment. It’s the 20% of what I’ve spent on equipment that I’ve spent on lessons. Lessons from a truly great teacher, and enough practice to take what he teaches onto the course. Do I slip backwards? Yes Does he have to tell me the same stuff, repeatedly, over the course of a few years? Yes Has he ever told me I need new gear? Not yet.

    Think how much healthier the golf industry (not the golf equipment industry) would be if everyone spent 20% of their annual club budget on lessons, and practiced just 2 hours per week. I suspect the game would get much easier for them, and because they’d find more fairways, take less time. Maybe one of the big equipment guys will figure out that a free lesson or two is worth a lot more to them in the long term than their 40% off year-end clearance sales are to their short term.

    • Tom

      Oct 24, 2014 at 7:48 am

      There is a right shaft for everyone! – I absolutely agree. I have experimented with different shafts over the past 25 years with different levels of success. One of the most expensive shafts I put into a Ping 1 iron was truly awful for me! I put some True Temper EI70 shafts into some fairway woods which really worked for me, particularly the longer than standard shaft on a Taylor Made 4 wood with the wind behind on links courses. I bought new clubs which were OK until I took the ‘old green’ shafts out of the old fairway metals and put them in the new clubs; what a surprise they were the true difference!

  15. BellyWedge

    Sep 9, 2014 at 1:55 am

    First square-grooved club I owned was a 1992 adams pitching wedge.

  16. J

    Sep 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    When’s the next installment?? I look forward to these articles for the writing, and also for the post responses!

  17. joselo

    Sep 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    my first set was a ‘tight lies’, i thought it was great, loved the fairway woods

  18. MidHandy

    Sep 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Unless you have extra money or have the disease ‘I must have the latest and the greatest’ , is it really necessary to buy the high dollar clubs?
    I think if you stick with name brands (they all have good offerings), and get clubs that fit your game , with shafts that fit your swing speed, and not spend beyond your means, then go out and have fun! I currently have 3 sets of ‘used’ clubs that I still use depending on how well I’m striking the ball : X20’s, MX 300’s, and ’07 cally forged . Do I still get tempted to buy new? Hell yes…but the reality is I don’t think my scores would be affected much at all. Its all about the short game anyways for mid ‘cappers like me.

    • MidHandy

      Sep 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Oh and bytheway, when I’m collecting on bets from my buddies who have the ‘latest’ and ‘longest’ equipment..it makes it so much more enjoyable.

  19. badback

    Aug 31, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Great article. It adds support to my own observations with the game and equipment. Because of back problems I left the game for 15 years. I got back into it slowly last year using my old stuff. Played ok considering the long layoff. I “invested” in new equipment this year buying new everything except the putter. There were two takeaways I got from the first several trips to the range. Although I prefer the feel of the new equipment, irons in particular, I hit them no further than the old. New driver, 3 wood, all the irons are within a very few yards of the old clubs. The other is forgiveness on the mis-hits. The new clubs are more forgiving, no question in my mind. But, if you put a bad swing on the club it isn’t going to by some magic turn that pull hook back into the middle of the fairway 275 yards out. A bad swing is a bad swing. I played with a guy this week who had his new TM driver out for the first time. I never saw anyone swing so bad in my life and he was blaming the shaft, the grip, maybe it’s the glove… The guys out on tour today can bomb it out there, no doubt about it. But look at the stats over the past 10 years. Average driving distance hasn’t changed very much and I submit that the tour players today are much more athletic than those of decades past. Golfers need to focus more on technique than the equipment. I have a coworker who buys new clubs nearly every year but never makes a trip to the range to practice. Monday mornings all I hear about is how he doesn’t like new driver and the course sucked. Too bad.

  20. Larry

    Aug 28, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I think Ping should re-tool and make brand new I-2 irons again, all the new stuff is just a case of trying to improve on what was and still is the best game improvement Irons ever made. And bring back the grips with the lines in them, they made holding on to the club so much better then todays “Danty” grips.

    • Ed

      Oct 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

      Amen to the comments about the classic Ping Eye 2. However, for pure esthetics (sorry about the spelling)let’s put a plastic ferrule on them.
      Also, let’s retool with the “Plus” model. Having played both I find the
      Plus model a better feeling club.

  21. tiger168

    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Awesome article.

    Awesome becuase it is simple with clearity.

    we all knew the golf industry is driven by some kind of marketing machine; never on the real technology and actual engineering hypothesis or theory that turn historical results.

    However, the quality of the club sure can be improved on it’s consistancy and lasting effect of certain materials. Even the shape has gone retor, looking at the new Nike reminded me of certain smal Monetrey, Ca iron outfit. And the JPX825s looks like early Pings.

    Rarely the golf industry speak with candiness, how refreshing this is.

    The M&A killed many good golf companies, there is no shame to stay small. The social media is made for small companies and real and passioned golfers. The golf robot is over rated. Golf fitting is a joke. Pick up your clubs and bals and head to the range to get real results and pick the right one yourself. Then reward yourself with a cold beer under the sunset.

  22. Carl Paul

    Aug 25, 2014 at 10:37 am

    “This means if I woke up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea to increase driver distance and IT MET EVERY DETAIL OF THE RULES, by the time the club was submitted (and they all must be to become labeled conforming) the rules would be changed and the driver would not pass.”
    That’s not correct. The way the rules are already written your great idea would be nonconforming simply because it violates the initial velocity standard or overall distance standard.

    • Joe

      Aug 26, 2014 at 1:04 am

      First, he already said that his “great new idea” would conform to every existing rule, so you misunderstood that. Second, you missed his point entirely. He was saying that the usga/r&a are so protective of driver distance that even though his “great idea” conformed, they would change the rules before it could be labeled conforming. Which they have already proven they will do when they deem it necessary.

  23. Sherwood

    Aug 23, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for a very interesting and informative article Barney. (I also find many of the comments quite amusing). Before I took up golf I was a lifelong, avid fisherman and tournament fished for over ten years. EVERY YEAR as far back as I can remember the fishing equipment industry introduced new equipment that was GUARANTEED to catch more fish and bigger fish. While there were “some” products that did improved, by and large it was all marketing. Being young and slow witted, it took me a few year to recognize the trend and apparently I’m not the only one who was/is afflicted with this mental process. I also played pool at a fairly high level and played in a number of tournaments in Vegas. What I’ve found through all this is (a) there are people who will out fish you with a ball of yarn and a safety pin, and there are people who can break and run out on you with a broom handle. To hear some tell it, it’s as if those blessed spatial recognition, coordination and god given talent, account for less than equipment, while the truth is it’s person screwed to the end of the instrument that makes most of the difference and I’ve known many people who just never got any better after a certain point. I started with Adams clubs and only changed to Ping because of their great work with disabled veterans. I do however still use my Adams 7 iron because I had my first (and only) hole in one with it. God bless ya for all you have.

    • Donal

      Sep 10, 2014 at 4:44 am

      And God bless you as well for opening my eyes play well

  24. Everett

    Aug 22, 2014 at 12:41 am

    I opened the article thinking you were going to expose the actual cost to manufacture clubs and procure the materials to make them. Then explain where the cheap clubs cut corners, compared to mid pack clubs that have cavity backs, to full on blades and how much each category costs a given mfg to create them.

    I’d heard about the rules governing drivers and clubs. Makes sense, keep the playing field fair, or else when Ping comes out with some revolutionary patented stuff, every guy on the tour will HAVE to have it. Otherwise things will go awry REAL fast.

    Which begs the question, besides honing in on swing consistency, why don’t they really hone in their technology to improve ACCURACY? I have been playing golf for a while now and originally had a $50 MacGregor driver I got on closeout. As I kept slicing the crap out of it, I picked up the Titleist 913D2, since it would allow me to tune the angle of attack at impact, thus “assisting” my slice a noticeable amount. It actually works, a little. But I would have to believe there is the capability beyond a swing to really change the drivers so that the face has more predictable contract, translating to higher accuracy. I probably hit about 40-50% of fairways, but was shocked to see pro’s only hit around 65% of fairways.

    Accuracy, why aren’t club makers focusing on that?

    • Joe

      Aug 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Everett, that’s a good question, and I’ll give you my take on it. Direction is the first step to accuracy, and that is generally correctable by technology for left, right, or some combination of both. Trajectory is the next step towards accuracy and that also is generally correctable by technogy, high-mid-low ball flight. The last step towards accuracy is distance control which is also generally correctable with technology, a larger sweet spot-more forgiving face. But the problem is that every golfer has their own problems, more correctly their own combination of problems. Even for these technologies to work, the user has to have a level of consistancy, ie making the same mistakes consistently, which literally 99% of golfers do not have. The reason technology works so well for Pros is because they are extremely consistent in what they do well, but even more importantly, in what they do wrong. Even with technology, they will miss some fairways and greens. In driving I think it’s because they hit the ball so far that a mistake of .5 or 1 degree at impact, which is almost negligible to use, means that at 280-300+ their ball will be 10-15 (30-50ish feet) yards off line. Of course the farther they hit it the more off line it gets. For the rest of us, that amount my only be 5-8 yards. Same with their irons. Plus they hit the ball so high and it stays in the air so long thatt many more things (wind and spin) have much more of an impact on their shots. I’m incline to give them a pass on driving and long-mid irons. I’m more disappointed in the wedge (chip-sand) play. In my opinion they should be able to get up and in from 100-50yds about 75-80% of the time. And from inside that closer to 85-90%. But only a few are even near that number I think.

    • kev

      Sep 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      accuracy? thats up to the indian and not the arrow. a straight clubface is a straight clubface. the straight clubface does not know where you want the ball to go. you are probably looking for a flag seeking golf ball.

    • Justin

      Dec 26, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Coming in late, but:

      Any iron or wedge that’s forged will cost more. It’s more expensive to create the tools and dies to make forged irons, plus they wear out faster than investment-cast molds. A forged iron will cost more out of the gate than a cast iron because of the more expensive forging process… but they’ll be exponentially more expensive because of the “mystique” that comes with forged clubs.

      It’s actually more cost-effective to forge Ti drivers, but the company still get to reap the benefit of the “forged mystique”. This all comes from Jeff Summitt’s “Modern Guide To ClubFitting”.

      Companies like Hireko Golf, Tom Wishon Golf Technologies and GolfWorks can charge less than the Callaway’s and TMaG’s because they aren’t spending big bucks on advertising and Tour sponsorships. Tiger gets, what, $25M a year from Nike? More than that? According to Wishon, the average magazine ad is around $70K/per ad; he quotes a six-page spread at $400K! Guess who gets to pay for that? We do!

      As an aside: note that there’s even price-positioning between all the component brands. TWGT and GolfWorks will charge more per head than Hireko Golf or Diamond Tour Golf because then the perception is still there that they are “better”, because they charge more for their components.

      There are some companies that make their irons out of zinc and their woods out of (mostly) aluminum. Those are the super consumer-friendly models, like Nexxt. Bear in mind that you can still actually golf with clubs like this, but you won’t be “optimized”, for whatever that’s worth…

      You also take into consideration what the market will bear. Remember when big-name drivers were all $299? If an OEM says “I’ll stick a different shaft in this and add $50 to the price… let’s see how that works out” and it sells, all the others are going to follow suit. That’s the nature of the business. Look at the cost of a SC putter, then look at lesser-known brands. The lesser-known brands want to compete with the SC’s (who charges a LOT), so they have to charge a LOT to be perceived as being at the same level as other big-name putters.

      Moment of Inertia was the “forgiveness” spec that was touted for some time. The USGA and R&A set the limit at 5,900g/cm2. Nike made the square SuMo right at the max… but people still miss-hit it. MOI is nice, but if you’re properly fitted that works to (almost) negate that spec. If you have a really bad outside-in swing and leave the face wide open, all the MOI in the world won’t save you.

      Hope all this helps, Everett.

  25. Colin

    Aug 21, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Mr. Adams,
    Thanks for the article and for your contribution to the game. I play you A12 pro irons and love them. I agree that it’s the Indian and not the arrow and while I have recently up graded all my clubs, I have only done so bc I now had the financial means to do. There’s no visions of grandeur here, just wanted an upgrade from equipment purchased used 10 years ago. If all high dollar equipment did what we ‘thought’ it would, every single one of us would be on the pag tour, right?

  26. Phat

    Aug 21, 2014 at 2:03 am

    Good stuff – thanks Barney. Drive for show, putt for dough: cheapest ball you can hit straight and chip, 3w, 3h, 5i, 7i, 9i pw, gw, sw, bullseye.

  27. Sammy Moon

    Aug 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Does anyone get the feeling that Taylormade let Adams fail? I know it doesn’t sound like a good business practice, but consider this… Before TM bought Adams, they made arguably the best hybrids in the business, still possibly do. Then TM takes over, a company that markets more than anyone in the industry, and they don’t really give Adams a hand or push the marketing of their product? Why not? Why buy an equipment company and not promote them like you market your own brand?

    When Callaway bought Hogan, Hogan was starting to fade away and Callaway said they didn’t plan to make any Hogan clubs, but would use the technologies in their product. While many would like to see Hogan clubs back, atleast Callaway said upfront they were going to phase them out. Will this happen to Adams with Taylormade? Adams slowly disappears and Taylormade starts using their technologies?

    • Joe

      Aug 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      TM infringed on Adams slot technology when producing the first rocketballz and it was just cheaper to buy the company than to litigate, lose, and still have Adams out there as a competitor. Who knows what Adams could have done with the money TM would have had to pay if it lost an infringement suit. (Empires have been built on less) By buying Adams TM limited the outcome variables at a pretty reasonable price. That’s my humble opinion.

      • bradford

        Aug 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

        It’s not likely they infringed, patents are pretty well documented. More likely they were paying for rights and decided to payroll the best group of engineers in the business, and it doesn’t hurt that they would then also own the patents for previous inventions.

        • Joe

          Aug 21, 2014 at 11:43 am

          Don’t get me wrong, I believe the inferengent would have been accidental (it happens a lot). Plus, golf product cycles are shorter than the time it would take to do a patent search, or so it seems. Either way I think your spot on with the engineers and previous patents.

  28. Adam

    Aug 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Good thread!

    What Barney fails to recognize (and its no surprise considering his companies history) is equipment sales is 98% marketing.

    Read that again:

    Selling equipment is all about marketing.

    Adams golf sucked at marketing. They were terrible! And that alone probably had more to do with their failure than anything.

    Who is the #1 equipment maker? Taylor Made. Why? Because they spend more money on marketing (especially players) than any other company.

    Its not the actual club that sells the club, its the idea.

    • John

      Aug 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Who says Adams Golf was a “failure” ? The Tight lies, the virtual invention of the hybrid, wide Senior tour use and exposure. So they got bought out means they’ve failed? Not by my definition.

      This forum is genuinely one of the rudest places. People, who have accomplished far less than Barney Adams make fun of his knowledge, his expertise, even his swing speed? There is nothing wrong with honest disagreement, but so many of these posts are insulting and downright stupid.

      Thanks Barney for the effort. I have learned some things, and have had some of my ideas that I thought were true, debunked. I have no problems with this for I enjoy getting smarter from someone who has been there. I look forward to whatever new articles you have up your sleeve.

      • Joe

        Aug 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm

        Bravo! Well said John. Great job Barney, I hope you continue to contribute your knowledge. This site is full of people who believe, for some reason, that they know all. They are closed minded and unwilling to challenge themselves and their “knowledge”, the definition of ignorance. As is apparent from the number of people who would actually argue with you of all people. It would be halarious if it wasn’t so sad. Please do not let these back biting naysayers dissuade you from contributing to those of use that are openminded and willing to learn. Thank you again. Barney.

        • barney adams

          Aug 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm

          Thanks and if you scroll down 11 entries I answered WEST anyway. I was also going to respond to the guy who said our marketing was so bad just to stick up for the folks who did such a great job despite being outspent 10:1. But ……

  29. west

    Aug 16, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    If equipment doesn’t matter, then what has Barney Adams been doing for the last 30 years in the golf equipment business? Selling snake oil? Sounds to me more like someone is just bitter that his company has collapsed and is having troubles letting go…

    • Joe

      Aug 17, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Right, what does he know? And who are you again?

      Oh, that’s right, you are obviously who he was talking about in the last paragraph.

      He never said equipment doesn’t matter. You should probably pull up your pants, your brains are showing.

      • west

        Aug 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        Well, “joe” if anything you need to look at the article again and read “in-between the lines.” And not verbatim. Or did they not teach you how to do that in clown school…?

        • barney adams

          Aug 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm

          Sam Slice buys a new low spin driver. When his “educated banana” starts out over the left foul pole it desperately needs spin to re enter his zip code. He will think the “new technology” is a rip off regardless of how correct the shaft is.
          Charlie crunch delivers the club head square to the ball and buys exactly the same club, with the right shaft for him and finds a face loft that picks up 10 yds! he thinks the new technology is wonderful
          I used the cell phone as an example because the technology improvement is obvious. In golf you never know until ball flight confirms the answer.

          • west

            Aug 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm

            Huh? Come on Barney, lets get real about getting real. Sam Slice and Charlie Crunch…

            1st/2nd paragraph: Intro.

            -3rd paragraph: the USGA and RSA limit ball distance. And they prevented you from making drivers that could maximize distance beyond a certain limit too. Got it.

            -4th paragraph: companies expand the truth to sell equipment. Great! Is there an industry that has never done such a thing?

            -5th paragraph: Golf clubs do not use as advanced of technology as cells phones. Ok? When you consider all the physical parameters/variables involved in the golf swing, not sure you would ever need anything all that sophisticated…

            -6th/7th paragraph: Shaft topic intro.

            -8th paragraph: I agree, the shaft by itself does not produce extra distance. But it does help allow for players with their unique/individual swing characteristics to square the face at impact and make contact at the sweetspot. Therefore maximizing the distance the player is able to produce based on their swing speed. Essentially, the proper shaft increases the efficiency/consistency of the player’s golf swing. Give the player the wrong shaft, and they won’t hit the center of the club face or get the max distance they are capable of for their swing. If anything, the shaft is the “transmission” of the golf swing, connecting the rotation of the body to the club. If you have a bad transmission, you loose engine efficiency to the wheels, and the car doesn’t go as fast as it could potentially.

            9th paragraph: The “expensive” thing is a moot point. No one ever argues this. But lets be realistic, very few people, in anyone, will better fit into the cheap stock shafts, as opposed to the many aftermarket shafts available. I won’t get into puring/frequency thing, because you are actually pretty spot on here.

            10th-12th paragraph: more puring stuff, which really doesn’t contribute to the overall premise of your article…Other than golfers spend more than is necessary to optimize their equipment. But that is their judgment call, not yours.

            13th paragraph: Ok, thanks. But again, not sure it’s contributes to any focused argument other than golf equipment is expensive. Which I think as already established…

            14th/15th paragraph: yes golf balls are expensive. So don’t loose them…Here is where I become really confused, almost to the point of frustration with your article. You tell us about your personal experience, let me restate: PERSONAL EXPERINCE, testing golf balls with your feeble 80 mph swing (sorry but I must commit to my matter of fact theme), none of which was done under consistent conditions (temperature, swing speed, impact position, swing path, face angle, angle of descent etc.) and you expect us to think that this contributes to some sort of validated or substantiated argument?!? I have to say I am surprised, seems to me you’re still selling snake oil Barney, just not of the golf club flavor.

            16th paragraph: Players need less clubs to learn how to play golf. Wow, wonder why Jack or Tiger never practiced with just 1 club? Probably because for every shot their is a proper tool. And the more tools on your bench, the better equipped you are for the job presented to you. I would argue that players who can use multiple clubs for a single shot are in a far better position to demonstrate knowledge of the golf swing, than those who only know how to use one club for multiple shots.

            Sorry if I was crass Barney…and Joe. But sometimes you just need to call a spade a spade and move on. I think if you really wanted to be true to the tile of the article you would have addressed how much it costs to make the equipment we buy, what is the mark-up, how different the old equipment is versus the more modern equipment, and how and when to decide when it is worth buying new equipment or investing in lessons. Just my 2 cents. Good luck to you both.

          • Noy O

            Aug 20, 2014 at 1:36 am

            Mr. Adams, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I agreed with your article 100%.

            Believe it or not, I only play with 8 clubs ( driver, 3 hybrid, 5 hybrid, 7 iron, 9 iron, pw, 56 degree wedge, putter) and shoot in the 70s consistently.

            Wish we could play around of golf together. Your expertise is priceless. Thanks again for this great article.

        • Joe

          Aug 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm

          “Read between the lines”? LOL! OMG! Please, just take a minute and listen to yourself! Seriously, you are hilarious.

        • Joe

          Aug 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm

          My friend you are a loon. I’ve never met a kid that learned to play golf with 14 clubs, have you? Tiger and Jack and every other pro I’ve read about always talk about learning to play with 4 or 5 clubs. Pros use more clubs because they can consistently hit a ball within 5 yards of where they want with most of them. Over 99% of golfers can’t hit the ball accurately within the yardage gap of their irons. So why have 6 iron when you can’t hit it accurately closer than the gap between you 5 and 7? That’s just one of your arguments, I don’t have time to address your other interpretations, sorry. You need to read what is written instead of worrying about black helicopters full of TM, Titliest, Callaway, guys trying to sneak up on you and sell you “new” clubs. Also, why are you such an angry person?

          • Joe

            Aug 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm

            By the way, it may have only been clown school but I graduated magma cum laude

          • west

            Aug 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm

            “black helicopters full of TM, Titliest, Callaway, guys trying to sneak up on you and sell you “new” clubs.”

            You must be the clown-king…

          • barney adams

            Aug 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

            This for West and Joe thanks for the support. i wasn’t going to answer but in his last para he apologizes for being crass and requests a spade for a spade. So in order; the USGA and distance; for the 946th time, golfers are individuals, some “new technology” can actually help some won’t apply. 4th para; expanding the truth I have no clue what other companies do. 5th para; your logic escapes me; 8th para; for the 947th time I say the correct shaft can help deliver the club head squarely, now following your absolute conviction on shaft flex how did all those people, over many, many years OF ALL SWING SPEEDS play so well with PING Eye 2 irons when they All had X shafts? para 14,15; my “80 mph speed” I should learn never to attempt humor because someone is going to take it literally; in fact I said mid to high and 80-89 is a significant difference. As for the test itself, I wont bother with details except to say it was statistically relevant (statistics being a long ago profession) para 16; less clubs read Joe’s answer and about a dozen more on the subject, I could be snide and say it’s about playing the game but I wont. and in your last para; cost allocation is a corporate decision, as an individual if you want absolute knowledge about performance the answer is ball flight, it never lies.

  30. Mark

    Aug 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Be they better clubs, be they better shafts, be it the best golf ball, if your an amature golfer keep playing what you like and buying new products, because even if your game never gets better it sure feels good to have a bag full of the best clubs and using the best balls….if you cannot feel great about your game you can still feel good about your equipment…..AND THAT IS OK…..

    • RG

      Aug 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      As long as your not under the illusion that it is going to make you a better player, and as long as you don’t mind better players laughing at you with all that beautiful new equipment and that ugly swing.

  31. b-man777

    Aug 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Hi there: Great article MR. Adams good insight. Just to clear something up is he saying that flex does matter ,but weather it’s a higher or lower end shaft doesn’t? Also what affects graphite shaft prices? Thanks

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 15, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      Flex is important. It translates to how you swing the club effectively. I’m saying there are expensive shafts that do the trick and inexpensive the shaft doesn’t HAVE to be expensive to work. You have to let ball flight tell you the answer.

      • Kenneth Petersen

        Aug 31, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Hey Barney adams what do you think about the new adams xtd irons thinking on buying them

  32. lashlaroux

    Aug 15, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Mr. Adams, still using the original Tight Lies and have never found a club I could hit better. THANKS

  33. JDVan

    Aug 15, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Mr. Adams, I must commend you on one of the most informative and honest golf articles I have ever read. I can really relate to and agree with most but not quite all you have stated. Where I take a slight departure is with your experience with various brands and types of gold of balls. I’m not denying your experience at all it just is slightly different than mine. I’m a 74 year old golfer and my swing speed has dropped off significantly. Over the last couple years I have tried several different golf balls noticing that the softer balls seemed to help my distance off the tee. But with some loss of spin on the greens. Had kind of settled on the Titleist DT Solo as what seemed to fit me the best until last week. On August 1, 2014 Srixon came out with a new version of their Srixon Soft Feel ball with a larger softer Core and a thinner cover with more (344) dimples than previous versions. I am impressed. Distance was noticeably longer off of the tee and green control was acceptable. Going to continue to play this ball until I find out my early impression was a fluke! At present I don’t think so.

  34. Mark

    Aug 15, 2014 at 12:16 am

    I just recently graduated from college where I was a regular starter on my Division 1 golf program. I have been hitting the same Titleist 905T driver since I was 14. Every year, I laugh at the idiot who blow $400-$600 on a driver that they think will drastically improve their game. If golf manufacturers were honest about these “incredible” distance gains from the last 10-15 years, the average drive would be 400 yards by now! Stick with the equipment you got and just learn how to actually hit it solid, you’d be surprised how far you actually hit it.

  35. TonyK

    Aug 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Am I the only one who felt Mr. Adams just confessed his life-long business was a lie?

    • barney adams

      Aug 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      That one doesn’t deserve a comment but I will anyway, nope !

    • Hunterdog

      Aug 14, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      After reading this article a number of times, I’m not sure that Mr. Adams career was a lie, but would agree that his company engaged in deceptive marketing practices. Mr. Adams suggests that driver designs have not improved since about 2005. His company marketed updated drivers post 2005 which I assume were no better than the model they replaced.

      He suggests that the flex or material of the shaft does not matter but his company offered numerous shaft choices for his clubs. Obviously, he didn’t believe that any shaft improved performance.

      But we have to remember, his job was to make money. That required marketing just like the other golf equipment companies. Since clubs were/are static, there really could be no true improvement in design. To separate from other companies, his company, like other companies, engaged in marketing campaigns that were probably not entirely truthful. Now that he is out of the business he is free to be more honest about his opinions.

      I think it would be interesting to hear what the designers at Ping (G30) Titleist (915), Callaway (new Bertha) etc. have to say in rebuttal.

      • Barney Adams

        Aug 16, 2014 at 12:03 am

        Good heavens some of you guys either don’t read carefully or have a distorted interpretation. I said that while the USGA maxed out ultimate distance there were innovations that could help some players. Just don’t be fooled that new automatically means longer. I also said shafts can make a difference but it isn’t necessarily relative to cost.

        • RG

          Aug 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

          You have to remember that the truth can be painful Barney, and that denial is a powerful thing.

      • Joe

        Aug 17, 2014 at 9:18 pm

        Yea, you really should read for understanding and not for speed.
        He said distance in relation to swing speed is pretty much maxed out, within tolerance (ie +\- a certain amount of yards), because of usag/r&a design limits. There’s only two ways to really get significantly longer within those parameters: 1) up your swing speed or 2) mess with your shaft flex.
        Club makers, as it seems to me, are really selling longer distance through improved forgiveness. You hit the ball farther because more of the club face acts like the sweet spot. Pretty simple really. Thus, you never reach the max distance, under the design limits imposed by the governing bodies, until you consistently hit the sweet spot. Which, lets face it, only Pros and highly skilled armatures ever come close to achieving. Ergo, there will always be room for more distance for us. Plus pros get a lot of distance from their balls because with their swing speeds, they could compress a rock!
        That’s all he was saying, IMHO.

    • Tom

      Aug 14, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      He developed a fairway wood that would help you out of tight lies. Golfsmith had a product called the Weedcutter. Both 4-5 woods but designed for different lies. No claims on distance. Both excellent fairway woods that could hit a high soft landing shot. He is right about the “distance” factor. IMHO the most abused and misrepresented “attribute”. In the equipment industry.

      • tlmck

        Aug 15, 2014 at 5:29 am

        The latest Tight Lies is even better than the original.

  36. Joel

    Aug 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I decided to upgrade my 15 year old irons to the “new tech” last year. After testing everything to death on launch monitors I ended up with Adams MB2 off the 2nd hand rack. The “new tech” just didn’t show up in the real world results. If anything, the hot faced clubs had worse distance dispersion. I went for feel and looks.

    Thanks for the eye opening article!

  37. RG

    Aug 14, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I’ve been reading through the comments to this article and I want to thank you Mr. Adams for letting your little light shine.

  38. David

    Aug 14, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Mr. Adams, thanks for sharing! I’ve enjoyed your articles lately and caught you on the radio the other evening. Hope you are enjoying retirement!

  39. Ken

    Aug 14, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Every Saturday, I play with a buddy who swings the Ping Eye 2 set he bought in the 80s. He’s a solid 6 HC and approaching 60. I’ve also played some golf with a guy who trades clubs like penny stocks and then puts high end shafts in them. He’s spent a ton of dead presidents on arrows. It never seemed to help. I just like watching the show.

  40. J. Barrett

    Aug 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve played golf foe several years, try to take a lession at least once a year, read golf tips and articles, and play at least twice a week, sometimes a little more..I have had several “pro line” sets of clubs over the years, and yes I’ve spent my share of $ on clubs. My nagging question to anyone out there is no one has addressed the question of “knock-off” clubs..I’ve had two sets (one was pretty bad), the second set Titlest ap1’s are as good as any clubs that I’ve tried at any golf demo, and I paid $200 for a full set of irons..Are these clubs really bad for the game (I tend to think that spending big dollars on expensive clubs is sort of silly unless you can afford it). You would be so much better off taking a series of lessions and getting out to the driving range and practice some of what you were taught in your lessions (don’t go to the range and “beat balls”. At least for new golfers the best thing you can do when purchasing clubs is ask around to golfers that you know and ask about clubs then try to find used ones. I agree that the (probably” number reason that we are losing the number of golfers that we are is because of cost of green fees. I’m Real lucky because I can play omce a week on a 18 (pretty nice course)for $16 which includes cart (as you can guess it’s pretty slow going, but the price is right) The other courses are reasonable $40 to 45 including cart. One other thing I’d like to stress, PLEASE ( FOR YOU beginners) learn at least some of the rules of golf and learn GOLF EDIQUTE.
    he

  41. theo erben

    Aug 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Mr. Adams,
    For golfers it is very difficult to get quality information.
    What you are saying is the opposite of what all the master fitters of AGCP are convinced of.
    They think that fitting clubs by choosing the correct flex and using spining and flo-ing procedures when assembling clubs make a huge difference.
    Could you explain a bit more of how you found out that what these masters think is incorrect?
    Thanks.

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 16, 2014 at 12:06 am

      Ball flight analysis and blind testing on feel

  42. CM

    Aug 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Can Mr. Adams comment on the reported corporate office closure?

    • barney adams

      Aug 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Mr Adams could but it would be pure speculation, I’ve never met the folks at TM and have no clue as to their thoughts

      • CM

        Aug 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm

        I owned a small company that was bought out some years ago. Nothing on your grand scale but it still hurt to see what I thought were poor management choices after the sale.

  43. DAN MOLNAR

    Aug 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Thank you Mr. Adams. I have always wondered about the shaft issue and you have set me straight. Golf, if you take it seriously is very time consuming, and expensive. Folks who are working just don’t have the time to spend on the range, and play several rounds per week. Finally, I am retired and am able to spend some serious time practicing. But I am also old (76) and not very flexible. But it is still very pleasing to me to hit a great shot, whether its off the tee, an approach, or a long putt. I think that the younger generation boys and girls don’t get out and just play–ANYTHING! That’s why the game is suffering from lack of interest. A lot of kids are overweight and even obese and just want to fiddle with their cell phones. Too bad for golf and the country.

  44. cant-putt-for-toffee

    Aug 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

    god i hope my wife dosnt read this article mr adams – i would be in deep s… and it would require some serious explanations to why i have just invested another grand in new clubs…..i have always told her its the arrows…
    finally logic has run its course and i have come to this conclusion: Mr adams -youre full of s…..(i mean it in a good way -you might have saved me some coin in the future..i just need to get the new big bertha driver, the new anser irons and the latest cameron ah okay some miura wedges but then thats it)

    • barney adams

      Aug 14, 2014 at 11:20 am

      we had a plaque for you and your brethren in the hall

  45. Dan

    Aug 14, 2014 at 9:36 am

    What was wrong with my comment that you wouldn’t post it?

  46. Theo Erben

    Aug 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Mr. Adams,
    All of the master clubfitters of AGCP agree that fitting flex for a golfer makes a huge positive difference.
    Also they claim that flo-ing and spining of a shaft is a must in order to build a good performing club.
    Can you explain how these differences of opinions (or hopefully evidence) are established?

    • barney adams

      Aug 14, 2014 at 11:18 am

      two points;First, tested puring, flowing extensively to their effect on ball flight ( which is all that counts) found nothing and we WANTED it to work!Its a gauge occurrence , but not ball flight or feel.
      Now a quiz for your group; first I do believe that the right shaft flex makes it easier for a player to optimize performance just not necessarily the most expensive right shaft.
      The most successful iron in history was the PING Eye 2 everybody played and loved them, seniors, juniors players of all strength and skill levels. EVERY PING had an X shaft , can you explain to me in light of your focus on shafts how those clubs performed so well for everyone.

      • RG

        Aug 14, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        Or riddle me this clubmaker, I have an 11 degree Big Bertha Steelhead with a “Ladies” flex ( the club was sold as a ladies driver). I can hit it off the deck 240+. Sure I have to swing smooth and if I jump at it I can hook it, but I can also blast it. My driver swing speed is 105. How is this possible? According to the hype this club should be well beneath my swing speed.
        Sure flex is important, and it isn’t gonna hurt to spine align and pure, but making a good solid fluid motion through the ball is way more important.

        • barney adams

          Aug 14, 2014 at 9:41 pm

          and you know what? I’ve seen your movie back when I was a club fitter. Just reinforces that the shaft is the feel mechanism between you and the club head.
          One I never forgot; very good, strong player had a ladies shaft in his driver and X shafted Ping Eye 2 irons and hit everything well. There are times when you just say, ” nice work”

      • Justin

        Aug 14, 2014 at 9:55 pm

        Also, bear in mind that many clubfitters, even though they preach the “Common Sense” methodology, are trying to differentiate themselves from the “Big Boys”. They’re trying to give people something “special”, that they can’t get with off-the-rack. Spining, FLOing, PUREing, etc., are those extra somethings that are, in a nutshell, selling points. It’s hard to justify charging someone three times the cost of materials (which is what’s taught, but isn’t the set-in-stone rule) without having something different to offer.

  47. bullrambler

    Aug 14, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Great information Mr. Adams and thanks for sharing your findings. The golf community has adhered to newer is better for a long time now. I’m sure there are players who remember the 7 piece rental set and learned how to use these sets as effectively as possible. There are those today who sometimes use a “half-bag” just to get out and carry a lighter bag and do exactly what you have suggested – hit what you have with you and be creative. I was once a graphite shaft kind of player but switched everything to steel. I have found that my consistency is better because IMHO accuracy wins over distance.

  48. Mccance79

    Aug 14, 2014 at 2:08 am

    If there are no statistical distance differences between shafts than why when I swing club heads with different shafts the ball reacts differently? The whole “its not the arrow its the Indian” thought process does hold merit, however I will take an Indian with custom Arrow than a generic Arrow. I think thing the custom arrow would go farther and straighter. Golf equipment seems to be like the Housing market of 2007… and it 2008 it crashed!! All the signs seem to point to that trend and when the market crashes THAT is when golf clubs will drop in price and be priced more friendly to the avid golfer.

  49. tlmck

    Aug 14, 2014 at 1:14 am

    My issue with equipment costs is that you are really not getting what you pay for in terms of quality. I recently reshafted a set of AP2 irons for a friend. As you know, these are generally one of the most expensive mass produced irons on the market. While doing the work, I decided to weigh the components. I was shocked to see that the weight tolerances alone were no better than a set of low end, big box store set of clubs. The swingweights were adjusted of course by plug weights in the shaft tips. To me, if I am paying $1,000 for a set of irons, they had better be damn well weight sorted and matched. The good news is that the lofts and lies were within a half a degree.

  50. RG

    Aug 14, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Thank you Mr. Adams for your candid truth. It ain’t the arrow, it’s the Indian. I often play my buddies with just 5 clubs (3w, 4i,7i,sw,p) and can shot in the 70’s from 6300-6400 that way.
    There is so much hype and snake oil in golf it is hard for new and less advanced players to syphon through, and this hurts the game. I cringe when someone tells me they are getting a “new” driver because it will help there game. Good swings and a good approach will help way more than “new” equipment.
    “If you have a good swing you can get a branch out of a tree whittle a club with a pocket knife and score with it,” Jackie Burke.

  51. Bernard

    Aug 14, 2014 at 12:44 am

    After 15 years I decided I wanted to retire my McHenry Metals driver. Looked around, was completely unimpressed. For $400 the quality of the products offered was lacking. I ended up buying a R7 limited on ebay for far less. What is my point? Club companies are offering up a Chevrolets at Cadillac pricing. The SDLR looks and feels cheap. The R7 of a few years ago is gorgeous. My old McHenry was a beauty. If you offer up cheap, you won’t earn a dime.
    At the end of day golf is not about “ten more yards” or hitting it “straighter”, it’s executing the imagined, it’s not driver/wedge, it’s 2-iron drawn and 8 iron faded. Score is irrelevant, a hole well played is everything.

    • Bernard

      Aug 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      I’m being “moderated” because I may offend a major sponsor to this site……PLEASE.

      My suspicion that golfwrx is a mouthpiece for the industrys’ whining about it’s bottom line is confirmed.

      The health of golf is just fine and oould be even better without golfwrx and it’s masters.

      • Joe

        Aug 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

        Fight the Power Brokers and their stooges bro! The UN controls everything!

  52. Joe

    Aug 13, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Great article. I always suspected that once you get to a certain price point, it comes down to what looks and feels good in your hands. If it’s ugly to me, I can’t hit it. I am very reluctant to change drivers when I find one I like. I hated going to metal at first! My current is TM R7, after Bubble, after original TM Burner. The only appeal that newer drivers have to me is the adjustable lofts, I’d like to experiment with that feature.

  53. AdotWu

    Aug 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Barney, great article. I especially liked your last paragraph about not needing 14 clubs. I myself use only 9 and the game has gotten a lot easier. Less decisions on what to use and I can really focus on shotmaking.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  54. Lee H.

    Aug 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Mr. Adams,
    Thank you for your insights regarding the topics you spoke about. I’m sure all of us fully respect you for what you have done for the industry and what you have said in your article . Only a man in your position could fully understand the industry and speak to the effect it has on today’s golfers. Your candidness is a breath of fresh air to read. I hope other past owners/CEO’s of companies open up to the public as well. You did so in a way as not to slander any one company or individual. That is highly commendable and respected. I hope you write more articles for Golf WRX. If you have so already, I apologize for not reading them previously.
    On another note, I would like to say that although it was inevitable, I am sorry that your lifetime of work with Adams Golf has ended and now they have closed up shop in Plano. I’m sure you are more saddened with the decision as well, but expected TMAG to make that move once you stepped down. I always wanted to visit Adams while living in DFW, but never made it over.
    I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Thank you for what you have done for the game of golf.

  55. leftright

    Aug 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Barney, why can’t I hit my hickory shafted spoon as far as my 3 wood? (sarc)

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 14, 2014 at 12:09 am

      It’s left handed !!

      • Justin

        Aug 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm

        Hey now… we just had our own day! As a lefty, I’m rather disappointed I didn’t get the memo. Or a cake. Or something…

  56. tom

    Aug 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    IMHO, if you are going to invest money it should be the club you hit most during a round, The putter!! Making less 3 putts is worth 10 yard more any day!!

    • Raymd

      Aug 14, 2014 at 7:26 am

      Amen

    • Justin

      Aug 14, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      I bought a $25 putter head, a $5 shaft and a $25 grip and average 1.8 putts per round. Even with the putter, it still only comes down to personal preference.

      • MHendon

        Aug 15, 2014 at 12:23 am

        1.8 putts per round? You sir are the greatest putter in the history of golf! lol

        • Justin

          Aug 17, 2014 at 11:18 pm

          I wish… Most of my one-putts come from a decent chip that’s to save bogey (and sometimes worse).

  57. Mike Shivley

    Aug 13, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Gear is gear I usually stay 1-2 years behind and get it at bargain prices…Golf balls however can be te great equalizer…. for me is not how far they go…but how fast they stop! Controling the ball around the greens is a fundamental key to scoring…knowing how a ball releases on the green with wedge, 9, and 6 iron is a key to scoring birdies! My experience as been some balls spin more than other’s…and of course “your miles may vary” and it’s not always the most expensive balls that get the best results (for me)… but I seldom get the spin and control out of the cheapest balls either. I used to hit both PRO-V’s,and the B330, last year I hit the Chrome +, and this year I’m hitting the E6…The knock on the E6 in reviews was it wouldn’t hold…I can’t get it to move it “hits and sits” as good as anythng I ever hit. Which should lead to the next question “who’s doing the reviews”? So I won’t dispute the distance statement because I honestly agree…but when it comes to control “hit’em all and let your score sort em out”

    • joesixpack

      Aug 14, 2014 at 7:50 am

      I second this comment. Good article Barney, and nice to hear someone speak the truth about all the gimmicky b.s. in golf marketing preying on short hitters wanting to buy distance. But I think you missed something on balls. A cheaper ball will probably go further with your driver than an expensive one. They spin less.

      But that cheap ball is more likely to roll out when you hit a wedge shot into a green, and the expensive one is more likely to stop.

      Does a 25 handicap care? Probably not – they’re not hitting enough shots where it would make a difference. But I bet you do.

      • barney adams

        Aug 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm

        Mr Adams will take the distance thank you very much. yes the softer balls don’t spin as much and yes I’m short more than pin high so I’ll go with the odds.

  58. HBL

    Aug 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Mr. Adams –

    Is it your position that drivers manufactured after 2005 “or so” have essentially achieved the maxed outperformance and, therefore, there is no reason to purchase new equipment except for loss, theft, or damage? An that there is really to purchase after-market shafts because OEM shafts are just as good if not better?

    Do you also feel that iron performance has maxed out as well?

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 14, 2014 at 12:15 am

      My position is that unlike things of true technology like say cell phones , golf clubs a few years reached the allowable limits of technology. As for OEM shafts only an idiot would spend the time and money to design a new head ( driver for example) then shaft it with junk. Iron performance; technically yes but the golf swing is an individual thing. There’s always hope.

      • Hunterdog

        Aug 14, 2014 at 6:43 am

        So all club manufacturers since about 2005 have really been fraudulent with their various marketing campaigns that their new clubs (Adams included) is a better design than an older design. And if that’s true why wouldn’t I believe that the manufacturers have put junk shafts into their clubs?

        Your company obviously manufactured and sold newer model if clubs. Did you feel your new designs were better than the design that was being replaced? I understand that a new driver isn’t a new technology like a cellphone, but that argument could be used for clubs for the past 100+ years. It’s all been incremental change and a hickory shafted cleek was still used to a hit a ball at a target whereas the basic cellphone wasn’t even in existence much less the ability to “tweet”, via the internet, around the globe .

        If you are simply saying that a person can find quality and well performing equipment at better than the new sticker price, I would agree. Just like someone can purchase an older used car for transportation. The new car and the old car will both get you to your destination.

        • barney adams

          Aug 14, 2014 at 9:57 pm

          Didn’t say fraudulent, said the USGA maxed out distance. A classic case would be adjustability, I know guys who swear they picked up 20 yards or more and others, zero. Races for horses!

      • Barney Adams

        Aug 16, 2014 at 12:17 am

        This may be a first. In reading my reply I find it lacking. Because the product is regulated and distance is maxed it’s not like a cell phone where new technology is evident. Can you find something new that adds distance, feel or control. Yes, absolutely. Do you have to look carefully and let ball flight tell you, yes absolutely. Is it possible the clubs you have now are more than adequate, yes absolutely.

    • larrybud

      Aug 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Not speaking for Mr Adams, but i think it’s clear that a center hit technology has maxed out, but what about off-center hits? Isn’t this where weighting, face thickness, and MOI come into play?

      • barney adams

        Aug 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm

        technically yes but nowhere as much as the manufacturers would have you believe. Then again maybe enough to make a difference; ball flight tells all.

  59. Bill Walsh

    Aug 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Great job Barney! I believe the underlying message is that consumers / beginners can pick up a high quality set of sticks on the used market for pennies and it will perform every bit as well as latest stuff – at least until they have a low single digit h’cap – at which point custom fit newer gear might be in order.

    Second, PGA instructors analyzed the performance of golfers and found that ~80% of your results are related to the quality of your swing. That’s where people should start rather than buying newer gear.

    The other perspective that would have been helpful for Barney to reveal . . . everyone who’s marveling at the distances Rory, Phil, Rickie etc. are hitting the ball. Clearly, Rory & Phil are hitting their drivers a long way. But they are not hit what we call a 7 iron 210 yards. If you google loft specs for golf irons and compare them to the specs for clubs being produced by all golf equip co’s (except KZG) you’ll find the club with the #7 stamped on the bottom is actually a 5.5 to 6 iron based on traditional lofts.

    Finally, on the matter of cost for the latest gear. Businesses must know their overhead burden (expenses they’ll incur regardless of sales) which will include endorsements paid to players. I believe going forward the big OEM’s won’t be able to afford to pay so many Tour players to play their gear. Then we’ll see who has the best stuff and prices will begin to moderate. As I recall Adams Golf started out with a better product and didn’t pay Tour players to play it.

    Thanks for being straight with us Barney.

  60. Bagger

    Aug 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I’m an ex mini tour guy and current amateur with a +3.7 hdcp. I only mention that to show that even scratch or below players don’t need the latest greatest technology to improve. Me for example.. I play muscle back irons only and before this year I played a 7 year old set of titleist MB’s. The only reason I got a new set this year is because I had worn my other set out. Until last year I played a tour issued R7 tp with Diamana whiteboard for 5 years. I only changed drivers because of a shaft failure that resulted in a break. I know hit a SLDR with graphite design tour ad di. I hit that R7 just as well and just as long as my new “technologically advanced” SLDR. Golf equipment does not improve people’s game! Being properly fit to ones equipment will help far more than having brand new, top of the line clubs. Club manufacturers have marketed their clubs so well that the vast majority of folks bought into it. With the economy sluggish, people are beginning to realize you don’t have to buy 2,000.00 worth of new equipment each and every year to improve their games. I like Taylor Made equipment but their marketing campaigns are absurd. 17 more yards my a%#. If people want to legitimately improve their games, go get properly fit for your clubs and get some lessons from a PGA pro.

  61. Tom Duckworth

    Aug 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Love my old FG-17s still get them out and play them from time to time.
    However my FG Tour V2s are easier to play and easier on me. I don’t really see how new blades could be that different from older ones. The TM Speedblade irons and the like are a different animal. Great for my friend who swings like he is trying to kill a mole.
    I would dearly love a set of Adams CMBs they will be collector items one day. Titleist and Ping have it right they don’t chase their tail bringing out new stuff every six months. As a retailer I would hate to see the TM rep. coming with their new stuff I have to buy before I even make a dent in their current line. It seems like slowing down the cycle of new stuff would bring down the cost for the mfg.

    • Ted Walker

      Aug 14, 2014 at 12:54 am

      just played my fg 17’s today. love em.

  62. Alan

    Aug 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    First off… I do not work in the golf industry. But I love everything about the game.

    I’m surprised at the number of people that think they are being ripped off and up sold by golf manufacturers. If you don’t like the price, don’t buy it. I think the article points out, by explaining some of the technology, that new clubs are not necessary. Many readers on GolfWRX probably already know this if you’ve spent any time in the clubmakers forum.

    What drives $400 drivers is that people are willing to pay it. That’s true of ANY industry. And I mean ANY industry. If a top celebrity wants a new car… it’s free. (I’ve signed off on the free cars in a past job.) That advertising is very valuable as a marketing tool to drive demand and price from a consumer. Also keep in mind that a gross margin of 35% may drive 5% of profit. As others have said, if the profit doesn’t exist, then the product won’t exist.

    This is true of the clothes you wear (regardless of the brand), the house you live in or apartment you rent, and any other products you may buy. Get as much as you can from a product, re-invest that profit to do it all over again. It’s what makes the economy work.

    • Alan

      Aug 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      I also want to add, that I don’t think the motives of the people in the industry is malicious. I’m sure they feel passionate about their products and want people to feel as passionate as they do about them.

      • barney adams

        Aug 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm

        a very good point; the people working in the golf equipment industry are driven by their passion for the game.

      • MHendon

        Aug 15, 2014 at 12:31 am

        Nah it’s all about the money.

  63. 8thehardway

    Aug 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Somewhere between masking flaws and maximizing strengths is the proximate profile of the appropriate TYPE of club, shaft and ball for a particular recreational golfer.

    Like choosing the appropriate golf bag, if you ride and have a cart bag you’re ok and maybe a tweak for more dividers or fewer pockets makes it more than suitable.

    In short, there are many ways to evaluate a purchase; the tricky part is justifying them.

  64. Jim

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Mr. Adams is spot on. What new equipment has done in my view is move weight around to adjust CG, launch, ease of use, and such. However, they are limited by the COR in terms of distance. I would also say some people find a club better fitted to them than they had and therefore see distance gains but it isn’t necessarily a function of club performance.

  65. Foz

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the fresh look at equipment, Barney.

    I grew up learning to play golf in the 50’s & 60’s. I got my first sand wedge in the early 1980’s, so I played 20 years without one. That said, golf equipment is a great value, some a little better than others. Most of the golfers I have in my 80+ player weekly game bag, at best, last year’s model. And some of them have not changed irons in 8 to 10 years.

  66. JMaron

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Really appreciate the article as I try hard to buy new golf technology only when it seems to have made a significant gain. Even then I wait until a new model comes out six months later and buy it on sale.

    I played with a set Titleist DCI 962 irons for about 20 years from the the time when I first took up the game. I was constantly told by others golfing friends I needed to upgrade – I finally did but only because I couldn’t get the lie angle changed on my Titlelist irons when I learned that lie angle matters. I have some Taylormade blades now – but there’s no difference in my ball striking as far as I can tell.

    Found the same thing with drivers – used to play a Cobra driver that I liked a lot even though it was targeted at players with a slower swing speed than my own. I would crack the face every year or so and then buy a used one online. Eventually I couldn’t find them anymore so I went with a R11S new – cracked the face on that one and they gave me an R1….long story short – all of them seem to perform the same (in distance, control and time until face destruction).

    So I try to ignore the marketing, but for the most part I buy the name brand stuff targeted at low handicap golfers (only use premium balls but wait for sales when a new model is coming out). I bought my TM blades used online from an individual who hated his recent purchase. Sure they only cost me $300 bucks, but how much was my ego telling me, “get the blades, others will be impressed.”

  67. ca1879

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    You are dead on about measurable differences and meaningful differences. If I had a nickel for every time I had to explain to a golf shop employee or teaching pro why the measurements on their poorly calibrated and infrequently maintained monitors was unlikely to give results that were translatable to the real world, why, I’d have even more sets of clubs that don’t improve my game than I do now. And while I buy way too many clubs, that’s because I can afford them, not because I need them. I could play with clubs a generation or two old (as many pros do), at significant savings and without affecting my game. I could also play at a modest muni instead of my nice private club and still have a great time with my friends. Golf CAN be expensive, but it doesn’t HAVE to be expensive. And lastly, anyone who thinks that in our competitive market system that the manufacturers get away with charging one cent more than someone is willing to pay, then you haven’t been paying attention to how the USA works.

    • Ben

      Aug 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Your comments are spot on, but playing devils advocate…

      People in the USA ALWAYS pay more than they can afford. It’s call credit card debt and keeping up with the “Jonses” 🙂

  68. GT

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I have read most of the comments, but I did see one that mentioned that the big golf companies are listed on the global exchanges and are expected not only to pay the outrageous player fees, but now need to report back with quarterly growth and profit targets to satisfy the Wall Street crowd.
    When you see Ping use words like TURBULATORS, you know the game has gone bonkers.

    Every penny that goes to equipment manufactures is a penny that LEAVES the game and goes into the pockets of outside investors. It is money not spent on green fees or pro lessons.
    I feel nearly nothing to hear the big boys aching… It might just be the clean out we need in the game.

    • ASXA

      Aug 13, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      I swear I have a blender that uses the words turbulator too….

    • Dave S

      Aug 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Ping is a privately held company, not beholden to the Street.

  69. Rudders

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    The truck/aerial analogy is a very bad one. The aerial of the vehicle has no impact on the force impacting the person; it’s the engine and its output, surrounded by a “container”. While the club head may be the instrument that strikes the ball, the engine of that club head is the speed/force generated by the individual through the shaft. Look at it this way; remove the shaft from the club head and then hit the ball with the club head alone. Where is it going in comparison with a shaft-connected club head? Nowhere. I think I’ve made my point.

    • Gautama

      Aug 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      I think the point might only be valid if you could demonstrate that clubhead speed and therefore the energy at impact was changed by shaft choice, and not just for a single individual over the course of a fitting session where something might feel different enough to change their swing dynamics short term, but repeatedly under constants, e.g. with a machine swinging the club. I believe testing has shown time and time again that any intrinsic differences are really negligible.

    • billm311

      Aug 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      I think the point he is trying make is, when it comes down to it, laws of physics state f=ma , and p=mv. Speed and mass generate distance. Most companies focus on the speed. A properly selected shaft can help a player generate and deliver that speed more efficiently. Yeah, you need the shaft. 22mph hand speed might get you roughly 110mph at impact with the length of 45″ shaft. Take that shaft away, you have 22mph at impact.

      A good shaft can net a player more speed. The intricacies of feel and flex are a very interesting subject. But at impact, the only thing that matter is club head speed, and mass.

    • barney adams

      Aug 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      Another attempt at humor misconstrued. The point is at the moment of impact there is only the club head and ball, some of the shaft guys would have you believe it delivers mysterious properties ( read distance)

    • barney adams

      Aug 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Humor gone awry ! my point is at the moment of impact there is only the head and ball, the shaft doesn’t provide an extra boost as I’ve heard some “experts” say.

    • leftright

      Aug 13, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Actually, reread what you posted then read Mr Adams. I think you actually “made his point.”

  70. HBL

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Mr. Adams –

    I’m not sure what your message is here. I took it that the consuming golf public are 1) idiots for buying new equipment; 2) idiots for buying upgraded equipment; and/or 3) are idiots for not playing the top rock ball found at the bottom of the pond. I think what you are trying to say is that equipment cost should not hinder people from playing golf because there are enough of us idiots out there selling perfectly wonderful equipment on ebay or someone can purchase a new set of XXXX at YYY department store and have equipment as keen as Tiger’s.

    Personally, I would prefer it if you would simply say what you mean.

  71. Carl

    Aug 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the excellent and honest article. The high cost in equipment isn’t so much a $400 driver you buy this year, it is the next $400 driver you feel compelled to buy 2 years later to “keep up with technology.”

    I think there is no substitute for good club fitting. We are all unique in our physical make up and swing mechanics. I have benefited significantly in recent years as I have aged (now 60) from going to lighter shafts and more forgiving clubs. Less weight and forgiveness aren’t necessarily cutting edge technology issues.

    Set make up is helpful too. I have a progressive set of hybrid/irons which are a godsend. I think there should be more offerings of that nature from the manufacturers. I applaud Adams for their great efforts in this regard.

    The hybrids are a great help and I have added more as years have passed. I can’t hit a 3W well enough to save my life so I recently gave up the lost cause and went to a 2 hybrid which has been great. I also gave up on the 60 degree lob wedge since there are only so many shots you can scull or chunk in one round and still maintain your sanity. The 54 degree can do the job (and I sometimes plot its demise as well). If you primarily bump and run the sand wedge pretty much only sees the sand.

    Finding clubs that fit you and your game the best seems to be the ticket and that doesn’t have to be expensive.

  72. setter02

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Just get rid of the governing bodies all together already. Maybe what, 10% of ‘golfers’ in North America carry a registered handicap anyway, so how can you speak for the masses when you clearly can’t even get them on board with even the simplest task of recording your scores.

    To stall or cap innovation is to kill an industry, and the fact that to many of these traditionalist are the ones running things shows how out to date they are. Changing rules as they see fit to reign back the top 0.0002% of golfers shows how much of a joke they are. Get the white collar,country club mentality out of golf and realize it is the blue collar guys that are needed for it to survive.

    • gvogel

      Aug 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Golf isn’t an industry in the same way that medical equipment or automobiles is an industry. In medical equipment innovation is terribly desirable so that more lives are saved. In automobiles innovation is important so that we go from point A to point B more efficiently, or more comfortably, or safer.

      Golf is a game. Games need rules. Otherwise golf might turn into some horrendous investment game like yacht racing.

      Some of us actually believe that you can have a great time playing “golf” with hickory shafted clubs, wooden wood heads, and very simple “pre-1930” iron heads. Whatever, when you keep everyone on a level playing field, the competition is more about talent and practice instead of who has the most current investment.

      Barney makes so many great points that I found the article “liberating”. All of my “experiments” that did not work out are going to Wounded Warriors, because who knows? The may work for someone else. I’m keeping a set that does work.

  73. Charles

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I agree with Mr. Adams that distance is negligible among drivers models. Every year I hit at least 5 new models, in the fairway with my favorite golf ball. Never found anything that gave me 10 extra yards as the manufactures promise. Distances are very close. My gamer is still a 2007 model, the Adams a4 9015, with stock shaft, but for me the best driver in terms of distance/dispersion is the Titleist 975D with steel shaft, DG X100. I play most of my casual rounds with 9015, but when I play tournments I put the 975D in my bag

  74. Wonoo

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    My clubs are made by Adams, they are tight lies. Bought them at a good price. I play Titleist balls, not Pro V’s. My putting was heading south, bought a very pricey Oddysey putter. Very nice putter, my putting stayed south. Did some reading and minor adjustments and am putting well again. With my 30 year old Palmer 301. I do believe good equipment matters but the user matters just as much.

  75. John

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    First of all, thanks Barney. I have read all your pieces, and enjoyed them, and the ensuing debate has been informative as well, much of it has been thoughtful and intelligent. The rest, well it is the Internet, so there you go. This sort of assesment of the state of the game is way overdue.

    I guess the only thing I can add to this is: people are bored. They are jacked up with phones, and the net, and video games. A screen everywhere you go, even on gas pumps you get an ad. So someone is always shouting at you to do something, BUY something So people think they need a fix, and if you are a golfer the fix seems to be, get new stuff. When I first started playing in the 70’s, guys would have their sets for a decade. Their favorite persimmon driver maybe a lot longer than that. Clubs were something you grabbed on the way to the course, not an obsession. Hogan, Macgregor and Wilson prospered seemingly. I guess magazine ads weren’t all that expensive compared to the massive amounts spent on media now. I sense now though that things are changing for the better. There will be a great reorganization, of course, with companies, jobs, etc. going away and that is too bad, but people are just not spending like they used to, because they can’t. Wages are stagnant, and time is hard to come by. Your concerns about the state of the game are well founded, but change can be healthy. Let’s hope this one makes the great game even greater, perhaps not in size, but in quality.

  76. Iceberg

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Barney,

    Can you give us your insight and thougts on the closing of Adams golf HQ?

    • barney adams

      Aug 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      truth is it would be purely speculative. I’ve never spoken to any TM executives.

      Excuse the double post above, my computer lack of skill showing!

  77. Alfredo Smith

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Great article! I’m “Old School” myself… Is it the arrow or is the Indian?

  78. Bob Jones

    Aug 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Barney – here, here for fewer clubs in your bag. I play with seven:

    driver, Titleist 975D ($90 from eBay)
    19-degree hybrid, Ben Hogan CFT (~$100, new)
    5, 7, 9-iron, Ben Hogan Apex Red Line (full set $200 from eBay)
    sand wedge, Titleist Vokey 56/08 ($105 new)
    putter, Ping G2 Tess ($95 new)

    I shoot handsome scores with them, too.

  79. Tommy Truth

    Aug 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Funny watching people argue and debate what Barney just told you. As if he does not know what he’s talking about. The guy has be making and marketing clubs for decades. What he told you should be common sense and no surprise. So many people on here want to believe the hype so bad because their have their ego so invested in the game.

    • Jason

      Aug 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Ain’t that the truth. I don’t understand why ego is so much more prevalent in golf than other sports. People who are bad at baseball, football, or soccer just chalk it up to I suck and am no good at it. In golf people look for all sorts of excuses except the guy holding the club. Really weird phenomenon.

    • rer4136

      Aug 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      He knows what he is talking about from the view point of a manufacturer, not a consumer.

    • MHendon

      Aug 15, 2014 at 12:38 am

      I think it’s most people are looking for a short cut to success and hoping a new club will give that to them instead of facing reality. They need to practice.

  80. Sammy Moon

    Aug 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    While I agree with a lot of this, I have to disagree on much of it as well. In the golf industry for 10 years and a custom fitting specialist, I have fitted many people into custom shafts and noticed a significant difference in aftermarket shaft effects. I agree that buying the highest end aftermarket shaft won’t necessarily get you any added distance… Unless its a perfect fit for you. Through custom fitting and getting people to invest in a shaft that is more styled to their game, I have seen distance gains of up to 35 yards and significantly tighter dispersions. The slower the swing speed of the individual, the less affect upgrades tend to have for a person. If your clubhead speed is below 90, I tend to see almost no benefit to major club or shaft upgrades, other then fine tuning launch conditions.

    The real mystery in marketing I think is shaft and club weights. While it may seem like a lighter club yields faster swings, and more distance, it is most likely the opposite. You risk shot control and increased amounts of spin with the reduction in weight, as well as flight trajectory inconsistencies.

    In the end, it all comes down to matching the golfer to the right balanced setup. There is no guarantee that big price tags will bring results. The best fit for anyone’s swing may just be a 2-year old driver with a $50 shaft. Or it could be that new $400 dollar driver with a $200 upgrade shaft.

    • barney adams

      Aug 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Sammy, we can all talk about significant gains through fitting, remember I did it 23 years ago and wrote a fitting manual that still gets used. Golf is an individual game and when I taught fitting I used to emphasize never assume what is going to happen read the ball flight , you never know.
      Here’s one for you fitting experts; the most successful iron in history, The Ping Eye 2. Everyone loved them, grandma, gramps to young strong college players. They all had X shafts every one for every player, not exactly what you’d fit with but they worked !

      • Sammy Moon

        Aug 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        Haha I actually sold lots of Ping eye 2s up to a couple years ago. Still Ping’s best selling irons. That doesn’t surprise me one bit but they are also one of the top used irons sold. That’s another thing with golf sales decline today. Many golfers are increasing their used purchases through sources like ebay, craigslist and other preowned websites. This hurts new club sales, but golf is a very expensive sport and now a days people are looking for deals when they can.

  81. Pingback: Links: Barney Adams On The Cost Of Golf Clubs And More

  82. Scott Pope

    Aug 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I agree about the marketing. One day a few years ago, when my (then) young son and I were at our country club practice range, we heard a guy at the other end of the range remark about how he was getting more distance from his new irons. I asked James for his 4-iron, a Wilson Turfrider hollow head with a standard reg flex TTDG he inherited from my stepfather (too big for him then, but he will grow into it), my graphite 5-iron, and an old hickory mid-iron I bought for $5 at flea market just to have around. They all three had the same length, 38 inches, the same loft, about 26 or so degrees, and about the same weight. I proceeded to show my son that it was all marketing, taking each club in turn and hitting balls to the exact same flag down range with a standard full swing. Now, a few years later, my new Wilson C100 6-iron has the same specs: 38 inch length, 26 degree loft, and I hit it the same distance. The flight is a little higher since the shaft has a little more flex in the tip, but they all hit essentially the same. The only reason I purchased new clubs this year was to get an overall lighter set with a little softer “feel” in the shafts, and a wider sole for less divot, for the benefit of my elbows. I agree with your observations completely.

    • Mike

      Aug 13, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      Sammy,
      So agreed. As a 25 veteran clubfitter and builder and a custom ADAMS shop, i would like to have him come in and prove to him, as i do every day in fittings, the shaft can change way more than the head alone. i have lost respect for Mr Adams and his so called knowledge of clubs and shafts. It seems a little fishy that when Taylor made closes the Adams headquarters he decides to talk about this. Just saying!

      • barney adams

        Aug 14, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        Well Mike your timing is a little off , I’ve been out of the business for years now and the latest TM decision happened after the story was written. I’ve said about a zillion times now that the proper shaft can make a huge difference it just doesn’t have to be the most expensive proper shaft.

        • Sammy Moon

          Aug 19, 2014 at 3:54 pm

          This I agree with. The way it is stated in the article needs to be reworded slightly then.

  83. MS

    Aug 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Let me point something out: Everyone thinks they should get a deal on clubs, green fees, golf balls, etc. We all love the game, yet everyone wants to put everyone who works in this business OUT of business. Club companies, retailers, golf courses HAVE TO MAKE MONEY. They cannot just pay their staff and overhead, they need to make a PROFIT.

    So as everyone bemoans the price of everything in golf, think about your rates you charge as a lawyer. Or a doctor. Or as a salesperson for whatever it is YOU sell. I’m sure you’ll think of a hundred reasons why YOUR product shouldn’t be discounted and that it’s ok for you or your company to make a tidy profit.

    • ken

      Aug 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Just a moment….Shopping around for the best deal is the job of a savvy consumer.
      Simply “paying the full price” is not going to get it.
      One of the largest concerns with golf today is that it is too costly.
      Now, if one believes that $70 greens fees on public courses is the way to go, they are asking for empty golf courses and shuttered clubhouses. Period.
      There is a course near here that has it going on. The rates are moderate, the staff is pleasant, the place is laid back.
      The course is in good shape. Fairways and greens nicely maintained. Mind you, this course is not pristine with wall to wall perfect turf.
      I talk to the owner all the time. I used the phrase “a quick nickel is better than a slow dollar. He agrees with me.
      BTW, this course has a full tee sheet every weekend and gets plenty of steady business during the week.

    • rer4136

      Aug 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      I suppose the equipment companies have to make a choice. Is it better to sell 5 drivers for $400 dollars each or 10 drivers for $300 dollars each. Not rocket science. People balk at the $400 dollar price tag. Is it better to have 20 people playing 18 holes at $50 each or 30 golfers at $40 dollars each. So the economy tanks and no one has much money. Rather than drop the prices to help get more players the golf industry chooses to raise the price so that even fewer people can afford to buy equipment or play the game. Make no sense.

      • leftright

        Aug 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

        Corporate America has fell into the Federal govt game of economics. Feds, tax more to get more tax money and end up getting less money. This was proved mightily in the mid 90’s with welfare reform and reduction in some taxes. Raise taxes and the Treasury ends up with less money. TEA party people get it, RINO’s and Democrats don’t. The economy sucks, perhaps business need to look at their profit model, I bet they are charging more and getting less all across the fruited plain.

        • Sherwood

          Aug 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

          Not to mention the tax code change that eliminated the corporate golf membership deduction. Rounds played dropped significantly.

    • ASXA

      Aug 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      You are correct. It is the responsibility of businesses to make money, otherwise they are no longer in business.

      OEM’s seem to be particularly savvy at manipulating the consumers needs and turning them into consumer wants. What they haven’t figured out… is how to minimize buyers remorse. Yes, buyers remorse. That shitty feeling you get every time you walk up to the Taylormade rack because you remember that ridiculous driver you bought that did nothing for your game, but nearly ended your marriage.

      Lawyers… Doctors… can charge whatever they want just like OEMs. But if people don’t like their work, they have every right to stop buying.

    • Allen

      Aug 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      This is a great post you made!

    • RC

      Aug 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Let ME point something out to you: Not everyone is “selling something”; I’m a firefighter with two sons who are quickly becoming avid junior golfers. Playing twice a week at ~$90 – $175/round gets expensive real quick, but we enjoy our time together and I somehow find a way to “make it work.”

      Now of course I know there are cheaper courses available, but try and play with two kids at a muni on a weekend-good luck!

      Of course companies need to make a profit; but touring pros, CEOs, etc. making MULTI-MILLIONS from my $400-$500 driver that could easily be sold for UNDER $200 (see RBZ Stage 2) including a healthy profit I might add really gets to the heart of the argument.

      We all know the true COST to manufacture a driver nowadays is well under $100, the rest is profit! They could EASILY sell at 50% less and still cover overhead, profit, marketing, pay tour players, etc.

      Let me guess… YOU wouldn’t take advantage of discounted green fees or equipment?
      YEAH RIGHT!

      • M-smizzle

        Aug 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        What is your point…is this Barney again

  84. Mark

    Aug 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

    The ball makes way more difference for 115+ mph guys on driver. Ive played balls that balloon crazy. That go too low or too high. I’ve seen over 5-15 yards betweeen different balls off the tee and that is with a lot of side by side testing. Driver ss is 120+ though.

    Just saying

  85. TA

    Aug 13, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Barney, love the articles, keep them coming. Generally speaking I tend to replace equipment on various cycles. Woods ~ 2 years, Irons ~ 5 years, wedges ~ 2 years, putter ~ don’t know, had a Scotty Newport 2 for 12+ years.

    For wedges it’s pretty easy, the grooves wear out after 2-3 years. With woods and more specifically the driver, it’s two years for a couple of reasons.
    1. My swing is a little different than it was 2 years ago and a different head/shaft combo will give me more yards and consistency.
    2. It seems as though after a year or two that drivers tend to lose some distance. On average I practice two days a week and play two days a week. My swing speed maxes out around 115mph but typically it’s probably closer to 108-110. Not a super high swing speed but enough that I’ve cracked two drivers in the last ten years (I suspect weld defects in both cases). Is it possible that through fatigue that drivers lose distance after a few thousand hits? I understand that titanium is very resistant to fatigue but that the bulge/role can change and welds can fatigue. Something noticeable like 5%? Have you ever been studied this?

  86. Dan

    Aug 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Costs – I had a component supply company – sold it in 2000. My costs were about $1.50 a grip (Lamkin), around $5 for a steel shaft (TT) and the iron heads were roughly $4 out of China. Metal heads were around $10-$12. Titanium was just coming out at $27/head. My gross margins were 27%. I worked my butt off and did over $500k a year gross sales. One man operation. I laughed at the Fujikura rep at a trade show when he wanted $150 per shaft with a suggested retail of $300. I told him that would never fly. Wrong. I sold $4 graphite shafts for $10 all day long and they were good shafts. My point is, I had nowhere near the buying power the big name brand companies had so you can imagine how much less they paid for these components. Is this the answer people were looking for from the title?

    Barney, how about we buy Cobra and then license the King Snake name to all the knockoff guys? Cobra declined considerably when they strictly enforced the King Snake world. I believe Cobra thrived because of the knockoffs, not in spite of them. Same goes for your original Tight Lies fairway woods. How well did your Tight Lies do when they stopped the knockoffs?

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 16, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Never stopped the knockoffs it’s an ugly fact of life when you make clubs. I don’t know if Cobra is for sale. Let’s just say its a tough market out there

  87. Russ

    Aug 13, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Good job guys, if you are looking to improve your game get a “swing caddie” it will improve you practice time and you will start to understand your golf swing. With mph readings you can really improve your tempo.

  88. Phat

    Aug 13, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Hey, don’t tell anyone, but golf equipment is actually affordable, as are the consumables and for the most part, club fees. An informative comparison might be competitive bicycles, which even for the average Fred runs beyond ten thousands of dollars very quickly. Golf now has challenges from other weekend warrior sports (thanks Lance), as well as the economy, stagnant salaries, increasing mortgage values, inflation, shared parenting and … diminishing spare time.

  89. AC930

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Outstanding writing Barney…. I’m a big fan of yours.

  90. ASXA

    Aug 13, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Meh, merchandising. Consumer psychology. Being a woman….everything in life that is marketed to me is what is written above. Gents… remember that $400 haircut your wife/girlfriend/other got…. color, cut, keratin treatment, blow-dry, the works, and she walks through the door looking EXACTLY THE SAME AS WHEN SHE LEFT? Member that time your kid begged you for an iPhone 5s… only for everyone to realize its functionally the exact same thing as the 5? A few years ago you would have thought Old Navy REVOLUTIONIZED THE SWEATER, with the Softest Sweater Ever nonsense. Turns out it was just a sweater.

    That’s all this is. Lots of people feel better about having new stuff, and maybe the psychology of that makes them play better… temporarily…until something better comes out. It’s the inevitable trap of western culture, buy more stuff, feel good for a minute… buy more stuff

    • Joe

      Aug 13, 2014 at 11:53 am

      Which in turn is what keeps the economy going and the fiat currency system afloat via “consumer confidence.”

      • ASXA

        Aug 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm

        I don’t disagree with you. It’s just wholly shocking to me that while this model of consumption occupies almost every other single aspect of our lives, people somehow think that golf was for some reason immune and thought that the BEST DRIVER EVARRR or MIND BENDING WEDGE GROOVES or GAME CHANGING GOLF SOCK were any thing other than marginally different than their predecessors.

    • Jason

      Aug 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Delete this post immediately…it makes too much sense to belong in the comments.

  91. Charlie

    Aug 12, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Interesting title to the article… which gave no straight answers about anything

  92. rgb

    Aug 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou for saying that we do not need to lug 14 clubs around a course. I was brought up starting at 12 yrs old with a 7 club bag and I played that through my 30s. Seems to me “back then” we really learned how to work an iron. My last set was a full 4-AW, with two wedges. Wedges? Hell, in the early 60s we made the 9 iron do everything, including sand.

    So my next set won’t be a set. I will pick a few irons, probably pings, and most likely a 2, 5, 7, 9 and 56* wedge. No hybrids, but a good driver and 13-14* 3 wood. Back to real golf.

  93. DDD

    Aug 12, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    $299 buys approximately 6-7 half hour lessons or more in some locations. $299 could cover up to 10 rounds of golf in most markets depending on location and time of day. Maybe that $299 is better spent on actually improving and enjoying the game.

    • joey5picks

      Aug 13, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Post of the year. Much more improved per dollar from practice and lessons than buying the latest $400 driver. (Don’t let my wife read this)

      • leftright

        Aug 14, 2014 at 7:58 am

        Only if you have time to practice. You can make time to practice but most people are not that disciplined. If they have any time at all it’s to play. Lesson can be a folly if you get a mediocre instructor and there are tons of them around. People should also look at what they expect out of golf. The most fun I have seen someone have are 4 guys who play 5-6 times a years and don’t expect anything out of their golf game. Me, I am miserable but golf is more addictive than Heroin (analogy, lol)to us serious guys in most cases. Heck, the only difference between me now and 25 years ago (I’m 57) is I don’t snap putters over my knee and I can’t hit it as far…reflecting back to Barney’s article on clubs, maybe he is right because my club head speed is only slightly slower but I should be hitting it past my driver 20 years ago according to the manufacturers.

  94. todd.ashford

    Aug 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I would love to discuss a minimalist bag and not carrying 14 clubs. I’m just not sure what I would take out.

    • J Bucher

      Aug 12, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      Todd, This spring my course had it’s 3 club tourney. 17* hybrid 7 iron and my sand wedge. putted with my hybrid. Shot an 85 for low net win.
      Try your minimalist bag something like that.
      Jimmy Bucher

  95. Hellstorm

    Aug 12, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I get what the article is saying. The equipment people spend a ton of $ on marketing to make less knowledgable people want to run out and buy a new $400 driver. New golfers and high handicappers are looking for quick fixes to swing problems and they fall right into the trap the marketing people set up. They have a 15 year old 9 iron that they hit 135yds but go try a new one and hit it 145yds…..they just dont know that the loft on the new 9 iron is 5 degrees stronger than their old club and think they are gaining distance. Everybody is happy. The manafacturer is happy because he sold another set of clubs and the consumer is happy because he thinks his new clubs added distance to his swing without changing a thing.

    The bottom line is that nobody is holding a gun to anybody’s head making them buy that new set of clubs off the rack. Equipment costs are way down on the list of reasons why people don’t golf as much. I believe that Mr. Adams is just discrediting that excuse so that people will focus on some of the bigger issues facing golf participation, like not enough time to play 18 holes all the time and the inability of anybody to come up with a plan to make non-golfers want to try it out.

  96. Philip

    Aug 12, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    With an 80 mph swing, of course you (the author) will find the differences in shaft and equipment negligible.

    Should not be dismissive of the advantages given by premium shafts and the work done by the manufacturers to produce these products.

    • barney adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Sorry but premium players were included in all testing. in fact some of our strangest results came from premium players !

      • Philip

        Aug 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        By “premium players”, I assume you mean players who use the premium shafts I mentioned in my post.

        • Barney Adams

          Aug 16, 2014 at 12:32 am

          I didn’t say I was 80 mph just trending in that direction !! Premium players means their skill

    • Bob

      Aug 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      As one of Golf Digest’s Top Club Fitters in the USA I can tell you that Mr. Adams is right on. Most shaft experts will tell you that if you have a release that is before 7 O’clock and most armatures are between 9 and 8 that they could use a steel rod and get basically the same results. I have access to every golf shaft on the market and see little reason to push 300, to 500 dollar shafts when one for 100 dollars or less will give the same or even better results. A good fitter profiles his shafts in at least 3 areas and more likely 7 and then they match the swing speed, tempo and release point of the player to those profiles and which ever shaft best matches is the one we go with.

      • Dan M

        Aug 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm

        You state that all shafts deliver the same results (a steel rod) for most players, so characteristics of the shaft don’t matter. But then you state you profile shafts in 7 areas to match the speed, tempo and release point of the player’s swing. So the shaft does matter . . . ?!

  97. Derek

    Aug 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Good piece.

    The point of 3-4 year old clubs performing at the “highest level of technology” I think is meaningless for amateurs because I believe that most of us amateurs lack the consistency of skills to really benefit. That is why you will often see threads here that discuss how 10 year old clubs performing just as well as current models.

    For amateurs the benefit of new “technology” is overstated and often disappointing so we are always looking for the “next thing” that will improve our game.

    The physics of club technology is such that there is only so much manufacturers can do even within the PGA/RA constraints. Weight distribution, shaft length and materials are the variables they have to work with and within those constraints I don’t believe that there is a meaningful combination that will significantly impact the amateur game.

    Basically, you take away the “sexiness” of new clubs and us amateurs would likely be just fine with 10 year old technology.

  98. Nathan

    Aug 12, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    But a brand new Pro v1 straight out of the box is soo soft and sweet, you can feel it. You get feedback in your hands, which helps!
    Untill you lose it and that hurts.
    while others its by sight that you know where thy ball goes. Lose that, does not hurt so much.

    • Nathan

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      I practice short game week in week out. Pick balls from pond, use good looking range balls, and brand newies. Brand new ball almost always means go down one club. Same with hard Vs soft ball.
      nice article
      i think whatever equipment you use, consistency is important factor to enjoyment. Same ball same shaft. Distance is not king, as for shaft its important to be able to present club head to ball the same way with different clubs. I think in this wonderfull game of golf, if your equipment performs consistently, then there is a greater chance you will perform consistently.

      • M-smizzle

        Aug 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm

        Distance is not king….
        Have you watched pga lately

        • Red

          Aug 12, 2014 at 9:20 pm

          Hate to be a buzz kill but look at the top five last week. none of those guys were particularly short….

          • Ric

            Aug 13, 2014 at 11:54 am

            Why do you even try to compare what the top 5 on the Tour do to what anyone else does?

  99. Tyler

    Aug 12, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Mr. Adams, as a business owner, I understand how overhead costs are factored into total product cost. However, were a services company and I’m wondering if you could help my understanding of the costs associated with golf products by candidly breaking down the individual costs associated with a $400 driver?

    • barney adams

      Aug 13, 2014 at 12:10 am

      How about a short answer; marketing ( which includes advertising , tour etc…)

      • Bluefan75

        Aug 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        I clicked on the article expecting an explanation as to why the price was driven by marketing, or not by marketing. No offense, Mr. Adams, but your one line reply here probably gave people more information than the article itself did.

        There was good information in there, but I’m not so sure it was applicable to this subject.

        • Tyler

          Aug 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

          I think this one line response answers the article’s title “Straight answers about equipment costs” perfectly and that is MARKETING! Mr. Adams has (in a somewhat round about and long-winded way) answered the question and the answer is that the differences in equipment, shafts, etc… aren’t much different from year to year, company to company or off-the-rack to aftermarket. The major difference is MARKETING!! So buy that $150 three year old driver with the stock shaft with confidence because the newest $450 driver with the “after market” shaft isn’t worth the extra $300 in pure performance numbers. There’s a reason that pros play aftermarket stuff, because they know that GolfWRX fools like us know that and that keeps the aftermarket companies in business.

    • ken

      Aug 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Brilliant and spot on.
      When I read the title of the article, I thought there would be an explanation or breakdown of the pricing structure of clubs

  100. PaloAltoPlaya

    Aug 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Spot on mate! I have a new brand new Ping g30 driver, ping 20, and a TM stage 2 (all 8 degree with x-flex prolaunch red). My old azz Ping G10 driver is at least 10 yards longer than all these. Newer is not always better, especially for the right proper hackers out there. I laugh at tossers buying new equipment when they possess 95 mph SS, already gaming a fairly new driver already, thinking new model going to add 17 yards to their drives. It’s all rubbish! Save your $$ and get lessons, get stronger, or yoga to get flexible.

    • Jeff Mayhall

      Aug 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      That is so true! I USED to work at Dick’s and a lot of people would come in to look at new $400 or more drivers that had no business buying these clubs because they could not hit a ball out of their shadow, but thought they needed more distance with their slice or top. If they would invest that $400 into actually learning how to hit a golf ball they could get 4 or 5 lessons for $200-$250 and still buy a two or three year old driver with what they had left after taking a few lessons! Save money and take a lesson and learn to hit the clubs you already have and actually get better at golf!

    • COGolfer

      Aug 12, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      $400 in lessons would go much further in the long run than a $400 driver.

  101. Pingback: Adams: Straight answers about equipment costs | Spacetimeandi.com

  102. WB

    Aug 12, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I take it that the point of this article is that you don’t need to go out and break the bank on equipment to be able to play golf. I agree with that, but I do believe that equipment makes a significant difference in one’s enjoyment of the game (and there is certainly a psychological, albeit not 100%, factor) as well as one’s performance. Feel, for instance, is a subjective factor that requires a certain type of equipment to get the best performance. The properly fitted equipment to one’s swing is more objective since a low handicapper is not going to get full potential from an extra-stiff shaft. Golf is no different than any game/sport that requires the player to use some form of equipment to participate. Surfing, skiing, tennis, bicycling, etc. — there’s a reason why every one of these sports have many different manufacturers who offer different versions of the same equipment.

    • Shallowface

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      I agree with you about equipment contributing to one’s enjoyment of the game, but I have a different approach. Rather than spending a fortune for the latest and greatest, I enjoy cobbling together sets out of thrift stores. I get enjoyment out of refurbishing and regripping older clubs, and then another type of enjoyment out of playing them.

      Shot a 69 last fall on a (6000 yard) course in Florida with just such a set (results not typical, I’m a 5 handicap). The Ram Zebra putter set me back a dollar and one of the fairways just happened to be one of Mr. Adams original Tight Lies that cost me all of two bucks.

      When I was a twentysomething in the 80s, I was all over the latest and greatest of that day. Wasted an embarrassing amount of money. But I can’t criticize anyone today who does the same thing I did back then. One has to learn for oneself, and if you enjoy it and can afford it, have at it.

      • WB

        Aug 12, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        I agree with you and I purposely did not mention price in my post because one can enjoy oneself with older or less expensive equipment. but the process of finding out what one enjoys can be costly. i’ve been there.

  103. Jason

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    To me your golf equipment is your start up cost for the game, if you look at other sports equipment cost golf isn’t that far out of line with it’s cost and with enough people jumping in line for the latest and greatest clubs you can always find a good set that’s only a couple of years old and will work well. The main cost that gets completely ignored in the article is the cost per round at the golf course, with high fees and outrageous beverage prices it’s hard to justify the amount of money golf cost. Just imagine how much basketball would suffer if you had to pay $40 each time to get in the gym and then was charged $5 for Gatorade.

    • CJK

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Agree with this comment 100 per cent. Greens fees are out of control, when did Friday turn into a “weekend”? When the greedy courses decided they could make more revenue that way, that’s when. And mandatory carts? At least call it what it is, mandatory greed.

      • A Golfer

        Aug 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        Exactly… I would love for someone to explain to me how greens fees are going up with the number of rounds going down. This is really this issue at hand in golf’s decline. I don’t have to buy new clubs every year or use premium balls or the newest $300 putter but I do have to pay to have access. People are making economic decisions in the way they spend their entertainment dollar. Golf is losing. Simple really.

      • ken

        Aug 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm

        When the greedy courses decided they could make more revenue that way,
        In the past, yes. Now, they can’t. So called upscale courses around the country are closing at an alarming rate. And what’s mind boggling, the former owners are in the “what just happened” mode.
        Or, they are the type of know it all business owners who operate inside a very small paradigm.
        There is such a course near here. The rates are out of whack for the market. In fact, the rates on weekends are DOUBLE what they are Mon Thru Thursday.
        Meanwhile this once top of the line public course is experiencing maintenance issues. I am seeing tee boxes being mowed but that’s it. No weed control or turf repair. The greens which were among the best in the region are now being invaded by bermudagrass from the surrounds. The surrounds are not longer weed free as in the past. Bunker sand has become packed into virtual hardpan.
        Yet, the management insists this is a $65 golf course while others nearby in better shape, are charging 20 to 25 dollars less.

        • A Golfer

          Aug 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm

          Yep, same things are happening here. Both normal and “Upscale” (read $70+) courses that have no sand in bunkers or greens that had been in great shape in the past, look/roll terrible now. Still charging the $70+ plus though. It’s like they think their customers aren’t paying attention.

  104. Mike Howard

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Wow, a whole lot of obfuscation, not a lot of useful information. So here’s some: Back in the mid-late 80’s I decided I wanted a pro-level persimmon driver. I had been using inexpensive laminated woods, but had some money and wanted something that was as good as the pros played. So I bought a MacGregor persimmon driver at my local golf store, not on sale or anything, for $80. That was as expensive as drivers got, although if you wanted a graphite shaft it would be a few extra bucks.

    So in today’s dollars, a top of the line driver should MSRP for around $177. Today’s equipment is ridiculously overpriced.

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      Back in the 80’s companies didn’t have today’s expensive tour staffs, and Today’s cost of TV advertising. Unfortunately if you want to compete those costs are unavoidable. Of course you can attempt to sell clubs on line without those costs and you are basically pursuing a hobby not a business. Further today’s $400 driver is just 6 mo away from being $199 on sale and it didn’t deteriorate.

      • Jason

        Aug 12, 2014 at 11:07 pm

        If todays $400 driver is only 6 months away from being $199 why do companies continue with this cycle? It seems to me a company would be better suited to stop flooding the market with the latest and greatest every 6 months, it also seems that most of us consumers have caught on to this also from the large drop off in sales in box stores. I am under the belief that every golf CEO truly loves the game of golf and wants to see it grow but there seems to be a lot of shooting oneself in the foot going on. If r&d wasn’t being told to keep pushing out product and the new products didn’t need new advertising that seems to be a money saver. For an example my son purchased a new R1 last spring and it’s already 3-4 models old.

        • ken

          Aug 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

          I wil offer my theory.
          I call it “get as much as you can as quickly as you can”
          The idea is to make an attempt to recover as much of the cost of R&D, construction, fees paid to professional players, marketing, etc.
          These companies know full well their equipment will be marked down on the retail end.
          Put it this way. If they do not realize this, these allegedly very smart people may not be so smart.

      • Larry

        Aug 13, 2014 at 1:35 am

        Cost, the first full article I read on the internet some years ago was by eli Callaway…a long article that told the story of the first “Big Bertha” driver…cost to make $15 retail (and like to day controlled) $199. Mr. Callaway said they knew they would have lots of returns as they did not have a shaft tip that could hold up (I broke 2 myself back then) and the money was needed to pay tour players to use thier products…..which continues today, just remember when you buy the perimum balls for up near $50 a dozen part of your money is going to pay for tour players to use those $50 a dozen balls on the range…think about Wilson golf for a second they market a ball for $20 a dozen called Duo, that plays every bit as good as a tour ball (with exception of amount of back spin, which no one over a 10 handicap needs anyway.

    • COGolfer

      Aug 12, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      Have to pay for the marketing…

    • LB

      Aug 13, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Well you can get any driver you want for $177 if you wait a few months.

  105. Mark

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Very interesting to read a differing opinion as opposed to how the latest technology will help your game. I think you make a very valid point in that a new club may well result in an improvement purely from the mental side of having a new toy.

    I am a reasonable single figure golfer and have been looking at upgrading both Irons and Driver over the past 2-3 years. However, prior to handing over the cash, I’ve been on various launch monitors testing different clubs as well as taking demos out on to the course and the conclusion I reached would agree with what you have written above. There really is no measurable improvement between my 8 year old TaylorMade RAC Irons and any of the new products I tested (and I tested a large number), nor have I found a Driver I hit any better than my Callaway Razr X (this did however give me huge improvements when it was purchased to replace my old and previously trustworthy, 2003 Ping G2).

    I do replace wedges once a year or so, purely since the grooves wear out, however I won’t be replacing Irons or Driver unless testing in the future proves they give much more bang for the buck than my current weapons.

    • Pace, florida

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      There probably is a differnece since they deloft and lengthen the shaft in irons, but since you said there wasn’t I guess I’ll just go with what you posted

      • Knobbywood

        Aug 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm

        You can have your irons delofted and you can also put extensions in… BUT be warned a longer cub may be more difficult to find the sweetspot with and less loft means more sidespin and less shots fired right at your target…so IMHO you are actually better off without the newer cubs… Which would you prefer? a 6 iron on the green or an 8 iron into the greenside bunker?

  106. chris

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    It’s funny he never mentioned why the stuff is ACTUALLY so expensive then??!! I guess it falls under if people are stupid enough to buy it who cares if we overcharge for lies….Its like anything else now , overpriced …

    • ada

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      Golf clubs are cheap. Just buy the 8 month old model and not the brand new one. For anything other than Ping or Titliest, your golden. For an extreme the Bio Cell Pro driver. Retailed for 399 in May. Was selling for like 215 a month later. Now factor in that club will be good for 3+ years and the cost of clubs is negligible.

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      See Johnny below for my answer.

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      He didn’t mention it because it’s a subtle way to get everybody riled up

  107. Carlos Danger

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks for ruining my day Barney! Now, back to surfing the classifieds and Ebay for a great deal on a AD-BB X Flex shaft! Cuz I just gotta have it

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      And if u gotta have it I guarantee it will play better !!

  108. CD

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I sold my titleist 905r this year and bought a 910. Pointless decision, made no difference whatsoever. In fact, got so used to the feel of the 905 should have kept it.

  109. Jay

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    This article attempts to address the cost of equipment, but it ignores the high cost of green fees, cart fees, etc. that see to be norm, at least in my area. While I agree with *some* of the suggestions in Barney’s other recent articles on GolfWRX, I fail to see how the average recreation golfer can wring any actionable advice from this latest piece on equipment costs.

    To put it another way – I already play a 10 year old driver and three-wood (maxfli’s with cheap shafts, about $50 bucks off the rack at Dick’s back then), three-year old Adams irons (plus a hybrid) that I bought on sale for about $250, and I usually carry 12 clubs (varies slightly depending on what course I’m playing). I also use less expensive balls.

    My issue with the current state of the “market” though, is that every time I decide to play, I have to have 6 hours free, and then it costs upwards of $50 in green fees PLUS a cart fee (ranges from $12 to $25) at the public courses in my area. I would prefer to walk (regardless of the cart fee, I just enjoy walking), but our local courses won’t permit it.

    So lets assume I still have all of my current gear – at these rates I can afford to play maybe twice a month (~$125-$150 per two rounds).

    I *want* to be able to play about two rounds a week though and I have the time, but there’s no way I could afford that at the current rates.

    I can’t get any traction on improving my game with only about 8-10 rounds per season (assuming 2/month and our usual consistent cold/snow in winter), and there are no driving ranges or practice areas now within 60 miles of home.

    What else am I supposed to do? It’s clearly not the cost of gear, nor the time required to play that is making golf less accessible for me. It’s squarely the cost of fees+cart that push it out of reach.

    • Dakota

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      try golfnow.com looks for the orange box and maybe just play 9, its easy for me but maybe because I am only 3 years out of high school.

    • Chris

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      You should ask around to some of your local courses if they do a monthly membership rate. I know where I live the city courses are tied together to one yearly rate that I believe you can pay in installments on a monthly basis. Memberships would certainly be a way for you to get the bang for your buck on playing rounds at your local courses so I’d give that a shot.

      • Jay

        Aug 14, 2014 at 10:30 am

        Thanks for the suggestions – this is something I’ve looked into before as well.

        There are Two courses in my area with somewhat reasonable membership fees, but both are upwards of $250/month, and they still require members to pay a cart fee each time they play.

        I think part of my issue is that there just aren’t very may courses in my area – I can come up with about 8 courses inside of an hours drive. I haven’t checked for at least a year now, but I don’t think any of those were on golfnow yet when I checked last.

  110. John

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Question re: the article’s comments on puring,”no correlation to ball flight or feel”… Isn’t the purported benefit of puring, not these characteristics, but consistency in delivering the clubhead to the ball?

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      If it did as you say the result would be more consistent ball flight. Never showed this result in any tests.

      • John

        Aug 12, 2014 at 9:31 pm

        Thanks for the reply… so, no reduction in mishits?

        • barney adams

          Aug 13, 2014 at 12:13 am

          Zippo

          • bayouvon

            Aug 13, 2014 at 12:13 pm

            Barney … I teach golf and one of the first things I do is evaluate a students basic fundamentals. As part of the process I hit a few balls with their clubs, especially the ones they have a hard time with. So after hitting a few sweet shots I turn to them and say, ‘well it’s not the club!’ They usually chuckle and say I didn’t think so. That’s why I’m here.

            Barney … take a look at the U.S. Kids Golf program … and endorse it if you can!

            Golf Teaching Professional

          • myron miller

            Aug 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm

            That’s really interesting and confusing. I personally have seen several instances where a club (wood/driver) was really really inconsistant. The person owning the club had troubles hitting the ball consistantly in one direction. It just wasn’t consistent. And in a couple of situations, we had several other very strong players try the same club and they couldn’t control it otherwise.

            We checked its charactistics and the club head wobbled all over the planet. Huge circles. We had the shaft moved in relationship to the head (puring/splining, whatever) so that the head movement now was consistently up-down in a consistant fashion. And after doing that all the players were able to hit it much more consistently. And a couple of the players didn’t know that we had “splined” the shaft. Just that we had them test it over two days. If you say splining makes no difference, why the difference we experienced (several different times).

            Secondly, I can personally say from my experience is that the shaft can make a lot of difference in the distance. I tested a couple of drivers with putting different shafts (different brands but same flex) with different kick points or speed of kick return and the difference is like night and day – up to 40-50 yards in some situations (my 80+ mph swing) on 20-50 different swings with each shaft.

            What I’ve found is that some of the more expensive (not super but more) shafts have a bend that returns thru straight much much faster than others. And if my swing can optimize the bend and get that return at the bottom, my “effective” swing speed becomes much faster. Same speed at the hands but the clubhead gets faster due to the ‘propelling effect’ of the fiberglass shaft. (a lot like the pole vaulters fiberglass pole bend effect. ) And that “spring effect” is a proven technology that does increase speed which could and sometimes is used in golf. Its just super hard for the average golfer to control (me too – but its effect is super).

            I would bet that if you took a shaft which could be manipulated to have a large bend but which bend would snap back to its original position. And shafts do have different snap back characteristics but most shaft makers don’t measure them although I recently saw one shaft manufacturer advertise one line of its shafts snaps back much quicker than normal.

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Just listen to his propaganda

  111. MHendon

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Well they didn’t believe me Barney, maybe with your credentials they’ll believe you.

  112. Johnny

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I agree with DontChase’s comment (at 3:59). I’m the first to admit that I fall far short of being a Rhode’s Scholar but I have no idea what the connection is between the Title of the article and the article itself. Did not see any straight answers about equipment costs. Did I miss something?

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      I answered this below but will do so again. Maybe I’m guilty of assuming what to me is obvious. You’re running a business. You make money you stick around you lose money you go away. Pricing products is a formula based on all costs, the margin you need and an analysis of the ultimate positioning.
      If the formula produces a price. 1 1/2 x the competition you can decide to position yourself as superior and worth it. Or you can make little to no money. Or you can cut costs and try not to destroy the guts of your business in doing so. All are decisions which face business managers daily.
      You as consumers vote with your wallet, the message gets through.

      • Chris

        Aug 12, 2014 at 7:45 pm

        Barney, with consumers voting with their wallets, could you perceive the costs of equipment going down in the somewhat near future? I work in a retailer that for the most part has been selling previous models of drivers, irons, etc. because we have been so overstocked on them. Part of the problem with that is the market being too saturated (TaylorMade comes to mind) with clubs that are the “latest and greatest” that people wait for cheap clubs which lowers margins. When the margins go down, businesses suffer. With that in mind, could it be something where the prices start to drop a bit in the next few years?

        • barney adams

          Aug 13, 2014 at 12:23 am

          here’s the problem; equipment companies make from not very much to less than that. Golf balls are the holy grail, a good ball franchise saves the day. i realize there is altruistic thinking that says build a good product and the customers will find you. Unfortunately that doesn’t work, there are several good products on the market and you have to “play the game” tour player$, tv adverti$sing, on and on. It’s a big boy’s game.
          lets suppose you decided to sell $200 drivers and $300 sets of irons, the very best quality. One ( or more) of the big guys would match or beat you until you couldn’t sustain.

          • Dpavs

            Aug 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm

            That’s an interesting proposition but I have not in my lifetime seen this in practice. Can you site an example of where this has actually occurred? What I have seen, is exactly the opposite, small companies tend to price themselves up to the big guys and then wonder why they can’t compete based on trying to market themselves as having a superior product.

      • cmasty

        Aug 13, 2014 at 11:07 am

        Agree mostly here. As a business manager and a self professed student of gross margin and profitability, a wise business mind will ignore costs when it comes to pricing. Cost is irrelevant to price. The price is what the consumer will pay – End of story. If you cant make money at that price (this is where the cost comes in), then you dont make that product or cease to exist. Golf equipment is basically a commodity at this point. There really isn’t that much difference brand to brand. It’s tough out there. Getting the consumer to believe a differentiation or perceive a customer service benefit will allow a higher price. Good article, Barney.

  113. Jason P.

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I agree 100% with this article. You don’t need the latest and greatest equipment to play well. I buy the Wilson Staff Duo Balls and my Maltby Irons, Acer Driver, Macgregor Putter etc. I still play at a 10 handicap and have fun. I only get out a couple times a month now due to battling cancer for the second time but I still do what I can. The best advice I can tell people to play better is “course management” over full power and being overly aggressive. Find the fairway and the greens. If you cant hit your driver or 3 wood etc then tee off with a hybrid or driving iron. I own a driver and driving iron. Three wood doesnt exist in my bag. Just decide on club selection wisely. I dont believe in swinging the clubs hard and this theory has improved my game immensely. Have fun out there that is what this game is suppose to provide us.

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      That acer driver ain’t got turbulators…
      You’re selling yourself short
      Instead of 220, you could be out there
      225….dare I say 228

  114. DB

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Lots of topics covered here, but I appreciate the honest insight from an industry insider.

    I mean, you’re probably right about high cappers not needing 14 clubs… but which company is going to actually tell them that…? Haha

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      It’s not a handicap thing really (although I’m sure they go one club they won’t hit)…I think it’s more of a yardage thing …at my course no par 4s are over 400 so it’s driver, flip 60 to most holes

      • M-smizzle

        Aug 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        They are about 300 to 350 before everybody jumps on me about 350 drives

        • Gaz

          Sep 25, 2014 at 6:32 am

          Bollocks ! 300-350 my ringpiece.
          I play several Pro-Am comps in a season and seldom see the top Pro’s in my area hit it consistently 300yds, even after a dry spell in the middle of summer ! Are you Rory McIlroy in disguise ?

  115. w

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    uh. i don’t know. off the rack is not the worst thing for a beginner even though every instructor and salesman in the world tries to sell a person who’s never swung a club before on a dynamic fitting. that’s laughable. static fittings work best for beginners. if minor adjustments need to be made they can be made. also, let’s remember beginners don’t need a full set. they can start with borrowing a friends club. then move on to a driver, 7 iron, wedge, putter set. and so on. so i guess one of the big problems is OEMs marketing the need for expensive clubs. the other big expense is lessons.

  116. Jerry

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Golf industry and the PGA are much like the Republican Party: they trust that people dont check the facts and that people are and stay, how should I say it politely, less educated. When your audience is like a bunch of donkeys running after a carrot, you’re an easy winner. Well done!

    • rob

      Aug 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Yep, my 3 dollar bargain 12 year old shafts and clubs (driver) just fine….thank you…but everyone else keep buy and selling, that is how I get cheap equipment…..

    • Pilot25

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Wrong party Jerry….

      • Jeremy

        Aug 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm

        Or at least the wrong place to be making gratuitous political jabs.

        • Jerry

          Aug 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm

          It was not “a political jab”. It was a comparison between three instances. Like, red and blue are much like yellow: colors. And the point was not the “Republican Party”. The point was the Golf Industry & PGA, which both fool people for money.

          • DDD

            Aug 12, 2014 at 11:23 pm

            And just how exactly does the PGA fool people for money?

    • kloyd0306

      Aug 12, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Hey Mods…….

      Are you going to allow an opposing-view response to such a comment, or are you going to reprimand the poster?

      I will not be surprised if when such a similar comment is aimed at Democrats, you will only then jump up indignantly.

  117. John Pate

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    DontChase, All he’s saying is there are plenty of perfectly good clubs that are 3-4 years old on the sale rack that are far less than $400. Also, you don’t need to buy 14 so the cost is even lower. Also, you don’t need to pay for an expensive shaft or shaft puring. A lot of the golf industry is up-selling the customers.

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      This post should be at the top instead of the article

  118. Inthejonzone

    Aug 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Again, the title isn’t really the meaning behind the article…

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      Why don’t you focus on the article and forget the title then

  119. DontChase

    Aug 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Honestly, this article was all over the place. I’m not sure it talked about costs at all. But I’ve read it a few times and I think I’m still confused. Was this article the answer to something?

    None of this talks about why OEMs charge the insane prices they charge for equipment and how this might be turning people off. It talked about COR testing and then spining clubs and then getting paid in golf balls and then something about not playing with 14 clubs.

    Really all over the place.

    • Jeremy

      Aug 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Seriously. Needs to be re-titled to “Why the .00001% of you getting upsold on fancy extras probably don’t need it.” It really doesn’t address the much broader, more mainstream complaints regarding cost that I’ve been seeing in the comments of Mr. Adams’ articles for some time.

      If I’m to take my own conclusions from the facts presented here, they’re that we don’t need new drivers nearly as often as we think we do (agree), that used clubs are mostly just as good as new ones (agree) and that extras like puring a $400 shaft are money wasted (agree, but I don’t think anyone who does this considers it a factor in whether they play the game or not).

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Manufacturers establish prices the way anyone selling a product does. They figure all their costs x a factor needed to make a profit. If the formula delivers a price that is out of line then they can cut costs or live with a smaller profit. Easy to write about difficult to administer

      • DontChase

        Aug 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm

        I wonder if you would have written this article when you were the Chairman and in charge of said bottom line. Or is it easier now to write something like this, bashing a lot of the OEM marketing tactics, now that you are no longer at the wheel?

        Dont buy new clubs. Dont buy upgraded shafts. Dont buy new balls.

        I doubt you’d see Mark King on here writing the same thing.

        I guess you must think its reasonable then that a company charges $300 for a new hybrid? Is that sort of the “new normal” in the golf industry?

        • DDD

          Aug 12, 2014 at 11:33 pm

          Mark King’s business model seems to be blowing up in his face. Product life cycles of 6-9 months is great so long as you can keep the feeding frenzy up with marketing and creating the demand. Demand has dropped in my estimation because the consumer has finally wised up that his products hit the market and prices are dumped within a few months to make room for the next wave of products and marketing. Looks like the same is happening with adidas. A push marketing effort only works so long as you keep the marketing machine churning and fresh. Maybe it’s getting old. It’s been their practice to push, over ship, and then make excuses. Frankly I think their model has blown up and it’s long overdue. Ask anyone strapped with excess inventory. There are plenty of those including myself and my rounds are up over 10%!

    • Mark

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Have to disagree with your comment. In all his previous articles commenters universally cited cost of equipment as a barrier to getting and keeping people playing golf. This article is a rebuttal to that. He rightfully states that you don’t need the latest and greatest to play golf or play golf well. Equipment can be found cheap and it lasts a long time. You don’t need $5 a piece golf balls.

      The scariest competitor to meet on the first tee is a guy with a bag that looks like its been run over by a truck and who plays only with balls he finds in the woods. I’ll take bets he can mop the floor 9/10 times with a guy with a shiny new bag of callaway, titleist, or TM clubs and a dozen brand new pro v1x’s.

      • M-smizzle

        Aug 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        I got 8 course records and g30s…
        Tell that scary guy whenever I’m ready

        • MikeyLikey

          Aug 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

          People have wisely ignored you M-smizzle but let me give you a little bit of the acknolwedgemetn and validation you seek. In response to:

          “I got 8 course records and g30s…
          Tell that scary guy whenever I’m ready”

          No you don’t.
          G30’s look cool and must be nice sticks, congrats.
          Best of luck.

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Every time I read the article I expect to see
      #bitter

    • M-smizzle

      Aug 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      He’s mad tmag and ping get money
      And he gets golf balls

  120. daniel bratlie

    Aug 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    excellent insight!!! I love all the facts and I will take this heart next time I am out looking for new clubs

    • DontChase

      Aug 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Right, he doesnt answer any of the question or really talk to the title of the article. So his answer to “People might be getting turned off to OEMs charging $400 for a driver or $300 for a hybrid when shopping for new clubs” is – dont buy new clubs, buy 4 year old used stuff – and when you do, only buy 10 clubs because then its cheaper?

      • Philip

        Aug 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

        You seem to got the point. Golf manufacturers charge what they do because people are more than willing to pay the prices for the latest, greatest. Often just because they need to have a new shiny toy that their friends do not have … yet. The manufactures do not have to have factories re-tooled because the changes year-to-year are minuscule. Our society is insecure and loves to pay crazy prices for stuff to show they have more worth $$$ than others, otherwise why pay $100-$500 for shirts and jeans that cost of fraction to make and market.

        When people no longer are buying at these prices the manufacturers will not reduce prices, but will reduce quality like every other company. As an industry expands, prices rise and quality drops – the number of examples is pretty much every large industry.

        The thing is that if golfers never bit on the false promises this situation would have either been delayed or maybe even prevented, but no one ever wants to wait and use older equipment.

        This article gives us industry knowledge and allows golfers to make informed decisions to maximize their equipment performance and minimize cost. A win-win for me.

      • Mark

        Aug 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

        Yes. That’s exactly what he is saying and it just answered your question. People are turned off because they think they “need” a new $400 driver and can’t afford it. Once you realize that it is a want and not a need to play and enjoy golf it is quite liberating actually.

        • Mark

          Aug 12, 2014 at 5:42 pm

          Oh and you can buy 1 year old unused stuff for cheap – its still new and it won’t cost $400 for a single club. You just have to live with not having the latest.

        • DDD

          Aug 12, 2014 at 11:38 pm

          Sounds familiar. Financial markets expand until it explodes. Housing market expands until it explodes. Insurance industry expands until it explodes. Stock market is expanding and is expected by many that it’s due for a correction (explosion). And yet we still think it’s something else. Golf was over built for years – way beyond existing or anticipated demand. Equipment over manufactured and over marketed and maybe it’s time for a major correction.

      • M-smizzle

        Aug 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm

        How bout we don’t buy anything
        Instead of gas, let’s walk
        Instead of food, let’s eat tree bark..
        Instead of nice homes, let’s sit in the dark in a tent, not a new tent but one we made out of stuff that we found in a garbage dump
        Buy what you want, when you want
        You work for your money and one day you’re gonna die….so live it up

        • vettenut

          Aug 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

          To M-s…..
          You just made Mr. Adams’ point — the marketing departments at the big OEM’s will continue to aim highly-priced “latest & greatest” equipment in your general direction, as long as there are folks like you with the “live-it-up” mentality.

          But I reject your mentality for myself. It is precisely the fact that I work hard for my money, that I choose to exercise restraint and common sense when purchasing golf equipment.

          There’s no “live-it-up” mentality in my attitude! Let’s encourage and demonstrate RESTRAINT & COMMON SENSE! Maybe the OEM’s will eventually get the message!

          BTW, I am an online equipment retailer offering custom-fitted name brand clubs (don’t worry — I won’t post my Website in this comment), who can buy the very latest of just about any name-brand clubs at wholesale prices……..

  121. Jeremy

    Aug 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I’m not sure I get your point Mr. Adams. Are you saying that, with regards to all the people complaining about the cost of the game, it needn’t be as expensive as we’re making it?

    • Barney Adams

      Aug 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      I’m saying you have very legitimate choices. And the ultimate answer; ball flight!

      • Mark

        Aug 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        There it is…ball flight laws explain swing flaws…fix the swing flaws, don’t buy new equipment.

  122. Jeff

    Aug 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I laugh when someone tells me they hit hooks because they’re shaft is too soft. Buddy, you hit hooks because you pointed your legs to the left woods and shut the face taking a 100mph lunge at it, No shaft on the market ever straightens out that shot.

    • Norman

      Aug 13, 2014 at 8:17 am

      I will stab at the costs

      Titanium Head $30 Shaft $15 Grip $2 Assembly $3

      Cost 50$ so far , shipping and import maybe $10

      Wholesale $250 Margin 250-60 =190

      Maybe way off but since nobody else has?

      • vettenut

        Aug 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        You are not far off on the costs of manufacturing & delivering the EQUIPMENT. What you are not addressing is the COST of what used to be called the SG&A (Sales, General and Administrative). That would probably amount to around $100 per Driver. So subtract that $100 from your estimated profit margin of $190, and you get an approximate net margin of around $90.

        THEN, when you consider that after 6-12 months, most OEM’s will take around $90 off their “minimum advertised price,” in an attempt to clear out their unsold inventory, you can see that they are probably offering to sell their inventory at their cost, to recover their invested capital and make it available for future activities……

        • vettenut

          Aug 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm

          BTW, the SG&A includes advertising, promotion, freebies for the pros & celebs, etc……

  123. 4pillars

    Aug 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Interesting, so what clubs would you recommend then?

    • Heffe78

      Aug 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Hah – good question. By the sounds of it anything that you can get your hands on. And then use it to hit any old dirty ball you find in a new sleeve or at the bottom of the pond.

      Atta Boy Barney – good article Alternative title “Just shut up & hit it” (and when you find it, hit it again)

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Opinion & Analysis

Squares2Circles: Course strategy refined by a Ph.D.

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What do you get when you combine Division I-level golf talent, a Ph.D. in Mathematics, a passion for understanding how people process analytical information, and a knowledge of the psychology behind it? In short, you get Kevin Moore, but the long version of the story is much more interesting.

Kevin Moore attended the University of Akron on a golf scholarship from 2001-2005. Upon completing his tenure with the team, he found himself burned out on the game and promptly hung up his sticks. For a decade.

After completing his BS and MS degrees at the University of Akron, Kevin then went to Arizona State to pursue his Ph.D. Ultimately what drew him to the desert was the opportunity to research the psychology behind how people process analytical information. In his own words:

“My research in mathematics education is actually in the realm of student cognition (how students think and learn). From that, I’ve gained a deep understanding of developmental psychology in the mathematical world and also a general understanding of psychology as a whole; how our brains work, how we make decisions, and how we respond to results.”

In 2015, Kevin started to miss the game he loved. Now a professor of mathematics education at the University of Georgia, he dusted off his clubs and set a goal to play in USGA events. That’s when it all started to come together.

“I wanted to play some interesting courses for my satellite qualifiers and I wasn’t able to play practice rounds to be able to check them out in advance. So I modified a math program to let me do all the strategic planning ahead of time. I worked my way around the golf course, plotting out exactly how I wanted to hit  shot, and minimizing my expected score for each hole. I bundled that up into a report that I could study to prepare for the rounds.

“I’m not long enough to overpower a golf course, so I needed to find a way to make sure I was putting myself in the best positions possible to minimize my score. There might be a pin position on a certain green where purposely hitting an 8-iron to 25 feet is the best strategy for me. I’ll let the rest of the field take on that pin and make a mistake even if they’re only hitting wedge. I know that playing intelligently aggressive to the right spot is going to allow me to pick up fractions of strokes here and there.”

His plan worked, too. Kevin made it to the USGA Mid-Amateur at Charlotte Country Club in September of 2018 using this preparation method for his events just three years after taking a decade off of golf. In case you missed the implied sentiment, that’s extremely impressive. When Kevin showed his reports to some friends that played on the Web.com Tour and the Mackenzie Tour, they were so impressed they asked him to think about generating them for other people. The first group he approached was the coaching staff at the University of Georgia, who promptly enlisted his services to assist their team with course strategy in the spring of 2019. That’s when Squares2Circles really started to get some traction.

At that point, UGA hadn’t had a team win in over two seasons. They also hadn’t had an individual winner in over one season and had missed out on Nationals the previous two seasons. In the spring of 2019, they had three team wins (including winning Regionals to advance to Nationals) and two individual wins (including Davis Thompson’s win at Regionals). Obviously, the credit ultimately belongs to the players on the team, but suffice it to say it appears as though Kevin’s involvement with the team was decidedly useful.

“One of the things we really focused in on was par 3 scoring. They finished 3rd, 2nd, 4th, and 3rd in the field as a team in their spring tournaments. Then at the SEC’s they struggled a bit and finished 6th in the field. At Regionals, they turned it around and finished 1st in the field with a score of +6 across 60 scores (186 total on 60 par 3’s, an average of 3.10).”

Sample Squares2Circles layout for the 18th hole at Muirfield Village. Advanced data redacted.

Kevin is available outside of his work with UGA and has been employed by other D-I teams (including his alma mater of Akron), Mackenzie Tour players, Web.com Tour players, and competitive juniors as well. Using his modified math program, he can generate generic course guides based on assumed shot dispersions, but having more specific Trackman data for the individual allows him to take things to a new level. This allows him to show the player exactly what their options are with their exact carry numbers and shot dispersions.

“Everything I do is ultimately based off of strokes gained data. I don’t reinvent the wheel there and I don’t use any real new statistics (at least not yet), but I see my role as interpreting that data. Let’s say a certain player is an average of -2.1 on strokes gained approach over the last 10 rounds. That says something about his game, but it doesn’t say if it’s strategy or execution. And it doesn’t help you come up with a practice plan either. I love to help players go deeper than just the raw data to help them understand why they’re seeing what they’re seeing. That’s where the good stuff is. Not just the data, but the story the data tells and the psychology behind it. How do we get ourselves in the right mindset to play golf and think through a round and commit to what we’re doing?”

“Even if you’re able to play practice rounds, this level of preparation turns those practice rounds into more of an experiment than a game plan session. You go into your practice round already knowing the golf course and already having a plan of attack. This allows you to use that practice round to test that game plan before the competition starts. You may decide to tweak a few things during your practice round based on course conditions or an elevation change here and there, but for the most part it’s like you’ve gained a free practice round. It allows you to be more comfortable and just let it fly a lot earlier.”

Kevin is in the process of building his website, but follow @squares2circles on Twitter for more information and insight.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf Innovation on Cobra Connect, new ways to evaluate good play, and the future of golf improvement.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Mondays Off: U.S. Open wrap-up | Steve plays against the new assistant pro

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Would Woodland have won the U.S. Open if he had to hit driver on the 18th hole? Knudson doesn’t think so. Steve loved the U.S. Open, but he didn’t really love the commentator crew. Also, Steve tees it up with the new second assistant pro at the club, how did he do?

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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