Connect with us

Equipment

Vega Looks to Capitalize on Golf’s Ultra-Premium Push

Published

on

You know when an upscale steakhouse opens in your town, and no one wants to go because it’s too expensive? But then a ritzy Italian restaurant opens next door, and a high-end seafood restaurant opens next to that. Now the area is booming, and the original steakhouse’s prices don’t seem so outrageous anymore. Vega is that steakhouse in the ultra-premium golf equipment world, and it has its sights set on an uptick in reservations thanks to competitors with even higher-priced menus.

Vega got its start as the in-house brand for famed Japanese forging house, Kyoei, which has been manufacturing golf clubs for more than five decades. It was purchased by Professional Golf Europe (PGE) in 2012 with an agreement that PGE continue use the Kyoei factory to manufacture Vega’s one-piece irons. Its reputation is similar to Miura, a fellow Japanese golf equipment manufacturer. While Miura is significantly more popular than Vega in the U.S., it’s similarly perceived among its fans for its quality and attention to detail: particularly its one-piece irons.

“Up until this point, [Vega has] always been perceived as really expensive in the market.” “Now, all of the sudden, we’re half the price of some of the new brands.”

As in the restaurant example above, economics of the golf equipment industry have rapidly shifted in the last two years. Newcomer PXG stunned the industry with irons priced at more than $300 per club, two-to-three times the going rate. Even more stunning was the popularity of the clubs with golfers; PXG became dominant in the ultra-premium space. The industry took notice, and that’s what led things to where they are now. Titleist and Callaway have both made a push into the ultra-premium space with similarly priced products, while historically ultra-premium brand Miura is undergoing a rebrand and retooling its product line to enhance its appeal.

Vega_Alcor_Wedges

Vega’s new Alcor wedges sell for $260 per club in the U.S.

Despite the increased competition, the shift in the marketplace can be seen as an opportunity for Vega; not at the high end of the ultra-premium market that it once occupied, but in a new “affordable luxury” category that seems to be emerging. “Up until this point, [Vega has] always been perceived as really expensive in the market,” says Peter Lord, Director of Professional Golf Europe, the parent company that owns Vega. “Now, all of the sudden, we’re half the price of some of the new brands.”

Lord’s reference was to PXG, whose new 0311XF irons start at $350 per club, or $2800 for an eight-piece set. Golfers who want them in the company’s special dark finish will pay an extra $150 per club, raising the price to $4000 per set. Vega’s irons sell for around $2000 per set, depending on the model (Vega also sells a full line of metal woods, wedges and putters that the company plans to promote more aggressively going forward).

There are other reasons for Vega’s resurgence, particularly in North America. The first has to do with distribution. In 2016, Jennifer Gard of Eagle Golf Distributors purchased the rights to distribute Vega in North America. Gard, whose company also distributes Veylix shafts, felt that Vega was being undervalued by North American golfers due to a lack of retail presence and chatter. She didn’t see it as a product problem, although she and Lord recognized that there was an opportunity for Vega to add a new page to its menu, so to speak.

“All we’re doing is moving the balance point from old school, hand crafted to more of the tech side.”

Vega’s new Mizar irons and Alcor wedges are the first of the company’s new Star Line, which focuses on improved performance through multi-material constructions. It’s a completely new focus for the company, at least in irons, which had been focused almost entirely on one-piece forged designs.

The Mizar irons ($280 per club) are made from two main pieces: a forged club head that’s merged with a thinner, maraging forged club face. A tungsten weight is also used in the design of each iron to optimize the center of gravity of each club. It’s located inside the sole, and its location varies based on the club. Long irons have the tungsten weight in the heel, mid-irons have the weight in the middle of the club and short irons have the weight on the toe. “With Mizar and all future Star Line (clubs), all we’re doing is moving the balance point from old school, hand crafted to more of the tech side,” Lord says.

Vega will continue to offer what it’s calling its “Classic” VC line of one-piece irons, which are offered in a range of sizes to please traditionalists of all skills levels. They’ll maintain their traditional lofts, which is an area of sensitivity for many golfers.

mizar-more-info2

The Mizar irons take a much more modern approach to distance. The stock pitching wedge loft is 42 degrees, which is 1-degree stronger than the 9-iron loft of Vega’s VM-01 and VM-02 muscleback irons. It’s not a total distance-first approach, however. Whereas many golf equipment manufacturers have focused on making the club faces as thin as possible in their distance-iron models to improve performance, Vega decided to make its Mizar iron faces thicker. They’re 3.5 millimeters in thickness, according to Lord, a design that maintains soft feel Vega is known for across the club face. “It’s less hot, but it still gives it forgiveness on off-center hits,” Lord says.

The Alcor wedges ($260 per club) are a one-piece forged design, but like the Mizar irons they have channels cut into their forged bodies that helped designers alter center of gravity for better performance. With the wedges, the aim was to push the weight higher and toward the center of the club to improve spin and feel.

Lord called Alcor “the first of a long-term strategy with wedges.” He also hinted that Vega will expand the Mizar iron lineup with a both larger and smaller model, although he says golfers shouldn’t expect to see them in stores for at least 18 months.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the Mizar irons and Alcor wedges in our forum. 

Your Reaction?
  • 28
  • LEGIT9
  • WOW6
  • LOL3
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP5
  • OB3
  • SHANK84

Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Francisco

    Jul 1, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Without doubt, one of the most versatile irons i have ever played. I play 6 hp and my last irons were Bridgestone j15 mb

  2. jc

    Jun 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    how long before they are in the used club rack at roger dunn? in the mean time, I will keep hitting my pings rather than sell my house for a set of irons.

  3. Bert

    Jun 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Are these as ugly as the PXG irons? Maybe no, they look better to me. I’m not saying I like the look, but better than some club-head with a bunch of set screws.

    Who cares if the club-head housing is forged, the face is all that strikes the ball and the face is forged. Ok I guess I’m confused. If the club-head is solid, then forging is great, but if hollow, who cares. I can’t see where being a forged head matters for these designs. Just more marketing gimmicks to lead you to believe these over the top priced irons are great.

  4. Tom54

    Jun 16, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    The way I look at it go ahead and bring another premium club to the market. Will just be another one that I could care less about. That is one ugly club.

    • Gorden

      Jun 16, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      AGREE WITH YOU, IT IS AMAZING HOW MANY SETS OF PXG IRONS ARE FOR SALE ON EBAY, IF THEY ARE ALL THAT WHY WOULD SO MANY BE GETTING RID OF THEM…IF YOUR AN AVERAGE GOLFER EVEN A 15 HANDICAP OR MORE THE ONLY REASON TO EVER BUY NEW CLUBS IS YOU WANT THEM OR YOU WORE YOUR OLD ONES OUT AFTER 10 YEARS.

  5. Duk Koo Kim

    Jun 16, 2017 at 4:54 am

    They look like golf’s version of the Edsel! Horrendous!

  6. H

    Jun 16, 2017 at 3:13 am

    They used to be cool, but not any more

  7. RG

    Jun 16, 2017 at 2:24 am

    Those irons make the Adams XTDs look good! Absolutely hideous clubs! If I see you playing those I am going to point and laugh out loud!

  8. chinchbugs

    Jun 15, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I can’t shank them till I have tested them….oh wait! Yes I can! Shank.

  9. jgpl001

    Jun 15, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Unbelievably UGLY

    I don’t care how exclusive they are I wouldn’t pay one dollar for them

  10. O

    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Besotted gearheads must feel so inadequate, impotent, deflated, ashamed of their standard clubs which are being obsoleted semi-annually… and now the best technology is going into the ultra premium clubs. How can they live with themselves and their low class crap clubs?!!

  11. Brandon

    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    TaylorMade has already ruined the golf industry.

  12. Dat

    Jun 15, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Hideously bad. This ultra expensive push in the industry is exactly what will make the industry fail.

    • Cory

      Jun 15, 2017 at 10:11 am

      You don’t understand economics or how supply and demand work do you?

    • ROY

      Jun 15, 2017 at 11:16 am

      WHy will it make the industry fail – that like saying that Ferrari will make the auto industry fail. As long as the ultra priced items supplement the market and do not replace other areas of the market (which is what they are doing) then you should be fine.

      • Adam Crawford

        Jun 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm

        Exactly. These brands we’re hearing about that are the “Ultra-Premium” have been around for decades, quietly occupying a small niche market. Zak’s analogy is perfect. Casual golfers didn’t know they existed because the major marketing push has always grouping a few club makers into a category ($1k-1,500 for irons). But the fascinating thing about PXG is that they opened the flood gates and made people realize this market existed. These companies won’t have anything to do with the success or failure of the industry. They operate independently and don’t have to stock the shelves of 500 retailers so they don’t have capital tied up in inventory (which is where a lot of companies struggle with the bottom line), which means they basically produce them on demand.

  13. doesnotno

    Jun 15, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Mizar irons, $280 each. Sweet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Equipment

Callaway launches Rogue, Rogue Pro and Rogue X irons and hybrids

Published

on

With its new line of Rogue irons — consisting of Rogue, Rogue Pro and Rogue X models — Callaway continues its search to answer a conundrum that’s plagued game-improvement irons for years; how do you make an iron that produces great ball speed without sacrificing sound and feel. The dilemma is that in order to increase ball speeds, engineers must make the faces of the irons thinner. The problem is, the thinner they make the faces, the more vibration is caused at impact, creating a longer-lasting, higher-pitched sound. Very few golfers want that off-putting, clicky sound, but they do want the ball speed and distance.

So, that’s why companies are experimenting with different materials and injections between the faces of game-improvement irons and their bodies. That buffer creates a dampening effect to reduce vibration, while still allowing faces to be constructed thinner to raise COR (coefficient of restitution, a measure of energy transfer) and ball speed. Companies such as PXG irons use TPE injections, and TaylorMade uses SpeedFoam in its new P-790 irons; Callaway says those constructions either constrict speed, or they don’t have a profound enough effect on vibrations.

For its Rogue irons that are made from 17-4 stainless steel, Callaway is using what it calls urethane microspheres, which are essentially little balls of urethane that it combines together, in the cavities of its irons. The difference between these spheres and other foams and materials on the market, according to Callaway, is that the material is porous. Callaway says the microspheres work to dampen sound without negatively effecting ball speed.

A look at the inside of a Rogue iron, via Callaway’s photography

The inner material in the cavity works in tandem with familiar technologies from previous iron releases such as Apex, Epic and Steelhead XR. Callaway says it has improved upon its VFT (variable face thickness) and Face Cup technologies, focusing on thinning out portions of the face where golfers tend to miss shots — low on the face, on the heel and on the toe. Each of the Rogue irons also uses Internal Standing Wave by way of Tungsten-infused weights that help control the center of gravity (CG) in the club heads; that means centering the overall weight between the scoring lines, and controlling where the CG is placed vertically throughout a given set (re: higher on the short irons for more control and spin, and lower on the long irons for more height).

For the consumer, all of this means getting performance-driven irons at a lower price compared to the Epic and Epic Pro irons. Each of the irons will be available for pre-sale on January 19, and come to retail on February 9. Read on for more info on each of the specific irons, and the Rogue and Rogue X hybrids that introduce Callaway’s Jailbreak technology into hybrids for the first time.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the Rogue irons and hybrids in our forums.

Rogue irons ($899.99 steel, $999.99 graphite)

Callaway’s Rogue irons are the standard model in this line of irons, equipped with all of the technologies described above. According to Callaway, these are essentially Steelhead XR replacements, but have more compact shapes. In the Steelhead XR irons, Callaway used a wider profile in order to center CG between the scoring lines, but due to the inclusion of the Tungsten-infused weights in the Rogue irons, it was able to shape the irons more similar to XR and X-Hot irons of the past — more preferable shapes for GI irons, according to Callaway.

Stock shafts include True Temper’s XP105 steel shaft, and Aldila’s Synergy graphite shaft.

Rogue Pro irons ($999.99)

The Rogue Pro irons, as you may expect, have a more compact shape, thinner toplines and thinner soles than their standard-model-counterparts. Therefore, the Pro design will yield more control that better players will prefer, but they are still packed with all of the performance-enhancing technologies of the Rogue irons. They also have a chrome plating that better players may be drawn to.

Rogue X irons ($899.99 steel, $999.99 graphite)

Callaway described the Rogue X irons to me as “bomber irons.” They have lofts that are 3-to-4 degrees stronger than the standard Rogue irons, and they have longer lengths and lighter overall weights, but according to Callaway, they will still launch in the same window iron-for-iron (re: a 7-iron will launch like a 7-iron). Despite cranking down the lofts, they have bigger profiles, wider soles and more offset; those designs work to drag CG rearward, which helps to increase launch.

Combine that design with the Rogue’s VFT, Face Cups, Internal Standing Wave and urethane microspheres, and the result is an iron that’s “all about distance,” according to Callaway.

Rogue and Rogue X hybrids ($249.99 apiece)

As noted previously, the Rogue and Rogue X hybrids include Callaway’s Jailbreak technology. Like Callaway’s Rogue fairway woods, they use stainless steel bars behind the face instead of the titanium bars that are used in the Rogue drivers. Also, like all of the other Callaway clubs that use Jailbreak, the idea of the design is that two parallel bars inside the club head connect the sole with crown help to add strength to the body at impact, allowing the faces to be constructed thinner, thus, create more ball speed across the face. The Rogue and Rogue X hybrids also have Callaway’s familiar Face Cup technology.

The standard Rogue goes up to a 6-hybrid, while the oversized, Rogue X “super hybrid” goes up to an 8-hybrid. Similar to the Rogue X irons, the Rogue X hybrids have an oversized construction, a lighter overall weight, and longer lengths. The goal with these Rogue X hybrids is to create higher launching, more forgiving and longer hybrid options for golfers who need help getting the ball in the air.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the Rogue irons and hybrids in our forums.

Your Reaction?
  • 55
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW1
  • LOL5
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP7
  • OB8
  • SHANK68

Continue Reading

Equipment

First Look: Precision Pro NX7 Shot laser rangefinder, made for golfers and hunters

Published

on

Precision Pro’s new NX7 Shot is useful whether you’re hunting birds or birdies.

In just over 3 years, Precision Pro has become a player in the laser rangefinder market, quickly developing a reputation for products with maximum features at a price that’s lower than comparable offerings from competitors. Precision Pro came out with its NX7 Pro in 2017, and is following up that offering with the new NX7 Shot, which is designed to hit the two biggest markets for laser rangefinders: golfers and hunters. That’s probably why the company put a camouflage design on the water-resistant and shockproof body of the NX7 Shot.

Inside, the rangefinder has target acquisition that is meant to stabilize even when shaky hands or windy conditions are in play. The NX7 Shot also has an effective scanning distance of 400 yards, which is more than adequate range for golfers not named Dustin Johnson. Other features of the NX7 Shot include is its Scanning Mode, which allows the user to pick up multiple targets in one motion, and its Last Priority Mode, which lets the user acquire a target through tree branches and cover.

The NX7 Shot also comes with a 2-year warranty and free battery replacement for the life of the product. Regarding the warranty, Precision Pro Co-founder Jonah Mytro says “it’s something that nobody else in the industry is doing” and it “shows that we value our customers and that we want them to keep using our products for life.”

It’s designed to be legal for competitions that allow rangefinders, and is listed at $249 with free shipping when ordered from the Precision Pro website.

Your Reaction?
  • 54
  • LEGIT10
  • WOW9
  • LOL3
  • IDHT9
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Equipment

Snell adds MTB Black and MTB Red to lineup, thanks in part to GolfWRX forum feedback

Published

on

Snell Golf entered the market in 2015 when Dean Snell, co-creator of the Titleist Pro V1 and TaylorMade Penta, decided to sell premium golf balls direct to consumer at a fraction of the standard premium golf ball price. With massive year-over-year growth, the company’s offerings have been well received by the golfing public.

Snell is expanding its MTB line with the release of the MTB Black and MTB Red models. The company indicates the Black and Red models leveraged customer feedback to expand an already successful line.

“Through evaluation of customer feedback, we are able to go through the design and testing process with a clear understanding of what the customer wants to see and feel in their Golf Ball. Pair our expertise and experience with customer suggestion and the result is a ‘Tour Like Experience’ with extra cash in your wallet for a round at the bar,” says Snell Golf founder, Dean Snell.

We asked Snell about the feedback process, and he had some interesting (and flattering) things to say.

“One of the biggest parts of the feedback came from the forums at GolfWRX. I check it weekly for sure, sometimes every other day. There’s one [thread] that started when we started and it’s still going…the information, with people playing and testing, I typically read that.

“And then I get a lot of emails. I read them all, and then I make a big chart, and I fill it in…”high spin,” “low spin,” etc. Then I read and mark the boxes with what people are saying, and when a box fills up, that’s a voice…So there were three big voices from consumers, and that led to these balls.”

Snell said when he worked at Titleist and TaylorMade, tour pro feedback was paramount. Now that he’s offering a direct-to-consumer product, however, the consumers are his “tour players.”

This is a different approach [working with consumers] and asking, “What do you want?” You can’t satisfy everything, but when you hear a strong voice over and over, that’s what we take into consideration.

MTB Black

  • 3-piece thermocast urethane cover golf ball with a 360 dimple pattern
  • Seven percent lower compression core than the original MTB
  • Softer core lowers spin with the driver

Snell says: “Driver spin: anytime you can lower it, it’s going to make the ball better. We keep the same performance [as MTB]…it’ll just be a touch longer.”

MTB Red

  • 4-piece thermocast urethane cover golf ball with a 338 dimple pattern
  • Dual Feel Technology: Provides a firmer, more responsive feel on driver and long irons shorts, while continuing a very soft feel on short irons and around the green with more spin as well
  • Available in Optic Yellow in addition to White

Snell says: “The MTB Red became a four-piece ball. We had to add an inside layer–an inner mantle–to add spin to approach shots. You control the spin rates through the set with the layers of the ball. Getting that fourth layer in there really works for the approach shot control and spin. Otherwise, to add spin, you’d have to raise the core [compression], but when you do that, you make the driver shorter. And the “yellow tour ball” market isn’t big, but the voice in our group was loud.”

Both golf balls will be offered at a retail price of $31.99 per dozen, and are also available in a Value Pack of 6 dozen for $163.99 ($27.33 per dozen).

New models are available at SnellGolf.com for pre-order. Shipments are scheduled for February.

Your Reaction?
  • 78
  • LEGIT5
  • WOW7
  • LOL4
  • IDHT3
  • FLOP2
  • OB3
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending