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The Most Overlooked Parameter in Iron Fitting

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In the chart below, you can see the average results for an iron fitting I did with one of my members at Biltmore Forest CC recently. Based on these three data points presented, which iron would you choose? Most golfers go with club No. 2. The club head speed is faster, the carry is the longest, and the dispersion is the second best. It’s a no-brainer, right? If you think this is a trick, you’re on the right track, and I’ll get back to that later.

Iron_Fitting_Parameter_1

Club fitting has become a very important of golf. Most golfers today are fitted in some way before they purchase clubs, but that hasn’t always been the case. Before club fitters could accurately measure ball flight and club delivery with launch monitors, they relied on static fittings that accounted for length, loft, and lie adjustments at setup. With the introduction of a lie board, they were then able to tell how the club was positioned through the impact zone. As a result, fittings became more based on impact and ball flight results. Fast forward to the availability of launch monitors like TrackMan, and fitters can see exactly what the golf ball is doing and how the golf club communicates a message to the golf ball. All of these advancements have made the fitting process more transparent, as well as enhanced a fitter’s ability to fine tune the clubs of each and every golfer. The bad news is that they’ve also made a lot of golfers completely obsessed with distance.

When it comes to club fitting, the conversation often revolves around the driver. Driver fittings are fun for both the player and the teacher, because who doesn’t want to see longer, straighter drives? While I completely concede that driver fittings and distance are very important pieces to golf improvement, I also think their focus can dilute the fitting process for the 13 other clubs golfers use. With a driver, fitters are almost always trying to help golfers achieve a higher launch angle while reducing spin. It’s a formula that’s great for longer drives, but not always better iron shots. Too often, I see golfers worried most about distance when they’re trying different kinds irons at a demo day, which often leads them to choose the wrong clubs for their game.

Equipment manufacturers have played a role in the distance craze, of course, promoting the additional distance their clubs offer compared to the previous model or a competitor’s product… and they have a lot to brag about. Advancements in engineering have allowed golf equipment manufacturers to move weight lower in their iron heads, which helps golfers launch the ball higher. They’ve made their iron faces thinner and more flexible, which also makes shots go higher, and increased the amount of shaft options available, particularly their lightweight shaft options, to give the vast majority of golfers a chance to find a stock shaft that works for their swing.

As a result of these changes, today’s irons have lower different lofts than those produced not even 20 years ago, as well as slightly longer shaft lengths to help golfers take advantage of the latest technologies. Below are the published lofts and lengths from two leading iron manufacturers (I’ve labeled them Company A and Company B) for the same type of iron sets: one released in 2000, one released in 2017. As you can see, there’s been an incredible transformation in 17 years. It’s great for some golfers, but not for others, and I’ll explain why.

Company A

Company_A_iron_Specs

Company B

Company_B_Specs

As you can see, the leading equipment manufacturers have reduced loft by 2-6 degrees with each iron, and they’ve added as much as 0.625 inches to the length of each iron as well. This will no doubt help golfers hit longer shots, but it can also have a negative effect on the control some golfers have over the golf ball when it lands on the green.

Control over the golf ball when it lands on the green is known as “stopping power,” and it’s is affected most by land angle (the angle at which the golf ball hits the ground). Land angle is highly correlated with how much the ball will bounce and roll once it has hit the ground, as each degree of reduced land angle is responsible for about 3 yards more of bounce and roll.

So what is a good land angle? For irons, I like to think about it this way. Anything coming into the ground at an angle more than 45 degrees is going more down than out when it lands; anything coming into the ground at an angle less than 45 degrees is traveling more out than down when it lands. That’s why the rule of thumb is that iron shots should have a land angle of at least 45 degrees.

There’s a caveat with this rule of thumb, however, and it’s that many golfers don’t have the swing speed to achieve a 45-degree land angle with all their irons. They need to be able to swing a 6 iron at about 85 mph to make it happen, and in the example below, the golfer I was fitting did not have that ability.

Fitting Example

Here is the same example from above — a golfer I fit hitting five different 6 irons — that now includes peak height and landing angle.

Iron_Fitting_Parameter_2

With the most important data added, there’s no question that this golfer needs to use iron No. 5. It flew almost as far and as straight as No. 2, but shots with No. 5 had a landing angle that was almost 3-degree higher, which means that shots will stop 6 yards sooner when they hit the green. That’s a big deal when hitting a shot to a protected front pin. Remember, the goal with irons is to hit shots as close to the pin as possible. Yes, within reason we want to hit the ball as high and as far as possible, but not at the expense of stopping power.

Just because a set of irons has strong lofts doesn’t mean it will be bad for you. Some golfers need a 49-degree pitching wedge to perform their best, while others can perform their best with a 42-degree pitching wedge. The only way for you to know for sure what you need is to have an iron fitting that includes a focus on land angle. If it’s optimized, you will be a much happier golfer when you get out on the course with your new set.

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PGA Member and Golf Professional at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, NC. Former PGA Tour and Regional Representative for TrackMan Golf. Graduate of Campbell University's PGM Program with 12 years of experience in the golf industry. My passion for knowledge and application of instruction in golf is what drives me everyday.

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Speedy

    Jul 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Shaft lengthening has done the most harm. Rather than pay for expensive custom ordering/fitting, make sure you choke down on each shot. Instill this in practice sessions.

  2. Lloyd Jackson

    Jul 3, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Company A 2000 model: Those specs would have been rather unusual even then. More likely the specs of a blade from the 1980s.

    As my very good friend, Jay Turner of RedBird/Avian Golf would say: With irons, it’s not HOW FAR, it’s HOW CLOSE.

    The number on the sole has little meaning and the deceptive loft jacking and shaft lengthening began with Callaway’s S2H2 irons.

    • Hunter Brown

      Jul 5, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Hey Lloyd thanks for your response and interest. One set was a game improvement iron and the other was a more typical cavity back mid to low hdcp option

  3. Dill Pickelson

    Jul 2, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    hi, can i ask why you extend your clubs? i’m tall too and used to have 1″ longer but every club is a different length anyway! i went back to ‘standard’ length and no issues. so, why bother changing shaft length?

    • TONEY P

      Jul 3, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      What did you do for the swing weight of each club extended. They had to feel heavier?

    • TONEY P

      Jul 3, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      Most golfers don’t have a clue what they’re doing or really need when buying clubs. If you can’t PUNCH your iron 3/4 it’s distance straight then the iron lie needs to be adjusted.. Good golfers know what to do so the other 97 % need to ask them .

  4. Joshua Chervokas

    Jul 2, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    This is never overlooked by actual fitters. The problem is that what they do at big box stores is not a fitting regardless of what they call it. Go to any Golf Digest top 100 fitter like myself and an iron fitting will focus highly on landing angle and we will weaken and strengthen lofts all the time.

  5. QV

    Jul 2, 2017 at 10:44 am

    You must be very lonely.

  6. Jeff

    Jul 1, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I certainly agree with the article. Too much hubris in the world today to go back to higher lofts in irons. If your buddy hits a 7 iron and you need to hit a 6, well that’s just emasculating now isn’t it? I originally thought though the article was going to be about lie angles being too upright and not enough emphasis placed on that since you included the left stat. I see so many people I play with that have that issue and then wonder why they pull their shots so often.

  7. CTGolfer

    Jul 1, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Why is Peak Height and Land angle not part of the “optimizer” in Trackman. What in the Optimizer correlates with peak height and land angle?

    • Me

      Jul 1, 2017 at 6:55 am

      When I do my club fitting clients, my trackman 4 has Height and landing angle in my front (top) page of my tiles used.
      Recently I fitted one of the younger assistant pros at an exclusive club
      When comparing recently the Titliest AP2 vs the Taylormade 770, both quality clubs. Both share the same lofts 33deg. It was clear visually even without the trackman the 770 went higher.
      with the track man the 770 peaked higher by 12 feet, went more than 10 yards further (177) a much steeper landing angle. But here is where it got interesting, the 770 consistently was 4700-5500 spin. The ap2 was 6000-7500 spin. Both clubs had the KBS tour FLT 120 g shaft.

      There was no question what the right club was based on peak, spin….the added distance was just a bonus.

    • Hunter Brown

      Jul 1, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Launch, Spin, and height are all included in the Optimizer. This determines land angle so although it is not expressly in the optimizer it will be a result of what is in the optimizer. You can also look at the ‘side/top’ view to see the trajectory window and optimized shot should travel vs what the trajectory it actually took

  8. Adam

    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Gofwrx’ers I agree, BUT we should thankful for all the marketing. 98% of golfers are awful, but love to play and love to hit all their clubs as far as possible. More marketing= more bad golfers spending more on gear and more money at the course, which keeps more golf courses open, more staff employed and better conditions for me. We need more people attracted to the game these days more than ever.

    Now I have played the same specs as my original titleist 680’s my entire golf career and have known my exact lofts and lie’s and think its more fun hitting high cut 2,3 irons than jacked 4,5 irons any day. So I think it’s funny…

  9. Thus

    Jun 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    The ball can have a huge affect on Landing angle and peak hieght some times more then the iron, dispersion is what I fit for the most, more front to back, then side to side, then height and spin..
    One of the biggest myths is flex, difference between flexes is minimal.

  10. Myron miller

    Jun 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    But almost, if not maybe more important is backspin on the iron. wHen I got fitted for my current iroons, The choice was between two different styles. Both had land angles less than 45 degrees, but the second one had over 3000 rpm more backspin even though its land angle was almost 4 degrees less. I just flat out spun that club way more. And having more backspin sometimes if more important in stopping the ball on the green than the landing angle.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen players use a club and chip it about 40 yards onto the green with a land angle of less than 25 degrees but with a ton of backspin and the ball literally bounces once and backs up 2-5 feet. One can play that particular pitch two ways, with a very low landing angle but a ton of spin or a very high land angle and minimal spin. If there is a bunch of wind, then the lower angle is definitely the better shot. Same applies to longer approach shots. With windy conditions, higher land angles will hurt you more times than not.

    Land angle certain is important, but spin is easily as important and sometimes even more.

    • Hunter Brown

      Jun 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      This situation you describe is hard to fathom. 3000 more rpm of spin and 4 degrees less of land angle is almost impossible to happen on a full shot land angle is directly effected by spin. More spin higher=higher land angle

    • TR1PTIK

      Jul 3, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Gotta agree with Hunter on this on too. Also, the situations you describe are caused by the actions of the player, not the performance of the club. You can take pretty much any iron or wedge and the two shots you described. To see that much variation in spin on full shots is unlikely unless you’re looking at SGI vs. Player’s clubs.

  11. Well now...

    Jun 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Kind of the argument the latest try of Hogan irons when loft comes into the argument. The number on the club is all relative and a point of reference in the end – you can call a club with a loft of 25* anything you want, in the end it’s still 25*.

  12. Iutodd

    Jun 30, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Good article.

    I’m hoping to get fit next year for irons – this article is getting saved for the experience. Never thought about landing angle before.

    • Iutodd

      Jun 30, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Oh and I’m gaming MX-17s so my lofts are a lot closer to the “2000” lofts. I’m not sure how I’m gonna get a similar style – which is more “game improvement” but get lofts that work for me. The Z545s look similar to my clubs but the lofts are pretty different. I guess I’ll have to see if I’m good enough for the 745s which are much closer to my current lofts.

  13. TR1PTIK

    Jun 30, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I had a pretty good idea this article would lead to peak height and landing angle. Following closely behind those two metrics IMO would be spin; dispersion next, and then carry distance when trying to fit a set of irons or wedges. For anyone who has yet to see them, these Trackman averages from 2014 should give some good insight about what the irons should be doing… https://blog.trackmangolf.com/trackman-average-tour-stats/

    • Hunter Brown

      Jun 30, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Good stuff here and you are exactly right. I will say that unfortunately not everyone can achieve “Tour Averages” because of the lack of speed. It is definitely better for most to look at the LPGA Average stats but understand that averages are exactly that and suitable for everyone

      • TR1PTIK

        Jun 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm

        I agree. In terms of landing angle though, either data set will apply.

  14. SoonerSlim

    Jun 30, 2017 at 10:05 am

    One thing I don’t understand whenever WRX presents these examples is they always use a golfer with much, much more swing speed than the average golfer. How many average golfers have a 6-iron swing speed of 80 mph?? In the mid to high 60s is more accurate!

    • Hunter Brown

      Jun 30, 2017 at 11:32 am

      this particular gentleman was pretty average. He is in his mid 50s and about a 12 hdcp. His swing speed is maybe a little on the high end for his demographic but not by much

    • Grizz01

      Jun 30, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      I’m 54 and I still play my 1994 Lynx Parrallax irons. I don’t have a clue what my swing speed is but I still hit my 6 iron (normal conditions) 180-185yds. I don’t know what loft it is … but I do know that the PW is 50 degrees straight out of the box.

  15. xjohnx

    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:59 am

    I really wish the masses would start incorporating more logic such as this to golf marketing. It’s unfortunate that there is only one rule that trumps all else. Seemingly by no coincidence it was most famously said to me once by a regional TM rep, “distance sells golf clubs”.

    I can’t imagine anyone with any common sense arguing the message behind this article. The ability to hit your shots closer to the hole is always going to potentially lower your scored more than a few extra yards. I almost feel bad for people who get so caught up in hitting their irons longer. Whether you have 7 irons and 3 wedges, or 6 irons and 4 wedges that all go the same distances, does it matter what number is stamped on the sole?

  16. Chris B

    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I would still go for iron 2, make them 1 degree weak if need be based on this. There is more to choosing the right set of irons than this data.

    It is a shame that what Hogan did dint take off, putting the loft on the club rather than a number. I was looking at a thread the other day on 3 irons, one person commented on how they had made their 4 iron 1 degree strong – to 18 degrees!

    • Hunter Brown

      Jun 30, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Chris – you bring up some good points however EQM’s don’t just lower the loft and call it a day they know the irons would not perform if that was the case. Sometimes they account for the lower loft by lowering the cg, lighter shafts, etc. to launch the ball higher. Just because the loft of one club to the next may be different doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing. I am glad you are thinking the right way though!

  17. Daryl

    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Out of curiosity, would the 45 degree rule hold for the longer irons?

    • TR1PTIK

      Jun 30, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Yes. Follow the link in my other comment to view Trackman data. It is older, but plenty relevant for holding greens.

    • Hunter Brown

      Jun 30, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Daryl – good question. If possible yes this would hold true but most people do not have the swing speed in order to accomplish this. Also course conditions and where someone plays needs to be considered.

  18. Jack Nash

    Jun 30, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Marketing indeed has taken over with the help of Media. GC is always touting how far X Golfer hits his driver. There’s part of the problem.

    • Scott

      Jun 30, 2017 at 9:01 am

      I agree Jack. No one should be able to hit 180 yard Wedges and 9 irons. A little truth in advertising would be nice. A 42 degree Pitching Wedge? That is between my 8 and 9 iron.

      • Lee Shaw

        Jun 30, 2017 at 10:43 am

        42 deg was my 8 iron in 1974, I hit it pretty good too, but saying that my 9 is now 40 deg and I’m not to shabby with that either.

      • Grizz01

        Jun 30, 2017 at 12:50 pm

        I still play with my 1993 Lynx Parrallax irons. I know the PW is 50 degrees. And I remember back then I thought wow! Technology has come along way. My previous clubs from the late 70’s were Wilson 1200’s. And I was suddenly using 1 -2 clubs less with the Lynx.

        Turns out not much technology as much as just renaming an old 5 iron a 6 or 7 iron.

        • Jeremy Thompson

          Jul 1, 2017 at 4:17 am

          which opens up a market for gap wedges…….when the separation between PW and SW becomes exaggerated.

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Opinion & Analysis

When the data says line is more important than speed in putting

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In my recent article, Line vs. speed: What’s really more important in putting?, I pointed out that in my 30-plus years of studying putting performance, I’ve learned that there are two important skills to putting:

  1. Direction (line)
  2. Distance control (speed)

There’s no question that golfers need to possess both these skills, but contrary to popular belief, they are not equally important on all putts. Sometimes, speed should be the primary concern. In other situations, golfers should be focused almost entirely on line. To make this determination, we have to consider the distance range of a putt and a golfer’s putting skill.

In the above referenced article, I showed how important speed is in putting, as well as the distances from which golfers of each handicap level should become more focused on speed. As promised, I’m going to provide some tips on direction (LINE) for golfers of different handicap levels based on the data I’ve gathered over the years through my Strokes Gained analysis software, Shot by Shot.

When PGA Tour players focus on line 

On the PGA Tour, line is more critical than speed from distances inside 20 feet. Obviously, the closer a golfer is to the hole, the more important line becomes and the less need there is to focus on speed. Further, I have found that the six-to-10-foot range is a key distance for Tour players. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Six to 10 feet is one of the most frequently faced putt distances on the PGA Tour. It is the first putt distance on approximately one in every five greens.
  2. Smack in the middle of this range is eight feet, which is the distance from which the average PGA Tour player makes 50 percent of his putts.
  3. In my research, I have consistently found that one-putt success in the six-to-10-foot range separates good putters from the rest on the PGA Tour

What we should do

How does this analysis help the rest of us?  To answer that question, we must first know our one-putt distance.  Just as I showed the two-putt distance by handicap level here, I will now show the 50 percent make distance by handicap level. This is the distance from the hole where players at each handicap level make 50 percent of their putts.

My recommendation is for each of us to recognize exactly what our 50 percent distance is. Maybe you’re a 16 or 17 handicap and putting is one of your strengths. Your 50 percent make distance is six feet. Excellent!  From that distance and closer, you should focus on line and always give the ball a chance to go in the hole.  From distances of seven-plus feet, you should consider the circumstances (up or downhill, amount of break, etc.) and factor in the speed as appropriate. The goal is to make as many of these putts as possible, but more importantly, avoid those heart-breaking and costly three-putts.

For added perspective, I am including the percentage of one putts by distance for the PGA Tour and our average amateur 15-19 handicap. I’m able to offer this data from ShotbyShot.com because it provides golfers with their “relative handicap” in the five critical parts of the game: (1) Driving, (2) Approach Shots, (3) Chip/Pitch Shots, (4) Sand Shots, and (5) Putting.

Line control practice: The star drill 

Looking for a way to practice choosing better lines on the putting green?  Here’s a great exercise known as the “star drill.” Start by selecting a part of your practice green with a slight slope.  Place five tees in the shape of a star on the slope with the top of the star on the top side of the slope.  This will provide an equal share of right to left and left to right breaks.

I recommend starting with a distance of three feet – usually about the length of a standard putter.  See how many you can make out of 10 putts, which is two trips around the star.  Here are a few more helpful tips.

  • Place a ball next to each of the five tees.
  • Use your full pre-shot routine for each attempt.
  • Stay at the three-foot distance until you can make nine of 10. Then, move to four feet, five feet, and six feet as you’re able to make eight from four feet, seven from five feet, and six from six feet.

This drill will give you confidence over these very important short putts. I do not recommend using it for any distance beyond six feet. It’s harder than you think to get there!

 

Exclusive for GolfWRX members: For a free, one-round trial of Shot by Shot, visit www.ShotByShot.com.

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TG2: Snell Golf founder Dean Snell talks golf balls and his life in the golf industry

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Snell Golf’s founder, Dean Snell, talks all about golf balls and his adventure through the industry. Dean fills us in on his transition from hockey player, to engineer, to golfer, and now business owner. He even tells you why he probably isn’t welcome back at a country club ever again.

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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Opinion & Analysis

Could Dollar Driver Club change the way we think about owning equipment?

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There’s something about golfers that draws the attention of, for lack of a better word, snake-oil salesmen. Whether it’s an as-seen-on-TV ad for a driver that promises pure distance and also fixes your power slice, or the subscription boxes that supposedly send hundreds of dollars worth of apparel for a fraction of the price, there always seems to be something out there that looks too good to be true.

Discerning golfers, who I would argue are more cynical than anything, understand that you get what you pay for. To get the newest driver that also works for your game, it may take a $150 club fitting, then a $400 head, and a shaft that can run anywhere from $100 up to $300-$400. After the fitting and buying process, you’ve made close to a thousand dollar investment in one golf club, and unless you’re playing money games with friends who have some deep pockets, it’s tough to say what the return on that investment actually is. When it’s all said and done, you have less than a year before that driver is considered old news by the standard of most manufacturers’ release schedules.

What makes a driver ‘good’ to most amateur golfers who take their game seriously is a cross section of performance, price, and hubris. As for that last metric, I think most people would be lying if they say it doesn’t feel good having the latest and greatest club in the bag. Being the envy of your group is fun, even if it only lasts until you snap hook your first drive out of bounds.

As prices of general release equipment have increased to nearly double what it was retailing at only 10 years ago, the ability to play the newest equipment is starting to become out of the question for many amateur golfers.

Enter Tyler Mycoskie, an avid, single digit handicap golfer (and the brother of Tom’s shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie). Tyler’s experience with purchasing golf equipment and his understanding of uniquely successful business models collided, which led him to start the Dollar Driver Club. With a name and logo that is a tongue in cheek allusion to the company that has shaken up the men’s skincare industry, the company seeks to offer a new way of thinking about purchasing golf equipment without completely reinventing the wheel of the model that has seen success in industries such as car leasing and purchasing razors.

The company does exactly what its name says. They offer the newest, top of the line driver and shaft combinations for lease at a cost of about a dollar per day.

The economics of the model seem too good to be true. When you purchase a driver, you are charged $30 plus $11 for shipping and it’s $30 per month from then on. You can upgrade your driver at no extra cost each year and your driver is eligible for upgrade or swap after 90 days of being a member. After a year, the total cost comes to $371 with shipping, which sounds a lot nicer than the $500 that it would cost to purchase, as an example, a Titleist TS3 with a Project X Evenflow T1100 today.

The major complaint most people would have is that you still don’t own the driver after that year, but as someone with a closet full of old golf clubs that diminish in value every day, which I have no realistic plans to sell, that doesn’t sound like a problem to me or my wife, who asks me almost weekly when I plan on thinning out my collection.

The model sounds like an obvious win for customers to me, and quite frankly, if you’re skeptical, then it’s probably just simply not for you. I contacted the team at the Dollar Driver Club to get some questions answered. Primarily, I want to know, what’s the catch?

I spoke with a Kevin Kirakossian, a Division I golfer who graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2013 and has spent virtually his entire young career working on the business side of golf, most recently with Nike Golf’s marketing team prior to joining Tyler at Dollar Driver Club. Here’s what he had to say about his company.

At risk to the detriment of our conversation, I have to find out first and foremost, what’s the catch?

K: There’s no catch. We’re all golfers and we want to offer a service that benefits all of our members. We got tired of the upfront cost of drivers. We’re trying to grow the game. Prior to us, there was no way to buy new golf clubs without paying full price. We take a lot of pride that players of all skill level, not just tour pros or people with the extra budget to drop that kind of money every year, can have access to the latest equipment.

With that question out of the way, I delved into the specifics of the brand and model, but I maintained a skeptical edge, keeping an ear out for anything that I could find that would seem too good to be true.

How closely do you keep an eye on manufacturers and their pricing? It would seem that your service is more enticing as prices increase in equipment.

K: The manufacturers are free to create their own pricing. We work closely with manufacturers and have a great relationship with them. As prices increase, it helps us, even if they decrease, I still think it’s a no-brainer to use our service, purely for the fact that new equipment comes out every year. You don’t have a high upfront cost. You’re not stuck with the same driver for a year. It gives you flexibility and freedom to play the newest driver. If a manufacturer wants to get into the same business, we have the advantage of offering all brands. We’re a premium subscription brand, so we’re willing to offer services that other retailers aren’t. We’ll do shaft swaps, we’ll send heads only, we have fast shipping and delivery times. We’re really a one-stop shop for all brands.

What measures do you take to offer the most up to date equipment?

K: We will always have the newest products on the actual launch date. We take pride in offering the equipment right away. A lot of times, our members will receive their clubs on release day. We order direct from the manufacturers and keep inventory. There’s no drop shipping. We prefer shipping ourselves and being able to add a personal package.

The service is uniquely personal. Their drivers come with a ball marker stamped with your initials as well as a stylish valuables pouch. They also provide a hand signed welcome letter and some stickers.

Who makes up the team at Dollar Driver Club?

K: We’re a small team. We started accepting members to our service in 2018 and it has grown exponentially. We have four or five guys here and it’s all hands on deck. We handle customer inquiries and sending drivers out. It’s a small business nature that we want to grow a lot bigger.

When discussing the company, you have to concede that the model doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially traditionalists. There are golfers who have absolutely no problem spending whatever retailers are charging for their newest wares. There are also golfers who have no problem playing equipment with grips that haven’t been changed in years, much less worrying about buying new equipment. I wanted to know exactly who they’re targeting.

Who is your target demographic?

K: We want all golfers. We want any golfer with any income, any skill level, to be able to play the newest equipment. We want to reshape the way people think about obtaining golf equipment. We’re starting with drivers, but we’re looking into expanding into putters, wedges, and other woods. We’ve heard manufacturers keep an eye on us. There are going to be people who just want to pay that upfront cost so they can own it, but those people may be looking at it on the surface and they don’t see the other benefits. We’re also a service that offers shaft swaps and easily send in your driver after 3 months if you don’t like it.

At this point, it didn’t seem like my quest to find any drawbacks to the service was going well. However, any good business identifies threats to their model and I was really only able to think of one. They do require a photo ID to start your account, but there’s no credit check required like you may see from other ‘buy now, pay later’ programs. That sounds ripe for schemers that we see all the time on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

When you’re sending out a $500 piece of equipment and only taking $41 up front, you’re assuming some risk. How much do you rely on the integrity of golfers who use your service to keep everything running smoothly?

K: We do rely on the integrity of the golf community. When we send out a driver, we believe it’s going into the hands of a golfer. By collecting the ID, we have measures on our end that we can use in the event that the driver goes missing or an account goes delinquent, but we’re always going to side with our members.

The conversation I had with Kevin really opened my eyes to the fact that Dollar Driver Club is exactly what the company says it is. They want to grow and become a staple means of obtaining golf equipment in the current and future market. Kevin was very transparent that the idea is simple, they’re just the ones actually executing it. He acknowledged the importance of social media and how they will harness the power of applications like Instagram to reach new audiences.

Kevin was also adamant that even if you prefer owning your own driver and don’t mind the upfront cost, the flexibility to customize your driver cheaply with a plethora of high-quality shafts is what really makes it worth trying out their service. If for whatever reason, you don’t like their service, you can cancel the subscription and return the driver after 90 days, which means that you can play the newest driver for three months at a cost of $90.

In my personal opinion, I think there’s a huge growth opportunity for a service like this. The idea of playing the newest equipment and being able to tinker with it pretty much at-will really speaks to me. If you’re willing to spend $15 a month on Netflix to re-watch The Office for the 12th time in a row or $35 a month for a Barkbox subscription for your dog, it may be worth doing something nice for your golf bag.

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