If you’ve read my previous ramblings pieces, you’ve probably noticed where I see myself fitting in as a writer on this site. I’ve fantasized about a career in golf, but ultimately I’m just a regular hack with a sincere passion for the game who one day thought to himself, “You know what? I’m going to give this a go. I’m going to follow a passion and see what happens.” Look at me now, riding this whole blogging roller coaster.
With that being said, I now feel like we can all be friends and I can come to you with the following confession: I originally set out to write this piece by pointing my finger at the equipment manufacturers. “Look how much these golf clubs cost!” I thought to myself. “Who do you think you are? People have real concerns like mortgages and college funds!” Then as I sat down to write with literally a blank screen, the engineer in me took over and I thought to myself, “Let’s do this the right way. Let’s collect some data so that we can make an informed, objective decision.” Below is what I found on this journey.
The first place to start was by establishing a benchmark from which to evaluate the prices of today’s golf clubs. That part didn’t take long to figure out. It’s got to be the Ping Eye 2’s. Nearly every golfer from every walk of life (myself included) had a set of Ping Eye 2 irons in the 80’s and 90’s. Heck, tons of people still game a set today. Calling it a successful set of irons would be the understatement of the century. So, I proceeded to call up Ping and make my first official contact in the industry: its internal company historian. Yes, they have one of those.
I called Ping HQ and explained that I was a writer and I was looking for information on the Ping Eye 2’s. The voice on the other end said, “You should probably talk to our company historian. Hang on, I’ll transfer you.” A very polite man picked up the phone. I introduced myself and explained that I was working on a piece for GolfWRX. We exchanged some small talk and I learned this gentleman started working as a photographer for Ping in 1986 and has been the company historian since 2005. I proceeded to ask him if he could tell me what the retail price was for Ping Eye 2’s when they were released. “Hmm,” he said. “No one’s ever really asked me that one before.” That’s when I figured I was on to something.
He rummaged around his office and found some old price books. Some of the highlights I jotted down were that the Ping Eye 2 Plus irons cost $90 per club in 1996. Ping Eye irons were $55 each in September of 1981, and in 1980, a Ping Anser would have set you back $34. He was unable to find a price book from 1982 (the year the Eye 2 was released), but we exchanged some more small talk.
“I have it in my mind that the price of that club was $65 with a steel shaft,” he said. “I feel pretty confident about that.” After some more chit chat, he offered an anecdote: “I remember not long after I started working here, they asked me to come down to the shop floor to take some pictures because they had just gotten to a point where they were making 10,000 irons a day!” This was in 1986, which was probably very close to the peak of popularity for the Eye 2’s. Everything about that conversation told me I’d found my benchmark.
OK, story time is over. WARNING: MATH CONTENT FOLLOWS!
According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in America in 1982 was $20,171. I’ll skip through the boring details (though I do have the calculations if this causes an uproar) and say that household was left with $15,733.38 in their pockets after they paid taxes (assuming they were “married filing jointly”). Now, if said median household contained a golf addict who chose to splurge on a set of Ping Eye 2’s, an eight-club set (standard 3-PW, for example) at $65 each would have cost him or her $520. This would’ve been 3.3 percent of net income at the time. If you’re not a numbers person and all this just whizzes right by your head, just remember 3.3 percent. That’s how much of annual income the average guy (or gal) in America would have had to shell out to get the best golf clubs in the world in 1982.
I feel like I need a quick side note here. Please don’t make this about taxes and/or politics. This website is not the place for that discussion. I included that data only because it’s relevant to the actual topic at hand. Stay focused.
OK, let’s fast forward to today. In 2015 (I’m using the most recent data I could find here), the median household income in the U.S. was $56,516, which came out to $48,961.10 after paying taxes (again, assuming “married filing jointly” status). As previously discussed, the Ping Eye 2 essentially set the benchmark at 3.3 percent of net income 33 years earlier. That same percentage of the median household’s net income in 2015 comes out to $1,618.20.
Kind of surprising, isn’t it? At least that’s higher than what I thought. Ultimately, what this means is that if the “average Joe” in the U.S. spent less than $1,600 on his new set of clubs in 2015 (which I’ll wager the vast majority did), it was a smaller piece of his annual income than what his father presumably spent in 1982. See? Look at me now. I basically just justified your next club purchase for you. You’re welcome. I knew we could be friends.
Most of you already know this, but here’s a quick cross section of some things that are hot today:
- TaylorMade’s new P-790 irons were announced this week. They cost $1,299.99 for an eight piece set with steel shaft.
- The new Mizuno MP-18 range is set to be released to the public next month will cost $150 per club, which comes out to $1,200 for a set.
- Titleist’s 718 iron lineup was just announced this week, and it ranges in price from $999.99 (AP1) to $1299.99 (MB, CB, AP2, AP3) with steel shafts. The company’s premium T-MB irons will cost $250 per club, or $1999.99 per set.
What does that say about the really high priced jobs? Glad you asked!
- Callaway Epic and Epic Pro Irons are priced at $250 each, so an eight-club set comes out to $2,000. This is approximately 4.1 percent of the median household’s annual income in the U.S.
- PXG irons will set you back about $300 each, so an eight-club set would come out to $2,400. This comes out to 4.9 percent of the median household’s annual income in the U.S.
I understand this isn’t completely apples-to-apples because these are 2017 prices evaluated against a 2015 income, but it gives you a pretty good feel for where they stand.
It goes without saying that the market ultimately determines a price for everything… you know, that whole supply and demand thing. Everything from golf clubs to toilet paper is ultimately worth what the customer is willing to pay. Only you can decide if you think it’s worth the premium that Callaway, PXG, Titleist and others are charging. Some companies are definitely aiming at a price point that our market has not previously seen before, but in the end, it’s the wallets of consumers who will decide if they’re off their rockers or not.
As for the vast majority of products on the market today? All things considered, they are incredibly well-priced. The product you’re getting for your money in this day and age absolutely smashes arguably the most ground-breaking set of irons of all time, especially when you factor in the overwhelming amount of custom fitting options available today. It’s a great day to be alive… and playing golf!
Don’t be THAT guy at your corporate outing
Today is the day. Your out-of-office email is up, and you’re fully prepared for an afternoon at the course. As a driving range pro, you think this day will be a gentle breeze. However, you are not prepared. You may not even realize it, but you are about to be that guy.
That guy… who is that guy? Well, I’m glad you asked.
He’s that guy at the range hours early instead of socializing at the breakfast. He’s that guy arranging the scramble lineup when he finally makes it to that breakfast. He’s the guy who finds himself reading a golf blog about a corporate scramble.
Now, let’s start this early in the morning. You’re in your closet carefully crafting your outfit for the day. Wait, wait, wait… let’s not start there. Therein lies the problem, guy. You aren’t composing an outfit, not today! An outfit is for Day 2 of your member-guest. An outfit is for that golf trip with your buddies. An outfit is for Bill Murray at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am (who, with those bell bottoms, is becoming dangerously close to that guy).
A corporate outing is for the muted colors sitting in the back of your closet. There’s no need to get flashy with your attire on this day. If your game is as good as your rangefinder magnet says you are, your game will be enough of the conversation; there’s no need to make your belt buckle one of them. White shorts are fine, but please, don’t be the guy wrapped in pants in 80-degree heat. I get it, you’re “more comfortable in pants” and “this new fabric is actually cooler than shorts.” Come on now, let’s save the pants for guys who aren’t playing for pro shop credit.
Obviously club-tossing, swear-wording and teammate-bashing are huge no-nos, but you already know that. Be encouraging on the course and give your teammates credit when they hit one down the middle, even if you drive it past them. It was still their shot that freed you up.
Most importantly, gauge the competitiveness of the team. Some people are there to win; some people are there for gin. If it’s clear that your team isn’t firing 14-under, kick back, relax and help your teammates improve. You’ll have your own chance. You can still get excited for the long drive, guy.
Speaking of the long drive, why is the prize for winning said competition so often a new driver? “You proved today how well you smash that driver, so here is a new one!” Sir, he likes his just fine. I think it’s safe to venture he’d rather stop the three-putt pars. Which also goes for the longest-putt prize. A brand new Odyssey White Hot! Just stop it. Pro shop credit… problem solved.
Speaking of problems, there’s a good chance someone in your group will have a massive one with their swing. As a guy, you’ll probably want to tell them they are “casting” and to try this “towel-under-the-arm drill.” Yes, it is completely fine to provide a tip, but only when warranted (or preferably, called upon). You can go from “guy who helped my short game” to “guy who destroyed my swing” with just a few too many hints.
One more thing. Don’t let any guy pull this move.
Let me paint a story. Your team approaches the green, you have two decent looks at birdie. Good for you! However, your team can’t decide. One is 15-feet straight up the hill. The other is an eight-foot slider. The team agrees the shorter putt is still the play.
“I’ll smack this 15-footer, just for fun,” your cheating teammate says. Followed shortly by, “unless it goes in, ha.”
Other than actually cheating, this is the most common and lame shenanigan I’ve seen in a corporate scramble. I’ve never forgotten the people that did it with me, and they won’t forget you.
Man, that got dark in a hurry.
Back to the fun stuff. You’ve mastered the clothing and seamlessly blended casual and competitive like Tom Brady in Uggs. All that is left now is to select your winning item in the pro shop. And this is where I leave my final tip. Go with something practical: gloves, golf balls. The last thing your wardrobe needs is another lime green shirt that you’ll want to wear in next month’s scramble.
The 19th Hole: Host Michael Williams plays Shinnecock Hills and reports back
Host Michael Williams reports on his visit to Media Day at Shinnecock Hills, the site the 2018 U.S. Open, where he played the course. How are the current conditions? He weighs in on the Unlimited Mulligan Challenge made by Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports that day, as well. Also, famed Architect David Kidd talks about how he created Bandon Dunes at the age of 25, and Steve Skinner of KemperLesnik gives his views on the health of the golf business.
Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!
TG2: What’s it like to caddie for Rory? GolfWRX Forum Member shares his experience
Marine and GolfWRX forum member “djfalcone” explains the story of how he got to caddie for Rory McIlroy and Johnny Vegas through the Birdies for the Brave program, and how knowledgable Rory is about his equipment. Make sure to check out his full forum thread here.
Listen to our full podcast below, or click here to listen on iTunes!
The story behind Jason Dufner’s new National Custom Works irons
Tiger Woods WITB 2018 (New TaylorMade TW-Phase1 irons)
How many Greens in Regulation should you be hitting based on your handicap?
Tiger Woods’ backup Scotty Cameron putter just sold for $44 grand
12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential
Gear Dive: Legendary club builder Larry Bobka speaks on Tiger’s old Titleist irons
20 signs you’re a victim of style-based golf instruction
Aaron Wise’s Winning WITB: 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson (updated 5/22 with photos)
Titleist AVX golf balls passed the test, are now available across the United States
Satoshi Kodaira’s Winning WITB: 2018 RBC Heritage
Jeff Golden issues statement on Florida Mid-Am incident
Jeff Golden is sharing more details about the events of May 16 at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship. If you recall,...
Must be the Arby’s: Beef Johnston deadlifts 485 lbs
Update: Thanks to WRX member Sam who pointed out: “The correct term for that lift would be a rack pull...
How could a child hitting a golf ball off his father’s face go wrong?
We’re bringing you this video in case you haven’t seen it elsewhere: Young Sam Blewett attempts to hit a golf...
Only 24 percent of golfers are women. 18Birdies, LPGA Tour partner to do something about it.
Women make up 50 percent of the population but only 24 percent of golfers. Why is this? A joint effort...
Equipment2 weeks ago
The story behind Jason Dufner’s new National Custom Works irons
pga tour6 days ago
Aaron Wise’s Winning WITB: 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson (updated 5/22 with photos)
pga tour3 weeks ago
Jason Day’s Winning WITB: 2018 Wells Fargo Championship
pga tour2 weeks ago
Webb Simpson’s Winning WITB: The 2018 Players Championship
19th Hole3 weeks ago
Tiger Woods explains the origin of his famed stinger
Tour News2 weeks ago
MUST WATCH: Tiger Woods unleashes incredible stinger (with Toptracer) on the 18th hole at The Players
19th Hole2 weeks ago
Adam Scott has a 2010 Titleist 910D3 in play at The Players
Popular Photo Galleries2 weeks ago
Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson